Sacramento pro wins $472K, WSOP title

10 June 2010

Steve Gee won the second $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em event at the World Series of Poker to collect $472,479 in prize money on Wednesday night.

Gee is a 54-year-old poker pro who now lives in Sacramento, Calif. He has been playing poker for more than three decades and was one of California's top cash game Lowball players, long before flop games such as Hold'em became popular. He only started playing Hold'em seriously about two years ago.

"I was a professional poker player before it became popular," said Gee, who was born in China and immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was five. "It was not glamorous at all, like it is today. It was more like being a pool hustler."

He conquered a massive field size of 3,042 players en route to his biggest poker win. The field was so large that the final table was extended to an unscheduled fifth playing day.

"These tournaments used to be like 300 players," said Gee. "Now, they get 3,000. I mean, that's tough to get through, even for a really great player. As good as you might play, you still have to get lucky too (to win)."

After playing poker professionally in his early adult life, Gee earned a degree from Sacramento State University. He then worked as a software developer for many years. After a hiatus working a "regular" job, Gee returned to playing poker full-time. His biggest transition came when he had to adjust from playing Lowball to Hold'em. Gee had survived for several years in the Lowball environment. But flop games were legalized inside California cardrooms in the mid-1980s, and that gradually led to a decline in Lowball and an increase in popularly of Hold'em.

Gee

Gee's nearly half-a-million-dollar payday came on just a $1,000 buy-in (photo by GreasieWheels)

Gee jokes that he was once the youngest player at the table every time he played. Now, he says at age 54 he is often the oldest player in the game.

Gee has always preferred playing in cash games over poker tournaments. He did not play in tournaments until the last five years. His first recorded cash was in 2005.

"The thing about poker today is that no matter how good you are in cash games, even if you crush the games, nobody knows who you are," said Gee. "The tournament players are the rock stars today. So, this is what you do if you want to be known and get validation for what you do as a poker player."

Matt Vance of Lowville, N.Y., finished second to collect $292,232. It was his third cash in this year's WSOP, all against huge fields in various No-Limit Hold'em events. The final hand of the tournament came when Gee had ace-king suited and paired his ace against Vance's queen-jack.

Poker pro David Baker from Katy, Texas, was third to claim $206,813, while Nick Heather from Dublin, Ireland, was fourth for $149,702. Twenty-three year old Jeffrey Gross from Ann Arbor, Mich., a former soccer player for the University of South Carolina, finished fifth for $109,621.

Daniel Thomas from Lincoln, Neb., was sixth, Kyung (Kenny) Han, from Woodbridge, Ill., was seventh, Jared Hamby from Henderson, Nev., was eighth, and Mats Gavatin from Lidingo, Sweden, was ninth.

The top 324 players finished in the money. Former WSOP gold bracelet winners who cashed in this event include Dao Bac, David Baker, Burt Boutin, Vince Burgio, Bill Chen, Michael Chow, Perry Friedman, Randall Holland, Vitaly Lunkin, Marc Naalden, and An Tran.

(Modified from notes by Nolan Dalla at www.wsop.com)

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