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WSOP 2009

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Event #45, $10,000 Pot Limit Hold'em Championship, Final Results

Official Report
Event #45
World Championship
Pot-Limit Hold’em
Buy-In: $10,000
Number of Entries: 275
Total Net Prize Pool: $2,585,000
Number of Places Paid: 27
First Place Prize: $633,335
June 23-25, 2009

Event Headlines

1. John Kabbaj Wins WSOP Gold Bracelet

2. Following Years of Tournament Success in Europe, London Poker Pro Wins Poker’s Top Prize and $633,335

3. John Kabbaj Becomes 2009 Pot-Limit Hold’em World Champion

The Champion

The 2009 World Series of Poker $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold’em world champion is John Kabbaj, from London, England.

Kabbaj – who is now age 36 – was born in Birmingham, UK. He lived in the nation of Morocco until age 8 when, when he and his family moved back to England.

Kabbaj attended college for a few years, but decided to forgo his formal education to play poker for a living. He has essentially supported himself by playing poker all of his adult life.

Kabbaj also enjoys betting on sports. Aside from poker, his passion is soccer (football). His favorite team is Tottenham Hotspur. He also supports Watford F.C., because he lives near the stadium.

Kabbaj has always enjoyed gambling. He started playing poker and betting as a teenager.

Kabbaj has been attending the WSOP every year since 1996.

Kabbaj considers himself to be a Pot-Limit specialist. Europeans, and English players in particular, have excelled at the game for nearly two decades.

Kabbaj has been at this year’s WSOP from the start. He usually stays the entire duration of events, although he concentrates much of his play on cash games.

Kabbaj’s best previous finish was a second-place showing in a Pot-Limit Hold’em event at the 2004 WSOP. He was sickened by that finish, despite a nice $260,520 payday. Kabbaj stated that the disappointment of the second-place finish five years ago was consistently on his mind as he played at this final table.

Kabbaj collected $633,335 for first place. He was also awarded his first WSOP gold bracelet.

According to official records, Kabbaj now has 1 win, 4 final table appearances, and 7 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP. His career WSOP earnings now total $1,004,786.

Kabbaj becomes the 129th player in WSOP history to win more than $1 million in tournament play.

Kabbaj is now the reigning 2009 Pot-Limit Hold’em World Champion.

Winner Quotes (John Kabbaj)

On winning his first WSOP gold bracelet: “I’m still a bit dizzy right now. I can’t believe this has happened.”

On coming to the WSOP the last 13 years: “I always come out here for seven or eight weeks every year. I am used to it now. This is part of my life.”

On his passion for soccer (football): “I am a big fan of football. I watch all the games. If I am not playing poker, I am betting on the games.”

On finishing second the last time he had a shot at winning a gold bracelet: “When it got short-handed, I played bad. I gave all my chips away. It took me a long time to get over it.

More in the previous second-place finish and motivation to win this time: “In 2004, it was the first time in the history that the WSOP went to a day three. We were so tired and exhausted. When we got three handed, it was all over in 15 minutes. It was like – bang, bang, and it was over. Afterward, I didn’t pick up my money for a week. I didn’t talk to anyone for about three days. I was really down. It was the biggest score of my career at the time, but I thought I let myself down heads-up. There were a few demons here, but I dealt with it.”

On his confidence in this event: “Sometimes in poker, you just know when it is your day. To me, it was my day, and I was right.”

On what the victory means: “Poker has changed in the last five years, or so. Bracelets are a big thing now. In previous years when I came to the World Series, I really did not play in that many tournaments. I was a cash specialist. Pot-Limit is my game and live action is where all the money was. I won a few big tournaments in Europe. But I never put a big effort here. The last few years I really tried, and now it has paid off.”

On having his wife with him to witness his WSOP victory: “She came out to Las Vegas a week ago. I made the final table of the Pot-Limit Omaha and finished eighth, and she wasn’t here. But this time it was different. She was there and I had a lot of support, and that meant everything to me. To win this and share it with her is just great.”

On his plans to celebrate his victory: “I am just going to go to the bar with my wife and a few friends and celebrate quietly.”

The Final Table

The final table included three former WSOP gold bracelet winners – Jason Lester, Davidi Kitai, and Eric Baldwin.

There were players from five different nations represented at the final table – including Belgium, England, Mexico, Russia, and the United States.

The runner up was Kirill Gerasimov, from Moscow, Russia. This was his ninth WSOP final table appearance. He collected $391,369 in prize money.

Gerasimov’s ninth final table appearance without a win places him into unique territory as the player with the most final tables without a victory. Coming into this year. Gerasimov was one spot behind Andy Bloch (with 8). Gerasimov’s two final tables this year now give him the lead in that category.

The third-place finisher was Eric Baldwin, from Henderson, NV. Baldwin won his gold bracelet a week ago in a $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event, good for $521,000. With this cash, he has now won nearly $800,000 at this year’s WSOP.

The fourth-place finisher was David Kitai, from Brussels, Belgium. He is the only player in WSOP history from Belgium ever to win a gold bracelet – which came in last year’s $2,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha event.

The fifth-place finisher was J.C. Alvarado, from Mexico City, Mexico. He came close to becoming the third Mexican WSOP gold bracelet winner in history, but was eliminated about midway through the final table.

