Brent Wheeler Rolls Over Limit Hold'em Competition

Las Vegas Poker Pro Wins $191,605 and First Gold Bracelet
Brent Wheeler won the most recent World Series of Poker title at the Rio in Las Vegas when he topped the $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold'em event in front of a vocal crowd of supporters who cheered him to victory.

The 27-year-old Las Vegas poker pro topped a 645-player field en route to a thrilling victory, his first at the WSOP.  First place paid $191,605.  He also received the coveted gold bracelet.

Wheeler is originally from Texas but spent several years in the Chicago area.  He was a gifted golfer and even caddied professionally for six years.  However, while attending the University of Illinois, Wheeler discovered poker might also be an option, and he gradually spent more time playing – mostly online.  After the events related to so-called “Black Friday,” Wheeler moved to Las Vegas where he now resides.  Most his days are spent in local cardrooms playing for middle to high stakes.  Wheeler has also spent several months living in Vancouver, BC (Canada) where he can engage in online poker more freely.

Following his victory, Wheeler was eager to acknowledge the support of his many family and friends, particularly his sister Brittney.  Interestingly, he says he learned how to play poker from her.

Mark Mierkalns, from Hamilton, Ontario (Canada) finished as runner-up.  He had a shot to become the fourth Canadian winner so far at this series.  Mierkalns enjoyed the chip lead for a time when play was heads up.  However, Wheeler was assisted by a late flurry of good cards and favorable situations and not only seized the chip lead, but won the tournament in convincing fashion.  Nonetheless, the final duel clocked in at more than three hours.

“It's awesome.  This is the moment you play for,” Wheeler said afterward.  “I've had friends win it.  It's great to finally have it too.”

Name:  Brent Wheeler
Birthplace:  Texas (USA)
Grew Up In:  Chicago, IL (USA)
Current Residence:  Las Vegas, NV (USA)
Age:  27
Marital Status:  Single
Children:  None
Profession:  Professional Poker Player (Live Action)
Length of Time Playing Poker:  10 years
WSOP Cashes (including this event):  14
First WSOP Cash (year):  2008
WSOP Final Table Appearances:  3
WSOP Wins (with this victory):  1


WSOP:  How does it feel to win your first WSOP gold bracelet?
Wheeler:  It's a little surreal.  It will kick in tomorrow, probably.  It's nice.  This is what you play for.  You go for the bracelet and then to have my friends here and my family back at home watching – it's awesome.

WSOP:  Talk about playing heads-up for more than three hours.
Wheeler:  Once we got heads-up, (Mierkalns) was the player I would have picked not to play heads-up against.  He's a very solid player.  When we got heads-up I knew it was going to be a long battle.  He had a good feel for what I was doing, and I knew what he was doing.    The blinds got up there and cards went my way and I got the victory.

WSOP:  Limit Hold'em is not as popular as it once was.  What's the future of this game?
Wheeler:  It seems like it might be on the decline, by the number of entrants and the cash games here in Las Vegas.  Less and less Limit games are available.  I don't think it's ever going to go away.  No-Limit has taken over and even the Mixed-Games have become more popular.

WSOP:  Anyone you want to give a shout out to?
Wheeler:  Shout out to Brittney Wheeler, but also thanks to all my friends who were here and family back home.  I have been getting Facebook messages and tweets like crazy.  It's important.  This would not be the same without having them behind me.

WSOP:  Do you plan to go out tonight and celebrate?
Wheeler:  No.  I got a $1,500 No-Limit tomorrow at noon.

Years ago, Limit Hold'em drew the biggest turnout on the WSOP schedule.  For about ten years, the WSOP began with a Limit Hold'em tournament, which was the traditional kick-off tournament for the series.  It's no longer as popular, but still draws a steady following.

Two-time winner Erich Froehlich was the only gold bracelet champ to make the final table.  He finished in ninth place.

Other gold bracelet winners who cashed included – Doug Saab, Hoyt Corkins, Larry Wright, Vasili Lazarou, Nick Schulman, Tom Schneider, Sam Barnhart, and Matt Hawrilenko.