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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2008 | WSOP 2008 Tournaments

2008 WSOP Event # 45 Recap

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The $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. World Championship, Event #45 was the biggest buy-in event at the WSOP. Since only the average player can’t afford such a buy-in, or find a backer, only 148 players entered, with the top 16 places paid. Though the field was small by the standards of other events, the prize pool was a huge $7,104,000, due to the hefty buy-in.

The number of entries this year would have been 149 and set a new record, however, eight-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Erik Seidel, made it to the final table of a conflicting event and therefore could not participate as planned. This is the third of three H.O.R.S.E. tournaments on the 2008 WSOP schedule, with the other buy-ins being much smaller, at $1,500 and $3,000.

The H.O.R.S.E. World Championship was first conceived by several poker players, the concept being to create a poker version of an all-star game. Three years ago, Daniel Negreanu took the idea of holding an exclusive tournament for superstars to Harrahs Entertainment who accepted the new idea, adding the tournament to the official WSOP schedule in 2006. Negreanu's pivotal role in creating the H.O.R.S.E. event was acknowledged in a pre-tournament announcement this year.

WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack, also noted the contribution made by Vice President of Specialty Games for Harrahs Entertainment, Howard Greenbaum for his foresight in accepting Negreanu’s idea.
The name of the game, H.O.R.S.E. is an acronym for the five most popular poker games played inside most poker rooms. H.O.R.S.E. tournaments include a rotation of the following games; Texas Hold'em, Omaha High-Low Split, Razz, Seven-Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud High-Low Split (Eight-or-Better). Many players consider H.O.R.S.E. to be the ultimate test of poker skill, since it requires that players have the ability to play all games equally well in order to win. While the undisputed world championship of poker is still the WSOP Main Event, in many respects the H.O.R.S.E. title is even more prestigious in the world of poker. A majority of highly successful poker players acknowledge the winner of this event as the year's best "all around" player.

The rotation of games in this tournament goes for 30 minutes at a time, with the format favoring stud specialists, since three of the five games are stud-based; Seven-Card Stud, Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split, and Razz.

The inaugural H.O.R.S.E. World Championship which was held in 2006 was memorable in many respects, but chief among them was because of who won. Since the late 1970s, David "Chip" Reese had been widely regarded by his peers and poker insiders as the best all-around poker player in the world. It was therefore totally appropriate that he won the very first mega buy-in tournament in WSOP history and was crowned the first H.O.R.S.E. world champion.

The poker world was greatly saddened in December 2007 when Reese suddenly passed away.
To honor Reese's memory and his contribution to the world of poker, Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack and WSOP organizers created the "Chip Reese Memorial Trophy," which is to be awarded to all H.O.R.S.E. world champions from this year on.

The special trophy was unveiled prior to the start of play at the final table when Chip Reese's daughter, Taylor Reese was introduced to the large crowd of spectators. She was joined by Doyle Brunson and Jeffrey Pollack on the Corum Swiss Timepieces stage for the much-anticipated unveiling of the Chip Reese Memorial Trophy. The trophy and special gold bracelet, made exclusively for the winner of this tournament, were both on display throughout play at the final table on a special platform overlooking the main stage.

The beautiful trophy weighs 60 pounds with a marble base that is inscribed with the names of past winners. The plaque reads ‘David "Chip" Reese Memorial Trophy – Standing the Test of Time’. The phrase refers to the one famously uttered by Reese following his victory the first year. The top of the trophy is crowned with the gold embossed winning hand from the inaugural event. In an unusual event, the trophy was slightly damaged while in transit between the manufacturer and the Rio. The trophy suffered a small "chip" in the base, which Jeffrey Pollack described as "Reese's ghost leaving his mark."

That first year in 2006, when Reese won the event, the H.O.R.S.E. final table clocked in at more than 12 hours. It was the grueling 7 hours and 10 minute heads-up match however that was the real stamina test. Chip Reese and Andy Bloch battled back and forth for a marathon-like contest which still stands as the longest heads-up duel in WSOP history. Total entries for the event that year were 143.

In 2007 the H.O.R.S.E. World Championship final table lasted 14.5 hours, which currently stands as the fourth-longest final table in WSOP history. A total of 148 players entered the event with Freddy Deeb emerging as the winner, taking home $2,276,832 first place prize money and the coveted gold bracelet.

