Hanks wins first WSOP open event, $517K
31 May 2012
Prior to playing for a living, Hanks was a fifth-grade school teacher. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University.
Hanks' victory was memorable on several fronts. First, he had to overcome a huge field size. Second, he was down by a 2-to-1 margin when playing heads-up against a very formidable opponent -- Jacob Bazeley, from Ludlow, Ky. Oddly enough, the two finalists were both the same age and worked as school teachers at once time during their lives. They were also friends who hung out together at dinner and on breaks at various times during the tournament.
But what was most incredible was Hanks' unthinkable comeback during Day Two. At one point when players has just reached the money, Hanks was down to a just a single small blind and ante.
"I got about as low as you can get," said Hanks. "I had not even enough in chips to cover the small blind. And I chopped the pot and won four pots in five consecutive games to get right back to 20 to 25 blinds. And shortly after that I doubled up again, and I was back in the tournament."
By day's end, he was not only back in contention, he was one of the chip leaders entering the final stages of the tournament -- proving once again that just about anything is possible in a poker tournament.
Hanks has accumulated nearly $1 million in career winnings in WSOP events alone. This was his 12th time to cash at the WSOP, a remarkable feat given his young age. In fact, all of Hanks' WSOP earnings have been achieved since 2008.
Among those who made deep runs were former gold bracelet winners Andrew Badecker (3rd), Vanessa Selbst (4th) and J.P. Kelly (8th).
In a bit of irony, Vanessa Selbst had a chance to end what is now a record-matching drought for female poker players. She came close to becoming the first female gold bracelet champion in an open event since 2008, when -- of all people -- Selbst herself won the $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha championship.
“Vanessa Selbst was the best player at the (final) table," said Hanks after he won the title.
With yet another male winner, the longest gap between female winners in WSOP history has now been matched. The longest streak had been 221 straight events, between 1982 and 1996 -- which will now be surpassed.
Eight of the nine final table players were from the United States. The only non-American was Kelly, from the U.K. Final table participants ranged in age from 24 (youngest) to 35 (oldest).
Bazeley won $322,294 for his second-place showing, while Badecker won $224,029 for third. Selbst, who moved into second place in all-time money won by females, claimed $161,345 for fourth.
Ryan Schmidt of Portland, Ore., was fifth for $117,921, while Abdyl Konjuhi, originally from Kosovo and now living in Anchorage, Alaska, was sixth, Michael Kaufman, a 25-year-old programmer from Worcester, Mass., was seventh, Kelly was eighth, and Richard Park of Seal Beach, Calif., was ninth.
The tournament began with 2,101 players. After the first day, only 239 players survived. The second day included the field being further reduced to the last 15 players. Once the final table was reached on Wednesday, players were moved to the Pavilion Main Stage, which is the new setting for final table action – aside from those that take place on the ESPN Main Stage (since many events overlap, multiple final table areas are necessary).
Perhaps the most noteworthy in-the-money finish was Phil Hellmuth’s 61st-place showing. With his visit to the payout window in the first open event of the year, Hellmuth elevated his status one notch higher as the all-time WSOP cashes leader. This was number 86 for Hellmuth, who leads his closest threat, second-ranked Men “the Master” Nguyen (at 72 cashes).
2006 WSOP Main Event runner-up Paul Wasicka took 20th place. He now has $6.2 million in career WSOP earnings – but still no gold bracelet. Five-time gold bracelet winner John Juanda took 25th place, two-time gold bracelet winner Hoyt Corkins cashed in 72nd place, five-time gold bracelet winner Layne Flack took 118th place, two-time gold bracelet winner Peter Vilandos ended as the 127th-place finisher, and two-time gold bracelet winner Jason Mercier was 181st.
Modified from tournament notes provided by WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla.