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Top 10 Achievements at the 2010 World Series of Poker

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Aug 20, 2010

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The World Series of Poker put up record numbers in 2010. The event set all-time records in attendance (72,966), total prize pools ($187,109,850), and countries represented (117). There were many memorable achievements, as well.

Card Player invites you to take a look at the top 10 achievements of the summer, to tide you over to the main-event final table in November.

Michael Mizrachi wins WSOP $50,000 Players Championship1. Michael Mizrachi Wins $50,000 Players Championship With Brother Robert Finishing Fifth
By Ryan Lucchesi

Two siblings appearing at the same final table is an uncommon occurrence at the WSOP. It has happened only three times since 1970. Annie Duke and Howard Lederer finished sixth and ninth, respectively, in a $1,500 pot-limit hold’em event in 1995, and brothers Ross and Barny Boatman finished seventh and ninth, respectively, in a $1,500 pot-limit Omaha rebuy event in 2002.

Robert MizrachiMichael and Robert Mizrachi made it three sets of siblings when the younger “Grinder” won the $50,000 Players Championship and Robert finished fifth. The two also became just the second set of brothers to win bracelets, joining Blair and Grant Hinkle.

ESPN cameras captured the record and the action as one of the largest audiences of the summer packed the stands in the Amazon Room for the highly anticipated final table. It was an epic affair that lasted 235 hands, and even though it was one of the first bracelets to be awarded in 2010, it is our top WSOP achievement this year.

The $50,000 Players Championship attracted 116 players and generated a prize pool in excess of $5.5 million, which showed growth for the event during the first year that it added pot-limit Omaha, deuce-to-seven lowball, and no-limit hold’em to its H.O.R.S.E. format.

The Grinder was awarded $1,559,046 and his first gold bracelet for the victory, and the Card Player 2006 Player of the Year award winner ran his career tournament earnings up to $8,758,298. He also won something that no one can ever take away from him — a spot on the Chip Reese memorial trophy.

Phil Ivey wins WSOP $3,000 HORSE2. Phil Ivey Wins Eighth Bracelet
By Steve Schult

Phil Ivey continued to cement his reputation as the greatest player in the world this summer by winning his eighth bracelet in the $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. event. He took home $329,840 for his victory, but added much more to his bankroll from various high-stakes pros who made bracelet bets with him.

His victory came at one of the toughest final tables of the 2010 WSOP. Chad Brown, David Baker, Bill Chen, John Juanda, and Jeffrey Lisandro accompanied Ivey at the final table, making his victory all that more impressive.

Ivey went to the final table as the chip leader, but he took some hits early to drop him back to the middle of the pack. He was able to tread water and survive until it was three-handed with Chen and Juanda. Chen looked like he was going to run away with the tournament, since he had 75 percent of the chips in play.

Ivey was able to knock off Juanda and go heads up with Chen, who had a 3-1 chip advantage. The heads-up battle was intense, and Ivey was able to pull even early. Once he reached that threshold, the momentum completely changed.

Ivey finished things off in a cold-deck razz hand in which they got it all in on fifth street with each player already holding a very strong low. Ivey had a 6 low to top Chen’s 7 low, and then he rivered a wheel to end the tournament in style.

With his eighth bracelet, Ivey moved up the ranks on the all-time bracelet leader board. He is now tied with Erik Seidel, and is behind only Johnny Moss (nine bracelets), Doyle Brunson (10 bracelets), Johnny Chan (10 bracelets), and Phil Hellmuth (11 bracelets).

Frank Kassela wins two WSOP bracelets3. Frank Kassela Wins Two Bracelets, Named WSOP Player of the Year
By Steve Murphy

Last year, five people won two WSOP bracelets. This year, only one did — Frank Kassela.

The entrepreneur has been a regular on the tournament trail for the last few years, but up until this summer, that first gold bracelet remained elusive. He made a final table in 2005, but wound up falling to Johnny Chan, who grabbed his 10th bracelet.

It wasn’t the first time that Kassela had fallen short when the cameras were rolling. In World Poker Tour events in Paris and Aruba, Kassela made deep runs but was eliminated just before the final table. “I feel cursed in TV events,” Kassela told Card Player.

While the cameras weren’t rolling, the stakes were high when he made his first final table of the summer in the $10,000 seven-card stud eight-or-better event at the World Series. This time, he was ready. After a decade of playing in the World Series, he finally won his first bracelet — along with $447,446. It may have taken him a decade to win the first one, but it took less than two weeks to win his second one when he took down the $2,500 razz event, for $214,085.

