WSOP Event #1

Chicagoan Steve Billirakis wins Event #1 of this year’s WSOP, beating a field of 451 eager hopefuls

The first event of the 2007 incarnation of the World Series of Poker has drawn to a close. The winner of the three day, $5,000 World Championship Mixed Hold’em event was Steve Billirakis from Chicago, Illinois.

The event attracted 451 runners contributing to a prizepool of $2,119,700.

Billirakis becomes the youngest winner of a gold bracelet in WSOP history, and pockets $536,287 for his troubles. He was born on 23 May 1986 which makes him 21 years and 11 days at the time of victory. This eclipses the mark set last year by Jeff Madsen – who was 21 years, 1 month, and 9 Days when he won his gold bracelet.

Billirakis says he intends to play several more WSOP events over the next five weeks. That means an age-related record which was thought to perhaps be unbreakable (Jeff Madsen’s two WSOP gold bracelets last year by age 21 years, 1 month, and 18 days) is now in jeopardy. If Billirakis can win any WSOP tournament prior to the main event this year, he would break Madsen’s record.

The second–place finisher was former professional ice hockey player Greg Mueller who was disappointed by the outcome. Mueller once played in Europe and attended training camp for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. Now a poker pro, Mueller was the chip leader after Day One. He came to the final table ranked third in chips. He enjoyed a decisive chip lead a few times when heads-up against Billirakis.

However, each time it appeared Mueller might win his first WSOP title, his rival would win a critical pot and re-take the lead. Mueller played a phenomenal tournament over the days and is surely due to win a gold bracelet in the future.

There was some concern at the start of the final table that the high betting limits (for the limit half of the event) might create a quick finish. The average chip stack was about 500,000 and with betting limits on the initial round at 30,000-60,000 this gave the players very little leeway so far as making mistakes or suffering a bad run of cards.

Tournament Director Jack Effel made the proper decision not to adjust the size of the betting limits. In retrospect, his decision turned out to be correct. The final table lasted nearly eight hours and provided plenty of play for the finalists.

WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack presented new poker champion Steve Billirakis with his first gold bracelet. The new improved and more expensive design by Swiss watchmaker Corum is certain to be a big hit with poker players. All of the WSOP gold bracelets to be given away in 2007 are on display near the final table stage in the tournament room.

This event marked the debut of a new “stadium look” to the WSOP. The WSOP and ESPN jointly unveiled a large stage with stadium style seating around the final table. There is also a bar and lounge are with tables and chairs on the upper level of viewing area. For spectators, this will be the most comfortable WSOP in history.

Final table results
Steve Billirakis, Chicago, IL, $536,287
2. Greg Mueller, White Rock, BC, $328,554
3. Tony George, Mesquite, NV, $218,329
4. Steve Ambrose, Waterloo, ON, $146,259
5. Frederick Berger, Slidell, LA, $108,105
6. Roger McDow, Foothill Ranch, CA, $84,788
7. Kirk Morrison, Wichita, KS, $63,591
8. Jon Turner, Las Vegas, NV, $46,633
9. John Younger, San Antonio, CA, $33,915