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WSOP 2009

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Event #23, $10,000 Championship 2-7 Draw Lowball, Final Results

Official Report
Event #23
World Championship
No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball
Buy-In: $10,000
Number of Entries: 96
Total Net Prize Pool: $902,400
Number of Places Paid: 14
First Place Prize: $279,751
June 10-12, 2009

Event Headlines

  1. Nick Schulman Wins First WSOP Gold Bracelet
  2. Former New York City Pool Pro Trades Cue Stick For Gold Bracelet
  3. No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball World Championship Draws Record Field

The Winner

The 2009 World Series of Poker $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Shootout champion is Nick Schulman, from New York, NY.

Schulman is a 24-year old professional poker player. Prior to poker, Schulman concentrated on playing pool and made his living hanging out in Manhattan’s bars and pool halls.

Schulman grew up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Schulman starting cutting classes as a teenager to play pool.

Schulman later returned to school and earned his GED. He says he hopes to attend college someday and study philosophy.

At age 21, Schulman became the youngest winner of a World Poker Tour event in history when he won the World Poker Finals championship in Season Four.

Schulman’s online screen name is “The Takeover.”

Schulman collected $313,673 for first place. He was also awarded his first WSOP gold bracelet.

According to the official records, Schulman now has 1 wins, 2 final table appearances, and 3 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.

According to the official records, Schulman now has 1 wins, 2 final table appearances, and 6 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.

Schulman currently has $443,826 in WSOP winnings.

Winner Quotes (Nick Schulman)

On winning his first WSOP gold bracelet: “The prestige of the bracelet is a little overwhelming. This is the term when it comes to winning in poker. They say these tournaments are not about the money and I never used to think like that. But, I know what they mean, now. The bracelet is a little sweeter than the cash.”

On starting out as a pool player: “When I was about 14 or 15 I started going to a local pool hall with my dad. I started playing and found I was pretty good at it. I stopped going to school, which I have since regretted -- even though it has worked out. In my late teens and when I was 20 I was playing pool professionally. That included some pool tournaments. While I was playing pool, I discovered poker. It was played in many of the back rooms of the pool halls, so I got involved in that.”

On which is more difficult to master, poker versus pool: “I think poker is easier than pool. But, it’s close. The games are very different. There is a type of pressure in pool that is not quite the same in poker, although No-Limit Deuce kind of matches that pressure because there are so many stare-downs, and reads and whatnot. But in pool you really have to execute athletic motion, which is different. Of course, both games involve a lot of sleepless nights.”

On dropping out of school and advice to young people considering poker as a full-time profession: “Stay in school. Absolutely. You can still play poker, but stay in school. It’s the best years of your life, being in school. It’s worth riding out. I would say go to school and play poker....but be sure and graduate.”

On the difficult of this final table: “There wasn’t a weak spot in the field. I feel really fortunate. I feel the cards came my way and I was able to capitalize on that.”

On the last hand where he made the perfect 2-7 nut hand, when asked what did he draw to: “I can’t tell you. It’s too embarrassing.”

On the skill component of No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven: “It’s pure poker. It’s a very simple game but the intangibles are what make it. The elements that make up being a good poker player are all required to play this game. It’s a game of very few decisions, but they mean everything.”

One the runner up, Ville Wahlbeck: “He’s a great player. I am happy for him (doing well as this year’s WSOP. He deserves it. He’s a very tough player.”

The Final Table

The final table contained four former WSOP gold bracelet winners – David Benyamine (1 win), John Juanda (4 wins), Ville Wahlbeck (1 win), and Steve Sung (1 win).

The runner up was Ville Wahlbeck, from Helsinki, Finland. He won the Mixed Games World Championship (Event 12), which concluded six days ago. Wahlbeck now holds an astounding record. He has cashed in all four of the $10,000 buy-in World Championship events plays thus far – finishing 3rd, 1st, 13th, and 2nd respectively. He currently leads the 2009 WSOP Player of the Year race.

The third-place finisher was Steve Sung. He won his first WSOP gold bracelet earlier this year in Event 4, the $1,000 buy-in “Stimulus Special,” overcoming more than 6,000 players.

The fourth-place finisher was four-time WSOP gold bracelet winner John Juanda, from Las Vegas, NV. He is the defending champion from last year’s WSOP-Europe Main Event.

The fifth-place finisher was Archie “the Greek” Karras, from Las Vegas, NV. Karras is a gambling legend, memorable for his meteoric run during the 1990s when he started with a few dollars and ran his winnings up to a reported $50 million (only to lose it all back). Karras is one of the few players who can claim he defeated late greats Stu Ungar and Chip Reese.

The sixth-place finisher was Vince Musso, from Birmingham, AL. He is a longtime WSOP veteran who cashed in this event in 1979, finishing third.

The seventh-place finisher was David Benyamine, from Paris, France. He won his first gold bracelet at last year’s WSOP.

The eighth-place finisher was Michael Binger, from Las Vegas, NV. Binger is near the top of the list as the player who has the most WSOP cashes over the last three years – with 14.

