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Cal-Poly student wins WSOP event, collects $609,493

1 July 2010

Michael Linn, a 22-year-old student at California Polytechnic State University, won the seventh $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em championship at the World Series of Poker on Thursday morning. Linn won $609,493 and his first WSOP gold bracelet.

Linn is majoring in English. He enjoys playing online poker in his spare time and intends to finish his degree before making further decisions about what to pursue in life. His mother is an English professor at a college in San Diego.

"I'm trying to quit poker to stay in school (laughing)," Linn joked. "I feel like the experience of being in college is far more important, especially for someone in my situation. It's far more important than the degree. The piece of paper is not really going to help me that much. But the people I meet and the growth you have are far more important than shutting yourself away in another world with a computer."

Linn's favorite book is The Sun Also Rises, which was Ernest Hemmingway's first novel. Linn says the book is his favorite because "it has some good morals in it."

Linn began playing poker during his freshman year of college. He rarely played before then.

Linn plays basketball very seriously. He was a star athlete in high school and plays intramural basketball at Cal-Poly. In a sign of his competitiveness, he has broken his nose six times. Four days before this event began, Linn broke his nose again. His face was swollen and he was in pain during most of the event.

Linn plans to return to college to finish his education.

Linn plans to return to college to finish his education. (photo by GreasieWheels)

Linn's uncle is three-time gold bracelet winner Barry Greenstein. Oddly enough, Linn's prize money won in this event, amounting to more than $600,000, is more than all three combined gold bracelet payouts achieved by Greenstein.

When Linn began playing poker seriously, he did now know his uncle was such a world-renowned pro. Once he learned of it, he talked to Greenstein, who had some strong words for the aspiring poker pro. Greenstein stated he would not give Linn any funding or poker advice until after he finished school. Greenstein was on the rail cheering for Linn at the final table. But to this day, Greenstein has not tutored nor backed his nephew in any way, which he hopes will stress the importance of finishing his college education.

"I always knew my uncle was a gambler," said Linn. "But I had no idea he was a very good poker player. Six months into me taking poker seriously, I realized he had a lot to do with the game. To be honest, his deal with me is that he will not mentor me or coach me in any way until I graduate from college. But now that I think about it, when I graduate from college I should teach him!" he joked.

Taylor Larkin, from Siloam Springs, Ark., was the runner-up. Primarily a cash game player, Larking earned $378,905 in his first WSOP in-the-money finish. When heads-up play began, Linn had a 4-to-1 chip lead. He won the tournament when he was dealt ace-deuce against Larkin's queen-jack. Linn paired his two and Larkin was unable to improve.

Mihai Manole, from Targoviste, Romania, finished third, the highest finish ever for a Romanian national at the WSOP. Manole, who also made a WSOP final table two years ago, earned $268,189.

Ben Smith, a 22-year-old part-time player from West Palm Beach, Fla., was fourth for $193,418, Chad Grimes, from Greenville, N.C., busted fifth for $141,235, and Alexander Kuzmin, from Moscow, Russia, was sixth for $104,354.

Justin Zaki, from St. Petersburg, Fla., was seventh, Erle Mankin, from Sacramento, Calif., was eighth, and John Myung, from Vienna, Va., was ninth.

The top 270 finishers in the 2,543-player event collected prize money. Former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included: Roland de Wolfe (60th), Marc Naalden (134th), Robert Cheung (183rd), Matt Matros (194th), David Daneshgar (201st), and J.P. Kelly (208th).

Allen "Chainsaw" Kessler (191st place) became the first player at this year's WSOP to cash eight times. The record for most cashes in a single year is 10, held by Nikolay Evdakov in 2008. Kessler is now in serious contention to match or break the record with seven WSOP events remaining, plus five more tournaments to be held at WSOP Europe in September.

Modified from notes provided by Nolan Dalla for

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