The 2007 World Series of Poker (WSOP) began on June 1, 2007. The $10,000 (US) no-limit Texas hold ’em Main Event began on July 6 and was completed on the morning of July 18. All events were held at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada by Harrah’s Entertainment, which has run the annual event since its purchase from the Binion family in 2004.
For the first time players began each event with double the amount of chips as the buy-in. This means that players in the Main Event started with 20,000 chips. The blind structure has also been increased and some blind levels removed but slowed to allow for more play.
In addition to the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event, which was first played at the 2006 World Series of Poker, this year there were two additional H.O.R.S.E. events with lower buyins ($2,500 and $5,000).
Tom Schneider, who won two events and made one other final table, won the Player of the Year Award. Michael Binger and Chad Brown led all other players with eight money finishes.
The annual celebrity event was changed this year, as it became a pro and celeb event called “Ante Up for Africa”, hosted by actor Don Cheadle and poker pro Annie Duke. The final two players, Dan Shak and Brandon Moran, agreed to share first place and donate all prize money to charities in Darfur.
The last woman standing of the 2007 Main Event was Maria Ho who finished in 38th place.
Also this year, KEM Plastic Playing Cards were once again used for the events, rather than Copag brand plastic playing cards, which were used during the 2005 and 2006 WSOP.
Steve Billirakis became the youngest person to ever win a WSOP bracelet at 21 years and 11 days. This record was broken three months later at the World Series of Poker Europe by Annette Obrestad, aged 18 years, 364 days.
Phil Hellmuth became the first player to win 11 bracelets.
Phil Hellmuth set a record of 63 WSOP cashes.
June 9th was the busiest WSOP day ever, with 3,009 participants starting in two events on the same day.
The largest non-WSOP Main Event tournament record was broken. The $1500 Buy In No Limit Hold’em Event #49 attracted a record 3151 players for the noon start. This event broke the single busiest start date set on June 9.
Annie Duke set the women’s record with 33 WSOP cashes.
1,286 women set a new record for number of participants in an all women’s poker tournament.
This year’s WSOP also boasted the largest number of total registrants in history, with 54,288 registrations for all of the events.
Michael Binger and Chad Brown tied Phil Hellmuth and Humberto Brenes for most ITM finishes in a single World Series of Poker with eight.
The $10,000 No Limit Hold’em Main Event began on July 6 with the first of four separate starting days. 6,358 players entered, 2,415 fewer than in 2006. This is the first time since 1992 that the Main Event experienced a reduction in participants. As the total number of registrants for the 2007 WSOP set a record at 54,288 with a total prize pool of $159,796,918 ($59,784,954 for the Main Event),the decrease in the number of participants in the Main Event has been attributed to a recent law that limits Internet gambling. As a result of this law, Harrah’s did not allow online poker websites to directly purchase Main Event seats and offer them as prizes, if the sites conducted business with US citizens. Online entries to the Main Event that were won as prizes on Internet poker sites were a substantial contributor to the dramatic growth the Main Event saw in the 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. The reduced field also meant a nearly one-third reduction in the Main Event’s grand prize, from the record $12 million (US) in 2006 to $8.25 million.
A different, flatter, payout structure was introduced in 2007 further reducing the prize money awarded to the final table finishers. Players who busted early in the money received a larger share than they would have in 2006. The lowest payouts in 2007 were $20,320 (just over double the buyin), as compared to $10,616 in 2006. Every player who made the final table in 2006 won over 1.5 million dollars.
A minor controversy arose during the main event. The colors of the chips made it very difficult to differentiate between the chip values. Pokernews.com posted the following note on its live reporting log, “It has literally been impossible for us to count these players’ stacks due to the positioning of the cameras and the incredibly similar colors of the various chip denominations.”Pokernews also reported that the chip color has affected play, “Because of the similarly-colored chips it took the dealer some time to count down Kluber’s stack, and not long after Rahme began thinking about his response Kluber called the clock on him.” Other players have complained that they can’t count their opponents stacks and fear asking for a chip count as speaking may reveal the strength of their hand.
