The $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold’em championship attracted 883 entrants, creating a prize pool totaling $1,205,295. The top 81 finishers collected prize money.
A decade ago, Limit Hold’em was king. Limit Hold’em was the dominant form of poker played in public cardrooms from the mid-1980s (when California law changed to allow flop games) until a few years ago. In fact, during much of the 1980s and 90s finding a No-Limit Hold’em game was next to impossible. For many years at the World Series of Poker, Limit Hold’em events attracted more total entries than No-Limit Hold’em events.
In 2003, everything changed. No-Limit Hold’em invaded America’s consciousness, conquered the booming poker market, and crushed everything in its path. Today, finding a Limit Hold’em tournament has become a challenge in some regions. In a nation now accustomed to the unpredictability and excitement of playing No-Limit Hold’em and watching the game on television, Limit Hold’em tournaments are spread less frequently. Proving suspicions that interest in Limit Hold’em tournaments remains dormant, turnout for this year’s $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold’em championship declined for the third consecutive year, albeit slightly. The 2006 tournament attracted 1,069 entries. In 2007, the number declined to 910 players. This year, the final tally was 883.
The tournament was played over three days. Day Three featured final table competition, which took place on the secondary table adjacent to the ESPN stage. The final table clocked in at just over seven hours.
Four different nations were represented at the final table – including Austria, Canada, Germany, and the United States. Six different nations were represented as far as countries of origin, adding Malaysia and Iran to the list above.
The winner was Jimmy Shultz who is originally from Charleston, SC. He now lives in Columbus, OH. Shultz is a 37-year-old mortgage broker who by his own admission is enduring some tough times. He is a part-time poker player.
Shultz collected $257,936 for first place. He also earned his first WSOP gold bracelet. This was Schultz’s first time ever to play in a WSOP event.
The champion stated that he will donate 25 percent of his tournament win to a special fund set up for firefighters in the Charleston Fire Department. Throughout the tournament, Shultz wore a CFD hat and shirt in honor of a few friends who died tragically while on duty last year.
Shultz was emotionally moved by his victory. He had several poignant comments about the victory:
This is a dream come true.
This is my second visit to the World Series of Poker. I came here two years ago. I wanted to play in the Six-Handed event (in 2006). I played some satellites but I could not get in. Now, here I am today.
(The firemen) suffered a tragic accident back in June of 2007. This is near a year to the day of the tragedy. All of them perished. In their remembrance and to honor my community, I wear all of their t-shirts and hats all week.
Louis Murkey (who died) was a friend of mine. He played poker with me. I have known him for about five years….I am one-hundred percent privileged to do (make the donation) for Louis and for the other folks and all their families. I can’t wait to get back home because this was all for them…This was for a lot of other people rather than just me.
It’s not about me. It’s all about them. I said that coming in. I prayed about it and I am just thrilled to death that I can do something for my community to make it a little bit better for those folks in Charleston County.
The runner up, Zac played a heck of a tournament. He’s a wonderful player. I give him a lot of credit. I was worried about him the most.
Shultz stated that he was never all-in once during the entire tournament.
The runner up was Zac Fellows, an online consultant from Vancouver, BC (Canada). Fellows played heads-up against Shultz for nearly three hours and at one point seized the chip lead after being down to the felt several times. But Fellow’s bid for a remarkable comeback came up short.
The third-place finisher was Vinny Vinh. The 38-year-old Vietnamese born gambler who now lives in Houston is widely-known to have a combustible personality, tainted by various self-destructive habits. For those hoping to witness a Vinh’s controversial table actions, Vinh did not disappoint the onlookers. He chattered on ceaselessly during play, constantly baiting his opponents to call or fold their hands. Vinh now has over $2.3 million in career tournament winnings, bolstered in part by two runner-up finishes in big WSOP events. But he has yet to win a gold bracelet.
NOTE TO ALL MEDIA: Vinny Vinh is occasionally listed as Vinnie Vinh in various reports and articles. However, according to his bio sheet, he prefers the spelling to be “Vinny.”
Big Teddy Monroe, a.k.a. “The Iceman,” from Washington, DC, finished in fourth place. The Iceman claims to be the “top cash game player in the world.” The claim could not be verified by a reliable source at press time.
Austrian poker player Gosler Markus has been playing at the WSOP for nearly a decade. He made his first final table since 2000, when he cashed third in the Pot-Limit Omaha championship. More recently, Markus finished in fifth place in the European Poker Tour’s Prague championship. He ended up in sixth place this time.
Ali Eslami was the seventh-place finisher. Eslami recently played against (and defeated) a computerized poker robot developed at the University of Alberta, in Canada.
Christoph Niesert from Berlin, Germany took eighth place. He was third in the Mixed Hold’em competition held last year.
The 12th place finisher, Steven Shkolnik placed second in this same event four years ago.
Last year’s champion Gary Stycynski did not enter this year’s event.
Marco Traniello continues to trail blaze his way towards the record books. The Italian-born poker pro and husband of Jennifer Harman now has more WSOP cashes than any other poker player since 2005 – with 16 (except for Humberto Brenes who shares the same number). He cashed in 53rd place in this event.
Two-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Tom Schneider, who won the 2007 WSOP Player of the Year award, took 64th place.
Three-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Dewey Tomko finished 68th. This marked his 42nd career WSOP cash. He now ranks 11th on the all-time list, one behind “Miami John” Cernuto (who cashed in yesterday’s event).
On the Pro’s versus Amateurs scoreboard, through the first 12 events at this year’s World Series, professionals lead 9-3 in the gold bracelet count.