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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2007

A True World Series of Poker

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The final table of the main event this year started with more of an international flair than probably ever before. Only four Americans were among the final nine who started the day in competition for the title of world champion. The field includes two Brits, a Russian, a Canadian and a South African.

In Seat 1, was John Kalmar of Chorly, Lancashire, England. The 34-year-old professional poker player competes mostly in England. He failed to cash in any preliminary events and was going to go home early. He decided not to pay the extra $600 to change his flight and instead entered the last mega satellite for a seat in the main event. He won his seat and the rest is history.

In Seat 3, was Phillip Him (left) from Cambridge, England, who led the field at the start of the day with $22 million in chips. He's a native of Denmark.

In Seat 5, was Raymond Rahme (below) from Johannesburg, South Africa. He's the first African to ever appear at the final table of the main event. At 62, he's also the oldest player at the final table. He took 4th place recently in the All Africa Poker Championship recently. His prize included an entry into this main event.

In Seat 6, was Tuan Lam of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. A native of Vietnam, he immigrated to Canada at age 19. He now plays poker professionally in the Toronto area cardrooms.

In Seat 7, was Alex Kravchenko of Moscow, Russia. He became the first Russian citizen to win a WSOP gold bracelet earlier this Series when he won the $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low event. In 2001, he won the Austrian Masters Pot-Limit Championship and the Russian Pot-Limit Championship. He also won the Limit Hold'em title at the Helsinki Freezeout in 2002.

The American players included Lee Childs in Seat 2, Jerry Yang in Seat 4, well-known professional Lee Watkinson in Seat 8 and Hevad "Rain" Khan in Seat 9.

Last year, every final table participant was American aside from the one Swede, Erik Friberg.

The 2005 final table featured three foreigners, including winner Joseph Hachem from Australia, 5th place finisher Andy Black from Ireland and 7th place finisher Daniel Bergsdorf from Sweden.

The first international player to win the WSOP was Mansour Matloubi from Wales, who won the title in 1990. He was followed by 1998 champion Scotty Nguyen from Vietnam, 1999 champion Noel Furlong from Ireland, 2001 champion Juan Carlos Mortensen from Spain and Hachem.

Nolan Dalla, media director for the WSOP , told me recently that he expects the event to continue to see a more international flavor with more growth globally.

"The World Series of Poker is really the World Series of Poker, where it used to be the Texas Series of Poker or the U.S. Series of Poker," Dallas said. "I think that's a great thing, how this is truly an international or Olympic style event."

World Series of Poker Europe starts in London on Sept. 6. Jeffrey Pollack, commissioner of the WSOP, told me Saturday that he expects there to be announcements in the next one to three years of more WSOP events held in international locations.

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