WSOP 2008 Event #25, $10,000 World Championship Heads-Up No Limit Hold'em, Final Results and Report

WSOP 2008 Event #25, $10,000 World Championship Heads-Up No Limit Hold'em, Final Results and Report

Number of Entries: 256
Total Net Prize Pool: $ 2,406,400
June 13-15, 2008

The Winner

Kenny Tran
Kenny Tran

Final Results

1 Kenny Tran $539,056 Arcadia California
2 Alec Torelli $336,896 Orange County California
3 Vanessa Selbst $108,288 Brooklyn New York
4 Jonathan Jaffe $108,288 Longmeadow Massachusetts
5 Lyle Berman $54,144 Minneapolis Minnesota
6 Gavin Griffin $54,144 Fullerton California
7 Brandon Adams $54,144 Pensacola Florida
8 Robert Mizrachi $54,144 Sunny Isles Beach Florida
9 David Williams $36,096 Las Vegas Nevada
10 Michael McNeil $36,096 Wheeling West Virginia
11 Michael Mizrachi $36,096 Hollywood Florida
12 Roman Paradiso $36,096 Downey California
13 John Patgorski $36,096 Chesapeake Virginia
14 Emil Patel $36,096 East Hanover New Jersey
15 Jonas Entin $36,096 Granada Hills California
16 Scott Montgomery $36,096 Perth Ontario, Canada
17 Matthew Giannetti $21,657 Las Vegas Nevada
18 Erick Lindgren $21,657 Las Vegas Nevada
19 Brian Roberts $21,657 Houston Texas
20 David Podgurski $21,657 San Diego California
21 Jean Moussa $21,657 Northampton Massachusetts
22 Andrew Black $21,657 Dublin Ireland
23 Jason Rosenkrantz $21,657 Commack New York
24 Alex Jacob $21,657 Tulsa Oklahoma
25 Isaac Haxton $21,657 Las Vegas Nevada
26 Evan Sofer $21,657 Henderson Nevada
27 Thomas Lutz $21,657 Oregon Ohio
28 Michael Banducci $21,657 Traverse City Michigan
29 Alexander Kostritsyn $21,657 Moscow Russia
30 Sam Farha $21,657 Houston Texas
31 Daniel Stern $21,657 New York New York
32 Clifford Cantor $21,657 Los Angeles California
33 Randall Brueckner $14,438 Acton Maryland
34 Le Nam $14,438 Huntington Beach California
35 Justin Bonomo $14,438 Las Vegas Nevada
36 Ryan Young $14,438 Las Vegas Nevada
37 Guillaume Delagorce $14,438 London United Kingdom
38 Justin Tran $14,438 Sacramento California
39 Anna Wroblewski $14,438 Las Vegas Nevada
40 Raymond Rice $14,438 Fort Worth Texas
41 Erik Pettersson $14,438 Lund France
42 Theobald Tran $14,438 Las Vegas Nevada
43 Joseph Patrick $14,438 New Castle Pennsylvania
44 Brian Powell $14,438 Louisville Kentucky
45 Philip Galfond $14,438 Gaithersburg Maryland
46 Patrick White $14,438 West Nyack New York
47 Ketul Nathwani $14,438   United Kingdom
48 Alexander Veldhuis $14,438 Rotterdam Holland
49 Dustin Woolf $14,438 Los Angeles California
50 Dustin Dorrance-Bowman $14,438 Austin Texas
51 Chris Ferguson $14,438 Pacific Palisades California
52 Jon Danielsson $14,438 Uppsala Sweden
53 Antonio Esfandiari $14,438 Las Vegas Nevada
54 Jesse McGinty $14,438  
55 Mark Teltscher $14,438 London United Kingdom
56 Justin Adams $14,438 Chicago Illinois
57 Sirous Jamshidi $14,438 Broomall Pennsylvania
58 Christopher Bush $14,438 Bellingham Washington
59 Blake Cahail $14,438 Kansas City Missouri
60 Clonie Gowen $14,438 Murphy Texas
61 Antoine Berube $14,438 Quebec Quebec, Canada
62 Max Kats $14,438 Moscow Russia
63 Marc Fratter $14,438 Murphy Texas
64 Juan Carlos Mortensen $14,438 Henderson Nevada


Tournament Notes

The $10,000 buy-in Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em World Championship attracted 256 entries. The event was closed off at 256 players due to the heads-up single-elimination format. The total prize pool amounted to $2,406,400. The top 64 finishers (which meant all winners of at least two heads-up matches) collected prize money.

This is only the second time this event has been included on the WSOP schedule. Last year in the inaugural, more entries were accepted (392). However, some players randomly drew a “bye” and did not have to compete in the first round. This was ultimately viewed as giving too much of an advantage to those players. Hence, the adoption of the single-elimination format with no byes this year meant that only specific multiples of entrants would be workable. Hence, the tournament was forced to accept a limited number of entries – with 128, 256, or 512 being the most likely targets. It was decided that the tournament would be capped at 256 players.

All matches/pairings in the heads-up competition were conducted by a random draw.

The tournament was played over three consecutive days. Since 256 players started the tournament in a heads-up format on Day One, 128 winners survived to play in the second round. The second round produced 64 survivors. The 64 played down to 32 in round three. O Day Two, the field of 32 was reduced to 16 in round four. Round five took the field from 16 down to 8. Round six played from 8 down to 4. The final four players took seats in two separate matches at the final table on Day Three. Those two winners faced off in a “best two out of three” finale played out on ESPN’s main stage.

