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American former online poker pro wins WSOP title, $167K

28 June 2011

Justin Pechie won the $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold’em Shootout championship for his first World Series of Poker title, and with it $167,060. Pechie overcame a strong field of 538 limit players to earn his first WSOP gold bracelet.

A 26-year-old professional poker player from Putnam, Conn., Pechie had been an online player for about six years before “Black Friday.” Now faced with the prospect of losing his income and livelihood, Pechie is seriously considering relocating to Canada.

However, before doing so he decided to make one major trip to Las Vegas for this year’s WSOP. That turned out to be a good thing. He’s now considerably richer and joins the most elite club of poker champions.

“I almost did not come this year," said Pechie. "I was going to set up some online stuff (in Canada) so I could continue to play there. So, I was not intending to come out this year. But I went ahead and decided to come out here for a month.”

Pechie attended college; however, he admits he was not a good student. He was interested in going into broadcasting and perhaps pursuing a career in sports talk radio. He chose not to pursue those ambitions once he discovered the ability to make money playing poker. Pechie worked as a deli slicer in a supermarket before playing poker full time.

Pechie has been quite successful playing poker – both live and online. He has major tournament wins at Foxwoods in Connecticut. During his first year or two of playing full time, Pechie started out playing $4-8 Limit Hold’em at Foxwoods. He gradually moved up to $20-40 Limit Hold’em.

This was the third and final shootout tournament at the 2011 WSOP. A shootout tournament means players advance based on winning a series of table matches. The shootout format is single elimination. The number of matches depends on the number of tournament entries. In this event, the winner was required to win three consecutive table matches.

“Shootouts are my favorite kind of tournament because there is more short-handed play throughout the tournament," said Pechie. "That gives an edge to people who play short-handed. In a regular tournament, it’s always a full ring game until you make it to the final table. The shootout format gives people who play short-handed well an edge.”

The runner up was Dale Eberle, from Tega Kay, S.C. He is a 58-year-old retired firefighter. Had Eberle won this tournament, he would have been the oldest winner in 2011. Instead, he settled for a nice consolation prize amounting to $103,454.

Frenchman Mathieu Jacqmin finished third, while Eugene Katchalov, of New York City, by way of his native country, the Ukraine, finished fourth. Katchalov had hoped to become the first player this year to win two WSOP titles, following an earlier win in the $1,500 buy-in Seven-Card Stud event.

Jordan Rich, from Portland, Ore., was fifth, Stephen Bass, from Half Moon Bay, Calif., was sixth, Adam Tyburski, from Bellevue, Wash., was seventh, Dom Denotaristefani, from Mendham, N.J., was eighth, Chris Kwon, from Palisades Park, N.J., was ninths, and Ari (Alan) Engel, from Las Vegas, was 10th.

The top 60 finishers collected prize money. In addition to Katchalov, former gold bracelet winners who cashed in this tournament include: Brock Parker (15th), Todd Witteles (34th), Hoyt Corkins (53rd) and Ivo Donev (55th).

Hal Lubarsky (North Las Vegas, NV) made it to the semi-final round and cashed. He is a remarkable inspiration to many people in and out of the game. Lubarsky is blind. He uses an assistant to read his cards, which are seen and then whispered into his ear. Lubarsky then makes all decisions. He was one of the major stars of the 2007 WSOP Main Event, when he cashed in 197th place.

Tournament summary provided by Nolan Dalla, WSOP Media Director, republished by permission

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