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Happy Birthday to Me! Michael Chow Wins First Gold Bracelet!
What a birthday present! Michael Chow, a poker pro from Honolulu, HI, won his first WSOP gold bracelet in the $1,500 buy-in Omaha High-Low Split event on the day of his 33rd birthday. The tournament ended about 4:30 am, with a large cheering section celebrating Chow’s personal and professional triumph. Chow, who previously worked in real estate before playing poker full-time, now concentrates mostly on high-stakes cash games in his native Hawaii and in casinos in both Las Vegas and Los Angeles; he earned a cool payout totaling $237,463 for winning Event 4 at this year’s WSOP.
Chow defeated longtime tournament veteran Dan Heimiller in heads-up play. Chow dominated most of play on Day Three, but lost his chip lead late against Heimiller. In fact, it appeared the Las Vegas pro would defeat Chow at one point. But Chow made a strong comeback and earned a well-deserved victory. This was the third-biggest field in the history of WSOP Omaha High-Low events, with 818 players.
The Champion – Michael Chow
The 2010 World Series of Poker $1,500 buy-in Omaha High-Split Eight-or-Better champion is Michael Chow, from Honolulu, HI.
Chow also owns a home in Las Vegas, NV. He bought a second home because he spends much of his time playing poker in Las Vegas.
Chow attended the University of Hawaii 10 years ago. He did not graduate.
Chow’s first recorded tournament cash took place in 2001.
Chow previously had about $300,000 in live tournament winnings. He is now up over half a million in earnings.
Chow plays in many private poker games in Hawaii.
Chow has not concentrated much on tournament play, choosing instead to focus his energy on cash games. He is a regular in the mid- to high-stakes cash games played at the Commerce Casino (Los Angeles) and elsewhere.
Chow commonly plays $200-400 limit and $300-600 limit.
Chow first attended the WSOP in 2003 when it was held at Binion’s Horseshoe.
Chow collected $237,463 for first place. He was presented with his first WSOP gold bracelet.
According to official records, Chow now has seven WSOP cashes, two final table appearances, and one win. His career WSOP earnings now total $370,752.
Among those who were near tableside cheering for Chow was Lisa Hamilton, who is also a Hawaii native. She won last year’s Ladies World Championship.
On the see-saw final table battle, particularly when playing heads-up against Dan Heimiller: “At one point I felt it slipping away. He was the one player I did not want to play heads up with.”
On what winning the WSOP gold bracelet means: “This means a lot. I have been working hard trying to make a living for the past four or five years. I made a final table at the WSOP before, and I won a Bellagio event. So, I have had cashes here and there. But to win a gold bracelet, that’s everything to me. This means everything right here. It makes me feel a lot
On being Hawaiian and taking pride in his victory: “There are a lot of very good players who come out of Hawaii. There are a lot of games back home. Many people come to Las Vegas from Hawaii. Maybe more people will come and play poker now (after I won).”
The Final Table
The final table consisted of only one former WSOP gold bracelet winner -- Dan Heimiller.
This was an all-American final table. Only a few events last year did not include an international mix, and they are becoming rarer as the WSOP continues to attract a wider diversity of competitors from many different nations.
The final table began nine-handed. Every final table participant had at least one prior WSOP in-the-money finish.
Final table participants ranged in age from 28 to 50.
The runner up was Dan Heimiller. He is a 48-year-old poker pro from Las Vegas. Heimiller won his gold bracelet back in 2002 in the Seven-Card Stud championship.
The third-place finisher was Ylon Schwartz, from Austin, TX. A former chess master originally from New York City, he is best known for finishing fourth in the 2008 WSOP Main Event. This marked Schwartz's 14th time to cash in a WSOP event. He now has in excess of $4 million in career WSOP earnings.
The fourth-place finisher was Fred Koubi, from Van Nuys, CA. A fixture at major poker tournaments for many years, Koubi now has four WSOP cashes.
The fifth-place finisher was Scott Epstein, from Las Vegas, NV. He now has eight WSOP cashes.
