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The stars are out at the WSOP

4 June 2009

Poker superstar Daniel Negreanu just missed out on his first World Series of Poker final table of 2009, but the talk of the event revolved around the 74-year-old winner.

Freddie Ellis, a real estate broker who outlasted 141 other competitors in the $10,000 Seven-Card Stud tournament to win the gold bracelet, is more than twice Negreanu's age. The Brooklyn native was playing in his first WSOP event.

Negreanu busted out in tenth place and took home $36,267 for his efforts.

Ellis is a regular at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City in the $600-$1,200 limit "Mixed Game," which is a combination of Seven-Card Stud, Eight-or-Better, and No-Limit Hold'em.

"This is the main reason I came to Las Vegas, to play in the World Championship of Seven-Card Stud," he said.

Ellis is one of the great characters who come out during the WSOP. He was a former nightclub singer in the 1950s who even cut a number of records on the Decca music label. When he decided to settle down, he invested in New York real estate.

He made a killing, and is currently semi-retired. After the 13-hour final table, he was visibly tired, and became emotional when talking about his deceased wife.

"There is something that is very difficult for me to talk about," Ellis said, chocking back tears. "You see, my wife would always go with me when I would go somewhere and play poker – whether it was Atlantic City or Las Vegas or wherever. She just died two years ago. And I now I could not...Her name was Barbara Ellis. You see, if I talk about her...I still haven't gotten over it."

Ellis collected $373,751 for winning the event.

Other notables at the final table included Eric Drache, who was the tournament director for the WSOP from 1973-1987. He finished in second place. The combined age of Ellis (74) and Drache (66) is believed to be the highest for a heads-up match in WSOP open tournaments.

Two-time bracelet winner Max Pescatori finished in fourth place. Hasan Habib placed fifth and Jeffrey Lisandro came in ninth place.

Unlike Negreanu, poker heavyweight Phil Ivey made his first final table of the WSOP. And, unlike Negreanu, Ivey was able to come out victorious in his event.

Ivey picked up his sixth gold bracelet at the Deuce to Seven Draw Lowball (No-Limit) event. He defeated John Monnette in heads-up play at a final table that lasted nearly six hours.

Ivey outlasted a number of poker notables at the event. Layne Flack just missed out of the final table by finishing in eighth place. Other well-known players who cashed in the event included Antanas 'Tony G' Guoga (10th), David Grey (11th), Freddy Deeb (12th), Vanessa Rousso (17th), Barry Greenstein (18th) and Erick Lindgren (20th).

Poker bad boy Phil Hellmuth was two spots away from cashing as he finished in 23rd place. As he so eloquently put it in his Twitter account after busting out, "I am out in 23rd! jurt (sic) missed the money, damn!"

The stars are out at the WSOP is republished from