In Event #33 – the $10 000 buy-in World Championship Limit Hold'em competition it was Greg ‘FBT' Mueller's time to shine after surviving an entry field of 185 top players, all hunting for the biggest chunk of a $1 739 000 prize pool.
Three days on, the star-laden final table had been decided, consisting of Daniel Alaei holding the chip lead at 1 001 000, Matt Glantz (856 000), Matt Hawrilenko (770 000), Pat Pezzin (662 000), Greg ‘FBT' Mueller (598 000), Chad Brown (513 000), Michiel Brummelhuis (420 000), Kenny Hsiung (390 000) and Soheil Shamseddin (386 000).
In the heads up, 37-year-old Canadian poker pro and former hockey ace Mueller faced fellow Canadian poker pro Pat Pezzin. It turned out to be a memorable occasion for Mueller, who took his first gold winner's bracelet and the main prize of $460 836, capping a World Series of Poker career that has included numerous cashes since 2003 and seven final table appearances with two second placings over the last three years. The win brings Mueller's WSOP career earnings to $1 321 352.
Commenting on his big win, the always affable Mueller said: "I was starting to think I was a second-place pony there for a while. I had nightmares, even heads-up. When he won a pot against me, I thought, ‘My God, this could be the biggest choke ever.' But, it feels unbelievable and I am so happy right now.
"The funny thing was – this was probably the toughest final table that I have yet played. Everyone at the table is a helluva' player and a great tournament player. It's the crème de la crème."
Disappointed runner-up Pat Pezzin from Toronto, Canada had the consolation of a check for $285 195 for three tough days of work at the tables. His second placing prize was his highest money-earner yet in a career that has seen 14 live tournament cashes.
Californian Daniel Alaei, who started the final table as chip leader and was shooting for his third WSOP bracelet was eliminated in fourth place.
Latest Harrah's statistics show that so far the 40th Anniversary World Series of Poker has recorded 32 142 players entering the events, with some $64 117 613 in prizes paid out.
The United States continues to dominate the winners' lists, with Canada and the UK tied in second place. 22 wins this year have been by professional players, and 5 fell to amateurs. The remaining 4 wins have been classified as semi-pros and include Vitaly Lunkin, Brian Lemke, Lisa Hamilton and Leo Wolpert. So far this year 9 of the 33 winners have been WSOP bracelet holders from previous events.