WSOP update: Retiree, 24-year old philosopher win bracelets

23 June 2007

Alan Smurfit, a 64-year old retiree from Miami, and Alexander Borteh, a 24-year old professional poker player who recently graduated from college with a degree in Philosophy, won bracelets last night at the World Series of Poker.

Two more final tables were also determined, with Nam Le the most well-known player set to make a bracelet run tonight, and T.J. Cloutier will attempt to move into sole possession of one of the WSOP's most respected records.

Smurfit comes from behind to win Pot Limit Omaha event
Usually players who enter the final table of a WSOP event dead last in chips are content to move up a few spots. Not Alan Smurfit.

Smurfit started the final table of the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha with Rebuys event with just $95,000 chips, less than 10 percent of the stack held by the chip leader, Qushqar Morad. He grinded his way to a heads-up match with Morad and the two played for six hours, logging 167 hands, before Smurfit emerged victorious.

Smurfit, who had never cashed in a WSOP event before, collected $464,867 for the win. Morad won $279,595. Three-time WSOP bracelet winners Chau Giang and Hilbert Shirley finished fifth and ninth, respectively, while two-time winner Chris Bjorin was fourth.

Philosopher King of Limit Hold'em
Alexander Borteh believes that Limit Hold'em is a much more complex game than the more popular No Limit variety. But that isn't surprising, coming from a 24-year old professional poker play with a degree in Philosophy from Ohio State.

"I like to think about life," he said in a post-tournament interview. "When I'm alone, I enjoy thinking about the meaning of things and trying to figure it all out."

Borteh figured out his opponents the $3,000 Limit Hold'em event, entering the final table as the chip leader and walking away with a cool $225,483. Borteh's previous best finish at a WSOP event was a third-place showing in a $1,500 No Limit Hold'em Shootout in 2005.

Two-time bracelet winner David "The Dragon" Pham finished fourth.

Le looks to overcome short stack
The final table of Event #35, a $1,500 No Limit Hold'em event, will consist of eight relatively unknown players and one who has been dominating in recent years.

Ryan Young is the chip leader with $2.5 million. He has two career WSOP cashes, but his biggest ($5,260) is pocket change in comparison to the first place prize of $615,955.

Dustin Dirksen is in second with just under $1.7 million. Dirksen has one cash in this year's Series for just over $20,000.

John Esposito is third with $890,000. He won a bracelet in 1999, but hasn't made a final table since.

Nam Le has been one of the top players on the World Poker Tour since its inception, but has failed to win a WSOP bracelet. He came just short last year, finishing second in a $2,000 No Limit Hold'em event. Le is sixth in chips with $446,000.

Aaron Kanter was 18th, Phil Gordon was 28th, Dutch Boyd was 58th, John Juanda was 61st, and Antonio Esfandiari was 62nd.

World Championship ... of unknown players
The final table of the $3,000 World Championship Omaha Hi-Low tournament isn't exactly what most people would have expected when the tournament began.

The final nine players have combined for just eight career WSOP cashes and one final table appearance. The winner of today's final table will win his first bracelet.

Italy's Max Reynaud leads the pack with $529,000, with David Flores in second with $450,000. Robert Stevanovski (three career WSOP cashes) is in fourth with $384,000. Bart Hanson, who made a $1,500 No Limit Hold'em final table earlier this year, is sixth with $191,000.

Annie Duke finished 13th, with Todd Brunson 14th and Mike Matusow 15th.

Cloutier attempting to move back ahead of Hellmuth
Event #37, a $2,000 Pot Limit Hold'em event, worked its way down from 599 entrants to 45 players yesterday. The final table will be determined today, with a bracelet being awarded on Sunday.

Six-time WSOP bracelet winner T.J. Cloutier is tied for 21st with $51,000, and will cash for the 52nd time in his WSOP career. He will be attempting to move back ahead of Phil Hellmuth to take sole possession of the record for most WSOP final tables. Hellmuth tied Cloutier with 39, with his two final table appearances this year.

James Henson leads the field with $169,000 in chips, with Richard Ferro in second with $165,000.

Travis Rice, who is in seventh with $81,000, will attempt to join Humberto Brenes as the only players to make three final tables in this year's Series.

Other notable players remaining include Devin Porter (17th, $54,500) and Daniel Alaei (29th, $39,000).


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