Due to the huge buy-in for this event, the WSOP offered satellites costing $2,250 to enter, in an effort to open up the H.O.R.S.E. championship to as many players as possible. Seven satellites were completed, which awarded three full buy-ins and two partial buy-ins to the winners.

At this year’s event, there were two honorary "Shuffle Up and Deal" announcements made during the course of the tournament. On Day One, 2007 champion Freddy Deeb was granted the honor and on Day Five, prior to the start of the final table, poker legend Doyle Brunson joined the pre-game gala and said a few words in memory of his close friend, Chip Reese.

The 2008 H.O.R.S.E. tournament was played over five consecutive days with the Day One field being thinned down from an initial 148 entrants to 140. Day Two saw only 67 players remaining and Day Three played down to 24 survivors. Day Four saw players coming in the money, as the field was whittled down to the eight players who would advance to the final table. The eight finalists took their seats at the final table on Day Five, and played until well past midnight on Day Six. This technically makes the tournament lasting six days, not five.

The Final table play kicked off at 3:30 pm on Sunday afternoon with player introductions being made by WSOP Tournament Director, Jack Effel. Tournament Supervisor Brooks Turk provided all of the play by play announcing until the final table ended at 5:01 a.m. PST. All told, the final table clocked in at 13 hours and 31 minutes.

The ESPN main stage and Milwaukee's Best Light All-In Lounge were filled to capacity as hundreds of spectators lined up to watch the star studded final table. ESPN filmed the entire final table for later broadcast which will be aired in two one hour segments on August 19th, from 8-10 p.m. EST.
Nine of the 16 players who finished in-the-money were former WSOP gold bracelet winners with a combined 35 total career wins. Five of the final 8 players were former WSOP gold bracelet winners, with a combined 15 total career wins.

The 2008 H.O.R.S.E. World Champion is professional poker player Scotty Nguyen, who resides in Henderson, NV. This win earned him $1,989,120 for first place and his fifth gold bracelet.

Despite his extraordinary success in tournament poker for more than a decade, Nguyen suffered through one of his lowest points following last year's meltdown, which resulted in an 11th place finish in the 2007 Main Event. At one point, Nguyen seemed destined to go much deeper in the event and many still say he should have won. Victory was lost however, when Nguyen went through a horrible two-hour losing streak late on the day prior to the final table and was eliminated. Nguyen was so disappointed and distraught; he reportedly did not eat regularly for months afterward, becoming physically ill. During this time he lost 15 pounds and refused to leave his home.

It was Nguyen's wife Julie who was responsible for rekindling the former champion's enthusiasm for poker and bringing him out of his depression. Prior to the start of this year's WSOP, Nguyen was determined to win at least one of two events, the H.O.R.S.E. championship, or the Main Event. In a post-tournament interview, Nguyen thanked his wife Julie, as well as fellow players and fans for their support.

Nguyen is no stranger to struggle, adversity and survival. Born in Nha Trang, Vietnam, he grew up in the midst of the Vietnam War and escaped his native homeland on a small boat which sailed out into the South China Sea. Ultimately making a safe passage to the United States, the Nguyen family arrived in the U.S. with very little money or material possessions. Nguyen started playing in small poker games in Las Vegas about 20 years ago where he eventually built his bankroll and began playing in poker tournaments in 1994. His first WSOP cash came in 1995, his first WSOP gold bracelet in 1997 and he won the Main Event in 1998.

Scotty Nguyen relishes his nickname "The Prince" because he considers himself the people's champion. "When I was first coming into poker, I wanted to be playing with Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese, and Stuey Ungar." Nguyen said. "Now, two of them are gone. I wanted to win this trophy to be the first winner to honor Chip." As proud as he was of this H.O.R.S.E. victory, Nguyen still referred to his 1998 WSOP Main Event win as his most satisfying poker accomplishment so far.

During final table play, Nguyen became testy which is uncharacteristic for the popular poker champion. He was dissatisfied with several things, anger perhaps fueled by a run of losing hands and bad luck. He later defended his outbursts by saying, "You can't be friends at the poker table. You have to want to win. If you want to make friends, then go bowling."

With this win, Nguyen joins an exclusive club of five-time WSOP gold bracelet winners which includes; Bones Berland, Allen Cunningham, Phil Ivey, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Ted Forrest, Berry Johnston, and Stu Ungar.

