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WSOP 2009

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Event #5, $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha, Final Results and Report

Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada
Official Report
Event #5
Pot-Limit Omaha
Buy-In: $1,500
Number of Entries: 809
Total Net Prize Pool: $1,104,285
Number of Places Paid: 81
First Place Prize: $237,415
June 1-3, 2009

Tournament Highlights:

The Winner

The 2009 World Series of Poker $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha champion is Jason Mercier, from Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Mercier is a 22-year-old professional poker player. He attended Florida Atlantic University for one year. He then transferred to a local community college and received his Associates Degree.

Before turning pro, Mercier wanted to be a math teacher. But during a phase in which he worked as a substitute teacher, Mercier decided against that career plan. Mercier stated that he enjoys working with numbers, which led to him playing poker first recreationally and then full-time.

Prior to joining the pro poker circuit, Mercier worked for a year coaching high school basketball.

“Winning always feels good,” Mercier stated in a post-tournament interview. “Especially after last year (2008 WSOP). I played in 22 events. I went deep in just one of them. I finished 13th and that made me sick. I cashed three times and all three times I busted out with the worst (starting) hand, in marginal spots. I was really upset with how I played last year. Now, it feels great to win a gold bracelet, especially so early in the Series.”

“Every time I enter a poker tournament, I think I can win it,” Mercier said. Of course, you have to win some key pots.”

Mercier had some interesting strategic advice for those who play in both six-handed and nine-handed games. “I tend to play too many hands in early position….because I am used to playing in six-handed games online. But nine-handed games are very different,” Mercier said. Today, I folded some hands in early position that I normally would have played. That got me into less bad spots. I was able to play position more and take down a lot of pots that I might (not have won otherwise).

Mercier’s poker name is “treysfull21.”

Mercier has enjoyed an astounding 14-month run. He cashed for the first time ever in a major poker tournament in April 2008. Since then, he has won five tournaments -- including two European Poker Tour championships and a WSOP gold bracelet. He already has accumulated $3,069,194 in career earnings, at age 22.

Mercier made it to the final table at last year’s WSOP-Europe Pot-Limit Omaha event. He finished in eighth place.

Mercier is accustomed to fast-paced action. His first tournament victory at San Remo (European Poker Tour) still stands as the shortest final table in EPT history. His victory in this event clocked in at five hours, a relatively quick finale given the starting distribution of chips and tough lineup at the final table.

Mercier collected $237,462 for first place. He was also awarded his first WSOP gold bracelet.

Mercier stated that winning nearly a quarter-million dollars gives him more confidence and freedom. He stated that he has no specific plans for the money, other than to play in more tournaments in the future.

Note: Mercier is not related to tournament pro Isabelle Mercier, from Quebec (Canada).

The Players



The final table was comprised of two former WSOP gold bracelet winners – An Tran and Dario Alioto.

The runner up was Steven Burkholder, from Largo, FL. He is a 22-year-old college student. Burkholder came to this year’s WSOP in Las Vegas and is sharing a house with eight fellow online poker pros.

Kevin Iacofano finished in third place. He is a 23-year-old poker pro, now living in Las Vegas. Iacofano is originally from Cleveland, OH. Before the start of the final table, Iacofano vowed to “break the Cleveland championship curse,” referring to the fact that no Cleveland sports teams have won a championship since the 1964 Cleveland Browns (NFL).

The fourth-place finisher was Matt Giannetti, from Las Vegas, NV. He is a former college student-turned-poker pro. Giannetti is primarily a cash game player and this was his best tournament finish ever.

Christopher Biondino finished in fifth place. He is a 25-year-old pro poker player. Biondino is another cash game player who is now playing in more tournaments. He finished third in a WSOP Circuit event held at Caesars Palace Las Vegas tow months ago.

The sixth-place finisher was Jonathan Tare, from New York, NY.

