Another WSOP record has been shattered. This was the largest Omaha High-Low Split tournament in poker history. This year’s $1,500 buy-in Omaha High-Low Split championship attracted 833 players, which created a prize pool totaling $1,137,045. The previous record turnout was for last year’s $1,500 buy-in tournament, which attracted 690 players. This marked a 17 percent increase over last year’s number.
This was the first of three Omaha High-Low Split events on the 2008 WSOP schedule. On June 8th, a $2,000 buy-in event is offered. The $10,000 buy-in Omaha High-Low Split world championship will take place on June 19th.
Omaha High-Low Split has been offered at the WSOP every year since 1990. Omaha (high) was first seen at the WSOP back in 1983. The game phased its way onto the annual schedule as draw poker and lowball began to fade in popularity. All WSOP Omaha events played between 1983 and 1989 were Limit (high) and Pot-Limit. Now, Pot-Limit Omaha and Omaha High-Low Split are the most popular forms of this poker game. Omaha High tournaments are now rare. It was last played at the WSOP in 2003.
Omaha High-Low Split is also called “Omaha Eight-or-Better.” This means the low hand must be an “eight or better” qualifier to split half of the pot.
This was the second non-ESPN final table of the 2008 WSOP. The final table was played adjacent to the main stage, which featured Event #5, the $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em with Re-Buys event in what was an overlapping time slot. While the crowd was not as large for this finale, several players brought friends and relatives which created a more intimate atmosphere.
The winner was Thang Luu. He is a 33-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas, NV. Luu was born in Vietnam. He arrived in the United States at the age of 17. Prior to becoming a poker pro, Luu worked as a table games dealer in Las Vegas. He is single, and is also known as “Tiger Luu.”
This victory was especially gratifying to Luu since he finished second in the $2,000 buy-in Omaha High-Low Split event at last year’s WSOP (to Frankie O’Dell). Despite the $147,726 payout, Luu was determined to get back to the final table and achieve victory.
Luu was the chip leader when play at the final table began. A few rivals got close in chips at various times, but Luu achieved a wire-to-wire win.
Luu is primarily a cash game player. He plays regularly in the $80-160 limit range at various casinos in Las Vegas. Luu doesn’t play tournament poker very often, but does try to play in most major Omaha High-Low Split tournaments, which he enjoys. He says his favorite poker game is Badugi.
Luu collected $243,342. This was his first WSOP gold bracelet. Luu has now has four career cashes at the World Series. He states that he intends to return to Vietnam and take a few months of vacation, where he will visit members of his family.
Following his win, Luu was interviewed at tableside. He had the following comments:
I like to play every hand. I don’t miss any hands, especially when I am playing heads up. I might check in a few spots. But I play every hand (and try to keep my opponent guessing).
Winning a World Series of Poker title is very special. You know, now they look at your differently. Everyone knows who you are.
This is just the start. I have to play again Sunday (in the next Omaha High-Low Split event). I am running pretty good in Omaha right now.
Pro’s versus Amateurs: Through Event #6 at this year’s World Series, poker professionals have won 4 gold bracelets. Amateurs have won 1 victory. One event was still undecided at press time.
The tournament was played over three days. The final table clocked in at slightly over seven hours. It began at 4 pm and ended at 11:35 pm.
George Guzman took third place. Last year, he placed 36th in this event.
James Pritchard finished in fourth place. Now 23-years-old, Pritchard played college football for four years at the University of Tennessee-Martin.
The sixth place finisher was Greg Jamison. This was his second consecutive year to make it to the final table in this event. Last year, he took fifth place.
Scott Clements has become one of poker’s most promising young stars. The 26-year-old poker pro from Mt. Vernon, WA has won two WSOP gold bracelets and one WSOP Circuit gold ring. However, he could do no better than ninth place in this event.
Mark Gregorich is widely-respected as one of Omaha High-Low Split’s best players. The Las Vegas poker pro plays in both tournaments and cash games, and specializes in Omaha. This was his sixth time to cash in an Omaha event at the WSOP.
Linda Johnson, who cashed 25th, is the former owner of Card Player magazine. She was inducted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class earlier this year.
Allyn Shulman took 26th place. She is a former prosecutor who has since become one of the poker industry’s leading legal consultants on Internet gambling.
Last year’s winner was Alex Kravechnko. He did not enter this year’s tournament.