2. Chrysler Worker from Michigan Drives Away with $657,969 and Poker’s Most Coveted Prize
3. Another Big Turnout at the 2009 WSOP – 2,715 Entries Pack the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Event
The 2009 World Series of Poker $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em champion is Ray Foley, from Northville, MI.
Foley is a 37-year-old employee of Chrysler Financial. He works as a business manager in financial services.
Foley is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University. He earned his degree in accounting, followed by an M.B.A.
Foley has been married for 12 years and is the proud father of two children.
Foley plays poker recreationally. He started playing about five years ago. However, he is a winning player who has supplemented his income in recent years by playing poker. Foley has been contemplating turning to poker full time, given the problems of the American automotive industry. He states that decision might be easier to make now that he has won such a large cash prize.
Foley collected $657,969 for first place. He was also awarded his first WSOP gold bracelet.
According to official records, Foley now has 1 win, 1 final table appearance, and 4 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP. He has also accumulated $733,031 in career WSOP winnings.
Foleuy has entered only 7 tournaments at the WSOP (lifetime) and has cashed in 4 of them. Despite the huge fields, he has finished – 22nd, 15th, 21st, and now 1st. This is as impressive a record as any player at the WSOP during the past two years in the mega-field sized No-Limit Hold’em events.
Foley entered only two events this year – the $2,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event and this tournament. He had his return airline ticket already booked for a Sunday night departure (the tournament began on Saturday). Foley survived Day Two and therefore lost his return portion of the ticket. Meanwhile, a few friends could not afford the luxury of paying hundreds of extra dollars more for a flight and so they returned to Michigan. Upon landing in Detroit and hearing that Foley had made it to the final table, they immediately got back on a plane just hours, later and flew all the way back to Las Vegas to cheer Foley on toe victory.
On how he came to the WSOP: “My friends and I usually play in only one event per year. We have a poker league where we send nine guys to play a $2K event. I played in that and busted out at the fifth level. So, I bought into the $1,500 buy-in on Saturday and I was supposed to fly out Sunday night and midnight. I was second in chips at the end of Day Two. I missed my flight and fortunately….that’s about it.”
On winning a WSOP gold bracelet and $657,969 in prize money: “They both mean a lot. The bracelet….I can’t even….its still unbelievable at this point that I have a bracelet. I can’t event describe it. And $660,000 – that’s a lot of money. It’s hard to believe there were 2,715 people in this tournament.”
On what it takes to win: “I’m on the great side of variance.”
On his future plans: “(Before this win) I was contemplating going to poker full-time, mostly online. So this will help make that jump a little easier. This is great timing.”
On what his goals were coming into this year’s WSOP: “The gold bracelet. Check it off.”
On what’s the next goal: “The Main Event bracelet is the next goal.”
The Final Table
The final table contained only one former WSOP gold bracelet winner – Brandon Cantu (1 win).
This was the most amateur-heavy final table of any final table played so far this year. Five of the nine finalists were non-pros.
The runner up was Brandon Cantu, from Vancouver, WA. He won his gold bracelet in one of the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em events played in 2006. That was his first WSOP cash, and launched his poker career. Since then, Cantu has earned over $1.5 million at the WSOP. He also finished 20th in last year’s Main Event. Second place in this event paid $403,951. But all Cantu seemed to think about as he departed the final table was the disappointment of coming up short in his quest for another gold bracelet.
The third-place finisher was Wei Mu, from Honolulu, Hawaii. Mu has a pretty impressive record for someone who has been playing poker seriously for only about a year. He has cashed in 3 of the 5 $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em events played this year. Third place paid $269,609.
The fourth-place finisher was Alex Jacob, from Las Vegas, NV. The afro-clad Dylanesque Yale graduate and talented poker pro enjoyed his best WSOP finish in two years in this tournament. Jacob burst onto the poker scene in 2006 and made three WSOP final tables within two years. He holds one of the best in-the-money records of any WSOP player during the past four years, with 19 cashes.
