Ultra-coolheaded global poker star Phil Ivey (32) showed them how it was done at the World Series of Poker this week, winning Event 8 - the $2,500 buy-in No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball Championship - and taking home $96 361, his sixth WSOP bracelet....and probably quite a bit more on the numerous private sidebets rumoured to be on his success; for example Ivey and fellow pro Daniel Negreanu are known to have regular $200 000 bracelet bets.
Ivey had to work his way through an original entry field of 147, and a final table that lasted almost six hours, to reach his sixth winner's bracelet and join an elite WSOP list of six-time champs that includes T.J. Cloutier, Layne Flack, Men “The Master” Nguyen, and Jay Heimowitz. It's been four years since Ivey picked up bracelet number 5, although in the intervening period this talented professional has made millions on both Internet and live tournament tables.
Giving Ivey a good run for his money in the hard-fought three hour heads up was John Monnette, a regular player of Deuce-to-Seven Lowball from Los Angeles, who Ivey saluted in saying: "It was a grueling event. When we got heads-up, we played a long time. I did not expect it to last that long. I expected it to break either way."
Typical of a WSOP event, the entry field featured many well-known names such as Vanessa Rousso, Barry Greenstein, TonyG Guoga, Freddy Deeb, Phil Hellmuth and Erick Lindgren. Many of them stayed or visited later along with other top players to watch Ivey take the event.
Ivey's winning streak was not to last, however - he also entered the $10 000 buy-in World Championship Mixed Event, but was eliminated before the end of the first day.
Elsewhere at the 40th World Series of Poker, a 30-year-old bank underwriter from Nebraska survived a field of 2 971 players to win Event #7 - the $1 500 No-Limit Hold'em - after a tough three-and-a-half days, 13 hours of this on the final leg.
Travis Johnson achieved a remarkable return on investment as he was declared the winner - he qualified for the event by winning a $335 satellite tournament and admitted he would have been happy just making the money bubble on his first run at a major WSOP event. His ambitions were more than achieved in collecting a winner's check for $666 853 and his first World Series of Poker bracelet.
Getting through the almost 3 000 player field was a feat in itself, and when the final table had not been decided by 3am on Day 2 the 33 players remaining were sent away until 1pm the following day. Not much of a break, adding to the tension among the already tired players, who went on for a further 13 hours before Johnson emerged triumphant.
When Mike Ciotola busted out in third place for a $273 385 payday, it was Johnson vs. Steve Karp with the banker holding a 2 to 1 chip lead going into the heads up. He maintained that lead despite the valiant efforts of his opponent, and the game ended 40 minutes later with Johnson's lead increased to 4 to 1. Karp collected a check for $414 116 for the second placing.
"It's so over my head right now," Johnson commented. "I can't even comprehend what's going on. I was stoked about cashing, three grand looked good. So if that looked good, I can't even fathom what this is."
The win gives the banker the wherewithal to enter this year's $10 000 buy-in Main Event, which he confirmed was his intention.
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