The seventh-place finisher was former WSOP gold bracelet winner Dario Alioto, from Palermo, Sicily (Italy). Alioto won his gold bracelet at WSOP-Europe in 2007. Alioto is arguably the world’s best Pot-Limit Omaha player over the past two years. He has achieved remarkable results in PLO events – taking seventh place in this event, 19th-place in last year’s $10,000 buy-in PLO World Championship, fourth in another WSOP PLO event last year, and a win in PLO at WSOP-Europe.

The eighth-place finisher was An “the Boss” Tran. He won his WSOP gold bracelet in 1991. Never one to be bothered by learning names, Tran is known as “the Boss,” because he calls everyone he meets “Boss.”

The ninth-place finisher was Vic Park, from Los Angeles, CA.

Former WSOP gold bracelet winners who cashed in this event included – Eric Froehlich (26th), Josh Arieh (31st), Alexander Kravchenko (52nd), Brent Carter (62nd), and Robert Mizrachi (67th).

The defending champion (2008 winner) was Vanessa Selbst, from Brooklyn, NY. She did not enter this event.

Odds and Ends


Pot-Limit Omaha is becoming increasingly more popular. Given increasing attendance ever single year for this event, it is arguably the second most popular form of poker behind various forms Hold’em. Consider the following WSOP turnouts the previous five years for this event:

  • 2005 – 291 players
  • 2006 – 526 players
  • 2007 – 578 players
  • 2008 – 758 players
  • 2009 – 809 players

Some of the most well-known previous champions in this event include:


This tournament ended on Wednesday, June 3, 2009. On this day, there were seven WSOP tournaments being played simultaneously. This was the first time in history this has ever happened. Last year, there were many days when six tournaments were played. But seven live tournaments taking place in one day – all starting on time and without incident -- is a testament to the extraordinary planning and execution of WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel and his staff.

The Event

The $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha event attracted 809 entrants. This created a prize pool totaling $1,104,285. The top 81finishers collected prize money.

This is believed to be the largest live Pot-Limit Omaha tournament in poker history.

The tournament was played over a three-day period. On the third day, three final tables were played simultaneously – the $10,000 buy-in Seven-Card Stud World Championship, the $1,000 buy-in Stimulus Special (No-Limit Hold’em), and this event. Because the main two stages were occupied with other events, this final table was played at an adjacent table. It attracted just as large a crowd, however. This made for an exciting finale, with lots of action.

Kevin Iacofano arrived at the final table as the chip leader. However, he ended up as the third-place finisher.

The final table started with chip counts as follows:

The final table lasted a relatively brisk five hours.

On the final hand, all the money went in on the turn. Jason Mercier had Q-J-8-2. Steven Burkholder had A-A-J-7. Burkholder actually held the best hand at the time, with trip jacks and a better kicker. But a queen on the turn gave Mercier a full-house. After a blank fell on the river, Mercier was guaranteed his first WSOP gold bracelet.

The tournament officially began on Monday, June 1st at 12:01 pm. The tournament officially ended on Wednesday, June 3rd at 9:00 pm.