Tournament Report The Final Table
Seat 1: Jon Kalmar Hometown: Chorly, Lancashire, England, UK Chip Count: 20,320,000 Jon Kalmar is a 34-year-old professional poker player, who plays mostly in clubs located in the north and the Midlands region of England. He is married with one child. Among his prior accomplishments, Kalmar was once the lead singer in a punk rock band. Before entering this year’s world championship, Kalmar admitted to enduring a “terrible” run of bad fortune at this year’s World Series of Poker. He failed to cash a single time in the preliminary tournaments. But everything changed the night before the main event began. Dejected, Kalmar tried to switch his airline ticket and return home early. But he was told the cost to change his departure from Las Vegas back to England would be about $600. So instead, Kalmar decided to enter the last mega-satellite at the Rio just before the start of the main event. He ended up winning a $10,000 seat. And now, here he is at the final table ten days later – third among the chip leaders.
Seat 2: Lee Childs Hometown: Reston, Virginia, USA Chip Count: 13,240,000 Lee Childs is a 35-year-old aspiring poker professional from suburban Washington, DC. He is married with no children. Childs holds a BBA in computer information systems from James Madison University, in Virginia. Just two months ago, he voluntarily took some time off from a high-tech position with a firm affiliated with the National Geographic Society. He worked on “The JASON Project,” which is an educational foundation for students dedicated to scientific expeditions and research founded by the person who first located the Titantic. Childs has been on his own for a few months – and is pursuing one of his dreams which is to play in the World Series of Poker. He says that he would not be here without the love of his incredible wife, dad, and all the support of his family and friends. His is currently fifth in the chip count.
Seat 3: Philip Hilm Hometown: Cambridge, England, UK Chip Count: 22,070,000 Philip Hilm is the chip leader coming into the final table of the 2007 World Series of Poker. He is a 31-year-old online poker pro. Hilm is a native of Denmark, but currently lives in England. Family is very important to Hilm. He spent two years living in Poland to get to know his mother’s side of the family before moving on to England. Ten years ago, Hilm earned a degree in economics from the Copenhagen Business School. He formed a company with 12 employees, but eventually went bankrupt. Just four years ago, Hilm was at his lowest point – selling coffee machines at grocery stores to make Christmas money so he could buy presents for his family. Then, Hilm discovered poker on the Internet. Before long, he was earning enough money to make a decent living. And now, he is the largest stack at the final table of the main event.
Seat 4: Jerry Yang Hometown: Temecula, California, USA Chip Count: 8,459,000 Jerry Yang is a 39-year-old psychologist and social worker from southern California. He holds a Masters Degree in health psychology. Yang was born in Laos. He is married and has six children. Yang started playing poker only two years ago. He won a seat into the main event via a satellite held at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, CA. His total investment in this event is $225. The socially-conscious Yang is determined to give something back to charity. He is pledging 10 percent of his winnings from this tournament to three different charities – the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Feed the Children, and the Ronald McDonald House.
Seat 5: Raymond Rahme Hometown: Johannesburg, South Africa Chip Count: 16,320,000 Raymond Rahme is the first person ever to appear at the final table of the main event from the continent of Africa . At age 62, he is also the senior participant at the final table. He is married to his wife Teresa, and together they have six children. Prior to his retirement, Rahme owned and operated a bed and breakfast inn. Although he played stud for three decades, Rahme has only been playing the game of hold’em for about two years. Yet, Rahme has already enjoyed significant tournament success. He’s taken first and second place at major events held in South Africa. He also took fourth place in the “All Africa Poker Championship” recently, which was the largest poker tournament ever held in Africa. As part of his prize, he received a travel package to Las Vegas and an entry into the 2007 main event. And now, he is ranked fourth in the chip count at the start of the final table.
