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Sung a success in stimulus special

4 June 2009

Tournament Highlights:

The Winner

• The 2009 World Series of Poker "Stimulus Special" $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em champion is Steven Sung.

• Sung is a 24-year-old professional poker player. He lives in Torrance, CA, which in the South Bay of Los Angeles.

• Sung was born in Seoul, South Korea. He immigrated to the U.S. with his parents at the age of seven.

• Sung once worked at an In-and-Out Burger location as a teenager.

• Sung attended the University of California at San Diego and neared graduation. But he left school with one quarter of credits left to go. He intends to return to college in the future and complete his education. When asked what he expects to earn a degree in, Sung joked, "When I decide, I will let you know," a revealing answer which typifies a young man with many interests and future options.

• Sung stated that one of his secrets to maintaining enough energy to sustain him through several long days of poker playing is to eat fresh fruit during his breaks.

• Prior to entering this tournament, Sung played in the Special Anniversary $40,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em Championship. He did not cash. So Sung was already stuck the sum of $40,000 just two days into this year's WSOP. However, he more than made up the deficit by winning this event.

• "I feel amazing," Sung said in a post-tournament interview. "I feel that this big monkey is off my back. It feels amazing to win."

• "I was really bummed out after busting out of the $40K. I told myself I have to start playing better," Sung said. "I was able to bounce back."

• When as ked when he really started believing he might overcome a massive field of more than 6,000 players and win his first gold bracelet, Sung thought for several seconds and finally answered, "I have no idea. Maybe, when I got heads-up. But it still hasn't really sunken in yet."

• "My objective was to win a gold bracelet," Sung stated matter-of fact – seemingly oblivious to the cash prize he collected, which amounted to more than three-quarters of a million dollars.

• "What am I going to do next?" Sung said. "Come back tomorrow and try again!"

• "I am speechless right now," Sung said. "Maybe in a week it will hit me that I really won. But right now, I am nor believing this."

• Sung has played well enough to make numerous final tables in recent years. He was the runner up two years ago at Bay 101's Shooting Stars tournament in San Jose, CA. Sung also finished third in a Seven-Card Stud event in 2007, which was his highest WSOP finish prior to this win.

• Sung collected $771,106 for first place. He was also awarded his first WSOP gold bracelet.

• Sung's first recorded tournament cash came in 2006. In just three years, his career tournament winnings have already amounted to $2,701,514.

The Players

• The final table was comprised of two former WSOP gold bracelet winners – Dan Heimiller and Peter "the Greek" Vilandos.

• The runner up was Peter "the Greek" Vilandos, from Houston, TX. Originally from Athens, he is a 69-year-old retired engineer and former WSOP gold bracelet winner who won the Pot-Limit Hold'em championship in 1995.

• The third-place finisher was James Adam Matz, III. He is a 25-year-old bartender from King of Prussia, PA.

• Finishing in fourth place was Larry Sidebotham, Jr., from Grand Rapids, MI. Incredibly, this was the first tournament Sidebotham had ever played. Up to this point, Sidebotham had exclusively been a cash-game player. He managed to outlast 6,009 other players.

• Fifth place went to Nathan Mullen, from San Francisco, CA.

• Sixth place went to former WSOP gold bracelet winner Dan Heimiller, from Las Vegas, NV. He won his victory at the 2002 WSOP. He now has 33 WSOP cashes and is now just $13,886 short of crossing the million-dollar threshold in WSOP winnings.

• Jeff Oakes was the seventh-place finisher. He is a cash-game pro from Chandler, AZ.

• Phong Huynh, from Atlanta, GA finished in eighth place.

• Ninth place went to Daniel J. Fuhs, from Long Beach, CA.

• Notable in-the-money finishers included former WSOP gold bracelet winners -- Lee Watkinson (36th), J.C. Tran (68th), Andre Boyer (222nd), Hieu "Tony" Ma (358th), and Brett Jungblut (367th).

• Nikolay Evdakov (Moscow, Russia) cashed for the first time at this year's WSOP (382nd). At the 2008 WSOP Evdakov set the record from most cashes in a single year at the WSOP, with ten in-the-money finishes.

• There was no defending champion (2008 winner) since the $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em tournament was a first-time event. Note: $1,000 buy-in events have taken place in the past, however those were with re-buys.

Odds and Ends

• Jack Binion is one of the most revered names in poker. And with good reason. The Binion Family founded the World Series of Poker forty years ago. During the WSOP's first three decades, Jack Binion was largely responsible for the growth and popularity of poker's greatest celebration. WSOP President and Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack and his staff are determined to keep Jack Binion's legacy very much alive and make sure he is honored and credited as poker's patriarch. In his opening remarks to the largest non-Main Event tournament in WSOP history, Pollack stated: "Welcome, players and fans, to the 40th Annual World Series of Poker. It's with great honor and respect that I welcome Jack Binion to the stage. Jack, on behalf of everyone here, thank you. Thank you for the World Series of Poker. All that we have done over the last few years -- all that will ever be done with the WSOP over the coming years -- is but an embellishment on your legacy and the legacy of your family. You wrote the song, Jack. We merely cover it. Again, thank you." With those words Jack Binion took the microphone, welcomed the crowd and said the most famous words in poker, "Shuffle Up and Deal!"

