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Going for the Gold

Poker’s best compete in the 44th Annual World Series of Poker

By Sean Chaffin


From savvy chip-stacking veterans to weekend tourists and amateurs, the action has been big this summer at the 44th Annual World Series of Poker at the Rio Hotel and Casino. Through June 19, tournament officials reported that participation was up 27 percent compared to 2012 with 40,039 entries and $54.1 million in prize money awarded.

“We are truly humbled once again by the players from all over the world who continue to make the World Series of Poker the great success of the poker industry,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart at the halfway point of the annual pokerfest. “It has been a record-setting summer thus far in 2013 and we still have plenty of major events remaining on our schedule that runs through July 15 here at the Rio in Las Vegas.”

Officials were also pleased with side action—cash games, single-table-satellites, mega-satellites, and daily deepstack tournaments—all up 35 percent over 2012. The low buy-in, one-day “Daily Deepstacks” has been the busiest of all, according to WSOP officials. Buy-ins range from $235 to $135 and the daily 3 p.m. $235 event features regular fields of as many 1,200 players and first-place prizes of as much as $45,000—not a bad score for a minimal investment.

As for bracelet events, Benny Chen was the talk of the series in early-June. Chen outlasted 6,342 other entrants in Event #6, dubbed the “Millionaire Maker” and a new entry in the WSOP. The event guaranteed $1 million for the $1,500 buy-in tournament. After four days, the 32-year-old amateur took home the bracelet and almost $1.2 million. The feat is extremely impressive considering the tournament became the sixth-largest of all time, and Chen’s career winnings up to that point were about $11,000.

“I had played quite a few tourneys before, but every time I got deep, I’d lose races or get into tough spots,” he said after the victory. “This time, everything went well for me… last night (coming into the final day) I only slept a few hours. So, it was definitely on my mind, but all my friends who are here got me mentally prepared and kept me motivated. That helped a lot.”

Back home in Stratford, Prince Edward Island, Canada, Chen manages his brother’s restaurant, Wayne’s Take-Out. His position now may be a bit up in the air.

“I play poker recreationally and for fun. I help him out when I can,” Chen said. “But after this, we’ll have to see about that.”

In other news, Tom Schneider was playing a dream series, winning two gold bracelets in the span of just over a week. The Arizona native took down both HORSE events for a total of almost $578,000. HORSE involves master five separate limit games that rotate—Hold’em, Omaha Hi/Lo-Eight or Better, Razz, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo-Eight or Better. Schneider, the 2007 WSOP Player of the Year and with more than $2.2 million in lifetime tournament winnings, swept the $5,000 and $1,500 buy-in events and now has four WSOP bracelets. At press time, Schneider had cashed in seven events this summer. The 53-year-old father of three and part-time country music singer/songwriter rejects the typical life of a professional poker player and believes some aspects of his personal life have helped his game.

“I am doing some other things outside of poker now that help me. It’s such a grind to play poker all the time and you have to get away from it sometimes,” he said. “I’m working on Loudmouth Golf (an apparel company he is an investor in), so my mind is on something different.  I don’t always have to play poker. I can now sit and talk to people who are doing positive things. I’ve also started writing music and am taking guitar lessons. I play golf.  So, I have other passions outside of poker. Getting away from it on a regular basis clears your mind. Doing business or writing songs and making music—it’s constructive for me. So when I arrived this year at the WSOP, I was ready to play.”

Another interesting note from this year’s event occurred in the $500 buy-in Casino Employees Championship. senior editor Chad Holloway ditched his regular duties as a live tournament reporter and bought in for a chance at glory. The investment paid off and he bested a field of 898 players for his first bracelet and a score of almost $85,000. The 30-year-old graduate of the University of Wisconsin and poker writer has been traveling the globe covering major poker tournaments for the website since 2009. While briefly attending law school at Tulane, Holloway fell in love with the game and been playing and writing about poker ever since.

“If I would have finished as runner-up, it still would have been a great experience,” he says. “I could still always say I was one card away from winning a WSOP gold bracelet. I didn’t want to have to say that, so I just buckled down and played my best game. Fortunately, I was able to come back and win the bracelet.”

The WSOP also featured a blast from the past when Mike “The Mouth” Matusow, famous for his final table appearances at the WSOP and World Poker Tour as well his vociferous table talk, added his fourth gold bracelet and $266,000 for his win in the $5,000 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo tournament with 210 entries. The win follows up his victory in the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship from earlier in the year for $750,000, and was his first bracelet since 2008. Fitting his nickname, Matusow held nothing back after the tournament and feels he has turned his game (and life) around for the better.

