30-year-old St. Louis pipe-fitter and keen amateur player Mike Eise is a member of the ‘Wanna' Be Poker Series' poker club back home, but this week proved that he is a wannabe no more by taking down Event 28 – the $1 500 buy-in No Limit Hold'em competition, outlasting a field of 2 638 entries. The big field generated a total prize pool of around $3 600 870, which meant that 270 players cashed.
With 2.84 million Eise headed the chip counts around the final table, which did not feature any former bracelet winners, and looked like this:
Seat 1: Zack Fritz
Seat 2: Avi Braz
Seat 3: Rico Ramirez
Seat 4: Jason Potter
Seat 5: Jose Luis Franco
Seat 6: Mike Zulker
Seat 7: Mike Eise
Seat 8: Jeff Chang
Seat 9: Barry Berger
Six hours later, Eise emerged the winner after a brief heads up with New York private equity trader Jeff Chang, who faced a chip count disadvantage of 5 to 1 in favour of his rampant rival. Eise claimed the main prize of $639 331 and his first WSOP gold bracelet, leaving Chang with the second place reward of $392 494 – not bad for his first ever WSOP cash.
Rico Ramirez – a retired former police officer – also recorded his first WSOP cash by finishing third.
The three day competition, which marks the halfway point in the 2009 World Series of Poker in terms of events, again illustrated the popularity of the $1 500 buy-in level. It the third of seven $1 500 No-Limit Hold'em tournaments available this year. The previous two $1 500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em events in 2009 recorded entry fields of 2 791 and 2 506 players.
A law student from Virginia University, Leo Wolpert, took the handsome first prize of $652 682 and his first WSOP bracelet in Event 29 – the $10 000 buy-in World Championship Heads-up No-Limit Hold’em – surviving an entry field of 256 players vying for a prize pool of $2 406 400. His epic 191 hand final against EPT founder John Duthie was one for the books after a quarter final series that featured Dustin Woolf v. Leo Wolpert; 10 bracelet winner Johnny Chan v. Jamin Stokes; Nathan Doudney v. Bryan Pellegrino and John Duthie v. Steve O'Dwyer.
Playing a balanced and skilful game, Wolpert held the chip lead for much of the heads up, taking the win against a truly tough and talented opponent in Duthie, who collected a check for $386 636 for a brilliant but second placed performance.
With the conclusion of Event 29, World Series of Poker organisers Harrah's Entertainment released statistics showing that so far 29 217 pokerheads have played, and atotal of $57 532 883 has been paid out.
Veteran pro J.C. Tran won his second WSOP bracelet in Event 30 – the $2 500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha contest, besting an entry field of 436 that delivered a prize pool of just over a million dollars. Well known players like The Hendon Mob's Joe Beevers, Noel Boeken and Eli Elezra were in the field but failed to make the final table.
Big names at the final table, which formed in the early hours of the morning when Leif Force exited in tenth place, included Tran (387 000), John Juanda (129 000) and Theo Jorgensen (419 000), with other players including two Brits in the lead: Ross Boatman in the chip lead on 718 000 and Jeff Kimber (525 000). They were followed by Rami Boukai (325 000); Jean-Philippe Leandri (324 000) Dallas Flowers (239 000) and Chad Layne (206 000).
The heads up was decided when third placed Jean-Philippe Leandri was eliminated by Tran, taking home $95 837 and leaving a chipped up JC Tran and UK player Jeff Kimber to resolve who would win. It was short and sweet, with Kimber taking second place and a $145 656 payday, and JC reveling in his second WSOP bracelet and the main prize of $235 685.