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Event #20, $1,500 Pot Limit Hold'em, Final Report
The 2009 World Series of Poker $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold’em championship is John-Paul Kelly, from Aylesbury, England.
Kelly is a former student who now plays professionally, mostly online and in Europe. He is 23-years-old
Prior to coming to this year’s WSOP, Kelly spent four months living and traveling in Australia.
Kelly says he enjoys experiencing new things. He started playing poker seriously in 2004.
Prior to playing poker full-time Kelly was active in soccer and cricket,
Prior to winning at the WSOP Kelly had enjoyed great success at tournaments in Europe, particularly the UK. He won seven tournaments within a 15-month span in 2005-2006. His lifetime accrued tournament winnings (live tournaments) prior to this victory was nearly $500,000.
Kelly becomes the first English champion of 2009 and the first British citizen to win a WSOP gold bracelet since Ram Vaswani (Hendon, UK) won the Limit Hold’em Shootout on July 3, 2007.
Kelly collected $194,045 for first place. He was also awarded his first WSOP gold bracelet.
Kelly has come to the WSOP for three consecutive years. According to the official records, Kelly now has 1 win, 2 final table appearance, and 2 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP. His only previous showing was ninth place in the $2,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha event last year.
Kelly currently has $217,033 in WSOP winnings.
John-Paul Kelly is sometimes listed as “J.P. Kelly” in previous tournament records.
On winning his first WSOP gold bracelet: “This has to be the highlight of my life, so far.”
On what the win means to his poker career: “I’m pretty down to earth. I take it in stride. I look forward to doing other things, too.”
On how he started playing poker: “I started playing poker when I was 18. I was able to get good at it. I was able to win some events in the UK, and then got good playing online, as well.”
On the competitiveness of poker: “I always enjoyed playing sports. Playing poker was something I was interested in because it was competitive for me. The competitive edge I had in sports is now transferred over to poker.”
On what he might have pursued in life other than poker: “I can’t explain it really. I just took if very seriously, even from the age of 16. I was always reading, and stuff. So, I was interested from an early age.”
On what he likes to do in Las Vegas other than play poker: “Nightclubs. There are good nights out here every night you want to go out.”
On his favorite nightclub: “The Voodoo Lounge (Rio) is pretty good, but I haven’t been to a bad club in Vegas, yet.”
On his plans to celebrate his victory. “I don’t know. But it will probably involve a lot of alcohol.”
The Final Table
The final table contained only one former WSOP gold bracelet winner – Eric Seidel (8 wins).
Ages of the finalists ranged from 21 to 49.
The runner up was Marc Tschirch, from Msida, Germany. This was Tschirch’s third time to cash at the WSOP.
The third-place finisher was Jason Dewitt, from Mishawaka, IN.
The fourth-place finisher was Kyle Carlston, from Las Vegas, NV. Carlston holds a B.A. from Tulane University and a Masters Degree from Cal-Berkley. He cashed in last year’s WSOP Main Event.
The fifth-place finisher was Aaron Virchis, from Las Vegas, NV. He makes his living betting on sports, mostly Major League Baseball. Virchis cashed in this same event in 2006.
The sixth-place finisher was Tony Steward, from Dallas, TX. He started playing poker while in the U.S. Army. He is now retired and is the proud father of twin girls.
The seventh-place finisher was Eric Seidel, from Las Vegas, NV. His attempt to win a ninth gold bracelet came up short. Had Seidel won this event, he would have taken sole possession of fourth-place on the all-time WSOP wins list. Seidel remains tied with poker legend Johnny Moss, with eight career titles.
The eighth-place finisher was Andrew Radel, from Forest Lake, MN. He is a student at Drake University.
The ninth-place finisher was Ravi Raghavan, from Northbook, IL. He is a student at the University of Illinois.
Other In-the-Money Finishers
Eric Seidel’s final table appearance now gives him 30 for his career. He has won 8/30, or 27 percent of attempts. By contrast, T.J. Cloutier has won 6 of his 38 appearances, or 16 percent of attempts. Phil Hellmuth has won 11/41, or 27 percent of attempts. The best record (wins/attempts – minimum three gold bracelets) belongs to Stu Ungar, with 5/10, or 50 percent of attempts.
Eric Seidel’s cash in this tournament means he has now finished in-the-money at the WSOP for16 consecutive years. This was his 55th career cash, which currently ranks fourth on the all-time list (behind Phil Hellmuth, Men “the Master” Nguyen, and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson).
The defending champion from 2008 was David Singer, from Las Vegas, NV. He entered this year’s tournament, but did not cash.
Odds and Ends
This tournament experienced a slight decline in attendance from last year. However, in 2008 this event was scheduled during opening weekend of the WSOP (Event #3), traditionally one of the busiest periods in attendance at the World Series, other than the start of the Main Event. This year’s event attracted 633 entries.
Pot-Limit poker made its debut at the WSOP in 1984, when two Pot-Limit Omaha tournaments were offered. There were no Pot-Limit tournaments of any kind at the WSOP from 1970 through 1983.
The only Pot-Limit which was played at the WSOP between 1984 and 1991 was Pot-Limit Omaha. Pot-Limit Hold’em was restricted to cash games.
The first Pot-Limit Hold’em tournament at the WSOP took place in 1992. The game has been a fixture on the WSOP schedule ever since. During most years, it was one of the first tournaments on the annual schedule.
Some poker purists consider Pot-Limit to be a greater test of skill than No-Limit. This is due to Pot-Limit’s emphasis on post-flop play. Since pots gradually escalate in size in Pot-Limit, the magnitude of every decision is amplified as the hand progresses. Contrast this with No-Limit, in which players can push “all in” at any time, which tends to create more races and reduces some elements of skill.
Pot-Limit means a player can wager only up to the exact amount of what is contained in the pot at any time. No-Limit means a player can wager any or all of his/her chips at any time.
The tournament was played over three consecutive days. On Day Three, the final table was dealt out on ESPN’s feature table. The secondary table, located nearby, hosted the $3,000 buy-in HORSE final table. Most days at the WSOP this year will include two final tables.
Bluff Media and ESPN 360 featured final table play live on its online broadcast. Eighteen more events are scheduled, which are split between ESPN 360 and Bluff Media. For a complete broadcast schedule of all upcoming events, go to:
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 $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold’em championship attracted 633 entries. The total prize pool amounted to $864,045. The top 63 finishers collected prize money.
The chip leader at the end of Day One was Jason Dewitt, from Mishawaka, IN. He ended up finishing third.
The chip leader coming into the final table (end of Day Two) was John-Paul Kelly. He ended up winning the tournament.
The final table lasted about five hours.
Kelly held onto the final table chip lead from start to finish. The closest any player came to his stack size was two different occasions when Marc Tshirch and Jason Dewitt each came within a 3 to 2 margin of the lead. But neither was able to seize the lead away from Kelly.
The final hand of the tournament came when Kelly’s aggressive semi-bluffing on early rounds led to a big payoff. Kelly was dealt A-Q and bet aggressively both pre- and post-flop, despite holding no pair. Tschirch had A-5 and called two big bets as the board showed 8-5-4. A queen on the turn turned the tables and allowed Kelly (suddenly holding top pair) to put his opponent his opponent all in with a big bet. Tschirch called and failed to improve, giving the victory.
The tournament officially began on Tuesday, June 9th, at 12 noon. The tournament officially ended on Thursday, June 11th, at 7:45 pm.
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