The 2006 World Series of Poker has hosted 30,092 players in its 34 tournaments held so far and handed out $67,868,330 in prize money. Every event this year has something that has made it special and unique. It could be an 80-year-old woman like Kuei “Mama” Chang busting out heavyweights like Michael Mizrachi or a young man named Jeff Madsen who won his first WSOP bracelet at the age of 21 years, one month, and nine days. He became the youngest person to win a bracelet in the history of the WSOP. But what made Event #34 so special is that Phil Hellmuth won his 10th WSOP gold bracelet, placing him in front of the pack with Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan who also hold 10 bracelets each.
This tournament had $2,340,238 in prize pool money, 754 players and money going out to the top 73 positions. Within minutes of the start players were rebuying more chips. Daniel Negreanu kept $25,000 in rebuy chips next to him, instead of going back and forth for them as he did in Event #14. He spent $48,000 in rebuys total which is believed to be the most of any major poker tournament in history. Erick Lindgren kept more than $100,000 in rebuy chips at his side. In a bit of fun, Erick Lindgren also announced that he was placing a $500 bounty on Mike Matusow’s head. And during a hand with Mark Seif, Vanessa Rousso and another player, Vanessa offered Mark $1,000 to go all in so she could double up. Mark accepted and won the hand busting out Vanessa. Vanessa gave Mark the $1,000 and walked away from the table laughing out loud. A lot of players had fun with the rebuys going all in with out looking at their cards, cracking jokes along with other mindless acts. By the time the day ended there were 61 players for Day 2.
Day 2 action took off on a fast start with one player busting out on his very first hand. Gregg Merkow busted both Champie Douglas (53rd) and Mark Seif (54th) by winning an all in preflop move between the three of them in the first 15 min of play. Phil Hellmuth was outstanding as he busted Kevin Ho, Shane Schleger, Jordan Morgan and Humberto Brenes to end up going to the final table as chip leader with $760,000. The only one close to him was Daryn Firicano having $450,000 and Juha Helppi with $436,000 in chips. Toss in John Spadavecchia, Tony Guoga, David Plastik and Ralph Perry and you have one tough final table.
The 10th bracelet had eluded Phil for 13 months since 2005 when Brunson and Chan won theirs. He had already made the final table twice so far in 2006, but came up short both times and did not want a third time to occur. During breaks Hellmuth, sometimes described as a “ticking human time-bomb”, could sometimes be seen pacing the tournament hallways in isolation. Once final table action started, Phil Hellmuth in flawless play busted out Ralph Perry in 8th, David Plastik in 7th, Elio Cabrera in 6th and John Spadavecchia in 4th in a hand where he drew 3 of a kind Aces to seal that deal. When the heads up came between WPT champion Juha Helppi and 9 time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth, Phil had $850,000 in chips to Juha’s $1,650,000. A huge turning point came when Hellmuth doubled up when his pocket K’s overpowered Helppi’s Ah 10d, placing him over the 2 million chip mark. Here is what happened on the last hand. Hellmuth on the button limps in and Helppi (Ad 9h) decided to go all in which draws an immediate call from Hellmuth (As Jh). The cards that landed on the table were Qs 8s 2c Ks 6c. And that is how Phil Hellmuth Jr. won his 10th WSOP bracelet that was given to him by WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack.