WSOP 2008 Event #50, World Championship Pot Limit Omaha, Final Results and Report

WSOP 2008 Event #50, World Championship Pot Limit Omaha, Final Results and Report

Number of Entries: 381
Total Net Prize Pool: $ 3,581,400
June 29 – July 1, 2008

Final Results

1 Martin Smyth $859,549 Belfast Ireland
2 Peter Jetten $528,256 Toronto Ontario, Canada
3 Michael Mizrachi $331,279 Las Vegas Nevada
4 Billy Argyros $268,605 Melbourne Australia
5 Richard Harroch $214,884 San Francisco California
6 Kido Pham $170,116 Dallas Texas
7 Tom Hanlon $134,302 Dublin Ireland
8 Brandon Moran $107,442 Chicago Illinois
9 Greg Hurst $80,581 Tazewell Tennessee
10 David Benefield $53,721 Fort Worth Texas
11 Shawn Buchanan $53,721 Abbottsford British Columbia, Canada
12 Joshua Arieh $53,721 Marietta Georgia
13 Thong Tran $44,767 Las Vegas Nevada
14 Julian Powell $44,767 Victoria Australia
15 Kenneth Mattson $44,767 Stockholm Sweden
16 Guillaume Patry $35,814   Quebec, Canada
17 Eduard Scharf $35,814 Koln Germany
18 Rino Mathis $35,814 Uster Switzerland
19 Dario Alioto $28,651 Palermo Italy
20 David Ashby $28,651 Louisville Kentucky
21 Stephen Ladowsky $28,651 Toronto Ontario, Canada
22 Rob Hollink $28,651 Groningen Netherlands
23 Magnus Petersson $28,651   Sweden
24 Brant Hale $28,651 Moore Oklahoma
25 Sigi Stockinger $28,651 Linz Austria
26 David Williams $28,651 Las Vegas Nevada
27 Jamison Pickering $28,651 Surfers Paradise Australia
28 Nikolay Evdakov $25,069 Moscow Russia
29 Robin Larsson $25,069 Koping Sweden
30 Vegard Nygaard $25,069 Oslo Norway
31 Ben Blackmore $25,069 Liverpool England
32 Nicholas Gibson $25,069 Bucks England
33 Jonas Klausen $25,069 Odense C Denmark
34 David Singer $25,069 Las Vegas Nevada
35 Jorge Arias $25,069 Caracas Venezuela
36 Eric Cloutier $25,069 Lafayette Louisiana

Tournament Notes

The $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha World Championship (Event #50) attracted 381 entries, creating a record prize pool totaling $3,581,400. The top 36 finishers collected prize money.

This was the largest Pot-Limit Omaha tournament prize pool in poker history.

Entries in 2008 increased by 21 percent over last year.

While all 55 WSOP tournaments on the 2008 schedule are categorized as gold bracelet events, this is also known as a “world championship” event. This means the winner of this event is the Pot-Limit Omaha world champion. Beginning this year, all $10,000+ buy-in tournaments are designated as official world championships. This means a total of ten WSOP tournaments are world championships. This includes eight gold bracelet tournaments with $10,000 buy-ins, the $50,000 buy-in HORSE event, and the Main Event.

The tournament was played over three consecutive days. The final table was played on the main stage and was filmed by ESPN for later broadcast.

In an odd spectacle of surrealism, this final table outdrew a potentially historic event taking place at the secondary final table, which hosted the conclusion of Event #51. In that tournament, Phil Hellmuth arrived at the final table as the chip leader and was seeking his record 12th WSOP gold bracelet. That didn’t seem to matter to the hundreds of spectators crammed into the stands who were watching their favorite players in the Pot-Limit Omaha championship.

Last year’s champion was Robert Mizrachi. He entered this event but did not cash. So far, 50 of 51 defending champions at this year’s WSOP have failed to cash in their respective events. Blair Rodman was the lone exception.

This tournament may very well have attracted the most international competition in WSOP history. Of the 36 players who cashed in this event, 15 different nations were represented. In fact, 28 of the 36 in-the-money finishers were from outside the United States. Players who cashed came from: Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Venezuela, and the United States.

Since Pot-Limit Omaha is one of Europe’s most popular forms of poker, it is perhaps no surprise that nearly half the players who cashed were from Europe (15 of 36).

The $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha world champion is Marty Smyth, from Belfast, Ireland. He is a professional poker player with many previous tournament cashes and wins. This was his first career WSOP gold bracelet.

Prior to this victory, Smyth had cashed only one time at the WSOP. That was a 39th-place finish in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha event earlier this year (Event #19).

Smyth won $859,549 for first place. This was the largest Pot-Limit Omaha top prize in poker history.

Prior to playing poker for a living, Smyth worked as a civil servant. “It was a dead-end job,” he said. “I was lucky to find poker.”

Smyth acknowledged the Irish poker pioneers who preceded his victory in this event. “Padriag Parkinson and Donnacha O’Dea were Irish poker gods to me,” he said.

Irish players were among the first internationals to start playing in the WSOP, more than 25 years ago. In the early 1980s, Jack Binion offered free room and amenities to any player who came to the WSOP from a foreign country. Irish poker players began playing at the WSOP and in 1999, the Irish had their first and only world champion – Noel Furlong (Note: Dan Harrington is of Irish decent, but is an American).

Smyth becomes the fifth Irish national in history to win a WSOP gold bracelet.

