The $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold’em Shootout championship (Event #53) attracted 823 entries, creating a prize pool totaling $1,123,395. The top 90 finishers collected prize money.
This is the final event on the schedule before the WSOP Main Event.
On this day, the WSOP set a new record. More countries have now cashed this year than any time previously at any major tournament held anywhere in the world. A total of 104 different countries have now sent players to the WSOP who have finished in-the-money. Last year, this number was 87 different nations. However, the Main Event is still yet to be played in 2008, which could add even more countries to the list. For the first time ever, many nations in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East have discovered the WSOP which now reflects the international flavor of the tournament series.
The tournament was played over two consecutive days. The final table was played on the secondary stage. Due to the two-day schedule, playing times ran longer than expected. The final table began play at midnight (actually on Day Three) and ended in the morning by sunrise.
The $1,500 buy-in Limit Shootout champion is Matt Graham. He is a 24-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas, NV.
Graham is originally from New Orleans, LA.
This was his fifth time to cash at the WSOP, and fourth time this year. Graham collected $278,180 for first place. He also earned his first WSOP gold bracelet.
Even before this victory, Graham had been deemed by some poker media as a “rising star.” He emerged on the tournament scene only a few years ago, but some top pros have commented on his play in various blogs and poker forums.
The second-place finisher was Jean-Robert Ballande, from Los Angeles, CA. In addition to succeeding with many tournament cashes and in the money finishes in recent years, Ballande appeared on the CBS television show “Survivor.”
Nikolay Evdakov now holds the record of “Most Cashes at the WSOP in a Single Year” – with ten.
Dave Orvis was the chip leader at the End of Day One in this event. He finished 20th. Through Event #53, the End of Day One chip leaders have gone on to cash 70 percent of the time -- 40 of 51 occasions (the chip leader was not applicable on two events). Only thirteen of these same 51 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.
Jean-Robert Bellande was the chip leader at the start of this final table. He ended up in second place. Through Event #53, eighteen of 51 chip leaders at the start of the final table (34 percent) went on to win the event. Thirty of 51 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).
Winner Matt Graham is officially listed as being from Las Vegas, NV. Through the conclusion of Event #53, the gold bracelet count by nations and states reads as follows:
13 – Nevada
10 – California
4 – New York
3 – Germany
2 – Italy
2 – Missouri
1 – Arizona
1 – Belgium
1 – Brazil
1 – Denmark
1 – Florida
1 – France
1 – Georgia
1 – Holland
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 #53 winner Matt Graham is to be classified as a pro player. He plays poker full-time. Accordingly, the “Pro-Am” gold bracelet scoreboard currently reads:
Professionals – 38 wins
Amateurs -- 12 wins
Semi-Pros -- 3 wins