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WSOP 2009

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Event #49, $50,000 World Championship HORSE, Final Results

Official Report
Event #49
World Championship
H.O.R.S.E.
Buy-In: $50,000
Number of Entries: 95
Total Net Prize Pool: $4,560,000
Number of Places Paid: 16
First Place Prize: $1,276,806
June 26-30, 2009

Event Headlines

1. David “Gunslinger” Bach Wins First WSOP Gold Bracelet

2. 2009 H.O.R.S.E. Championship is Second-Longest Final Table in WSOP History

2. Bach Wins Fourth Annual H.OR.S.E. World Championship

3. Bach Pockets Nearly $1.3 Million -- Second-Highest Cash Prize of 2009 WSOP, So Far

4. Three Non-Gold Bracelet Winners Finish 1-2-3 at Final Table, While Five Former Bracelet Winners Take Spots 4-5-6-7-8.

 

The Champion

The 2009 World Series of Poker $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. World Champion is David “Gunslinger” Bach, from Athens, GA.

Bach was born in Springfield, MO.

Bach is a 37-year-old professional poker player. Prior to poker player, Bach was a professional bowler.

Bach earned a college degree in psychology from the University of Georgia.

Ten years ago, Bach traveled around the United States on the pro bowling tour. Bach noted there are similarities between poker and bowling. Both involve lots of pressure, especially when playing for a living.

Bach’s favorite movie is “The Hustler.”

Bach specifically wanted to thank his father, to whom his win was dedicated. Bach stated in a post-tournament interview that his father first taught him how to play poker. He also mentioned that he was thrilled that his father could watch and follow the victory over the Internet. Bach’s father has been suffering from recent health problems, so the victory was even more meaningful given the circumstances.

Bach started playing poker seriously in home games spread around the Atlanta area. He has earned money at the game each year since 1996.

Bach has been playing seriously on the tournament circuit for about six years. His first major tournament cash occurred in 1997.

Incredibly, Bach had won more than $1.2 million in various tournaments around the country prior to this win. Yet, this marked his first major tournament victory.

Bach collected $1,276,806 for first place. He was also awarded his first WSOP gold bracelet.

According to official records, Bach now has 1 win, 5 final table appearances, and 11 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP. His career WSOP earnings now total $2,405,064.

Bach has now cashed at the WSOP five consecutive years.

Bach has great stamina at the poker table, which surely provided some advantages in one of the toughest final tables of all-time. He stated he has played up to 64 hours straight, and is accustomed to 30-35 hour marathon sessions.

Of the five games played as part of the H.O.R.S.E. rotation, Bach considers Seven-Card Stud to be his best game.

Bach’s journey to his first WSOP lasted a decade, and in many ways took a lifetime. His victory was even more poignant, given the marathon session of poker that was required to accomplish the feat. Bach has been a consistent performer on the tournament circuit for years, yet largely remains unknown to the public (at least until this victory). His victory is sure to be remembered as a well-deserved win by a fine player who has paid his dues in poker for many years.

Winner Quotes (David Bach)

On his first WSOP gold bracelet victory: “It hasn’t even sunken in yet. Especially this tournament. This is Chip Reese’s tournament. I think this is the best tournament of the whole year. It means the world to win.”

On being the shortest stack, by far, during the middle of play at the final table: “I would have been happy to get second (place). It was a big money difference. I was at the point that whatever hand I played, I needed to win. I wanted to get my money in good with the best had. I ended up making a flush in five cards in Seven-Card Stud, which is a pretty good spot.”

On the tough heads-up match: “I almost had (John Hanson) beat and he came all the way back to even. I had to keep in reminding myself to just keep in fighting and play well….He wanted to play big pots with big hands. He was content to let me chip a little bit here and a little bit there. When I did play a pot with him, I usually had the worst hand. I think I was kind of freerolling off all of those small pots that I won.”

On how he might have felt had he not won the match: “I can live with losing, if I play my best. Of course, I want to win….”

On achieving his career breakthrough win the $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. World Championship: “I have a lot of friends and family and I write e-mails to them every night. Two nights ago, I said to them, ‘this is really the gold bracelet I should win.’ This is the game I am best at. This is the tournament I want to win the most. If I am going to breakthrough and win, this is the right one.”

On how he managed to maintain his focus for more than 18 hours at the final table and five days overall: “I said, just be a professional. I kept looking at Chip Reese’s name on that trophy and that’s what he would do.”

On his recollection of Chip Reese’s win during the inaugural year, and similarities to his marathon victory in this match: “I watched Chip’s win over Andy Bloch. I remember what a great battle that was. Andy should have won it. Chip is the best, but Andy played better that tournament.”

