While the $10,000 buy-in Main Event is seen as the crown jewel of the World Series of Poker, No-Limit Hold’em isn’t the only game that has a first-class world championship event on the WSOP schedule. While the fields are much smaller, other poker variants have their own world championships that draw strong players who want to prove they’re the best in each specialty.
In the world of Hold’em, No-Limit is king, and Limit is easily the second-most popular form of the game. But while most people associate Pot-Limit games with Omaha, Hold’em can be played in that format, too.
A total of 160 players participated in the $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold’emÂ World Championship (Event #28 at this year’s World Series), with Russian businessman Alex Bilokur coming out on top of the loaded field.
Bilokur earned $398,567 for his victory, but this one wasn’t about the money. Beyond his own personal wealth, Bilokur had already earned nearly $3 million in tournament play in recent years. Instead, this highly successful amateur wanted to prove himself among the world’s best poker players.
“This is the format I like most,” Bilokur told WSOP.com. “High buy-in with the same line up, very strong competition. “I’ve shown good results in these kinds of events. I’ve never considered myself a professional poker player,” he added.”I just really love this game and I like tough competition.”
And tough competition was exactly what Bilokur had to face in order to earn his first WSOP gold bracelet. The final table included luminaries like Todd Brunson and Chino Rheem, and others such as Erik Seidel (11th place) and Scott Seiver (12th) went out just before the final stage. In the end, Bilokur had to show his mettle in heads-up play, as he faced Florida cash-game specialist Matt O’Donnell with a 9-1 chip disadvantage.
But Bilokur hung tough, eventually turning the tables and winning out after an epic 106-hand heads-up fight.
Bilokur’s win comes amidst a WSOP largely dominated by American players, and one in which many notable pros have claimed bracelet victories. One player who fits into both of those categories scored his first-ever World Series win this week, though he’s currently plying his trade outside the United States. That man is Calvin “cal42688” Anderson, the man who was once called the #1 online poker player in the world, according to PocketFives.
Anderson won the $1,500 buy-in seven-card stud high-low tournament on Sunday, claiming $190,538 and the first WSOP bracelet of his highly decorated career. With over $6 million in lifetime earnings, most of which has come online, Anderson is a legend of Internet poker. That helps explain why he’s currently living in Mexico (where he can more easily pursue a professional online poker career) and why his first bracelet victory wasn’t as career-defining as it might be for some.
“It’s a good feeling to win the gold bracelet,” Anderson told WSOP.com. “I wouldn’t say it completely validates me and what I do for a career. I’ve had a lot of success, although I will certainly get a lot more recognition from this.”
Anderson defeated Joe Tehan in heads-up play to take home the title. Other notables at the final table included Jimmy Fricke (7th) and Ted Forrest (9th).