The 2006 World Series of Poker (WSOP) began on June 25, 2006 with “satellite” events, with regular play commencing on June 26 with the annual Casino Employee event, and the Tournament of Champions held on June 28 and 29. Forty more events in various events including Omaha, seven-card stud and razz, plus ladies’ and senior tournaments led up to the 10,000 USD no-limit Texas hold ’em main event starting July 28 and running through the final table on August 10. All events were held at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, which marked the first time that a casino other than Binion’s Horseshoe (now “Binion’s”) hosted the final table of the main event. Six days reserved for the first two rounds of play for the main event were established by Harrah’s Entertainment, which has run the annual event since its purchase from the Binion family in 2004. The first prize in the main event was $12 million (US), the richest prize for the winner of any sports or television event in history. The top 12 players became millionaires. The 2006 World Series featured a much-anticipated HORSE tournament with a $50,000 buy-in, the highest ever for a single WSOP event. Humberto Brenes, Phil Hellmuth, Chris Ferguson, and Alex Jacob are tied for the most number of cashes during one WSOP, with eight cashes each. Jeff Madsen, who won two events and made two other final tables (finishing third both times), was named the 2006 WSOP Player of the Year (POTY). He barely edged Hellmuth, who also made four final tables.
The 2006 Main Event remains the largest tournament in poker history (by prize pool) with a total prize pool of $82,512,162. The tournament, like every WSOP Main Event, is a $10,000 No-Limit Texas Hold’em event. Due to the 8,773-player field, there were 4 separate starting days (1A-1D), each playing down to 800 people. They were later combined into one other set of separate days (2A and 2B) before becoming one whole group. The field was whittled down to 9 players on August 8th, and Jamie Gold was crowned World Champion on August 10th. The final table of the “Main Event” was offered live on Pay-Per-View, but unlike ESPN telecasts, viewers at home could not see the hole cards of the players unless the player turned their cards over. Along with the usual $10,000 chip stacks, a new feature to the WSOP was the “All-In” button. Tournament directors have informed the participants that the coin could be used in lieu of pushing all of one’s chips into the pot. The beige $50,000 chips that were used in 2005 were not used in 2006. Instead, tangerine and yellow $25,000 chips, in the design of the current $25 chips, were used. And for the first time in World Series of Poker History, a $100,000 chip was introduced on day 7. The chips were mint green with black edge spots in the design of the current yellow/black $1,000 chip.
Tournament Report The Final Table
SEAT 1: Richard Lee Hometown: San Antonio, Texas Chip Count: 11,820,000 Richard Lee a 55-year-old investor from San Antonio, Texas. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. This is the second straight year that Richard has played at the World Series of Poker. This is his first time to cash and first time ever to make it to a final table. Prior to this, Richard’s best poker finish was 12th place at last year’s Grand Slam of Poker held in Los Angeles. Richard is married and has three grown children. When asked what he wants the rest of the world to know about him, Richard said, ‘I love my family, my country, and San Antonio!’ He arrives third today in the chip count.
SEAT 2: Erik Friberg Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden Chip Count: 9,605,000 Erik Friberg is a 23-year-old professional online poker player from Stockholm, Sweden. He represents a growing legion of Scandinavian poker superstars who have come to the WSOP and won prize money. In fact, Sweden now ranks as the most successful country in terms of number of players compared to in-the-money finishers. Erik plays mostly on the Internet and won the Swedish Poker Challenge in 2005. His poker nickname, ‘Lilar’ means, appropriately enough, ‘gambler.’ Prior to taking up poker for a living, he was a college student. Erik is already guaranteed at least a million-and-a-half dollars in what is his first year to play at the World Series. He arrives fourth today in the chip count.
SEAT 3: Paul Wasickca Hometown: Westminster, Colorado Chip Count: 7,970,000 Paul Wasickca is a 25-year-old poker player who used to work as a bartender and restaurant manager. He was born in Dallas, Texas — and now lives in Westminster, Colorado. Paul started playing poker about two years ago and has already cashed six times at major poker tournaments, including 14th place in a previous No-Limit Hold’em event held at this year’s World Series. His poker nickname is ‘Kwick Fish.’ When asked what he wants the rest of the world to know about him, Paul said, ‘I have the best friends and family anyone could ask for.’ He arrives fifth today in the chip count.