In the Money Finishers

  Name Prize City State/Country
1 Mercier, Jason $237,462 Ft. Lauderdale FL
2 Burkholder, Steven $146,748 Largo FL
3 Iacofano, Kevin $96,128 Las Vegas NV
4 Giannetti, Matthew $66,544 Las Vegas NV
5 Biondino, Christopher $48,533 Baldwin MD
6 Tare, Jonathan $37,192 New York NY
7 Alioto, Dario $29,881 Palermo Italy
8 Tran, An Van $25,122 Las Vegas NV
9 Park, Victa $22,052 Riverside CA
10 Michaels, Alex $15,592 Edison NJ
11 Rios, Jesse $15,592 Salida CA
12 Chang, Jae $15,592 Round Rock TX
13 Pappas, Greg $11,583 Las Vegas NV
14 Dauenhauer, Darryl $11,583 Laughlin NV
15 Jalali, Alex $11,583 Bochum Germany
16 Greenwood, Matthew $8,933 Las Vegas NV
17 Shei, Kenneth $8,933 Las Vegas NV
18 Alioa, Brian $8,933 North Olmsted OH
19 Briskin, Ilya $7,012 Holmdel NJ
20 Marbleu, Philippe $7,012 Toulouse France
21 Cromwell, Harold $7,012 Austin TX
22 Gerasimov, Kirill $7,012 Moscow Russia
23 Halpern, David $7,012 New Orleans LA
24 Ward, Cory $7,012 Titusville FL
25 Helm, Bradley $7,012 Scottsdale AZ
26 Froehlich, Eric $7,012 Springfield VA
27 Karp, Warren $7,012 Lake Forest CA
28 Iammarino, David $5,797 Brooklyn NY
29 Khoueis, Samir $5,797 Pendle Hill United Kingdom
30 Graham, Matthew $5,797 Las Vegas NV
31 Arieh, Joshua $5,797 Marietta GA
32 Humphrey, Matthew $5,797 Avon IN
33 Niergarth, Nicholas $5,797 Waukesha WI
34 Chao, William $5,797 Folsom CA
35 Peeples, Bradley $5,797 Coffeeville MS
36 Day, Ryan $5,797 Hoboken NJ
37 Cavella, Carman $4,947 Turnersville NJ
38 Marcum, Dennis $4,947 Texas City TX
39 Perez, Martin $4,947 Kingwood TX
40 Miker, Chad $4,947 Champions Gate FL
41 Manalo, Josefino $4,947 Orange CA
42 Majd, Pouya $4,947 St. Louis MO
43 Finne, Timothy $4,947 Fanwood NJ
44 Rachel, Christian $4,947 Weidhausen Germany
45 Wisiak, Robert $4,947 Ridgewood NY
46 West, Timothy $4,284 Los Altos CA
47 Chapman, Jeffrey $4,284 Wesley Chapel FL
48 Farina, Valter $4,284 Genoa Italy
49 Fishman, Craig $4,284 Heathrow FL
50 Tavares, Jose $4,284 Commerce CA
51 Edengren, Magnus $4,284 Alta Sweden
52 Kravchenko, Alexander $4,284 Moscow Russia
53 Verbakel, Bjorn $4,284 Beek En Donk Netherlands
54 Saltiel, Robert $4,284 New York NY
55 Newman, Stewart $3,765 Weston FL
56 Von Halle, Jan $3,765 Hamburg Germany
57 Mckinnon, Tyler $3,765 Iron Mountain MI
58 Kostritsyn, Alexander $3,765 Moscow Russia
59 Abiscott, Joshua $3,765 Ottowa ON, Canada
60 En, Richard $3,765 Largley BC, Canada
61 Rodriguez, Julian $3,765 Miami FL
62 Carter, Brent $3,765 Oak Park IL
63 Banks, Caleb $3,765 Whitman WV
64 Stout, Matthew $3,246 Las Vegas NV
65 Limor, Yarom $3,246 Beverly Hills CA
66 Shorr, Shannon $3,246 Birmingham AL
67 Mizrachi, Robert $3,246 Las Vegas NV
68 Lademan, Jason $3,246 Okemos MI
69 Hoppmann, John $3,246 Edina MN
70 Kula, Robert $3,246 Stockholm Sweden
71 Smith, Mark $3,246 Winterset IA
72 Landman, John $3,246 Chelsea AL
73 Chambers, Thomas $2,760 Chicago IL
74 Rosenberg, Joel $2,760 Clayton CA
75 Tarabochia, Joseph $2,760 Las Vegas NV
76 Campbell, Robert $2,760 North Miami FL
77 Rothstein, Steven $2,760 Tehachapi CA
78 Williams, Jeff $2,760 Dunwoody GA
79 Shook, Michael $2,760 Nashville TN
80 Jaffe, Jonathan $2,760 Enfield CT
81 Fric, Bowen $2,760 Calgary AB, Canada

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