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2012 H.O.R.S.E Tournament won by David Baker

The high buy-in H.O.R.S.E event is always of the most hotly contested at the WSOP, and the 2012 event was no different. All told, on the final table, there were 25 bracelets, which was actually a record (outside the player’s championship.) The winner of the tournament, David Baker, is a 25-year-old professional from the US. With this win, David has now won two bracelets and cashed 17 times at the WSOP.

The final table was a who’s who of some of the biggest names in poker. Ivey and Hellmuth who have 8 and 12 bracelets respectively were by far the two largest names. However, the other players at the table had some vast experience as well. One of the players, Dan Kelly, won the $25,000 No Limit Hold'em Six Handed event in 2010. Another, John Monnette, won the $2,500 Eight Game Mix in 2011, and $5,000 Seven Card Stud event in 2012. All the media attention was on Ivey and Hellmuth after Ivey’s second in the $10,000 pot limit Hold’em tournament earlier in the series, and Hellmuth’s recent 12th tournament bracelet in the $2,500 Seven Card Razz event.

It was not easy for Baker, who took a long time to get going when he moved to the final table. At one point, Baker had just 300,000 in chips, which was one of the lowest stacks, and it looked like he would be blinded out before long. However, soon after, Baker doubled up through Ivey moving Ivey to one of the short stacks in the process. From there he went on to win a few more vital hands, and before the dinner break (the final five), Baker found himself in second on 1.3 million, which while above average, was still 700k behind Monnette.

There were a few decisive hands on the final table that helped Baker to his win. Playing Hold'em, Baker found himself heads up against Hellmuth. Hellmuth called the positional raise with K-4. Baker (who held Q-4) put out a continuation on the flop a board that missed both players, which Hellmuth called. The turn came another dead card and they both checked the river showed a queen, and after Baker bet Hellmuth made a call with king high to give Baker the win.

Heads up Baker found himself against Monnette, with Monnette about 700k in front. Baker quickly turned this around, and, at one point, even took a 2.5 million chip lead. However, Monnette clawed his way back into the tournament before Baker took the initiative and the win playing Stud.

The win saw Baker pick up just over $450,000 with Monnette picking up $279,000 for his second-place finish. However, with Ivey cashing for the fourth time in this series and Hellmuth having won a previous event in this series it would not be a surprise to see at least one of them run deep in the main event, and who knows, maybe with a bit of luck one of them could take down the title.

Event 30 Winner Brings Charity Donation

The name Larry Wright is not one that many poker followers would have heard of too much. For 37 years, Larry Wright has been attending the WSOP but mostly to sit down and play cash games rather than bouncing from tournament to tournament.

After a few recent close calls with final tables, Larry Wright entered the 30th event at the 2012 WSOP series the 2-7 draw Lowball, which has always been one of the lesser played events mostly because it hardly has any mainstream appeal. After two days of playing a game that even Larry admitted he was not fully confident about, he ended up against some of the biggest names in the Lowball game. In fact, on the final table Larry would tell you he was probably the least experienced player there, and that makes his win more impressive.

Larry Wright said in a post tournament interview that while the tournament was small, he recognised a large percentage of players in the tournament and had to fight off the nerves to stop intimidation when he sat down at a new table. The tournament, which demands a $1,500 entry fee saw a reasonable field of 285 players, which meant there was just under $385,000 in the prize pool with 35 spots for cash. After beating off 284 other players, Larry Wright earned $101.975 and, of course, the gold WSOP bracelet.

Of course, Larry was no first timer at major tournaments. He has been playing since the age of 22 and has made a WSOP (Omaha) final table and cashed ten times in various WSOP events, so he knows what he is doing, but compared to some of the other players in the field and his inexperience at Lowball this is a rather impressive victory.

As mentioned, this tournament was not short of a big name. Erick Lindgren, Erik Seidel, Jennifer Harman and David Sklansky all finished in the money, but the plaudits will go to Larry Wright, who will now want to follow up his success in other events at this WSOP and future events.

At the final table Mr. Wright had plenty of support from both family and friends and quite how he won not even Larry will know. Entering the last table in sixth (out of seven) Mr. Wright was short stacked for a long time. However, he stuck it out, and a few players fell around him. When the long-time chip leader Mizrachi finished fourth, Larry picked his spots and doubled up in back to back hands. From there, Larry played out his well deserved win.

Larry said in the same post tournament interview that the majority of the money is going to one of his missionary friends who is helping people in Sudan, Africa. He plans to send his friend enough money so they can develop a few houses and source water properly. He also intends to do the same with any other tournament winnings he can find at the WSOP so good luck to him!


WSOP Heads Up Field Again Fails to Reach Maximum Field

The world’s biggest poker series has once again failed to deliver in the early stages. This is not the first time this happened, which left some to question if the series is losing some of its appeal or if some are just getting bored with poker.

Only 317 players entered the heads-up tournament which left the field with 61 byes to the second round, something that tournament organisers hate having to do because it means that some people have an easier route. In fact, those who received a bye just had to win two matches to cash.

This disappointing field follows on from the two previous events before it. Event one (the Casino employee´s tournament) and event 2 both drew in disappointing fields with event 2 (the $1500 No Limit Hold’em tournament) drawing less than half the expected field. The numbers picked up with the fourth event with 14 more players than last year, but these numbers were still down from the same event in 2010.

With the above in mind, the heads-up event was one that still managed to draw in several household names. Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, ElKy, Jeffrey Lisandro, Jake Cody and Jonathan Duhamel all brought into the tournament, but they all busted out before the cash.

Why the numbers have decreased

Obviously late events with poker in America (Black Friday) have stopped them from qualifying on the internet for these big tournaments and over recent years a lot of seats went to Americans who won seats online on one of the major sites.