• In previous WSOP events, most tournaments included alternates. This policy allowed more players to enter and play. However, due to other events taking place on the same day, it was necessary to free up tables in due course. "It's a giant balancing act," said WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel. The tournament starting on time and without incident -- is a testament to the extraordinary planning and execution of Effel and his entire staff.

• This year's WSOP started out with a bang. The first few days included the $1,000 buy-in "Stimulus Special." At the opposite end of the spectrum was the $40,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em Championship. "We think this is a great event that will introduce more players to the WSOP," said Jack Effel. "We wanted everyone here for the first week and wanted to offer two very different kinds of events, even though it is the same game. We accomplished that."

• A $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em tournament is customarily the first major event on the schedule with mass appeal. However, the inaugural "Stimulus Special" was aptly named in reference to concerns about the global economy. While markets continue to be uncertain in many countries, there seems to be no doubt that the poker economy is continuing to thrive – at least at the WSOP.

• The final table was broadcast live over the Internet on ESPN 360. This was the first live online broadcast of the 2009 WSOP. At least 24 more events are scheduled, which are split between ESPN 360 and Bluff Media. For a complete broadcast schedule of all events, go to:

• This tournament ended on Wednesday, June 3, 2009. On this day, there were seven WSOP tournaments being played simultaneously. This was the first time in history this has ever happened. Last year, there were many days when six tournaments were played. But seven at once is a WSOP first.

The Event

• The $1,000 buy-in No-limit Hold'em event attracted 6,012 entrants. This created a prize pool totaling $5,410,800. The top 621 finishers collected prize money.

• ANOTHER RECORD IS CRUSHED: This was the largest non-WSOP Main Event tournament in poker history. The previous record was set at the 2008 WSOP when the first No-Limit Hold'em competition ($1,500 buy-in Event #2) attracted 3,929 entrants. The number of players in the $1,000 buy-in "Stimulus Special" – 6,012! – demolished the previous mark and represented a whopping 53 percent increase in attendance over the previous record many initially thought might not be broken for some time!

• LARGEST WSOP EVENTS IN HISTORY: Here is a ranking of the five largest live poker tournaments in history:

8,773 players -- 2006 WSOP Main Event
6,844 players -- 2008 WSOP Main Event
6,358 players -- 2007 WSOP Main Event
6,012 players -- 2009 WSOP Event 4
3,929 players -- 2008 WSOP Event 2

• The tournament was so large that two starting days were necessary. As the WSOP grown through the years, the biggest tournaments such as the Main Event must stagger starting days with multiple starts. This enables more players to participate. Three massive ballrooms were packed to full capacity – including Amazon, Miranda, and Brasilia – as well as the Rio Poker Room located in the casino, Buzio's Seafood Restaurant, and a section of the casino's gaming floor. One player was heard to jokingly ask, "Why aren't there poker tables out in the parking lot?"

• According to unsubstantiated estimates, perhaps as many as 800-1,000 more players could have entered had more tables and space been available. Some players traveled to the WSOP from out of state and out of the country and were disappointed to see a complete sell out. This illustrates the point that in the future, players should try and register early (which can be done in advance, online at the official WSOP website).

• The tournament was played over a five-day period. The event was originally scheduled for four days. The extra day was needed due to the record field size. Virtually all WSOP tournaments end on the day they are scheduled, although technically they actually last an additional day since a majority of events now conclude at past midnight.

• The End Day 1-A chip leader was Jeremiah DeGreef. He ended up finishing in 466th place.

• The End of Day 1-B chip leader was J.C. Tran. He ended up finishing in 68th place.

• Dan Heimiller arrived at the final table as the chip leader. However, he went card dead late and ended up as the sixth-place finisher.

• The final table started with chip counts as follows:

Dan Heimiller 4,155,000
Steve Sung 3,395,000
Peter Vilandos 1,940,000
James Matz III 1,885,000
Jeff Oakes 1,680,000
Larry Sidebotham 1,500,000
Phong Huynh 1,310,000
Nathan Mullen 1,210,000
Danny Fuhs 965,000

• The final table lasted 8 hours and 45 minutes.

• The final hand came when Sung was dealt pocket kings against Vilandos' pocket eights. The better hand held up, giving Sung his much-anticipated first WSOP victory.

• The tournament officially began on Friday, May 29th at 12:01 pm. The tournament officially ended on Wednesday, June 3rd at 11:45.

• This was the longest WSOP tournament in history (measured in time from start to finish) other than the Main Event.

WSOP Statistics

• Through the conclusion of Event #6, the 2009 WSOP has attracted 8,948 entries. $16,948,855 in prize money has been awarded to winners.

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