Deeb takes $2.3 million jackpot at World Series HORSE event

Updated: June 29, 2007, 3:08 PM ET
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS -- Las Vegas poker pro Freddy Deeb won $2.3 million Friday morning, beating out a field of 148 players in the World Series of Poker.

Deeb won the $50,000 buy-in HORSE event after a grueling 15-hour final table match that began play at 2 p.m. Thursday. Joking throughout the match, Deeb kept up the humor until the 5 a.m. finish.

"You know what did it? The lucky shirt," he said.

The winner's purse was the fifth biggest in World Series history, falling just short of the $2.5 million that Chris Moneymaker won when he emerged from an Internet qualifier to beat a field of 839 in 2003.

There were five more players than last year's HORSE event, which contributed an extra quarter of a million dollars to the prize pool. Organizers also skewed the payouts to favor the final winner, a top-heavy format aimed to please the many players for whom the $50,000 buy-in is mere pocket change.

"These are all accomplished players," said tournament media director Nolan Dalla. "If they're going to play five days, they want the big money at the end."

Top names including Phil Hellmuth, Barry Greenstein and Annie Duke sat down to play the marathon event Sunday in a field that had more World Series bracelet winners than not.

It marked the second bracelet for Deeb, who won his first in a deuce-to-seven lowball event in 1996.

Second place finisher, French poker pro Bruno Fitoussi, left with a $1,278,720 payday. Fitoussi said afterward he had played many high-limit poker games in Las Vegas and Paris with Deeb, with whom he had become good friends.

"To lose to Freddy, it's a lot easier," he said. "I'm happy, not 100 percent happy, but I'm happy, absolutely."

Third place and $852,480 went to John Hanson, a New York stock options trader, who said he was drawn to the pro-filled event by the challenge of trying to "beat them at their own game."

He said his trading experience helped him to the biggest tournament win of his life.

"There's a lot of similarities between trading and playing poker. I think both are governed by fear and greed and you have to balance the two to do well," he said.

HORSE, which stands for five games of poker played in rotation -- hold 'em, Omaha, razz, stud and eight or better -- tests the all-around player more than the no limit hold 'em game, which was born in Texas and has become the most popular poker game worldwide.

The event was also played with betting limits, meaning dramatic "all-ins" were eliminated in favor of skills demonstrated over longer sessions of play.

At the final table of the HORSE event a year ago, organizers did away with the five games from earlier rounds in favor of TV-friendly no limit hold 'em.

This year's format proved the difference maker in his win, said Deeb, who at one point in the final table was down to 300,000 in chips with 15 million in play.

"I was lucky enough to take a few bad beats and have enough money to come back," he said. "If somebody played bad against you and they put a bad beat on you, it's only a setback, it's not a knockout."

In the crucial second last hand of Eight or Better, a seven card stud game in which the pot is split between high and low hands, Deeb led the betting until he had a five, six, seven and jack showing, while Fitoussi had a pair of twos, a six and a nine.

Fitoussi folded when his three hole cards didn't improve his twos and gave him no low hand. Afterward Deeb revealed he held a five and seven in the hole, giving him two pair.

Fitoussi was left with only enough chips to go all in on the next hand, which he ended up losing with an ace high and no low hand, to Deeb's pair of fives and a low hand to the eight.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press