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WSOP 2009

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Event #12, $10,000 World Championship Mixed Event, Final Report

Official Report
Event #12
World Championship Mixed Event
Buy-In: $10,000
Number of Entries: 194
Total Net Prize Pool: $1,823,600
Number of Places Paid: 24
First Place Prize: $492,384
June 4-6, 2009

The Winner

The 2009 World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in “Mixed Event World Championship” is Ville Wahlbeck, from Helsinki, Finland.

Wahlbeck is a 33-year-old professional poker player.

Wahlbeck is fluent in both Finnish and English.

Prior to playing poker for a living, Wahlbeck worked as a freelance journalist in Helsinki. He also taught elementary school for a few years.

Wahlbeck was quite emotional after winning his first gold bracelet. Tears of joy were apparent and he needed about ten minutes to compose himself. He left the tournament area and finally returned to the final table for the official champion’s portrait (photos of each winner are taken nightly at tableside).

Wahlbeck was asked which meant more to him, the prize money or the gold bracelet. “The bracelet,” he answered without hesitation. “This is every poker player’s dream. I have been dreaming about this ever since I started playing poker.”

“I have been playing professional poker for about six years now,” Wahlbeck said in a post-tournament interview. “This is such an exhausting profession. I do not know if I want to keep on doing this.”

“Right now this feels wonderful,” he said. “But later on I really want to do something else.”

When asked what else he plans to pursue after poker, Wahlbeck answered, “I don’t know. That’s the problem.”

Wahlbeck explained that while poker is gratifying to him, he is concerned that the game is not generally a profession that makes career transitioning easy. “I do know that I want to do something that interests me,” he said.

Wahlbeck first started playing poker on the Internet, when “back it was new,” he revealed.

“I got into poker because after I started playing it, I started making more money that way than anything else,” Wahlbeck said. “I quit my other jobs and started playing professionally.

Incredibly just days earlier, Wahlbeck finished third in the Seven-Card Stud World Championship won by Freddie Ellis. Wahlbeck now has a first and a third in his two cashes this year.

Wahlberg joined Jim Geary (playing in another event at a nearby table) as the first two players at this year’s WSOP to make two final table appearances.

Wahlberg now has six cashes at the WSOP, with the first coming in 2006.

Wahlbeck collected $492,384 for first place. He was also awarded his first WSOP gold bracelet.

“Playing in the Stud event and coming in third was great for me,” Wahlbeck stated. “Of course, I wanted to win. To come back and to win this event after that happened – it’s a dream come true.”

With Wahlbeck’s win in this tournament, combined with his third-place finish in the Seven-Card Stud World Championship, Wahlbeck is currently in command of the WSOP “Player of the Year” race. But 45 more events remain and anything can still happen.

The Players

The final table was comprised of more former WSOP gold bracelet winners than any other tournament played so far. The four former winners included – Todd Brunson (1 win), David Chiu (4 wins), Huck Seed (4 wins), and Mike Wattel (1 win).

Six of the top eight finishers were comprised of Las Vegas-based poker players.

This was the most star-studded finale of any finale played to date, other than the Champions Invitational. Even most of the non-WSOP gold bracelet winners were well-known names to poker fans.

The runner up was David Chiu, from Las Vegas, NV. Chiu has won four gold bracelets and just missed his attempt to win number five. He was chi leader much of the way, but ran card dead late and lost the title to Wahlbeck.

The third-place finisher was Scott Dorin, from Las Vegas, NV. Dorin won the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) Main Event, last year.

The fourth-place finisher was Las Vegas poker grinder and Omaha High-Low Split specialist Mark Gregorich, from Las Vegas, NV.

The fifth-place finisher was 1996 world champion and five-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Huckleberry Seed, from Las Vegas, NV.

The sixth-place finisher was James Van Alstyne, from Las Vegas, NV. He has

The seventh-place finisher was Mike Wattel, from Las Vegas, NV. He won his previous title in 1999 and now has 21 career WSOP cashes.

The eighth-place finisher was former WSOP title winner Todd Brunson, from “the first family of poker.”

Other former gold bracelet winners who cashed in this event included – Doyle Brunson, Eric Froehlich, “Miami John” Cernuto, Vitaly Lunkin, and Max Pescatori.

Doyle Brunson cashed in this event (15th) for the second-straight year. Last year, Brunson took 21st place.

The defending champion in this event was Anthony Rivera. He did not play this year.

Odds and Ends

Ville Wahlbeck became the first Finnish citizen in history ever to win a WSOP gold bracelet.

Other Finnish poker players include Patrik Antonius and Juha Helppi. But neither has won a gold bracelet. Antonius came the closest with his third-place finish in a 2007 event.

For purposes of WSOP records, the official final table includes only the top eight finishers.

