Event #16 Pot-Limit Omaha Official Results and Report

2006 World Series of Poker        
Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino – Las Vegas
Official Results and Report
Event #16
Pot-Limit Omaha
Buy-In: $10,000
Number of Entries: 218
Total Prize Money: $2,049,200
Defending Champion (2005): Rafi Amit
Official Results:
Lee Watkinson
Los Angeles, CA
Mike Guttman
Melbourne, Australia
Mark Dickstein
New York, NY
Rafi Amit
Bucks, UK
Hasan Habib
Downey, CA
Nicholas Gibson
Windsor, UK
Jani Vilmunen
Porvoo, Finland
Thomas Wahlroos
Helsinki, Finland
Mickey Appleman
Fort Lee, NJ
Ben Roberts
London, England
Galen Kester
Senatobia, MS
Rodeen Talebi
Dallas, TX
Barry Greenstein
Rancho Palos Verde, CA
James McManus
Kenilworth, IL
Patrick Antonius
Helsinki, Finland
Roland De Wolfe
London, England
Mikhail Ustinov
Moscow, Russia
Arul Thillai
William Chen
Lafayette Hill, PA
Daniel Negreanu
Las Vegas, NV
Samuel Grizzle
Las Vegas, NV
Marc Goodwin
Birmingham, England
Kirill Gerasimov
Moscow, Russia
Christopher Gentile
Plainfield, IL
David "Devil Fish" Ulliott
Hull, UK
Ayaz Mahmood
Houston, TX
Gary Benson
Sydney, Australia
Padraig Parkinson
Dublin, Ireland
A Monkey off his Back
Tournament poker journeyman Lee Watkinson wins his first WSOP gold bracelet and $655,746
Entrepreneur and animal rights activist pledges money for chimpanzee sanctuary
Las Vegas, NV – In spiritual circles, St. Francis of Assisi is best known as the patron saint of all animals. St. Francis was a 13th century friar who rescued, housed, and protected wounded and needy critters who could not care for themselves. If St. Francis has a modern-day disciple, his name is most certainly “Lee Watkinson.” And, if you don’t believe it, just ask a chimpanzee.
On July 12, 2006, Watkinson got a monkey the size of an 800-pound gorilla off of his back. After playing in major poker tournaments throughout North America and cashing dozens of times since 2002, Watkinson finally won his first WSOP gold bracelet. Watkinson prevailed in a blistering field of 218 players – comprised of the very best Pot-Limit Omaha specialists in the world. Each player paid $10,000 to enter the event, which created a total prize pool $2,049,200.
It took two days to play down to the last nine competitors. The final table included three former WSOP gold bracelet winners – Rafi Amit (1 win), Mickey Appleman (4 wins) and Hasan Habib (1 win). However, what was most remarkable was the international composition of the nine finalists. Demonstrating that Pot-Limit Omaha is the most “European” of poker variations, five different countries were represented – including three players from Europe. This competition was also unique because it marked the first time at this year’s World Series that a defending champion made it to the final table. Rafi Amit won this event in 2005. 
There was also a greater sense of camaraderie present at this table than seen elsewhere. At one point, the entire table ordered a shot and drank a toast together. All poker games everywhere should be as joyous as this one. ESPN television was on hand to capture it all.
Chip Count
Seat #
Jani Vilmunen
Mark Dickstein
Mickey Appleman
Mike Guttmann
Thomas Wahlroos
Hasan Habib
Rafi "Refael" Amit
Lee Watkinson
Nick Gibson
Of all finalists, no player brought as much experience to the table as 60-year-old Mickey Appleman. The eclectic ex-social worker turned sports bettor turned hippie poker player arrived as the second-lowest stack and went out with a monster draw that missed everything. On his final hand, Appleman was dealt 9-8-8-7. The final board showed 10-6-3-4-2. Appleman missed it all – the straight, the flush, and the set. A lone pair of jacks scooped the large pot and the four-time WSOP winner Appleman exited in ninth place, paying $40,984.
 Thomas Wahlroos went out next. The Finish-born poker pro was down to his last 44,000 (average stack was about 300,000) and moved all-in with K-10-9-4. The final board showed 10-7-4-Q-5. Wahlroos made two pair, but his opponent flipped over a higher two pair, which translated into an eighth-place finish. Wahlroos received $61,476.
Jani Vilmunen had higher expectations than a seventh-place finish. The early chip leader suffered through a brutal final half-hour. Vilmunen’s toughest beat took place when he made a full house (sixes over fives) holding 8-7-6-5 when the final board showed J-6-5-6-Q. Incredibly, Lee Watkinson had A-A-Q-Q. Only a miracle queen on the river saved Watkinson from elimination. Had the queen not tumbled from the deck, the final table outcome would have been completely different. It is perhaps fair to say that the hideous river queen may have cost Vilmunen a gold bracelet. It is most certainly a hand he will not forget. Vilmunen, the second Finn at the table, went out a short time later in disappointing fashion. Seventh place paid $81,968.