On how his career as a bowler helped him to become a good poker player: “In bowling, you have to control your body and your mind at the same time. In poker, you only have to control your mind. So, all that training of controlling the mind and body helps make the pressure of poker much easier.”

On what inspired him to win: “I have so many people to thank and to be thankful for. This goes to my father. We are so close. He has had some health struggles. And I am just happy he is till around to be a part of this.”

The Final Table

The final table included five former WSOP gold bracelet winners – including Vitaly Lunkin (2 wins), Huck Seed (4 wins), Chau Giang (3 wins), Ville Wahlbeck (1 win), and Erik Seidel (8 wins).

Incredibly, all five former gold bracelet winners busted out before the top three finishers – which were all non-bracelet holders. This was a reverse phenomenon than most of the 2009 WSOP to date, which has been headlined as the “Year of the Repeat Champion.”

The final table included players from four different nations – including Finland, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.

The final table was played nine-handed.

The runner up was John Hanson, from New York, NY. He is a trader, who took third place in this event two years ago.

The third-place finisher was Erik Sagstrom, from Goteborg, Sweden. He was the chip leader coming into the final table, but went card dead late in the tournament. Sagstrom pocketed $522,395 in prize money for his first cash ever at the WSOP.

The fourth-place finisher was Vitlay Lunkin, from Moscow, Russia. Lunkin has enjoyed a staggeringly successful WSOP this year. He won his second gold bracelet, finished second in another event and took fourth place in this tournament. Despite having only six cashes at the WSOP, they have all come in the biggest events. In just a few years of playing, Lunkin has already accrued more than $3.2 million in WSOP earnings.

The fifth-place finisher was Huck Seed, from Las Vegas, NV. Seed won the 1996 WSOP Main Event. He also holds four WSOP gold bracelets. Seed finished seventh in this same event last year.

The sixth-place finisher was Ville Wahlbeck, from Helsinki, Finland. It’s hard to imagine anyone having a better WSOP this year than Wahlbeck. Even trifecta-gold bracelet winner Jeffrey Lisandro (who is currently in a close race with Wahlbeck) would be envious of the Fin’s record. This performance marked Wahlbeck’s sixth time to cash this year – with a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 12th, and 13th place finishes. Wahlbeck dominated mixed events this year and has enjoyed a breakthrough WSOP which will undoubtedly make him a player to watch in the upcoming Main Event.

The seventh-place finisher was Chau Giang, from Las Vegas, NV. He is a three-time WSOP gold bracelet winner. Giang cashed for the fifth time at this year’s WSOP.

The eighth-place finisher was Erik Seidel, from Las Vegas, NV. Seidel is an eight-time WSOP gold bracelet winner.

The ninth-place finisher was Gus Hansen, from Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Four of the nine final table players actually started at the same first table on Day One – (David Bach), John Hanson, Chau Giang, and Vitlay Lunkin.

Clocking in at 18 hours and 44 minutes, this was the second longest final table (time duration) in WSOP history. Only last year’s WSOP-Europe championship ran longer, which lasted 19 hours and 9 minutes. Note that the 90-minute dinner break was subtracted from the time played.

Measured by the number of hands played, this was the second-longest final table in WSOP history. There were 480 hands played, which fell just short of the record of 484 hands played in London at the WSOP-Europe championship last year. Note: This is believed to be the second-longest recorded final table in poker history.

Longest Final Tables in WSOP History

Longest WSOP Final Tables (Time Duration)

19 hours/9 minutes -- 2008 WSOP-Europe Championship
18 hours/44 minutes – 2009 H.O.R.S.E. Championship
16 hours (estimated) -- 2005 $1,500 Razz Championship
14 hours/30 minutes – 2005 WSOP Main Event
14 hours – 2006 H.O.R.S.E. Championship

Longest WSOP Final Tables (Number of Hands)

484 – 2008 WSOP-Europe Championship
480 – 2009 H.O.R.S.E. Championship
354 – 2006 H.O.R.S.E. Championship
341 – 2007 H.O.R.S.E. Championship
314 – 2008 H.O.R.S.E. Championship

(Note: Number of hands was not recorded for WSOP events prior to 2003)

In-the-Money Finishers

Former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included – Vitaly Lunkin, Huck Seed, Chau Giang, Ville Wahlbeck, Erik Seidel, Mike Wattel, David Chiu, Freddy Deeb, Steve Billirakis, and John Kabbaj.

Chau Gaing’s seventh-place showing gives him 51 in-the-money finishes for his WSOP career. This currently ranks ninth on the all-time cashes list.