The format used at the WSOP is similar to the March Madness brackets in (U.S.) college basketball. However, the field actually starts with 256 entrants instead of 64 teams. Furthermore, players in this competition are not seeded.

The competition ultimately requires that the tournament champion win nine heads-up matches.

The 2008 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em World Champion is Kenny Tran, from Arcadia, CA. He is a professional poker player, who has specialized in high-limit cash games most of his career.

Tran collected $539,056 for first place. He also earned his first WSOP gold bracelet. This was his 12th WSOP career cash.

Tran has an amazing story. He was born in Vietnam. He once worked at McDonalds. When he turned 21, he worked as a poker dealer. Then, he played recreational poker, mostly in low-limit games. Tran gradually moved up through the ranks to the point where he now routinely plays for six-figure sums amongst the toughest competition in the world.

Kenny Tran’s birth name is Phuong Tran.

Tran has a number of impressive tournament finishes over the past year. He finished 16th place in the 2007 WSOP Main Event. He finished 5th in the 2007 $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. championship. He took 16th place in the inaugural WSOP Europe championship held last year. Now, he has won the 2008 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em World Championship.

Trans victory occurred on Fathers Day. He is the father to three children.

“It means a lot to me to win, especially on Fathers Day,” Tran said afterward. “The first time you win this is really great and it’s just a great, great feeling. I have never really had this kind of feeling before.”

“I definitely have a strategy,” Tran stated after his final heads-up win. “I grind them all out. I like to grind people out and make them feel bored. I just torture them and let them finally make a mistake.”

Tran cited fellow 2008 WSOP gold bracelet winner Erick Lindgren has his toughest opponent of the eight rivals he faced in heads-up play. “I got lucky on him,” Tran admitted when asked about the match.

The second-place finisher was Alec Torelli. This was the first time to cash for the 21-year-old player.

The final heads-up confrontation between Tran and Torelli was the “best two out of three” format. Tran won 2 to 0.

The first match (won by Tran) took 94 hands and lasted 2.5 hours.

The second match (won by Tran) took 80 hands and lasted about 2 hours.

WSOP gold bracelet winner Vanessa Selbst finished in the top four. She was eliminated in the semi-final round, losing to Alec Torelli. Selbst won her first WSOP title only days earlier in the $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha championship (Event #19). Selbst came close to becoming the first woman in WSOP history to ever win two open events. Incredibly, Selbst also finished in the top four of this same event last year. She now has 13 wins and 2 losses in heads-up play over the past two years. Actually, with her Pot-Limit Omaha victory, Selbst is 14-2 in overall heads-up matches the last two years.

Last year’s champion, Daniel Schreiber played in this event. But he did not make it past the second round. This brings the current streak to 25 straight non-cashes for defending champions in their respective events.

On the day after the Hinkle Brothers (Grant and Blair) became only the second such tandem to win WSOP gold bracelets, the Mizrachi Brothers made a serious bid of their own to join the exclusive club. However, Robert Mizrachi ended up going out in the final eight, whereas Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi made it to the final 16.

Former WSOP gold bracelet winners who cashed in this event included Lyle Berman, Robert Mizrachi, and Gavin Griffin (final eight), David Williams and Erick Lindgren (final 16), Michael Banducci and Sammy Farha (final 32), Justin Bonomo, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Antonio Esfandiari, Ryan Young, and Carlos Mortensen (final 64).

Aside from his success as a high-stakes game and tournament player, Lyle Berman is best known as a casino mogul and co-founder of the World Poker Tour.

Through the conclusion of Event #25, only one player has cashed five times to date – Nikolay Evdakov, from Moscow, Russia. Evdakov is in contention to challenge the record set for “Most WSOP Cashes in a Single Year,” shared by four players -- Michael Binger (2007), Chad Brown (2007), Phil Hellmuth, Jr. (2006), and Humberto Brenes (2006), with eight in-the-money strikes.

Eight players have now cashed four times at the 2008 WSOP. This list includes – Jacobo Fernandez, Kathy Liebert, Tom Schneider, Craig Gray, Rolf Slotboom, Alex Jacob, Roland Isra, and Chris Bjorin.

The current Milwaukee’s Best Light “Player of the Year” standings shows Erick Lindgren on top of the points list with one gold bracelet win and four cashes. However, Vanessa Selbst is close in points along with Jacobo Fernandez, who currently ranks third.

Through the conclusion of Event #25 at this year’s World Series of Poker, the gold bracelet count by nations and states reads as follows:

8 - Nevada
4 - New York
3 - California
2 - Canada
2 - Missouri
1 - Germany
1 - Italy
1 - Maryland
1 - Michigan
1 - Pennsylvania
1 - South Carolina

Through the conclusion of Event #25 at this year’s World Series of Poker, the “Professionals versus Amateurs” gold bracelet scoreboard reads:

Professionals - 19 wins
Amateurs - 4 wins
Semi-Pros - 2 wins

A special note of congratulations to poker player Rocco Mediate: On this day, Rocco Mediate tied with Tiger Woods in the U.S. Open (golf) championship. An 18-hole playoff will take place tomorrow. Mediate played in the 2006 WSOP Main Event.