Prior to this win, Smyth’s biggest win was at the 2007 Irish Poker Open. Following his WSOP victory, Smyth cited the Irish poker championship as being his proudest moment. But he added that the WSOP gold bracelet was even more meaningful.

Smyth has been playing professionally for about six years.

This final table was arguably the most festive of any final table in years. Smyth brought along a huge cheering section of Irish fans and poker superstars. Other players brought along supporters who were equally as enthusiastic. The final table atmosphere was filled with singing and chanting which made the atmosphere more like the Olympics or an international soccer match.

Smyth arrived at the final table ranked fourth in the chip count. “It’s more of a relief (to win), than anything,” he said.

When asked by ESPN commentator Norman Chad if he ever might return to regular employment, Smyth jokingly replied, “I’m pretty much unemployable at this point.”

Smyth was presented with this first gold bracelet by WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack who said, “I present to you this gold and diamond bracelet which you can now take back to the emerald isle.”

The second-place finisher was Peter Jetten, from Toronto, Ontario (Canada). Oddly enough, Jetten’s best friend, Max Greenwood, earned a WSOP gold bracelet just two days earlier.

“You have to put yourself in a position to win,” Jetten said afterward. “I thought that the three of us (including Michael Mizrachi who finished third, and Marty Smyth who won) were the only players who really gave ourselves a chance to win. So, I was glad to see we ended up as the top three.”

The third-place finisher was highly-respected tournament pro Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi. The outcome was a real disappointment to Mizrachi, especially given that several poker pros had succeeded in achieving their first WSOP victory this year. Some observers even thought that a Mizrachi victory might be a foregone conclusion, given that so many other great players were finally afforded their long-sought WSOP triumphs at this year’s WSOP.

Billy “the Croc” Argyros made things fun for everyone at the final table. The good-natured Australian was decked out in a green alligator hat throughout play and constantly laughed and joked with the other players. Argyos has been coming to the WSOP for nearly ten years and had his own cheering section of Aussies, which included 2005 WSOP champion Joe Hachem.

Tom Hanlon, who finished in seventh place, is a professional bridge player.

Brandon Moran finished in eighth place. Moran was a co-winner of the first annual “Ante-Up For Africa” charity poker tournament held at the 2007 WSOP. Moran joined with Dan Shak and donated the entire prize -- nearly $400,000 to the charity.

Other former WSOP gold bracelet winners who cashed included Josh Arieh (12th), Eddy Scharf (17th), Dario Alioto (19th), Rob Hollilnk (22nd), David Williams (26th), and David Singer (34th).

Nikolay Evdakov not only broke a WSOP record. He shattered it. A few days ago, the Russian poker player tied, and then later broke the record for “Most WSOP Cashes in a Single Year.” The previous record was eight cashes. With his 28th-place finish in this tournament, Evdakov has now cashed ten times. Incredibly, he still has six more events remaining on the schedule to add to his tally (including the four events which will be played at WSOP-Europe).

Former WSOP gold bracelet winner Josh Arieh was the chip leader at the End of Day One in this event. He finished in 12th place. Through Event #50, the End of Day One chip leaders have gone on to cash 77 percent of the time -- 37 of 48 occasions (the chip leader was not applicable on two events). Only twelve of these same 48 chip leaders (25 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.

Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi was the chip leader at the start of this final table. He ended up as third-place finisher. Through Event #50, eighteen of 48 chip leaders at the start of the final table (37 percent) went on to win the event. Twenty-nine of 48 chip leaders (60 percent) went on to finish in the top three spots. Two events did not have a chip leader (Heads-Up and Shootout tournaments).

Winner Marty Smyth is officially listed as being from Belfast, Ireland. Through the conclusion of Event #50, the gold bracelet count by nations and states reads as follows:
12 – Nevada
8 – California
4 – New York
3—Canada
3 – Germany
2 – Italy
2 – Missouri
1 – Arizona
1 – Belgium
1 – Brazil
1 – Denmark
1 – Florida
1 – France
1 – Georgia
1 – Holland
1—Ireland
1 – Maryland
1 – Michigan
1 – Ohio
1 – Pennsylvania
1 – Russia
1 – South Carolina
1 – Wisconsin

Eleven different nations have produced a gold bracelet winner at this year’s WSOP. This list now includes Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Russia, and the United States.

The Event #50 winner Marty Smyth is to be classified as a professional player. He has been playing full-time for six years and has won a number of major tournaments. Accordingly, the “Pro-Am” gold bracelet scoreboard currently reads:
Professionals – 37 wins
Amateurs -- 11 wins
Semi-Pros -- 2 wins

Erick Lindgren now leads the “Player of the Year” race (through the end of Event #50). Barry Greenstein, Jacobo Fernandez, David Benyamine, and John Phan are close behind, For a complete updated points list, see: http://www.worldseriesofpoker.com/players/2008.asp?sort=poypts

Scotty Nguyen is now the leader on the 2008 prize money list, having won the most money at the WSOP, to date. His accrued winnings total $2,039,628.

Through the conclusion of Event #51, the total amount of prize money awarded at this year’s WSOP totals $111,115,333. This is more than last year’s prize pool at this same time last year.

On this day, Harrahs Entertainment/WSOP and BetFair jointly announced the upcoming schedule for WSOP Europe. WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack presided over a short press conference at the Rio which provided details about the event. There will be four gold bracelet tournaments which will take place in London, England. The dates are September 19th through October 2nd, 2008. More details can be found at the official WSOP website: www.worldseriesofpoker.com