Erik Seidel’s eighth-place showing gives him 57 in-the-money finishes for his WSOP career. This currently ranks in a tie for third place with Chris “Jesus” Ferguson on the all-time cashes list.

The defending champion in the event from 2008 was Scotty Nguyen, from Henderson, NV. He entered this year’s tournament, but did not cash.

Odds and Ends

This was the fourth annual H.O.R.S.E. World Championship. The previous winners were: David “Chip” Reese (2006), Kassem “Freddy” Deeb (2007), and Scotty Nguyen (2008).

Costing $50,000 to enter, this is the highest buy-in tournament of any event in the 40-year history of the WSOP.

The H.O.R.S.E. World Championship was first conceived by various poker players. The concept was to create poker's version of an all-star game, only to make it really count in standings and records. Four years ago, Daniel Negreanu took the idea of holding an exclusive tournament for superstars to Harrah’s Entertainment. The idea was accepted and the tournament was added to the official WSOP schedule in 2006. Howard Greenbaum, Vice President of Specialty Games for Harrah’s Entertainment, was also instrumental in creating the H.O.R.S.E. tournament.

The 2006 inaugural H.O.R.S.E. World Championship was memorable for many reasons. Since the late 1970s, David “Chip” Reese had been widely regarded by his peers and industry insiders as the best all- around poker player in the world. Appropriately, he won the very first mega buy-in tournament in WSOP history and became the first H.O.R.S.E. world champion. Sadly, Reese passed away suddenly in December 2007. To honor Reese's memory, WSOP President and Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack created the “Chip Reese Memorial Trophy,” which is now awarded to all H.O.R.S.E. world champions.

While the WSOP Main Event remains the undisputed world championship of poker, in some respects the H.O.R.S.E. title is even more prestigious within the poker world. Most highly-successful poker players acknowledge the winner of this event as the year's best “all around” tournament poker player.

For the most part, the $50,000 entry fee restricts entry to only the most successful (or very wealthy) players who can afford to compete in this event. Entries totaled 143 in 2006, 148 in 2007, 148 (again) in 2008. This year’s attendance declined to 95 entries. The decrease was foreseeable and was largely attributed to the global economic downturn and the absence of television cameras at this event. This marked the first year that ESPN decided not to cover the H.O.R.S.E. world championship from start to finish, choosing instead of focus more of its poker coverage on other tournaments.

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.

David Bach’s gold bracelet ceremony will take place on July 3rd, which is Day 1-A of the WSOP Main Event.

The Event

The $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. World Championship attracted 95 entries. The total prize pool amounted to $4,560,000. The top 16 finishers collected prize money.

The tournament was played over five consecutive days.

The rotation of games in this tournament went for 30 minutes at a time. The format tends to favor stud specialists, since 3/5ths of the games are stud-based (Seven-Card Stud, Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split, and Razz).

The end of Day One chip leader was Hasan Habib, who did not cash.

The end of Day Two chip leader was Gus Hansen, who finished 9th.

The end of Day Three chip leader was Vilaly Lunkin, who finished fourth.

The chip leader at the start of the final table was Erik Sagstrom, who finished third.

Eventual winner David Bach started play at the final table ranked second in chips, out of nine players.

When heads-up play began, David Bach and John Hansen were about dead even in chips.

The chip lead changed seven times during heads-up play.

Play began at 2:43 pm. Play ended at 9:57 am the following day. The final table lasted 18 hours and 44 minutes – which was the second-longest finale in WSOP history.

The tournament officially began on Saturday, June 26th, at 5 pm. The tournament officially ended on Wednesday, July 1st, at 9:57 am.

Final Results

  Name Prize City State/Country
1 Bach, David $1,276,806 Athens GA
2 Hanson, John $789,199 New York NY
3 Sagstrom, Erik $522,393 Goteborg Sweden
4 Lunkin, Vitaly $368,812 Moscow Russia
5 Seed, Huck $276,609 Las Vegas NV
6 Wahlbeck, Ville $219,655 Helsinki Finland
7 Giang, Chau $184,087 Las Vegas NV
8 Seidel, Erik $162,381 Henderson NV
9 Hansen, Gustav $123,895 Monaco Monaco
10 Wattel, Michael $123,895 Phoenix AZ
11 Dehkharghani, Raymond $99,590 Overland Park KS
12 Chiu, David $99,590 Las Vegas NV
13 Guoga, Antanas $83,630 Melbourne Australia
14 Deeb, Kaseem "Freddy" $83,630 Irvine CA
15 Billirakis, Steve $72,914 Bourbonnais IL
16 Kabbaj, John $72,914 London United Kingdom

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