The $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em championship (Event #39) attracted 2,720 entries, creating a prize pool totaling $3,712,800. The top 270 finishers collected prize money.
This is the fifth of seven $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em tournaments on the 2008 WSOP schedule. This game and buy-in level has consistently proven to be the most popular draw on the schedule in recent years, aside from the Main Event.
This was the second-highest turnout of the year, so far. Only Event #2 ($1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em) attracted more entries – with 3,929.
An alternative, lower buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament of less than $10,000 has been included as part of the WSOP schedule every year since 1973. Over the years, these buy-in amounts have ranged from $1,000 up to $5,000. More $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournaments have now taken place at the WSOP over the past 39-years than any other event.
The tournament was played over three consecutive days. The final table was played on the ESPN main stage and was broadcast by Bluff Media on ESPN360.
With results from this event added, a significant milestone was crossed as more than 12,000 different players have now cashed in the 39-year history of the World Series of Poker. Furthermore, a total of 117 players have won over a million dollars at the WSOP.
Robert Cheun, who was last year’s champion for this event on the corresponding date, did not enter this tournament. This brings the current streak to 39 straight non-cashes for defending champions in their respective events.
The 2008 $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em champion is David Woo, a.k.a. “The Magnificent.” He is a 30-year-old poker pro from Atlanta, GA. Woo has been playing poker full-time for about five years.
Woo was born in South Korea. He graduated from Georgia State University.
Woo owned an operated a small coffee shop before taking up poker. He played poker recreationally at night and then woke up early each morning to open his store. After awhile, Woo was making more money with his poker game, so he decided to give up the small business.
Woo enjoys gambling. He once made a $50,000 side wager with a friend on a basketball court. Incredibly, Woo made a bet that he could make at least 80 of 100 three-pointers. Since Woo stands no more than about 5’5” tall and does not look like much of a basketball player, the wager seemed hopeless. Woo, who perfected a three-point shot while a student at Georgia State, ended up making more than 80 percent of the shots and collected on the bet.
Woo was given his nickname “The Magnificent” by none other than Josh Arieh, a two-time WSOP gold bracelet winner from Atlanta. Arieh plays regularly with Woo in home games and gave him his complimentary moniker.
Woo won $631,656 for first place. This was also his first WSOP gold bracelet victory. This marked his fourth time to cash at the WSOP, all since 2005.
Woo finished in the money at the 2006 WSOP Main Event. He took 132nd place. He had a serious shot at going much deeper what stands as the biggest poker tournament of all time, as he was one of the chip leaders after Day Four. Unfortunately, when second in chips to Jamie Gold, he lost a huge pot and was never able to recover his stack.
“Every time I play poker is a learning experience,” Woo said afterward.
“I would have been sick with anything less than first place,” Woo said. “I really expected to win.”
The heads-up match between players named “Woo” and “Wood” created some difficulty for the tournament announcer Robbie Thompson, as the last names were so similar.
Eric Beren took third place in this event. Last month, Beren graduated from M.I.T. – a school which has produced some exceptional poker talent.
Only one former WSOP gold bracelet winner made it to the final table. That player was Thom Werthmann, from suburban Detroit. Werthmann, who won the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha championship in 2005, finished in fifth place.
Seventh-place finisher Curtis Early had an interesting experience at the WSOP. He was on his way from moving his personal belongings from Dallas to Seattle, when he decided to stopover for a few days in Las Vegas. In fact, his U-Haul trailer was hitched to his car in the Rio parking lot, while Early collected $113,240 in prize money in this event.
Mike Glasser finished in eighth place. Prior to becoming a poker professional, Glasser was a criminal defense attorney in Florida.
Winner David Woo is officially listed as being from Atlanta, GA. Through the conclusion of Event #39 at this year’s World Series of Poker, the gold bracelet count by nations and states reads as follows:
10 – Nevada
6 – California
4 – New York
2 – Canada
2 – Germany
2 – Italy
2 – Missouri
1 – Belgium
1 – Denmark
1 – France
1 – Georgia
1 – Holland
1 – Maryland
1 – Michigan
1 – Pennsylvania
1 – Russia
1 – South Carolina
1 – Wisconsin
Nine different nations have produce a gold bracelet winner at this year’s WSOP. This list now includes Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Russia, and the United States.
The Event #39 winner David Woo is to be classified as a professional since he left his job as a business owner and has supported himself by playing poker for about five years. Accordingly, the “Pro-Am” gold bracelet scoreboard currently reads:
Professionals – 31 wins
Amateurs -- 6 wins
Semi-Pros -- 2 wins
Michael Polcari was the chip leader at the End of Day One for this event. He cashed in 11th place. Hence, through Event #39, the End of Day One chip leaders have gone on to cash 76 percent of the time -- 28 of 37 occasions (the chip leader was not applicable on two events). Ten of these same 37 chip leaders (27 percent) made it to the final table. Only one chip leader went on to win the event. That lone wire-to-wire winner was Vanessa Selbst in Event #19.
Thom Werthmann was the chip leader at the start of this final table. He ended up as the fourth-place finisher. Through Event #39, sixteen of 37 chip leaders at the start of the final table (43 percent) went on to win the event. Twenty-two of 36 chip leaders (59 percent) went on to finish in the top three spots. Two events did not have a chip leader (Heads-Up and Shootout tournaments).
It should be noted that the Milwaukee’s Best Light “Player of the Year” rankings will now include points accrued from the $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. championship.