Kassela cashed three more times at the 2010 WSOP, including a third-place finish in the $25,000 six-handed no-limit hold’em event, for $556,053, and an in-the-money finish in the main event. Those results were more than enough to propel him to the top of the WSOP Player of the Year standings. He is also among the leaders in the Card Player 2010 Player of the Year standings.

Tom 'Durrr' Dwan4. Tom Dwan Just Misses Out on First Bracelet and Millions in Side Bets
By Steve Murphy

It seems absurd to think that with 57 events at the 2010 WSOP, one of the biggest stories of the summer concerned a guy who finished second in a $1,500 no-limit hold’em event.

But it’s hard to argue otherwise, after Tom Dwan stunned the poker community and terrified a number of high-stakes gamblers by making a run at his first bracelet just a couple of weeks after announcing a series of huge bracelet bets.

Although Dwan ultimately came up short in his quest, losing heads up to Simon Watt, he made more than a few pros nervous in the process.

“[Dwan] was playing for the main-event title right there,” Mike Matusow told Card Player, referring to all of the side action. After Watt’s victory, Matusow declared jubilantly: “They are going to put Simon’s picture on the Bobby’s Room wall. Here is Simon, saved everyone from going broke.”

That tournament was as close as the New Jersey pro would come to winning a bracelet this summer. Dwan cashed four times in the 2010 WSOP, including a deep run in the $10,000 pot-limit Omaha event, in which he finished 17th. However, he would not make another final table, leaving the bankrolls of the other major high-stakes pros healthy and intact.

Men Nguyen wins his seventh bracelet5. Men Nguyen Wins His Seventh Bracelet
By Steve Murphy

With his win in the $10,000 seven-card stud championship this year, Men Nguyen added a seventh WSOP bracelet to his collection. Now, only six players — Phil Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Johnny Moss, Erik Seidel, and Phil Ivey — stand between him and the all-time lead.

The win ended a long drought for Nguyen at the World Series. After capturing his fifth and sixth bracelets in 2003, “The Master” struggled to win one in the modern era.

He came close a few times in the past seven years — a fourth place in a 2009 WSOP Europe event, a fourth place in a 2006 deuce-to-seven event, an eighth place and a seventh place in two 2005 WSOP events, and a third place in a 2004 seven-card stud event — but all of his notable victories during that time came at venues other than the Rio.

Dan Kelly wins WSOP $25,000 Six Handed6. Dan Kelly Wins $25,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em Event at 21 Years of Age
By Steve Schult

As online poker phenoms have proven themselves in the live arena, everybody likes to take his pick of the next up-and-coming 21-year-old online star who will win a bracelet. Dan Kelly was one of the names prominently thrown around prior to this WSOP, and he proved that he’s the real deal.

Kelly took home one of the most prestigious titles of the summer, winning the $25,000 six-handed no-limit hold’em event. He bested a final table full of young, Internet-groomed talent, along with the year’s only double-bracelet winner. He netted himself $1,315,518 and his first career bracelet with the win.

Kelly went to the final table as the overwhelming chip leader, and from the moment the first hand was dealt, it was apparent that his plan was to put those chips to good use. The Potomac, Maryland, native constantly raised and put his opponents in tough situations.

After a few pots went Kelly’s way in the heads-up battle with Shawn Buchanan, one of the most dramatic hands of this year’s Series took place. There was a flurry of raises preflop, which led to Buchanan calling off the last of his chips and showing pocket jacks against Kelly’s A-10. The flop and turn were safe for Buchanan, but Kelly rivered an ace to take the title.

Kelly plays as “djk123” online, and before his victory, he was already well-known throughout the poker community, where many refer to him as a “sicko.” Kelly now has career tournament earnings of $3,983,036.

7. Main-Event Field Grows Again
By Ryan Lucchesi

This was a promising year for WSOP attendance, which is a healthy sign for the poker industry. Nine of the 17 largest live tournaments in history took place at the Rio this summer, including the main event.

The main-event field numbered 7,319 players, making it the second-largest live tournament ever, behind the 2006 main event, which attracted 8,773 players during the days of the poker boom. The total prize pool for the main event is $68,798,600, and the first-place prize is $8,944,138.

Day 1D was once again the largest of the four starting days, but there was a better balance in 2010 main-event starting days than in previous years. Day 1A got things rolling with 1,125 players, and each subsequent day saw the numbers grow. Day 1B attracted 1,489 players, and Day 1C was very promising with 2,314 players. Each of the 2,391 players who showed up on Day 1D was accommodated, and the main event saw a 12.7 percent increase in attendance over last year.

