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Lowball specialist collects $92,817, WSOP title

8 Jun 2010

Yan R.Chen, a professional poker player from Irvine, Calif., won the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball title at the World Series of Poker on Monday night to collect $92,817.

It was Chen's third WSOP final table in the last two years; he also had a third-place finish in a similar lowball event and a fifth-place showing in the Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split World Championship last year.

Chen was born in China and came to the United States to finish college at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. The 45-year old husband and father of two also attended law school at Columbia University. He started playing poker seriously about 12 years ago, specializing in high-stakes lowball cash games in and around Los Angeles. This was his first major tournament victory.

"Not all poker games come to me naturally," said Chen. "Lowball just comes to me more naturally than other forms of poker."

Despite making two final table appearances in deuce lowball tournaments the past two years, Chen also confided he was the first player knocked out of last year's $10,000 buy-in Deuce-to-Seven Lowball World Championship.

"Lowball allows a certain amount of creativity," said Chen. "It allows a certain amount of aggression. It rewards patience. This is a game of nuances. It is not a game of raw power. Once people are exposed to poker and achieve a certain skill level, I believe people will like this game."

Chen continues to roll in lowball events

Chen continues to roll in lowball events (photo by GreasieWheels)

Mike Wattel was the runner up, just missing what would have been a second WSOP gold bracelet victory. Wattel's first WSOP cash took place 11 years ago, when he won the limit Omaha high-low event in 1999, which was played at Binion's Horseshoe. The final hand of the tournament came when Chen's 10-high beat Wattel's queen-high. Wattel, who lives in Mesa, Ariz., collected the consolation prize of $57,375 for second place. It was his 24th cash at the WSOP and catapulted Wattel over the million-dollar mark in WSOP winnings. He has 14 final table appearances.

Las Vegas poker pro Nicholas Binger was third, while Derric Haynie from Lincoln, Calif., was fourth. The fifth-place finisher was Todd Thuan Bui, from Sacramento, Calif., and James Bord, from London, England, was sixth.

Alexander Kravchenko, who won an Omaha High-Low Split gold bracelet in 2007 and made the final table of the Main Event that year, was the seventh-place finisher.

This was the first $1,500 buy-in lowball tournament with the deuce-to-seven draw variant held at the WSOP. Turnout proved to be a success as there were 250 entries — a relatively large field given that this form of poker is rarely played inside most card rooms. Aside from the WSOP, there are virtually no deuce-to-seven lowball events played anywhere, except a few of the mega-casinos in the Los Angeles area. Those games tend to be played for very high stakes — with Chen usually sitting in as one of the players.

The top 28 finishers collected prize money. Aside from those who made the final table, former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included Chris Bjorin (13th), Erik Seidel (14th), Keith Lehr (16th), and Jose-Luis Velador (24th). Seidel now has 59 career WSOP cashes and is tied for fourth on the all-time cashes list, while Bjorin now has 52 career WSOP cashes and is tied for eighth.

(Modified from original notes by Nolan Dalla for
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