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

2008 WSOP Event #50 Recap

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The largest Pot-Limit Omaha tournament prize pool in poker history, the $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha World Championship, Event #50 was held on July 29th – July 1st. The 381 entries created the record prize pool of $3,581,400 and the top 36 finishers collected prize money. The 381 entries represented an increase of 21 percent over entries in this same event last year.

While all 55 WSOP tournaments on the 2008 schedule are categorized as gold bracelet events, this is also known as a “world championship” event, meaning the winner of this event is the Pot-Limit Omaha world champion.  Beginning this year, all ten $10,000+ buy-in tournaments are designated as official world championships.  The ten events include; eight gold bracelet tournaments with $10,000 buy-ins, the $50,000 buy-in HORSE event, and the Main Event.

Event #50 was played over three consecutive days, with the final table being played on the main stage and being filmed by ESPN for later broadcast.  In an unusual turn of events, this final table outdrew a potentially historic event taking place at the secondary final table, which hosted the conclusion of Event #51.  In that tournament, Phil Hellmuth arrived at the final table as the chip leader and was seeking his record 12th WSOP gold bracelet.  The Hellmuth show didn’t seem to matter to the hundreds of spectators crammed into the stands however, because they were there to watch their favorite players in the Pot-Limit Omaha championship.

This tournament attracted the most international competition in WSOP history, with the 36 players who cashed in this event representing 15 different nations.  Out of the 36 in-the-money finishers, 28 of them were from outside the United States.  The countries represented by the 28 winners were:  Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Venezuela, and the United States.  Since Pot-Limit Omaha is one of Europe’s most popular forms of poker, it is comes as no surprise that 15 of the 36 players who cashed were from Europe.

The $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha world champion is professional poker player Marty Smyth, from Belfast, Ireland.  Although Smyth has had many previous tournament cashes, this was his first career WSOP gold bracelet. Prior to this history making $859,549 first place victory, Smyth had cashed only one time at the WSOP;  a 39th-place finish in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha event #19. Before deciding to play poker for a living, Smyth worked as a civil servant.  “It was a dead-end job, I was lucky to find poker” he said. Smyth acknowledged the Irish poker pioneers who preceded his victory in this event. “Padriag Parkinson and Donnacha O’Dea were Irish poker gods to me,” he said.
Irish players were among the first international players to start playing in the WSOP, more than 25 years ago when in the early 1980s, Jack Binion offered free room and amenities to any player who came to the WSOP from a foreign country.  In 1999, the Irish had their first and only WSOP world champion - Noel Furlong.  Smyth becomes the fifth Irish national in history to win a WSOP gold bracelet. Prior to this win, Smyth’s biggest win was at the 2007 Irish Poker Open.  Following his WSOP victory, Smyth cited the Irish poker championship as being his proudest moment, but he added that the WSOP gold bracelet was even more meaningful.

The final table was arguably the most festive of any final table in years, thanks to Smyth’s huge cheering section of Irish fans and poker superstars.  Other players brought along supporters who were equally as enthusiastic and the final table atmosphere was filled with singing and chanting, creating an atmosphere more like an international soccer match than a poker event.

Smyth arrived at the final table ranked fourth in the chip count and when it was over, he said, “It’s more of a relief, to win, than anything.”  When asked by ESPN commentator Norman Chad if he ever might return to regular employment, Smyth jokingly replied, “I’m pretty much unemployable at this point.” Smyth was presented with this first gold bracelet by WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack who said, “I present to you this gold and diamond bracelet which you can now take back to the emerald isle.”

The second-place finisher was Peter Jetten, from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who celebrated his win with his best friend, Max Greenwood, who earned a WSOP gold bracelet just two days earlier. Commenting on his second place finish, Jetten said, “You have to put yourself in a position to win, I thought that the three of us, (Michael Mizrachi who finished third, and Marty Smyth who won), were the only players who really gave ourselves a chance to win.  So, I was glad to see we ended up as the top three.”

