A 28-year-old poker pro from Michigan, Anthony Harb, won his first World Series of Poker bracelet over the weekend as Event 11 – the $2 000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em – came to an exciting conclusion with a heads up between Harb and Californian pro Peter Rho.
The final table included Peter Rho and Scott Hall, Harb and Jim Geary, Brent Sheirbon, Adrian Dresel-Velasquez, Jonathan McGowan, Michael Dyer and Adam Adler, with Harb up among the four leaders who each had over a million in chips.
At one point it looked as if Rho was going to take the game as his chipstack grew to almost twice that of his closest opponent, but Harb was working his way through the opposition, eliminating players and eventually taking the chip lead and growing it considerably, Rho made a fighting comeback and re-took the lead as the competition to stay the course for the heads up continued. Finally Geary fell in third place for a payday of $230 670 and what promised to be a thriller of a heads up was set as Harb and Rho squared off, with the chip lead back with Harb….but only just.
It was relatively brief at only 30 minutes, but the heads up featured some big pots and two determined and aggressive players that made for a highly entertaining finish to a three day tourney that featured long hours of play and quality opposition. Harb proudly took his first bracelet and the $569 199 main prize, leaving a worthy opponent in Rho, who collected the second placing money of $350 019, boosting his career winnings from the Aussie Millions earlier this year when he was also runner-up.
Finnish professional poker player Ville Wahlbeck (33) will take his country's first ever WSOP bracelet home along with the winner's purse of $492 375 after defeating David Chiu in the heads up of Event 12 – the $10 000 buy-in Mixed Game World Championship.
Making the win all the more remarkable was the fact that Wahlbeck had earlier finished third in the $10 000 buy-in Seven Card Stud World Championship event, stringing together a punishing 6 consecutive days of 12 hour poker! That may have been exhausting, but it was also profitable, with the Finnish player collecting $150 000 for his third place in the stud event and almost half a million for the Mixed competition.
The heads up ended on an Omaha 8 passage which saw the Finn clinch the win with A Q 8 8 and a rivered Broadway Straight after a tough tussle with an implacable David Chui in which the lead changed hands twice.
Throughout the final table Chui did most of the elimination work, but Wahlbeck had the chip lead for much of the time against some formidable opposition in the shape of Huck Seed, Todd Brunson, Mark Gregorich, Scott Dorin, Mike Wattell and James Van Alstyne.
Huck Seed cracked the first of the six-figure payouts in the tourney with his 5th place finish worth $102 286, and Scott Dorin earned $199 940 for his third placing, which set the scene for the tense Wahlbeck vs. Chui heads up.
Chiu's reward for a talented and determined display of poker skills was a take home $304 176 second place payday.
The match attracted an entry field of 194 players.
WSOP organiser Harrah's Entertainment's latest statistical update covers the first 14 events of the 40th World Series of Poker and discloses that 57 nations have been represented in Las Vegas this week, with 84.8 percent of entrants from the United States thus far, with Canada the next biggest contributor and the United Kingdom third.
Whilst North American players find it geographically easier to attend, there are players from considerably further afield such as Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Morocco, Korea, India, China, Belarus, Bavaria, France, Russia, Finland, Germany and Turkey.
In the US states context, most entrants have so far come from California, with sizeable contingents from other states such as Nevada (1 649), Texas (987), Florida (896), and New York (819). Over the border in Canada, the most players came from Ontario province, trailed by British Columbia (221), Quebec (114), Alberta (98), and Manitoba (20).
In the world's biggest poker event so far this year, a total of 17 093 entrants have registered for the 14 events we have seen either concluded or in progress. Of the ten bracelets awarded , nine have gone to Americans and one to a Russian – Valery Lumkin – in the special $40 000 buy-in 40th Anniversary competition.
Providing some singularly attractive feminine scenery as well as tough and talented poker is Event 17 – the $1 000 buy-in Ladies No-Limit Hold’em World Championship – which has for the fourth year running attracted an entry field in excess of a thousand players – 1 060 to be exact.
As we went to press the field was in its second day and down to 250 survivors, including Maria Ho, Tamara Tibbles, Maria Myrnick, Anh Le, JJ Liu, Svetlana Gromenkova, Anna Wroblewski, Beth Shak, Evelyn Ngi and Christina Lindley.
Jeffrey Pollack, the World Series of Poker Commssioner says that the event is important to the Series because it provides an entry point to the global competition for woman who might otherwise be discouraged by the hefty male demographic of the event.
“This is a gem of an event for us,” Pollack explained recently. “More than a thousand women for yet another year in a row have decided that this is where they want to stage their biggest event in the world. We appreciate their support of this event, we celebrate it, and we celebrate the women who play poker around the world.”