“Yeah, I’ve blown most of it,” Matusow said of his millions in winnings. “But it’s never been about money for me. When my head’s on straight, I really believe I’m the best in the world.  Nobody can beat me when I’m playing my A-game.The last three tournaments have just been amazing. I’m playing at a really high level again. I feel good, man.”


SIDEBAR – WSOP Winners through Event #40


Event   –  Winner/Hometown  –  Winnings

1 – $500 Casino Employees Championship – Chad Holloway – Reedsburg, Wisconsin – $84,915

2 – $5,000 NLHE 8-HandedTrevor Pope  –  Gainesville, Florida $553, 906

3 – $1,000 NLHE ReentryCharles, Sylvestre  –  Quebec City, Canada $491,360

4 – $1,500 NLHE 6-HandedJohn Beauprez  –  Arvada, Colorado  – $324,764

5 – $2,500 Omaha/7-Card Stud Hi/Lo Mike Gorodinsky – St. Louis, Missouri$216,988

6 – $1,500 Millionaire Maker NLHE  – Benny Chen – Stratford, Prince Edward Island, Canada            $1,199,104

7 – $1,000 NLHE –  Matt Waxman – Parkland, Florida$305,952

8 – $2,500 Eight-Game MixMichael Malm – Mississauga, Ontario, Canada  – $225,104

9 – $3,000 NLHE  –  Cliff Josephy – Muttontown, New York  – $299,486

10 – $1,500 LHE  –  Brent Wheeler – St. Charles, Illinois    –   $191,605

11 – $2,500 NLHE 6-Handed  –   Levi Berger – Ottawa, Ontario, Canada  –  $473,019

12 – $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha   –  Lev Rofman – Las Vegas, Nevada    –  $166,136

13 – $5,000 7-Card Stud Hi/Lo    –    Mike Matusow – Henderson, Nevada  –  $266,503

14 – $1,500 NLHE    –   Jonathan Taylor – Phil Campbell, Alabama  –  $454, 424

15 – $1,500 HORSE    –   Tom Schneider – Scottsdale, Arizona   –  $258,960

16 – $10,000 Heads-Up NLHE     –    Mark Radoja – Guelph, Ontario   –   $336,190

17 – $1,500 NLHE     –      Athanasios Polychronopoulos – Springs, New York   –  $518,755

18 – $1,000 NLHE   –   Taylor Paur – El Dorado Hills, California    –   $340,260

19 – $5,000 Pot Limit Hold’em    –   Davidi Kitai – Brussels, Belgium   –    $224, 560

20 – $1,500 Omaha Hi/Lo   –    Calen McNeil – Victoria, British Columbia, Canada   –    $277,274

21 – $3,000 NLHE    –   Martin Finger – Vienna, Austria     –     $506,764

22 – $1,500 Pot Limit Hold’em    –    Josh Pollock – Las Vegas, Nevada      –     $279,431

23 – $2,500 7 Card Stud   –    David Chiu – Las Vegas, Nevada  –   $145,520

24 – $1,500 NLHE    –   Corey Harrison – Birmingham, Alabama    –  $432,411

25 – $5,000 Omaha Hi/Lo    –    Danny Fuhs – Scottsdale, Arizona     –      $277,519

26 – $1,000 Seniors NLHE   –  Ken Lind – Layton, Utah    –  $634,809

27 – $3,000 Mixed Max NLHE   –  Isaac Hagerling – Los Angeles, California     –   $372,387

28 – $1,500 NLHE     –    Jason Duval – Saint-Georges Est, Quebec, Canada   –  $521,202

29 – $5,000 HORSE    –     Tom Schneider – Scottsdale, Arizona     –   $318,955

30 – $1,000 NLHE    –   Chris Dombrowski – Wesley Chapel, Florida    –   $346,322

31 – $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo   –    Jarred Graham – Southbank, Australia     –   $255,942

32 –  $5,000 NLHE 6-Handed    –   Erick Lindgren – Las Vegas, Nevada    –   $606,317

33 – $2,500 7-Card Razz    –   Bryan Campanello – Southlake, Texas     –   $178,052

34 – $1,000 Turbo NLHE    –   Michael Gathy – Brussels, Belgium    –   $278,613

35 – $3,000 Pot Limit Hold’em    –    Jeff Madesen – Las Vegas, Nevada    –    $384,420

36 – $1,500 NLHE Shootout   –   Simeon Naydenov – Sofia, Bulgaria   –    $326,440

37 – $5,000 LHE  –   Michael Moore – Agar, South Dakota   –  $211,743

38 – $2,500 NLHE 4-Handed   –    Justin Oliver – Toronto, Ontario, Canada   –    $309,071

39 – $1,500 7Card Stud Hi/Lo    –   Daniel Idema – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada   –  $184,590

40 – $1,500 NLHE   –   Jared Hamby – Henderson, Nevada   –   $525,272

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