The ninth-place finisher was high-stakes poker phenomenon, Justin Smith, from Kissimmee, FL. At age 21, he is already playing in the biggest cash games in the world.

Other In-the-Money Finishers

Other former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included – Tony Cousineau, Quinn Do, Jose-Luis Veladro, Peter Smurfit, and Russ “Dutch” Boyd.

The Cousineau cash express keeps rolling along. He cashed for the fourth time at this year’s Series. Cousineau added to his enviable (yet frustrating) record as the player with the most cashes in WSOP history without winning a gold bracelet – which now stands at 38.

The defending champion from 2008 was Jason Young, from Suffern, NY. He did not enter this year’s tournament.

Odds and Ends

Last year's tournament attracted 85 players. With 96 entrants this year, the tournament enjoyed a 13 percent increase over the previous turnout. This was the biggest turnout ever for the No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven world championship.

During the late 1990s, this event was commonly referred as the “Buy a Bracelet” event. This was due to a small field size and high buy-in. Furthermore, the tournament permitted re-buys which gave players with the deepest pockets a sizable advantage. This year, re-buy tournaments have been removed from the WSOP schedule.

This game is nearly extinct, except at the very highest levels. It is rarely played inside public cardrooms --- either as cash games or tournaments. For many years, only the richest and most successful poker players entered this tournament, due to the higher financial commitment (with re-buys) and the presence of so many talented participants.

Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball means the worst, or lowest ranked, hand wins the pot. The very best possible 2-7 lowball hand is 2-3-4-5-7 of mixed suits. An ace counts as a high card. Flushes and straights count against the player. While a wheel (A-2-3-4-5) is the perfect hand in standard lowball, in Deuce-to-Seven it is usually a losing hand since the straight counts against the player. Deuce-to-Seven Lowball is also called “Kansas City Lowball” since the variant allegedly originated in the Midwest during the Great Depression.

Lowball’s popularity at the WSOP stems largely from it being the only legal poker game played in California casinos up until 1987 (when the laws changed to allow Hold’em and other games). Lowball is not as popular as in year’s past. Yet various forms of lowball continue to generate a steady following.

This is the second of three Deuce-to-Seven lowball events on the 2009 WSOP schedule.

All 57 tournaments on the 2009 WSOP schedule (plus WSOP-Europe) are categorized as “gold bracelet” events. However, this is also known as a World Championship event. This means the winner of this event is the Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball world champion. Starting last year, all $10,000+ buy-in tournaments were designated as official World Championships.

Lowball games are typically not broadcast on television. The game is difficult to televise and follow (for most viewers). In 2004, ESPN decided to televise a Razz tournament, and the ratings were poor. So, it has been largely discarded as an option for television. However, given the star-studded finale of this event, an exception was made as Bluff Media and ESPN 360 decided to feature the final day the live online broadcast. Sixteen more events are scheduled, which are split between ESPN 360 and Bluff Media. For a complete broadcast schedule of all events, go to:
http://www.worldseriesofpoker.com/tourney/tourneydetails.asp?groupID=607

The tournament was played over three consecutive days. On Day Three, the final table was dealt out on ESPN’s feature table. Many in the audience and who were viewing simulcast broadcasts around the Rio commented that this was the most compelling final table so far for heard-core poker fans.

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 No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball world championship attracted 96 entries. The total prize pool amounted to $902,400. The top 14 finishers collected prize money.

The chip leader coming into the start of the final table was Vince Musso, who went out in fifth place.

Nick Schulman was ranked fourth in chips at the start of the final table. He seized the chip lead when play became two handed, following the elimination of the third-place finisher, Steve Sung.

When play was three-handed, Schulman faced two of this year’s WSOP gold bracelet winners – Steve Sung and Ville Wahlbeck.

The final table lasted about six hours.

When heads-up play began, Schulman enjoyed about a 2 to 1 chip lead over Wahlbeck. When the final hand was dealt, Schulman’s chip advantage had surged to about 5 to 1.

The final hand of the tournament came when Wahlbeck made an all-in bluff (holding a pair of nines, a terrible hand in Deuce-to-Seven), which was called instantly by Schulman who ended up making the perfect nut hand – 7-5-4-3-2.

The tournament officially began on Wednesday, June 10th, at 5 pm. The tournament officially ended on Friday, June 12th, at 8:05 pm.

Final Results

  Name Prize City State/Country
1 Schulman, Nick $279,751 New York NY
2 Wahlbeck, Ville $172,863 Helsinki Finland
3 Sung Steve $112,041 Torrance CA
4 Juanda, John $75,964 Las Vegas NV
5 Karas, Archie $53,783 Boulder City NV
6 Musso, Vince $39,696 Birmingham AL
7 Benyamine, David $30,492 Las Vegas NV
8 Binger, Michael $24,545 Las Vegas NV
9 Smith Justin $19,870 Orlando FL
10 De Wolfe, Roland $19,870 London United Kingdom
11 Zalewski, Hertzel $19,870 Houston TX
12 Pescatori, Max $17,885 Las Vegas NV
13 Harmetz, Daniel $17,885 Sacramento CA
14 Gray Jason $17,885 Woodford Green United Kingdom

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