The second-place finisher was Michael DeMichele, a 23 year old from Las Vegas, NV. Showing a maturity far beyond his age, DeMichele understood the gravity of the moment, fully understanding how special Chip Reese and the H.O.R.S.E. championship are to the legacy of poker. "I never dreamed I would finish this deep," he said afterward. "There were so many players deserving of this victory more than me, I was the new kid on the block." He added: "I still have a long way to go to get where I want, but I am happy with my focus. I also have to say that Scotty is really a great player and I congratulate him."

Finishing in third place was former WSOP gold bracelet winner Erick Lindgren. As the early chip leader, he seemed primed to win it all, but as the shortest-stack during most of the 3.5 hour three handed battle, he was forced to be very selective with his hands. "It hurts a lot not to win," Lindgren said afterward. "I really wanted to honor Chip by winning."

Atlantic City-based poker pro Matt Glantz who lives in Philadelphia and commutes to the Jersey Shore, finished in fourth place. Marking his sixth time to cash at the WSOP, Glantz is a former options trader who specializes in high-limit cash games.

Former WSOP bracelet winners who finished in the other top spots were:

• Fifth place -Three-time WSOP gold bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Fame member Lyle Berman.
• Sixth place- Three-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Barry Greenstein, who’s third career win came just two weeks ago in the Razz championship.
• Seventh place- 1996 world poker champion Huck Seed. The four-time WSOP gold bracelet winner survived about 90 minutes at the final table.

Patrick Bueno who arrived with the shortest stack of the final eight players, busted out quickly and ended up as the eighth-place finisher.

The unlucky "bubble" finisher was former WSOP gold bracelet winner Mike Wattel, from Phoenix, AZ. Wattel came in 17th, but since only the top 16 finishers collected prize money, finishing one spot out of the money cost Wattel $124,320.

Other former WSOP gold bracelet winners who cashed in this event included:

• Ralph Perry - 9th
• Phil Ivey - 12th
• Daniel Negreanu - 13th
• Doyle Brunson - 16th

The only player to cash in all three H.O.R.S.E. championships played to date (2006-2008), is Barry Greenstein, who now has 12th, 7th and 6th place finishes on his WSOP resume.

Only three players have cashed twice in this event over the past three years:

• Doyle Brunson - 8th and 16th
• Dewey Tomko - 7th and 10th
• David Singer - 6th and 6th

Through the conclusion of Event #48 at this year's World Series of Poker, the gold bracelet count by nations and states reads:

12 – Nevada
7 – California
4 – New York
3—Canada
3 – Germany
2 – Italy
2 – Missouri
1 – Arizona
1 – Belgium
1 – Brazil
1 – Denmark
1 – Florida
1 – France
1 – Georgia
1 – Holland
1 – Maryland
1 – Michigan
1 – Ohio
1 – Pennsylvania
1 – Russia
1 – South Carolina
1 – Wisconsin

The "Pro-Am" gold bracelet scoreboard tally is:

• Professionals - 5 wins
• Amateurs - 11 wins
• Semi-Pros - 2 wins

Scotty Nguyen is now the leader on the 2008 prize money list, having won the most money at the WSOP, to date. His accrued winnings total $2,039,628.

Event #45 Final Results:

1 Scotty Nguyen $1,989,120 Las Vegas Nevada
2 Michael DeMichele $1,243,200 Las Vegas Nevada
3 Erick Lindgren $781,440 Las Vegas Nevada
4 Matt Glantz $568,320 Lafayette Hill Pennsylvania
5 Lyle Berman $444,000 Las Vegas Nevada
6 Barry Greenstein $355,200 Rancho Palos Verdes California
7 Huck Seed $284,160 Las Vegas Nevada
8 Patrick Bueno $230,880 Paris France
9 Rafael Perry $177,600 Las Vegas Nevada
10 Raymond Davis $177,600 Bell California
11 David Bach $159,840 Athens Georgia
12 Phil Ivey $159,840 Las Vegas Nevada
13 Daniel Negreanu $142,080 Las Vegas Nevada
14 Joseph Michael $142,080 Austin Texas
15 Andrew Bloch $124,320 Las Vegas Nevada
16 Doyle Brunson $124,320 Las Vegas Nevada

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