The buy in’s for the tournament are steep. Therefore, buying in directly or trying to gain a satellite entry through an offline tournament is much harder than it is to qualify online.

Ever since Black Friday online poker has failed to regain the numbers, and this is understandable as the European and the Rest of the World market was already penetrated. However, many are expecting these numbers to receive a temporary boost with coverage of the WSOP hitting the screens and a recent law change in Spain.

Since Black Friday, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet were all shut down, and the other major sites that survived stop American players signing up to their services.

The Main Event

With this in mind, the main event still has as many players as expected. In 2011, over 6500 people played in the main event, which was the third largest field of all time. It is expected that the 2012 event will have the same sort of numbers. Many are suggesting that roughly 6,200 will play this year. It is predicted that in just a few years, there could be more European players in the main event than Americans.

Other tournaments

It is expected that all the smaller no-limit events will fall between 8 and 10% this year, and this is something that has already been justified with the early tournaments. However, the mixed games will continue to increase as their numbers were low originally and the popularity of these games is still on the increase.

Phil Hellmuth Wins 12th Bracelet at WSOP

Every time Phil Hellmuth steps into the WSOP arena he tries to beat his record of 11 WSOP bracelets. Well, he has just broken it capturing his 12th bracelet in the 2012 18th event the $2,500 seven-card razz event.


His 12th bracelet, which is surprisingly his first outside Hold’em, is the last in a long era of 23 years since his initial and arguably most memorable when he won the main event in May 1989. However, since then he has won a string of impressive tournaments.


Hellmuth will be delighted to win his 12th bracelet having gone five years without winning, his longest time without a bracelet since his first. Last year, at the 2011 WSOP, Hellmuth finished second in an astonishing three tournaments, so his 12th was obviously a welcome addition. He mentioned that when he was playing heads up, the thought did cross his mind that he might finish runner up again, but he managed to clear the negative thoughts out of his head and go on to capture his 12th title.


Currently only Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan are close to Hellmuth on 10 bracelets a piece. However, the player Hellmuth has to worry about is Phil Ivey (currently on eight) who is making strides to win his next one. Phil Ivey was not at the 2011 WSOP series, but he has already finished second in the $10,000 pot limit Hold’em in this series.


Hellmuth is more than aware that Ivey is his main rival when it comes to the race for the most bracelets. He said in an interview that “It was a big swing in the bracelet race too.” He went on to say that if he failed to win and Ivey finished first there would only be a couple of bracelets between them. It has previously been mentioned that they both want to race to 25, a number that many believe they will both reach. Ivey has currently cashed in 42 WSOP events compared to Hellmuth’s 89.


It seems like it may be hard for Ivey to overcome. Many argue that Hellmuth is as good of a player now as he has ever been, and at only 47, and poker not a game that requires you to be in peak physical condition, Hellmuth is far from done at the tables. On the other hand, Ivey, at 36 may have an 11 year age advantage, but even to catch up he would need to win one bracelet every three years without Hellmuth winning one.


The exciting part of the story comes in when you look at their playing ability. Even though Hellmuth is one of the best WSOP tournament players in history Ivey is a player with it all to offer. His nickname, the Tiger Woods of poker, pays testament to his ability at the table. Many think that he is the best naturally gifted player at any table, and if he wins a couple of bracelets in quick succession then the race will really heat up.

Celebrities at the WSOP

Over the last decade, the WSOP has not only been a place to see the finest poker players on the tables but many celebrities as well, and some of them are not too bad either. Here, we will explore a bit more about some of the celebrities you may be able to find at these tables.

Obviously, as the buy in is $10,000, there are only a few people who can realistically afford to enter this tournament, and celebrities are one of the few that can afford this entry fee.

Here are several of the players who have turned up to the event year in year out for the last few years. Ray Romano (of Everybody Loves Raymond fame), James Woods (twice Oscar-nominated actor), Jennifer Tilly (actor in Liar-Liar now professional poker player) and Matt Damon (known for Good Will Hunting, Rounders’ and Saving Private Ryan) are all players that turn up every year.

There are also several sports stars that show up to play the WSOP. Teddy Sheringham (former Manchester United striker) is somebody that was a huge passion with poker and loves the WSOP event.

Boris Becker (former world number-one tennis player and one of many faces of Pokerstars) has a strong connection to the game. Shane Warne (former Australian cricket player now the partner of Liz Hurley) will undoubtedly be there because of his connection to 888 Poker. Micheal Phelps (ex-Australian swimmer) is one that people will always be on the lookout for at these events. Many poker players, including Phil Hellmuth have said that Micheal Phelps is one to watch out for on the circuit.

The issue with celebrities at the WSOP is none of them have ever run really deep in recent years when the field expanded. However, the pool of celebrities playing in the tournament is increasing every year so you would imagine it would only be a matter of time before one of them picks up a sizeable cheque.

There are two Hollywood names who have not yet been mentioned; Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire. Ben Affleck (most known for Dogma, Armageddon and Pearl Harbour) was trained by Amir Vahedi and Annie Duke (two notable poker pros.) He is one of the only big celebrities to win a major tournament having won the 2004 California State Poker Championships. Tobey Maguire (most known as the actor who plays Spiderman) is one of the finest celebrity poker players. He is one of the only celebrities to cash in the WSOP (2007), and he has a strong poker CV outside of the WSOP having won the 2004 $2,000 Phil Hellmuth Invitational. In fact, Hellmuth once said on an episode of Poker after Dark that he believed Maguire had won in excess of $10 million playing poker in Hollywood.

As the number of celebrities hitting the WSOP continues to increase, and their standard keeps increasing as well it will not be long until we see a big-name run deep in the main event and maybe one day we may see a celebrity winner.

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