The outcome was a real disappointment to Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi who finished third.  Mizrach is a highly-respected tournament pro and some observers thought that his victory might be a foregone conclusion, given that so many other great players were finally afforded their long awaited WSOP triumphs at this year’s WSOP.

Billy “the Croc” Argyros made the final table lively when the fun loving Australian sported a green alligator hat throughout play and constantly laughed and joked with the other players.  Argyos has been coming to the WSOP for nearly ten years and had his own cheering section of Aussies, which included 2005 WSOP champion Joe Hachem.

Finishing in seventh place was professional bridge player Tom Hanlon, who made the trek to the WSOP from his home in Dublin, Ireland.

Last year’s champion was Robert Mizrachi entered this event but did not cash.  So far, 50 of 51 defending champions at this year’s WSOP have failed to cash in their respective events.
Other former WSOP gold bracelet winners who cashed included:

•    Josh Arieh -12th
•    Eddy Scharf - 17th
•    Dario Alioto - 19th
•    Rob Hollilnk - 22nd
•    David Williams - 26th
•    David Singer - 34th

Through the conclusion of Event #50, the gold bracelet count by nations and states read as follows:

12 – Nevada
8 – California
4 – New York
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

Eleven different nations have produced a gold bracelet winner at this year’s WSOP including; Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Russia, and the United States.

The “Pro-Am” gold bracelet scoreboard read:  
Professionals – 37 wins
Amateurs -- 11 wins
Semi-Pros --    2 wins

The “Player of the Year” race standings through the end of Event #50 were:

1.    Barry Greenstein
2.    Jacobo Fernandez
3.    David Benyamine
4.    John Phan

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

Through the conclusion of Event #51, the total amount of prize money awarded at this year’s WSOP totals $111,115,333.

Final Results:

1    Martin Smyth    $859,549    Belfast    Ireland
2    Peter Jetten    $528,256    Toronto    Ontario, Canada
3    Michael Mizrachi    $331,279    Las Vegas    Nevada
4    Billy Argyros    $268,605    Melbourne    Australia
5    Richard Harroch    $214,884    San Francisco    California
6    Kido Pham    $170,116    Dallas    Texas
7    Tom Hanlon    $134,302    Dublin     Ireland
8    Brandon Moran    $107,442    Chicago    Illinois
9    Greg Hurst    $80,581    Tazewell    Tennessee
10    David Benefield    $53,721    Fort Worth     Texas
11    Shawn Buchanan    $53,721    Abbottsford    British Columbia, Canada
12    Joshua Arieh    $53,721    Marietta    Georgia
13    Thong Tran    $44,767    Las Vegas    Nevada
14    Julian Powell    $44,767    Victoria    Australia
15    Kenneth Mattson    $44,767    Stockholm    Sweden
16    Guillaume Patry    $35,814        Quebec, Canada
17    Eduard Scharf    $35,814    Koln    Germany
18    Rino Mathis    $35,814    Uster    Switzerland
19    Dario Alioto    $28,651    Palermo    Italy
20    David Ashby    $28,651    Louisville    Kentucky
21    Stephen Ladowsky    $28,651    Toronto    Ontario, Canada
22    Rob Hollink    $28,651    Groningen    Netherlands
23    Magnus Petersson    $28,651        Sweden
24    Brant Hale    $28,651    Moore    Oklahoma
25    Sigi Stockinger    $28,651    Linz    Austria
26    David Williams    $28,651    Las Vegas    Nevada
27    Jamison Pickering    $28,651    Surfers Paradise    Australia
28    Nikolay Evdakov    $25,069    Moscow    Russia
29    Robin Larsson    $25,069    Koping     Sweden
30    Vegard Nygaard    $25,069    Oslo    Norway
31    Ben Blackmore    $25,069    Liverpool    England
32    Nicholas Gibson    $25,069    Bucks    England
33    Jonas Klausen    $25,069    Odense C    Denmark
34    David Singer    $25,069    Las Vegas    Nevada
35    Jorge Arias    $25,069    Caracas    Venezuela
36    Eric Cloutier    $25,069    Lafayette    Louisiana

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