The fifth-place finisher was Tyler Spalding, from Chicago, IL. He is an engineer. Amazingly, this was Spalding’s first WSOP event ever.
The sixth-place finisher was Jonathan Markham, from Milwaukee, WI. He is a former construction worker who is now playing poker professionally. This was his third time to cash and was his best WSOP finish ever.
The seventh-place finisher was Chairud Vangchailued, from Phoenix, AZ. This was his first time to cash in a WSOP tournament.
The eighth-place finisher was Richard Lutes, from Henderson, NV. He is a restaurant owner (“Carmines Little Italy” in Henderson). Lutes has done well in various Las Vegas tournaments, most notably cashing four times at the most recent Caesars Palace poker series.
The ninth-place finisher was Patrick O’Connor, from Sligo, Ireland. He is a dentist and predominantly a cash game player. But O’Conner has also enjoyed some tournament success. He final tabled the Irish Poker Open a few years ago. O’Connor also finished 38th in the 2004 WSOP Main Event.
The defending champion from 2009 was David Woo, from Atlanta, Ga. He entered this event but did not cash.
Odds and Ends
This was the third-largest tournament (in attendance) of the 2009 WSOP.
This is the 26th of 39 tournaments completed thus far at this year’s WSOP, with more than a $1 million prize pool.
This is the fifth of seven $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em tournaments on the 2009 WSOP schedule. This game and buy-in level has consistently proven to be the most popular draw on the schedule in recent years, aside from the Main Event.
An alternative lower buy-in No-Limit Hold'em tournament (less than $10,000) has been included as part of the WSOP schedule every year since 1973. Over the years, these buy-in amounts have ranged from $1,000 up to $5,000. However, more $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em tournaments have now taken place at the WSOP over the past 39-years than any other event.
The previous four $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em events held this year attracted 2,791 -- 2,506 -- 2,638 – and 2,095 players respectively. Attendance this year is consistent with previous years when the earlier events tend to attract bigger fields, followed by a slight decline at the WSOP enters its third and fourth week.
The final table was played on ESPN’s secondary stage. The Main Stage was reserved for the $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha world championship, which was broadcast live over the Internet. Five more events are schedule, which are split between ESPN 360 and Bluff Media. For a complete broadcast schedule of all 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.
No-Limit Hold’em Leaders
The player with the most WSOP gold bracelets (wins) in Hold’em events (all variations) is Phil Hellmuth, currently with 11.
The player with the most lifetime WSOP cashes in Hold’em events (all variations) is Phil Hellmuth, currently with 44.
The player with the most WSOP gold bracelets (wins) in No-Limit Hold’em is Phil Hellmuth, currently with 7.
The player with the most lifetime WSOP cashes in No-Limit Hold’em events is Phil Hellmuth, currently with 28.
The $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em championship attracted 2,715 entries. The total prize pool amounted to $3,705,974. The top 270 finishers collected prize money.
The tournament was played over three consecutive days.
At the end of Day One, the chip leader was Mohsin Charania, from Chicago, IL. He ended up finishing in 19th place.
The chip leader at the start of the final table was Ray Foley. He lost the lead early and had to play catch up most of the way. But Foley overcame a 2 to 1 chip disadvantage to Brandon Cantu when play went heads-up and won a few momentous pots that determined the outcome of the match.
Foley was all-in for his tournament life a few times, but got very fortunate to avoid elimination. He had A-7 and was all-in against Cantu’s A-Q. But a split pot saved Foley.
The final hand of the tournament came when Foley ended up having the best hand – J-Q versus Cantu’s J-7 after the flop came jack-high. Foley’s queen kicker ended up playing, which scooped the final pot of the tournament.
The tournament officially began on Saturday, June 20th, at noon. The tournament officially ended on Tuesday, June 23rd, at 3:00 am.