The sixth-place finisher was Jason Lester, from Miami, FL. He won his gold bracelet in 2006 playing Pot-Limit Hold’em. Lester is perhaps best known for his fourth-place finish in the 2003 WSOP Main Event win by Chris Moneymaker. NOTE: Jason Lester became the all-time WSOP cashes leader in Pot-Limit Hold’em with this finish. He currently has 9 lifetime cashes in this form of poker.

The seventh-place finisher was Eugene Todd, from Brooklyn, NY. He finished third at a WSOP final table three years ago and now has 19 career cashes.

The eighth-place finisher was Isaac Haxton, from Las Vegas, NV. He was the runner up in the 40th Annual $40,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em championship (Event #2). This was his third WSOP final table appearance.

The ninth-place finisher was Darryll Fish, from Las Vegas, NV. He was a top skateboarder before suffering a medical setback which forced him to pursue other avenues of competition. Fish began competing in Magic: The Gathering and later discovered poker. Now age 23, he has already won numerous online tournaments and made his first WSOP final table and highest cash in this event.

In-the-Money Finishers

Former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included – Jason Lester, Davidi Kitai, Eric Baldwin, Eric Seidel, Keven Stammen, and Keith Lehr.

Eric Seidel’s 19th-place finish gives him 56 for his career. This ranks him in a current tie for fourth place with Berry Johnston on the all-time standings.

Television producer and writer Sam Simon finished 20th. Simon, who has played in many WSOP events and has now cashed six times, is best known as one of the creators of “The Simpson’s” television show. He has also written episodes of Taxi, Cheers, and several other popular programs.

The defending champion from 2009 was Nenad Medic, from Niagara Falls, ON (Canada). He entered this year’s event, but did not cash.

Odds and Ends

This event was the opening tournament of the 2008 WSOP. It was moved to the fourth week of the schedule this year.

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 played 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 action 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 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. Contrast this with “No-Limit,” which means a player can wager any or all of his/her chips at any time.

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.

Pot-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.

No player has ever won more than one WSOP gold bracelet in Pot-Limit Hold’em. There are 45 players with one gold bracelet each in this form of poker.

The player with the most lifetime WSOP cashes in Pot-Limit Hold’em events at the WWSOP is Jason Lester, with 9 (including this year’s cash). Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, T.J. Cloutier, and Ken Flaton all have 8.

The Event

The $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold’em world championship attracted 275 entries. The total prize pool amounted to $2,585,000. The top 27 finishers collected prize money.

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. Beginning last year, all $10,000+ buy-in tournaments were and remain designated as official “World Championships.” There are ten such events in 2009.

The tournament was played over three consecutive days.

John Kabbaj came to the final table on Day Three ranked first in chips, by a sizable margin. But he gradually lost his lead and was behind Kirill Gerasimov when heads-up play began.

The most critical hand of the match took place when Kabbaj was down by a more than 2 to 1 margin. He got into a race for all his chips holding A-4 versus Gerasimov’s 3-3. Kabbaj made a full house, seized the lead, and went on to win the tournament.

The final hand took place when both players tried to outfox each other and Kabbaj ended up on top. Kabbaj was dealt A-A. Gerasimov was dealt K-K. Both players slowplayed their big pairs and once the flop came with three small cards, all the chips went into the pot with a flurry of raises and re-raises. Kabbaj tabled his pocket aces which held up and dragged the final pot of the tournament.

The tournament officially began on Tuesday, June 23rd, at 5 pm. The tournament officially ended on Friday, June 26th, at 1:30 am.

In the Money Finishers

  Name Prize City State/Country
1 Kabbaj, John $633,335 London UK
2 Gerasimov, Kirill $391,369 Moscow Russia
3 Baldwin, Eric $259,534 Henderson NV
4 Kitai, Davidi $183,638 Brussels Belgium
5 Alvarado, J.C. $138,375   Mexico
6 Lester, Jason $110,431 Miami FL
7 Todd Eugene $93,085 Brooklyn NY
8 Haxton, Isaac $82,668 Las Vegas NV
9 Fish, Darryll $77,136 Las Vegas NV
10 Charania, Mohsin $57,645 Chicago IL
11 Kopp, William $57,645 Erlanger KY
12 Kamran, Michael $57,645 Los Angeles CA
13 Lennaard, Ken $43,091 Stockholm Sweden
14 Pettersson, Thomas $43,091   Sweden
15 Rousso, Vanessa $43,091 Hobe Sound FL
16 Langmann, Florian $32,209 Vienna Austria
17 Rabin, Gary $32,209 Los Angeles CA
18 Young Justin $32,209 Henderson NV
19 Seidel, Erik $24,066 Las Vegas NV
20 Simon, Samuel $24,066 Sherman Oaks CA
21 Brummelhuis, Michiel $24,066 Amsterdam Netherlands
22 Kenney, Bryn $24,066 Long Beach NY
23 Stammen, Keven $24,066 Coldwater OH
24 Staudenmaier, Luke $24,066 Imperial PA
25 Kagawa, Masaaki $24,066 Tokyo Japan
26 Drescher, Daniel $24,066    
27 Lehr, Charles $24,066 Bossier City LA

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