The Half-a-Million Dollar Man
Las Vegas Poker Pro Wins First Open Event of 2012
Record 221-Event Female Gold Bracelet Drought Now Equaled with this Event
Las Vegas, NV (May 30, 2012) – The first World Series of Poker tournament of the year open to all players concluded tonight with the crowning of a new poker champion.
Brent Hanks, from Las Vegas, won the first $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament of 2012, which has proven to be one of the schedule’s most popular events. Hanks, a 29-year-old professional poker player, collected a whopping $517,725 in prize money. He was also presented with his first WSOP gold bracelet, which is the ultimate prize in poker. Prior to playing for a living, Hanks was a fifth-grade school teacher. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University.
With this victory, Hanks has accumulated nearly $1 million in career winnings in WSOP events alone. This was his 12th time to cash at the WSOP, a remarkable feat given his young age. In fact, all of Hanks' WSOP earnings have been achieved since 2008.
This was classified as WSOP schedule Event #2, since it’s the second gold bracelet of 61 to be awarded this summer. The tournament was played over three consecutive days and nights, starting on Memorial Day, and concluding late Wednesday.
Just prior to the start of the Rio’s first event, WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel took the main stage and began things in grand style. Prior to the Memorial Day start, veterans were recognized in a brief service held inside Brasilia. The national anthem was also played to commemorate the national holiday.
Performing the official "Shuffle Up and Deal" honors was poker player “Captain” Tom Franklin, a two-time WSOP gold bracelet winner and former United States Marine Corps and Vietnam War veteran. He acknowledged veterans at this year’s WSOP, by asking them to stand and be recognized. The crowd gave the vets a nice ovation.
The tournament began with 2,101 players. After the first day, only 239 players survived. The second day included the field being further reduced to the last 15 players. Once the final table was reached on Wednesday, players were moved to the Pavilion Main Stage, which is the new setting for final table action – aside from those that take place on the ESPN Main Stage (since many events overlap, multiple final table areas are necessary).
In a bit of irony, Vanessa Selbst had a chance to end what is now a record-matching drought for female poker players. She came close to becoming the first female gold bracelet champion in an open event since 2008, when -- of all people -- Selbst herself won the $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha championship. With yet another stag winner, the longest void gap has now been matched in WSOP history. The longest streak had been 221 straight events, between 1982 and 1996 -- which will now be surpassed.
Also of special note was Phil Hellmuth's 61st-place finish. He continues to add stature and distance to his legacy, with what amounts to the 86th WSOP cash of his career -- by far, the all-time leader.
Hanks hereby becomes the second player to win a gold bracelet at this year’s WSOP after Chip Saechao won the Casino Employees Championship opener.
The complete official report of this tournament, with much more news and official data, will be posted soon to WSOP.com.
-- Nolan Dalla