Seat 6: Tuan Lam Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada Chip Count: 21,315,000 Tuan Lam was born in Vietnam on New Years Day in 1966, during the war. He eventually immigrated to Canada at the age of 19. He now lives in the Toronto area where he plays poker professionally. Prior to turning pro, Lam worked as a general laborer for a metal company. Then, he learned how to play poker from friends and has made it all the way to the final table of the 2007 main event. This is his third year to attend the WSOP. His prior cashes were 46th place in an event last year and 78th place in a WSOP tournament held in 2005. He is married with two children. Lam arrives at the final table ranked second in the chip count.
Seat 7: Alex Kravchenko Hometown: Moscow, Russian Federation Chip Count: 6,570,000 Alex Kravchenko is a 36-year-old businessman originally from Archangel, USSR. He has been playing poker for about eight years. He is married and has two children. Kravchenko became the first Russian citizen in history to win a WSOP gold bracelet when he was victorious in the $1,500 buy-in Omaha High-Low championship at this year’s WSOP – in what was the largest Omaha High-Low field in history. Russian immigrants have won previously at the World Series. But Kravchenko’s victory was clearly a milestone. Kravechenko has an impressive history of poker tournament wins in Europe. He won the Austrian Masters Pot-Limit Championship in 2001. He also won the Russian Pot-Limit Championship held that same year. His also won a Limit Hold’em title at the Helsinki Frezeout in 2002. He has cashed over 30 times in what is becoming an illustrious poker career. This is Kravchenko’s fifth time to cash at the WSOP in 2007. Kravchnko faces the biggest challenge of any player in the finale, as the lowest stack at the table.
Seat 8: Lee Watkinson Hometown: Cheney, Washington, USA Chip Count: 9,925,000 Lee Watkinson is a 40-year-old poker pro, businessman, and animal rights activist from Cheney, WA. He is one of only two players at the final table who currently owns a WSOP gold bracelet. In 2006, Watkinson won the Pot-Limit Omaha World Championship. He owns a few businesses as well, including a record company and a clothing line – which were started exclusively with his poker winnings. The Washington State native holds a degree in economics, which perhaps explains why Watkinson is so astute as an investor and poker professional. Yet, often when he is interviewed Watkinson is quick to shift everyone’s attention to a greater, more humanitarian purpose. Watkins and his fiancé Timmi DeRosa share a commitment to rescuing and retiring captive chimpanzees, many of which have been used in everything from movies to research laboratories. Watkinson and DeRosa told about how chimpanzees are not as useful as they become older and are commonly discarded. So a few years ago, the couple made a commitment to rescue as many creatures as possible and eventually build an animal sanctuary. “All the animals need our help,” Watkinson says. “But we really try to focus on the chimpanzees.” But — when it comes to poker, Watkinson is not monkeying around. He arrives seventh in the chip count.
Seat 9: Hevad Khan Hometown: Poughkeepsie, New York State, USA Chip Count: 9,205,000 Hevad “Rain” Khan is a 22-year-old professional poker originally from Poughkeepsie, NY. He attended college at the State University of New York-Albany. He has since moved around the country, living in both the San Francisco bay area, and Las Vegas. Khan’s claim to fame before arriving at this final table was his extraordinary ability to play multiple poker games simultaneously. In what can only be described as a prodigal Bobby Fischer-like capability, Khan has played in as many as 43 poker games all at once on his home computer. Today, he must play in just one poker game – the biggest and most glamorous event in the world for the world championship. Khan arrives eighth in the chip count at the start of the final table.
Final Table Main event results
1 Jerry Yang AKA “The Shadow” (Temecula, CA, USA) $8,250,000
2 Tuan Lam (Mississauga, ON, Canada) $4,840,981
3 Raymond Rahme (Johannesburg, South Africa) $3,048,025
4 Alex Kravchenko (Moscow, Russia) $1,852,721
5 John Kalmar (Chorley, UK) $1,255,069
6 Hevad “Rainbow” Khan (Las Vegas, NV, USA) $956,243
7 William Lee Childs AKA “Lee” (Alexandria, VA, USA) $705,229
8 Lee Watkinson (Lakebay, WA, USA) $585,699
9 Phillip Hilm (Cambridge, UK) $525,934