The first round in the new battle for global poker bragging rights goes to Europe, thanks to Thomas “Buzzer” Bihl (32) who made poker history over the weekend at the inaugural World Series of Poker Europe .
Bihl, a native of Frankfurt, Germany, who started playing poker just four years ago, won GBP 70 875 and the first-ever WSOP bracelet awarded outside the United States. Bihl – who is a Betfair sponsored professional player – outlasted a field of the world’s top poker pros in one of the most challenging of all poker games, the GBP 2 500 H.O.R.S.E. championship that kicked off the inaugural WSOP Europe in London.
“Thomas Bihl has earned a place in poker history with this incredible win,” said WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack, visiting from Las Vegas for the tournament. “The fact that he is a Betfair player, when Betfair is our presenting sponsor, makes this even sweeter.”
“He’s a world class player,” said Betfair’s Head of Poker Ben Fried. “I am thrilled for him on a personal level because he has been working hard for this but it is also great news for Betfair and European poker players in general.”
Two-time World Series of Poker winner and Nevada native Jennifer Harman finished a disappointing second after relinquishing a two-to-one chip lead to Bihl, who played a quiet waiting game for most of the 13-hour final table. Harman had hoped to add a third WSOP bracelet to her total at the 2007 WSOP Europe.
But is was Bihl who emerged victorious in the three-day HORSE event – a tournament featuring five variations of poker – at 4:15 a.m. GMT Sunday at The Casino at The Empire in London, capturing the first-place prize and a coveted WSOP gold bracelet made by luxury Swiss watchmaker CORUM.
Bihl had won $132 226 in official prize money in his four-year career prior to the WSOP Europe clash. The event was the eighth major-tournament final table for Harman, whose official career winnings totaled $1 557 372 leading up to this competition. She has won millions more in the world’s biggest cash games in the course of a professional poker career that began two decades ago in her hometown of Reno, Nevada.
Another WSOP Vegas bracelet winner, Kirk Morrison finished third, taking home GBP 28 250. Five-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Chris Ferguson finished fourth, adding GBP 21 656, or more than $42 000, to his career earnings of $5 551 650. Russian phenomenon Alex Kravchenko collected GBP 17 714 for fifth place, while Yuval Bronshtein won GBP 14 438 for sixth, Joe Beevers GBP 11 812 for seventh and Gary Jones GBP 9 118 for eighth.
In all, the top 16 of the 105 entrants won GBP 262 500 in prize money.The tournament continues through next week with a series of poker competitions leading up to the main event.
“We are pleased that we are establishing new records for live tournament play in Europe,” said Jeffrey Pollack, WSOP commissioner. “Out of the gate, WSOP Europe has attracted many of the world’s greatest players – all competing to win the first WSOP bracelets ever awarded outside the United States.”
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