Russian wins WSOP H.O.R.S.E. event, $256,820
19 Jun 2010
The 58-year-old Russian topped a highly-competitive field of 828 players, overcoming a severe chip disadvantage at the final table and defeating Al "Sugar Bear" Barbieri heads up for the coveted WSOP title.
Puchkov, a resident of Moscow, has won a few major tournaments held in Russia and Monte Carlo, but it was his first WSOP in-the-money finish. He is the fourth Russian to win a WSOP gold bracelet, following Ralph Perry (2006), Alexander Kravchenko (2007), and Vitaly Lunkin (2008 and 2009).
Puchkov is an accomplished horse breeder and trainer. He owns many horses. He names most of them after poker hands. Puchkov owns horses named Royal Flush, Full House, Flush, Freeroll, and others.
"I love two things: horses and poker," Puchkov said through a translator. "The reason why I entered this tournament was because it is called H.O.R.S.E."
This is the fourth year Puchkov attended the WSOP. He only played in the Main Event the first two years, but last year, he played a full slate of tournaments. Prior to his win, he hadn't had much success.
"Last year, I think I set a record," said Puchkov. "I played in 21 tournaments. I did not cash once."
Barbieri, a South Philadelphia native who now resides in Los Angeles, has been one of the more colorful personalities on the tournament poker scene for more than 10 years. He's lived just about every poker player's dream and nightmare, except for the most elusive of all fantasies, which is winning a WSOP gold bracelet. For Barbieri, that shining moment will have to wait at least another day. Barbieri received a consolation prize amounting to $158,647.
The final hand of the tournament came when the duo was playing Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split. Barbieri was dealt a concealed pair of fours, but never improved or caught a low, while Puchkov made deuces full of sevens on sixth street.
Dustin Leary, a software engineer from San Mateo, Calif., was third to win $107,979. Ken Leonard, from Norrtalje, Sweden, was fourth, Hani Awad, a business manager from Las Vegas, Nev., was fifth, Andrew Revesz, from Toronto, Ont., was sixth, and Blake Cahail, a 23-year-old poker pro from Kansas City, Mo., was seventh.
Former WSOP gold bracelet winner Robert Mizrachi, from Miami, Fla., was eighth, and Las Vegas poker pro Chip Jett was ninth. Jett and his wife Karina became the first husband-wife duo to make final tables (separate events) this year. Karina Jett finished fourth in Event #27.
The top 80 finishers in the 828-player field collected prize money. Aside from Mizrachi, former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included James Van Alstyne (14th), Cliff Josephy (19th), Linda Johnson (29th), Jason Mercier (44th), Cyndy Violette (46th), Brandon Cantu (47th), Mary Jones (52nd), Robert Williamson III (53rd), and Vasili Lazarou (58th).
Van Alstyne was the defending champion. His 14th-place finish was the highest finish achieved by any defending champ so far this year.
Other notable players who cashed include: Michael Craig, (31st), who wrote "The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King," and the "Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide"; Jeff Shulman (34th) the fifth-place finisher at the 2009 WSOP Main Event championship; and Doug "Rico" Carli (62nd), who holds the record for most career cashes on the WSOP Circuit (2005-2010) which currently stands at 42.