In a record-setting year, the 2002 World Series of Poker last Friday crowned a new champion, Robert Varkonyi of Brooklyn, New York, who had never won a dime in the legendary Binion’s poker tournament.
But based on the strength of his $2 million victory, Varkonyi vaulted to seventh on the all-time money winners’ list.
Moreover, all of the finalists ”” nine players to make the final table ”” were virtually unknowns, and three of the finalists had never earned a penny in the world-class tourney before this year.
The lack of big name players or former champions didn’t take away from the action. Capping the final day’s play, Varkonyi parlayed a pocket Queen-Ten with a pair of Queens in the flop to nail a full house, and knock off Julian Gardner, who caught a club flush in a losing effort.
It wasn’t the first Queen-Ten that proved decisive for Varkonyi. On Wednesday, he used the same hand to take nearly all of Phil Hellmuth’s chips. The win also prompted Hellmuth to make a strange boast ”” that he would shave his head if Varkonyi won the championship (more on this later!).
Varkonyi also used the Queen-Ten pocket to knock out Scott Gray and Ralph Perry o his run to the final table.
|FACE OFF! ”” The last two players in the WSOP was Julian Gardner (right) and Robert Varkonyi, who won.|
The final table’s order of finish and money won included:
Robert Varkonyi (Brooklyn, New York), $2,000,00
Julian Gardner (Manchester, England), $1,000,000
Ralph Perry (Las Vegas), $550,000
Scott Gray (Birmingham, England), $281,400
Harley Hall (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.), $195,000
Russell Rosenblum (Bethesda, MD.), 150,000
John Shipley (England), $120,000
Tony D (Rosemead, Calif.), $100,000
Minh Ly (Las Vegas), $85,000.
Overall, the 33rd World Series of Poker attracted 7,323 entries and $20,810,410 in buy-ins ”” both records.
And with 631 entries into the $10,000 buy-in, No Limit Hold’em Championship Event, it was the first time the grand prize reached $2 million.
Oh, yes, Phil Hellmuth’s hair. After Varkonyi had won the last round, Hellmuth ”” a former world’s champion and all-around colorful poker character ”” acknowledged that he had lost his "gentlemen’s bet" with Varkonyi and agreed to take his medicine. "If you say something stupid, you should have to pay for it."
And pay, he did, as Binion’s Horseshoe owner Becky Behnen, newly-crowned champion Varkonyi and several other happy clippers took turns shearing Hellmuth’s dark locks.