SEAT 4: Dan Nassif Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri Chip Count: 2,600,000 Dan Nassif is a 33-year-old account executive from St. Louis, Missouri. Dan took his vacation time away from work to enter and play in this year’s World Series. That certainly turned out to be a terrific decision. Not too many vacations pay the kind of money Dan is sure to make over this two-week period. Nassif has played fabulous poker in this championship event, although he has frequently been one of the shorter stacks at his table. He arrives with the biggest test of anyone today – ninth place in the chip count.
SEAT 5: Allen Cunningham Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada Chip Count: 17,770,000 Allen Cunningham is a 29-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas, Nevada. He is easily the most accomplished poker player of today’s final nine. Allen has won four WSOP gold bracelets – for Seven-Card Stud in 2001, Deuce-to-Seven Lowball in 2002, No-Limit Hold’em in 2005, and another No-Limit Hold’em championship in 2006. Allen burst onto the poker scene back in 1998 as one of the young guns – along with Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Layne Flack, John Juanda, and others – who have collectively revolutionized the game of poker with their talent and ambition. A victory today would seal Cunningham’s place as perhaps the greatest player in the game today. He arrives second in the chip count.
SEAT 6: Michael Binger Hometown: Atherton, California Chip Count: 3,140,000 Michael Binger is a 29-year-old part-time poker pro originally from Delray Beach, Florida, who also has career ambitions as a theoretical physicist. He now lives in Atherton, California. Just two months ago, he earned his PhD in physics from Stanford University. This is the second year that Michael has played at the World Series. He made the final table of the $1500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event – finishing sixth and earning $100,000. Michael has a major challenge ahead of him today, as he arrives eighth in the chip count.
SEAT 7: Douglas Kim Hometown: Martsdale, New York Chip Count: 6,770,000 Doug Kim is a 22-year-old financial consultant from Martsdale, New York. He was born in Yonkers, New York. Doug recently graduated from Duke University with a degree in economics. He also enjoys video games when he is not playing poker. Doug primarily plays online poker. This is his first time ever to cash — not just at the World Series — but in a poker tournament. Doug arrives today sixth in the chip count.
SEAT 8: Jamie Gold Hometown: Malibu, California Chip Count: 25,650,000 Jamie Gold is a 36-year-old television producer from Malibu, California. He was born in New York City. Prior to running his own studio, Gold was a Hollywood agent with an impressive stable of talented actors — including ‘The Sopranos’ star James Gandolfini and ‘Desperate Housewives’ co-star Felicity Huffman. Gold has also represented and credits much of his poker success to mentor Johnny Chan. This is Jamie’s 15th time to cash in a major poker tournament, and his first time ever to make it to a WSOP final table. He has been the most dominant player in the championship event over the past four days – and has been the chip leader since Day Three. Gold is dedicating himself to winning the world championship for his ailing father, who is in the late stages of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). He says, ‘I want to make him proud for the little time he has left.’ Gold is the chip leader at today’s final table.
SEAT 9: Rhett Butler Hometown: Rockville, Maryland Chip Count: 4,815,000 Rhett Butler is a 44-year-old insurance agent from Rockville, Maryland. Originally from Baltimore, Rhett is married and has three children. He holds a college degree from James Madison University and has been playing poker for 25 years. Incredibly, this is his first time ever to cash in a poker tournament – and he’s now a millionaire. Rhett says proudly, ‘I’m playing in this tournament for my family and friends.’ Or, as Clark Gable would say, ‘Frankly my dear – I DO give a damn.’ Rhett Butler starts off seventh in the chip count.
Final table results
1 Jamie Gold (Malibu, CA, USA) $12,000,000
2 Paul Wasicka AKA “Kwickfish” (Las Vegas, NV, USA) $6,102,499
3 Michael Binger (Las Vegas, NV, USA) $4,123,310
4 Allen Cunningham (Las Vegas, NV, USA) $3,628,513
5 Rhett Butler (Rockville, MD, USA) $3,216,182
6 Richard Lee (San Antonio, TX, USA) $2,803,851
7 Douglas Kim (Hartsdale, NY, USA) $2,391,520
8 Erik Friberg AKA “Lilar” (Stockholm, Sweden) $1,979,189
9 Dan Nassif (St. Louis, MO, USA) $1,566,858