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Stanley Cup Displayed at the World Series of Poker

NHL Comes Into Vegas and Shows Support for Poker

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Jeffrey Pollack and Gary Bettman with the Stanley Cup.Yesterday was unofficially “Hockey Day” at the World Series of Poker.

National Hockey League stars were floating around the Rio, the Stanley Cup was in full view, and a former hockey player even took down his first bracelet.

The NHL and PokerStars teamed up create a made-for-TV invitational charity poker tournament that will be aired on ESPN2 and ESPN Classic in the United States, TSN in Canada, and the NHL Network throughout North America.

Chris Moneymaker, Vanessa Rousso, and Dennis Phillips represented PokerStars in the new tournament, while NHL stars such as Alex Ovechkin, Roberto Luongo, Jeremy Roenick, and Mike Richards all showed up to play some cards.

The competitors played for more than $150,000 in charitable proceeds that went to the Ronald McDonald House of Las Vegas, the NHLPA Goals & Dreams Fund, and other charities of the players’ choice.

The NHL Charity Shooutout EventThree tables of players played down to a final table in a shootout format. Scott Hartnell, a left winger for the Philadelphia Flyers, took down the event, while Luongo, the goaltender for the Vancouver Canucks, finished as the tournament’s runner-up.

The daily bracelet ceremony was moved from 2:20 p.m. to 8:10 p.m. yesterday so that the ceremony could include the prestigious Stanley Cup. The presentation of the most famous trophy in all of sports seemed to bring in a number of hockey fans to the daily event, as WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack and his brother, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, posed for photos next to the Cup.

To cap off the hockey-filled night, Full Tilt pro and former hockey professional Greg Mueller won his first bracelet in the $10,000 limit hold’em world championship. Mueller played nine years of professional hockey in Europe before retiring in 1999.

Mueller, who had been to five final tables at the World Series before this, with two second-place finishes, was ecstatic and relieved to finally win his first WSOP bracelet.

“It’s like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I was starting to think I was a second-place pony there for a while,” said Mueller. “I had nightmares, even heads-up. When (Pat Pezzin) won a pot against me, I thought, ‘My God, this could be the biggest choke ever.’ But, it feels unbelievable, and I am so happy right now.”

Mueller joins an impressive number of pros to capture a bracelet in the 2009 Series.

So far, according to the WSOP, poker pros have won 22 tournaments, and players who identified themselves as “semi-pros” have won four events. Amateurs have taken home five bracelets.