David “Bakes” Baker wins $10K H.O.R.S.E. title, second WSOP bracelet

20 June 2012

Everyone who watched the poker movie Rounders remembers the classic line delivered by Mike McDermott, played by Matt Damon.

"I mean, why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table of the World Series of Poker every year?"

At the time, hard-core poker fanatics reacted to the line with a mixture of reverence and ridicule. In fact, the "same five guys" do not "make it the final table every year." As evidence, all one must do is look at just about any final table in any event played at the WSOP and you will see plenty of new faces and unfamiliar names. You will not see the same five guys.

Oh wait. Scratch that. Never mind.

Let's leave out the latest WSOP final table played tonight, at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Damon's character must have been talking about the $10,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. championship.

Indeed, this final table was a virtual "Who's Who" of poker, a celebrity-studded clash of theatrics, and a reminder that the very best players in the world always seem to shine the brightest at the WSOP.

Consider the lineup of final table players: six former gold bracelet winners, with a combined 25 WSOP titles between them, making it the second-most stacked final table in history. Only the inaugural $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship played back in 2006 started with a finale full of more glittering gold bracelet victories amongst its finalists. That finale included a combined 27 wins.

Alas, just as Damon said, the same five (make that six) guys did end up making the final table this time. Most notable was Phil Ivey, who rolled into his fourth finale at this year’s series –- an astounding accomplishment given the big field sizes and highly-competitive nature of the higher buy-in events he usually plays.

Another player who made it yet again was Phil Hellmuth, fresh off his 12th gold bracelet victory, which took place in the $2,500 Razz tournament, completed just five days ago. Remarkably, this was Hellmuth's sixth time at a final table within the past two years. It’s no surprise that Hellmuth continues to distance himself from mere mortals as the all-time WSOP leader in final table appearances, currently at 46 (and counting).

If you're still not convinced Damon was on to something, then there's John Monnette, a name that is becoming increasingly familiar to those who follow WSOP action. Just two weeks ago, Monnette won the $5,000 Seven-Card Stud event, good for his second win in two years. This marked his third final table appearance in 2012, which ranks second only to Ivey.

Dan Kelly has been here before, as well. Three final tables, plus a WSOP victory in 2010.

Then, there's Abe Mosseri, who's sat quite comfortably at five final tables, including this one. He won his gold bracelet in 2009.

Finally, there was David "Bakes" Baker -- making his fifth career WSOP final table appearance. His gold bracelet victory came in 2010.

As one of the six guys who make it to the WSOP final table every year, Baker made this most of this opportunity. He deliberately and methodically outmaneuvered and ultimately outlasted players who most observers consider the very best in the world at their respective games; for instance, Hellmuth in Hold'em, Monnette in Stud, and Ivey in well, just about everything.

Baker collected $451,779 in prize money for first place, which places him close to $1.5 million in career earnings. He also collected gold bracelet number two, following a win two years ago in the $10,000 Deuce-to-Seven Lowball event.

"The first one was nice, but it was only a one hundred person tourney, it was in a game that I have practiced but people don’t play as much," said Baker. "It didn’t have as much prestige as this one. This one there were a lot of very good players at the final table that were on top of their game. This one feels like more of an accomplishment."

So in the end, maybe Damon was right. Only he should have said "the same six guys," instead of five.

Baker is a dedicated poker pro who started playing seriously while in college. He gradually improved to the point he was making a living at the game, mostly toiling away in online poker games. Baker now plays in some of the biggest and toughest cash games in the world.

Baker is 25-years-old. He was born in Charlotte, N.C., but grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., a suburb of Detroit. Baker started out competing in play money games online, where he learned how to play. He attended Michigan State University for two years and played poker part-time, mostly online while attending college. He eventually decided to attend a technical institute in Miami, Fla., where he transferred for one year.

While living in Florida, Baker continued to play poker. He enjoyed his first major score in poker when he won $30,000 in 2006. He invested more time and energy in improving his game and has been playing professionally ever since. Baker credits WSOP gold bracelet winner Vanessa Selbst with coaching him and helping to improve his game.

Baker is dating “Poker Queen” Maria Mayrinck, from Brazil. She was in the crowd to cheer him to victory at the final table.

Monnette finished second to claim $279,206, Paul Sokoloff finished third to win $183,784, Hellmuth was fourth for $134,056. Ivey was fifth, Mosseri was sixth, Matt Waxman was seventh and Kelly was eighth.

The top 24 players finished in the money. Noteable players who finished in the money but didn't make the final table included: Mori Eskandani (ninth), Scott Clements (12th), John Hennigan (13th), Ralph Perry (15th), Bertrand "ElKy" Grospellier (16th), Eugene Katchalov (17th), Joe Tehan (18th), Owais Ahmed (19th), Nick Schulman (20th), John D'Agostino (22nd) and Steve Zolotow (23rd).

Modified from tournament notes provided by WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla.

Related Links
Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino Details
Nevada Gambling
Ranked Online Poker Rooms

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