“By every measure, this was the most successful World Series of Poker in the event’s illustrious 41-year history,” said WSOP Vice President Ty Stewart. “From the lowest buy-in events to the highest, we saw enormous player demand translate into lengthy registration lists and massive prize pools.”

Six Former Main-Event Finalists8. Six Former Main-Event Finalists Win Bracelets
By Brian Pempus

At the 2010 WSOP, six men avenged a bittersweet finish at a main-event final table.

The chain reaction started when Eric Buchman won event No. 18 ($2,000 limit hold’em). Buchman, who finished fourth in the no-limit hold’em championship last November, had two cashes this summer before capturing his first bracelet and erasing some of the disappointment from 2009.

Next up was John “Tex” Barch, who was awarded $2.5 million after falling two places short of the bracelet in the 2005 main event. Although he made another WSOP final table in 2007, his ultimate redemption came this year in event No. 20 ($1,500 pot-limit Omaha), where he won his first bracelet.

Veteran Sam Farha then won event No. 25 (the $10,000 Omaha eight-or-better championship). It was Farha’s second bracelet since finishing second to Chris Moneymaker in the 2003 main event.

Scott Montgomery was the next former main-event finalist to garner WSOP success. The Canadian won event No. 36 ($1,000 no-limit hold’em), two years after a fifth-place finish in the main event.

Poker legend Phil Ivey couldn’t find success at last year’s main-event final table, but he rebounded by winning his eighth bracelet in the $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. event.
Dean Hamrick, the inaugural “November Nine” bubble boy, used the heartbreaking experience of a 10th-place finish at the unofficial main-event final table in 2008 to achieve success this year. “This bracelet does a lot,” said Hamrick, who won a $1,500 no-limit hold’em event this summer. “It soothes a lot of pain.”

Gavin Smith Wins 1st WSOP Bracelet9. Gavin Smith Wins First Bracelet
By Steve Murphy

Moments after he won event No. 44 to finally secure his first WSOP bracelet, Gavin Smith couldn’t help but get caught up in the emotion of the moment. After he was handed a microphone, Smith praised his heads-up opponent, thanked his friends and supporters, and tried to hold back the tears.

It was a touching scene for one of the most popular pros in the game. Smith, known for his happy-go-lucky attitude and reputation for partying, drinking, and prop betting, had unfortunately fallen into the category of one of the best who have never won a bracelet. Despite a stellar tournament record away from the Rio — more than $4.5 million in tournament winnings and a WPT Player of the Year award — Smith had always come up short at the Series.

“It’s important to win a bracelet just to prove people wrong, you know,” Smith told Card Player just days before his win. “I’m not in what I consider to be the elite group yet.”

That bracelet and a spot in that elite group would come soon enough, after he defeated Danny Hannawa heads up to win the $2,500 mixed hold’em event.

WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla awarded the Full Tilt pro his first career bracelet and couldn’t help but comment on the spectacle that surrounded the final table. “Look at this place. Look at this, standing room only,” said Dalla. “This is really remarkable to see the love … that they have for you. To share this moment with you, to see how emotional you are and how much this means to you … sir, it is a great pleasure, it is a great honor to give you gold bracelet No. 1.”

Matt Keikoan Wins 2nd WSOP Bracelet10. Matt Keikoan Makes Great Final-Table Comeback to Win Second Bracelet
By Steve Schult

Matt Keikoan was heads up with Daniel Idema and was down to his last 300,000 in chips with a big blind of 240,000. He jokingly made the remark to his supporters on the rail, “Greatest comeback in history right here.”

Although it was a joke when he said it, Keikoan turned that last 300,000 into 5.1 million in chips to earn his second bracelet and $425,969. He made one of the best comebacks in WSOP history, and won event No. 29 (the $10,000 limit hold’em championship).

Keikoan’s first bracelet came in 2008 in a no-limit hold’em event, but now he can add some limit hold’em hardware to his trophy case.

Keikoan entered heads-up play at nearly a 3-1 chip disadvantage against Idema. The heads-up battle was fierce, and although it seemed like Idema was in control, he could never put away the California native during four-and-a-half hours of heads-up play.

That was when Keikoan was knocked down to a little bit more than a big blind, but he then went on the kind of rush that you rarely see. Every showdown went his way, and he doubled up several times in a row. Finally, Keikoan flopped bottom two pair against Idema’s top pair, and that sealed the deal for his massive comeback.

Poker history purists may prefer the Jack Straus comeback in the main event in 1982, but Keikoan’s comeback is about as impressive as it gets since the turn of the century. Spade Suit