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poker

Event #19: Pot-Limit Omaha championship - Vanessa Selbst from Brooklyn, NY Wins!

By NOLAN DALLA
Tournament Notes:

-- The $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha championship attracted 759 entrants. This created a prize pool totaling $1,036,035. The top 72 finishers collected prize money.

-- Attendance for this year's tournament increased 31 percent over last year, when 578 players signed up.

-- This tournament was played over three consecutive days. The first two days lasted about 12 hours each. On Day Three, the final table was dealt out on the secondary final table, adjacent to the ESPN stage. The feature table played out the conclusion of Event #20 ($2,000 buy-in Limit Hold'em) in an intentional scheduling overlap. This year, most WSOP days will include two final tables.

-- Last year's champion was Scott Clements, who won his second of two WSOP gold bracelets in this event. Clements did not register for this event because he was playing on Day Two of another tournament.

-- The 2008 $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha champion is Vanessa Selbst, a 23-year-old law student and poker professional from Brooklyn, NY.

-- Selbst became the first woman to win a WSOP open event since Katja Thater last year in the 2007 Razz championship.

-- Selbst is a Yale University graduate. This fall, she plans to return to Yale to study law. She eventually plans to work on behalf of human rights issues.

-- Selbst collected $227,933 for first place. She also earned her first WSOP gold bracelet.

-- Selbst is the producer of a popular poker website called Deuces Cracked: www.deucescracked.com. The website serves as an instruction course for poker players. She is also a poker teacher/coach and commands fees of up to $350 per hour.

-- Selbst states that she believes in having a life aside from poker. She believes one can be a better poker player through what she terms proper balance. She is also civically active and politically-minded. Selbst said in a post-tournament interview: "I really think it's important to do other things (aside from playing poker all the time). We have to give something back. We are so fortune to be here essentially flipping coins for $80,000 (in prize money). While that's great, I also believe we have a responsibility to do greater deeds."

-- While playing at the final table, Selbst had two squeaky rubber ducks stacked on top of her chips, which were used as her lucky charms. The ducks apparently worked their magic.

-- The 90-minute heads-up match between champion Selbst and the runner-up, Jamie Pickering was as rowdy as any poker duel in recent memory. A crowd of hundreds of spectators ringed the final table area and cheered on both players in a see-saw match. Incredibly, Pickering often raised the pot blind (without looking at his hole cards). He sometimes played hands to the river without peaking to see his hand. Selbst and her good-natured personality was the perfect foil for Pickering's unconventional antics and the two finalists developed a witty dialogue of jokes between them which made this finale unquestionably the most entertaining sideshow of the 2008 WSOP.

-- The second-place finisher was Jamie Pickering, from Surfer's Paradise, (Queensland) Australia. During play, the 44-year-old nightclub owner mixed with the crowd and gave out "free drink" tickets to poker fans scattered throughout the audience. Of course, Pickering's club is some 16,000 miles from Rio in Las Vegas, so those unsuspecting souls holding the tickets are likely to have difficulty redeeming them for drinks.

-- Pickering was as graceful a runner up as has been witnessed at the WSOP. As Selbst was admiring her newly-won gold bracelet, Pickering leaned over and asked if he could hold onto it for just a moment. When Selbst graciously complied, Pickering grabbed the bracelet, turned, and jokingly darted off through the crowd with the looted treasure. Pickering stopped, starting laughing, and returned the bracelet to Selbst with a hug and a hearty handshake.

-- At one point when play was three-handed, Vanessa Selbst had more than 75 percent of the total chips in play. It appeared she might destroy the field in a record time, en route to her first WSOP gold bracelet win. However, Selbst took two awful beats – losing with a big full house to a better full house, and then losing another huge pot with a made straight against a flush draw (which got there). But she recovered from the beats and gradually whittled down her final two adversaries. It was a magnificent performance by Selbst who was the dominant player throughout the tournament.

-- Notable in-the-money finishers included former WSOP gold bracelet champions -- 1997 PLO winner Chris Bjorin (12th), 2006 NLHE winner Max Pescatori (26th), 1993 Lowball winner and 2004 PLO winner Chau Giang (34th), 1997 PLO winner David "Devil Fish" Ulliott (60th), and 2004 LHE Shootout winner Kathy Liebert (72nd).

-- Unofficial WSOP Circuit MVP Doug "Rico" Carli took 57th place. No player has more WSOP and WSOPC combined cashes over the past four years than Carli, who resides in Alliance, OH. Carli has 14 WSOP cashes and 34 WSOPC cashes since January 2005.

-- Vanessa Selbst becomes the 19th woman to win a gold bracelet in the 39-year history of the WSOP for open events. However, this exclusive list is reduced to only 12 women if closed events (Seniors, Casino Employees, and Mixed Doubles) are omitted. Note that Mixed Doubles was offered for five consecutive years between 1979-1983, which partnered one male and one female player in the tournament. This list now includes the following players:

1) Cyndy Violette 2004 $2,000 Seven-Card Stud High-Low

2) Annie Duke 2004 $1500 Omaha High-Low

3) Nani Dollison 2001 $2000 Limit Hold'em

4) Vera Richmond 1982 $1000 Ace-to-Five Draw Lowball

5) Maria Stern 1997 $1500 Seven-Card Stud

6) Jennifer Harman-Traniello 2002 $5000 Limit Hold'em, 2000 $5000 NL 2-7 Lowball

7) Linda Johnson 1997 $1500 Razz

8) Kathy Liebert 2004 $1500 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout

9) Kajta Thater 2007 $1,500 Razz

10) Jerri Thomas 2000 $1500 Seven-Card Stud

11) Barbara Enright 1996 $2500 Pot-Limit Hold'em

12) Vanessa Selbst 2008 $1500 Pot-Limit Omaha

13) Starla Brodie 1979 $600 Mixed Doubles

14) Juanda Matthews 1981 $800 Mixed Doubles

15) Dani Kelly 1982 $800 Mixed Doubles

16) Donna Doman 1983 $800 Mixed Doubles

17) Lynn Harvey 1980 $600 Mixed Doubles

18) Sandy Stupak 1984 $1000 Casino Employees NLHE

19) Clare Miller 2006 $1000 Seniors

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