21-year-old wins WSOP title, $482,774

10 June 2010

Carter Phillips won the $1,500 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold'em tournament at the World Series of Poker on Wednesday night, claiming $482,774 and his first WSOP gold bracelet.

The 21-year old professional poker player had a breakthrough win at the European Poker Tour championship at Barcelona last year. He has since played in several major tournaments, almost all of them outside the United States. This was his first cash on American soil after making tournament money in the Bahamas, Czech Republic, and Spain.

"(Winning a WSOP bracelet is) 10 times more exciting that anything I could have imagined," said Phillips. "After I turned 21, winning a bracelet was my main priority. I was playing a lot in Europe before I turned 21. I won an EPT event in Barcelona in September (2009). But winning something on my home turf means much more."

Six-Handed games initially became popular at major online poker sites. They generally involve more confrontation and often play faster. Given the genesis of the game as an online phenomenon to a full-fledged gold bracelet event, it's no surprise many who cashed were young (in their 20s) and were experienced online players.

"Generally, online kids are more aggressive. And that's what it takes to win in the Six-Max because the blinds come around more and you have to keep up. You have to open up your hand ranges and that's why I think the Internet kids rise to the top near the end."

The final table was the second-youngest in WSOP history. The average age of players was 22.8 years. Only last year's No-Limit Hold'em Shootout, with an average age of 22.2 years, was comprised of a younger group of finalists. The Six-Handed competition attracted a huge field of 1,663 players. This was the largest Six-Handed live tournament in poker history, eclipsing last year's record turnout of 1,459 entries.

Phillips is the sixth-youngest WSOP gold bracelet winner in history at 21 years, 7 months, and 14 days. Phillips attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for one year. He discovered poker during his first year of college.

Phillips became the sixth youngest player to win a WSOP title

Phillips became the sixth youngest player to win a WSOP title (photo by GreasieWheels)

"I did not start playing poker until I turned 18. And, I started playing full time about 18 months ago. I studied the game really hard. I spend an enormous number of hours playing online. Playing got me a lot of experience."

Sam Gerber, from Brugg, Switzerland, finished second to win $298,726. The final hand of the tournament came when Gerber was short-stacked and moved all-in on a blind steal attempt, holding queen-eight. Phillips called the three-bet raise and tabled ace-king. The final board gave showed Ah 9d 7s Jc 5d, giving Phillips a pair of aces and his first WSOP victory.

Craig Bergeron, a 21-year-old poker pro from Farmington Hills, Mich., was third for $189,661. Bergeron is close friends with Phillips.

"It made it weird in a couple of spots – that friend dynamic," said Phillips. "I thought, 'He is doing something because he knows how I play.' And vice versa. But for the most part, I just ignored the fact we were friends and played him like any other player."

Hugo Perez, from Trujillo, Peru, finished fourth. The oldest player at the final table, Perez collected $124,690 on his 26th birthday with the fourth-place showing, believed to be the highest finish in WSOP history by a player from Peru.

Russell Thomas, from Wallingford, Pa., was fifth, and David Diaz from Memphis, Tenn., was sixth.He was born in the Honduras. Sixth place paid $58,483.

Former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included – Chris Bjorin, Ryan Hughes, Ted Lawson, William Lin, Mark Seif, and Jerry Yang.

This was the largest Six-Handed live tournament in poker history at 1,663 players. The turnout eclipsed last year's record turnout, which was 1,459 entries, representing a 14 percent increase in attendance.

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

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