At six players, Englishman Nick Gibson was low on chips and committed his last 90,000 on an inside straight draw. Gibson had Q-J-J-10. Gibson was all-in after the flop came with K-9-6. Defending champ Amit had A-K-J-2 and called holding top pair. An ace on the turn gave Amit two pair. Gibson missed his draw on the river and went out in sixth place. He collected $102,460.
Hasan Habib survived several all-in situations before finally succumbing to a fifth-place finish. On his final hand of the night, Habib moved all-in, flopped two-pair and then picked up a straight draw on the turn. But he failed to improve and Rafi Amit showed a higher two-pair. Habib, who has won millions of dollars in tournament poker, including a WSOP title in 2004 for Stud Eight-or-Better, received $122,952. 
When play became four-handed, it seemed anyone’s tournament to win. Lee Watkinson enjoyed a slight chip lead, but in a card game as volatile as Pot-Limit Omaha, anything was still possible. Rafi Amit learned this lesson the hard way when he lost a few key pots and many of his chips. Then, Amit went out when he flopped two pair against Watkinson’s flopped straight. Amit still had four outs to make the full house, but came up short. Rafi Amit, from Israel, played brilliantly and had to be proud of yet another final table appearance in this event. The 26-year-old collected $143,444 for fourth place.
Mark Dickstein, a New York City investment manager, made the most out of his $10,000 investment in this event. Try making 17 times the initial outlay in just three days. Dickstein went out when his A-K-J-9 was cracked by Watkinson’s A-Q-J-4. The final board came with three spades to go with Watkinson’s A-J of spades – completing a flush. Dickstein received $184,428 for third place.
Heads-up play started off with Watkinson holding a 3 to 1 chip advantage over Aussie Mike Guttmann. It took over two hours for Watkinson to overcome a very tough fight by the CEO from Melbourne. Midway through the duel, Guttman seized the chip lead momentarily when he rivered a flush against the shell shocked Watkinson. But that would be Guttmann’s high-point of the tournament. The man nicknamed “Sticky Micky” came unglued in the final stages of the tournament, seemingly helpless to stall Watkinson’s aggressive tendencies. 
The final hand of the night was deal out when Watkinson held A-Q-6-5 versus Guttmann’s J-J-10-8. All of Guttmann’s chips went into the pot on a pre-flop re-raise. The final board showed 5-4-3-7-K. Watkinson’s 6-5 connected with the 7-4-3 on board to complete the straight. As runner up, Mike “Sticky Micky” Guttmann collected $360,659.
Afterward, Watkinson described the victory as more of a relief than a thrill. He finished second in this same event two years ago, which until tonight was the closest Watkinson had ever come to winning at the World Series.
“When I was playing heads-up and lost (the chip lead), I started thinking it was déjà vu all over again,” Watkinson said in reference to finishing in second-place at a number of majors in recent years. “But then, I just re-focused my game and realized that it takes a different kind of strategy to win a Pot-Limit Omaha tournament. I just played the percentages, wanting to get my money in with the best possible situation.”
Watkinson owns a few businesses, including a record company and a clothing line – which were started exclusively with his poker winnings. The Washington State native holds a degree in economics, which perhaps explains why Watkinson is so astute as an investor and poker professional. 
Yet, as excited as Watkinson was to win over half a million dollars and the WSOP gold bracelet, he was quick to shift everyone’s attention to a greater, more humanitarian purpose. Watkins was joined up on the poker stage by his fiancé Timmi DeRosa. Together, they described their plans to constructively use some of the $655,746 in total prize money. Watkinson and DeRosa told of their longtime commitment to rescuing and retiring captive chimpanzees, many of which have been used in everything from major motion pictures to research laboratories.
Watkinson and DeRosa told about how chimpanzees are not as useful as they become older and are commonly discarded. So a few years ago, the couple made a commitment to rescue as many creatures as possible and eventually build an animal sanctuary. “All the animals need our help,” DeRosa said. “But we really try to focus on the chimpanzees.” For this purpose, the Cortland Brandenberg Foundation (www.cortlandbrandenberg.com) was co-founded by Watkinson and DeRosa.
This is certainly the first time ever in history that chimpanzees will benefit directly from a World Series of Poker victory. Following his win, as the arena stage was being cleared, Watkinson said he intended to got out later in the night and buy the chimps some cake and ice cream. Perhaps instead of St. Francis, we should call the latest WSOP poker champion “St. Watkinson.”  
by Nolan Dalla