The sixth-place finisher was Michael Cipolla, from Fresno, CA.
The seventh-place finisher was Sasha Rosewood, from Santa Cruz, CA.
The eighth-place finisher was Joe Liebman, from Ft. Atkinson, WI.
The ninth-place finisher was Todd Barlow, from Scottsdale, AZ.
The final table officially began at 9:45 pm and ended at 4:10 am.
Other In-the-Money Finishers
The top 81 finishers collected prize money. Aside from those who made the final table, former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included – Jeff Madsen (12th), Huck Seed (18th), Anthony Reategui (22nd), David Bach (24th), Chau Giang (27th), Lonnie Heimowitz (31st), Tom Schneider (32nd), John Brock Parker (35th), Todd Brunson (52nd), Walter Smiley (71st), and Berry Johnston (73rd).
With his 73rd-place finish, five-time WSOP gold bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Fame inductee Johnston now has 58 cashes, which currently ranks fourth on the all-time list.
With his 27th-place finish, Chau Giang cashed for the 51st time, which ranks eighth on the all-time list.
Jeff Madsen, who finished 12th, was the 2006 WSOP Player of the Year.
Huck Seed, who finished 18th, was the 1996 WSOP Main Event champion.
David Bach, who finished 24th, was the $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. champion last year.
Odds and Ends
This is the 832nd gold bracelet event in World Series of Poker history. Note: This figure includes every official WSOP event played, including tournaments during the early years when there were no actual gold bracelets awarded. It also includes the 11 gold bracelets awarded at WSOP Europe (to date).
The final table had to be played off the usual Main Stage, which is normally surrounded by ESPN television cameras. Instead, the finale was held at one of the so-called "feature" tables in the corner of the Amazon Room at the Rio. This was due to the $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship finale being held on the same day at the same time.
The defending champion from 2009 (and 2008) was Thang T. Luu. He was not among those who entered this year.
With 818 players, this was the third-largest live Omaha High-Low Split tournament in history. The largest Omaha tournaments ever held were this same event held last year (918 entrants) and the 2008 event (833 entrants).
The ceremony takes place inside The Pavilion, which is the expansive main tournament room hosting all noon starts this year. The ceremony begins at the conclusion of the first break of the noon tournament, usually about 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 are permitted by both public and members of the media.
Chow requested that the national anthem of the United States be played at his WSOP gold bracelet ceremony.
Omaha High-Low Split has been included on the WSOP schedule every year since 1990. Omaha (High) was first played at the 1983 WSOP. The game was phased out as interest declined and Omaha High-Low Split gained popularity. The last Omaha (High) tournament was held in 2003. All Omaha-related events between 1983 and 1989 were either High-Only or Pot-Limit Omaha.
The previous winners of this event were as follows:
Thang T. Luu (2009)
The $1,500 buy-in event has traditionally been held early on the WSOP schedule. As Omaha High-Low Split gained popularity, other buy-in events were added, including buy-in levels from $2,000 up to $10,000.
The tournament was played over three consecutive days, from May 30th through June 1st, 2010. The tournament extended into a fourth day by virtue of the late end on the morning of June 2nd.
The tournament was played over Memorial Day weekend.
DAY ONE: 818 played down to 274. The chip leader at the end of Day One was Oleg Shamardin. He cashed in 59th place.
DAY TWO: 274 played down to 26: The chip leader at the end of Day Two was Sasha Rosewood, He cashed in 7th place.
DAY THREE: 26 played down to the winner: The chip leader at the start of the final table was Mike Cipolla. He cashed in 6th place.
When heads-up play began, Dan Heimiller enjoyed about a 2 to 1 chip advantage over Chow. He increased his lead to about 5 to 1 at one point. But Chow stormed back during the last 90 minutes and won the victory.
The tournament officially began on Friday, May 30th at 5:00 pm. The tournament officially ended on Wednesday, June 2nd, at 4:10 am PST.
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