The tournament was played over three days. On Day Three, the final table was dealt out on ESPN’s “secondary” stage. The “feature table,” located adjacent to the secondary area, hosts the other finale played on the same day. This year at the WSOP, most days will include two final tables.

The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s victory. The ceremony takes place on at center stage of the main tournament room and begins during the break of the noon tournament. The ceremony usually starts around 2:20 pm. The national anthem of the winner’s nation is played. The entire presentation is open to public and media. Video and photography is permitted by both media and the public.


The Event

The $10,000 buy-in World Championship Mixed Event attracted 194 entrants. This created a prize pool totaling $1,823,600. The top 24 finishers collected prize money.

The number of entries this year represents a slight increase over the field-size last year when there were 192 entries.

“Mixed Games” was first introduced at the 2008 WSOP. This was only the second time in history that a major poker tournament has included eight poker games (Note: H.O.R.S.E. includes just five games). The list of “Mixed” games includes:

  1. No-Limit Hold'em
  2. Pot-Limit Omaha
  3. Triple-Draw Lowball
  4. Limit Hold'em
  5. Omaha High-Low Split
  6. Razz
  7. Seven-Card Stud
  8. Seven-Card Stud Eight-or-Better

(Games are played on a rotation basis. Games change every eight hands.)

The $10,000 buy-in tournament attracted a stellar field of superstars and arguably one of the toughest fields in poker history for an event of this size and scope, other than the $50,000 buy-in HORSE competition. No less than 71 of the 194 entrants were former WSOP gold bracelet winners.

While all 57 WSOP tournaments on the 2009 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 Mixed Games World Champion. Starting last year, all $10,000+ buy-in tournaments were designated as official world championships. This means a total of 12 WSOP tournaments are designated to be world championships (excluding two non-open events, the Seniors Championship and the Ladies Championship). This includes 9 gold bracelet tournaments with $10,000 buy-ins, the $40,000 No-Limit championship, the $50,000 buy-in HORSE event, and the WSOP Main Event.

The overwhelming majority of players at this year’s WSOP have raved about the new tournament structures, which give players lots of play. The downside to this is that many days run very long. The winner Ville Wahlbeck stated that he had played 12 hours or more for six straight days, due to running deep in two consecutive tournaments. “I’ll I have done is sleeping and poker, sleeping and poker,” he said. A colleague standing nearby remarked that playing so long for many days “beats the alternative.” Wahlbeck smiled and nodded approvingly.

Wahlbeck stated that he prefers to play in smaller fields such as this event, albeit with better players. He believes the bigger tournaments invariably require coin-flips, whereas the generous structures in a smaller event give the players more time to strategize and wait out bad runs of cards.

The final hand of the night came when Wahlbeck made a straight (for high) against David Chiu while playing Omaha High-Low Split.

Wahlbeck stated that he enjoys playing in mixed games. However, he admits to being weak in a few of the variants. “I would say Ace-to-Five Triple Draw is my weakest game,” he admitted. “The secret is to play much tighter in the games where you are weakest.”

Wahlbeck stated that immediately following his win and interviews, he intended to “have a beer and then get to sleep,” he said. “I have to come back and try to win again tomorrow.”

The tournament officially began on Thursday, June 4th, at 5 pm. The tournament officially ended on Sunday, June 7th, at 1:42 am.

Final Results

  Name Prize City State/Country
1 Wahlbeck, Ville $492,384 Helsinki Finland
2 Chiu, David $304,176 Las Vegas NV
3 Dorin, Scott $199,939 Las Vegas NV
4 Gregorich, Mark $139,158 Las Vegas NV
5 Seed, Huck $102,285 Las Vegas NV
6 Van Alstyne, James $79,180 Las Vegas NV
7 Wattel, Mike $64,373 Phoenix AZ
8 Brunson, Todd $54,853 Las Vegas NV
9 Prescott, Allie $42,818 Memphis TN
10 Yitzhaki, Roman $42,818 Tenafly NJ
11 Serock, Joseph $34,958 San Francisco CA
12 Sheikh, Aurangzeb "Ozzy" $34,958 Houston TX
13 Powell, Brian $27,718 Louisville KY
14 Friedman, Adam $27,718 Gahanna OH
15 Brunson, Doyle $21,536 Las Vegas NV
16 Binger, Michael $21,536 Las Vegas NV
17 Froehlich, Eric $16,649 Rochester Hills MI
18 Shamseddin, Soheil $16,649 Houston TX
19 Hawrilenko, Matt $16,649 Philadelphia PA
20 Cernuto, 'Miami' John $16,649 Las Vegas NV
21 Lunkin, Vitaly $16,649 Moscow Russia
22 Pablou, Harris $16,649 Queensland Australia
23 Mizok, Brian $16,649 Scranton PA
24 Pescatori, Max $16,649 Las Vegas NV

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