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Just In The Nick Of Time: Nick Binger Wins First WSOP Gold Bracelet
Can busting out of a poker tournament ever be a blessing in disguise?
For Nick Binger it sure was.
Moments after being eliminated from the $1,500 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament (Event #56) Binger had a tough decision to make. He could drive back to his Las Vegas home and wallow in the sorrows of what had been so far a disappointing series of finishes. Binger had entered dozens of tournaments at the 2011 World Series of Poker, with just two mini-cashes to show for a whopping six-figure investment.
The alternative was to take one more shot in the very last tournament on this year’s schedule prior to the start of the WSOP Main Event Championship. Trouble was, it was very late and the clock was ticking. There were only seconds remaining before player registration would close. Nick Binger, the poker player, became Nick Binger, the sprinter.
“It was a bad summer going into the end here,” Binger said just moments after his first gold bracelet victory. “I had just busted out of the other tournament. I ran down the hall to register for this tournament and got in with just seconds to spare.“
In an astonishing twist of fate, Binger’s earlier elimination turned out to be an unforeseen stroke of good fortune. While poker players don’t like acknowledging the luck component to the game, the fact was – Binger caught the ultimate river card before the next tournament even began.
Four days later on a Friday afternoon, Binger would end up as the last player sitting from an initial field of 352 entries in the $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha High-Low Split tournament. He ended up winning $397,073 in prize money. Certainly just as meaningful to the veteran Las Vegas poker pro was the ultimate symbol of achievement attached to his victory -- the WSOP gold bracelet.
Binger comes from quite an accomplished poker family. His brother Michael Binger has won more than $5 million at the WSOP during his stellar career. However, Michael still lacks the one glittery object that now circles brother Nick's wrist -- the gold bracelet.
When asked who’s the better poker player within the Binger family, Nick immediately snapped, "Me!" The bold merriment was followed by laughter, revealing the jovial relationship between the two outstanding poker pros.
The runner-up was Georgia poker pro and former professional bowler David Bach, who is best known for winning the $50,000 Buy-In Poker Players Championship, in 2009. Binger overcame a 3 to 1 chip disadvantage versus the ultra-tough Bach late during heads-up play and complimented his opponent on his outstanding play afterwards. This was Bach's seventh final table appearance in the last five years -- quite a record.
Is there a lesson to be learned from Binger’s unusual experience? Perhaps so.
Consider this. Next time the cards fall badly it’s wise to remember that sometimes things happen for a reason. It falls upon the busted player to make the most of a bad situation. The temporary “loser” might even rebound and win a WSOP gold bracelet. It happens.
In poker as in life, it’s not how many bad beats we take that matters. Bad beats inevitably will come. What really does matter is the next step, as Nick Binger showed the poker world.
EVENT #57 CHAMPION – NICK BINGER
The 2011 World Series of Poker $5,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha High-Low Split champion is Nick Binger, from Las Vegas, NV.
Binger is a 29-year-old professional poker player.
Binger was born in North Carolina.
For his victory, Binger collected $397,073 for first place.
This victory puts Binger up close to $2 million in overall career tournament earnings (all tournaments worldwide).
According to official records, Binger now has 1 win, 3 final table appearances, and 17 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.
Binger’s best previous showing was two third-place finishes – in last year’s Deuce-to-Seven Lowball event and 2008’s Mixed Hold’em event.
Binger currently has $672,180 in career WSOP winnings.
Binger is to be classified as a professional poker player (in WSOP records and stats). He has been playing full-time for about five years.
On his first WSOP victory:
“It feels amazing and I’m still in a little bit of shock over the whole thing. I know it will settle in a little bit more over time. I’m just so happy to be here. Obviously I got lucky along the way to be here. I’m also happy with the way I played. David Bach was a fantastic heads-up opponent. He’s very, very good. It was a tough stressful battle, but I’m happy to close it out.”
On the support of his cheering section, which included many big names:
“It actually really helped me a lot last night and tonight over the long hours when I was able to look around and I saw so many wonderful people here to support me. It actually really helps. Sure there was added pressure of not wanting to disappoint them, but overall I think it really helped me.”
On if this victory means he is better than his brother (27-time WSOP casher, Michael Binger) at poker:
On where Pot-Limit Omaha High-Low ranks among his best games:
“I have very little experience in PLO-8. I have a fair amount of experience in PLO and a little bit less experience in limit Omaha Eight-or-Better. But I have played both those games a fair amount. I was able to kind of combine the knowledge from the two to play this game. Not a whole lot of people are super experienced in PLO-8. It’s an obscure game, kind of a niche game. I really enjoy it though. It’s always one of my favorite events of the World Series, they’ve run it for three years now. You had a lot of really good players who don’t know how to play PLO-8, and then there were also some no-name players who were PLO-8 specialists who are just amazing at the game. It was a really interesting field. It took a while to get to know who was good and who wasn’t. You saw big-name players making terrible mistakes and you saw nobodies that were playing like geniuses. It was an interesting tournament overall, for sure. I’m happy with the way I played, but obviously I also ran well and got lucky to get here. Every winner has to.”
On his heads-up battle against former WSOP gold bracelet winner, David Bach:
“David Bach is a really good PLO-8 heads-up player. It was a tough battle. It was a back-and-forth seesaw all night last night and then today as well. He did not make it easy to win, that’s for sure. I had to run well heads up to beat him. He’s a great player. He deserved to win this just as much as I did, for sure.”
On if the fact this is one of the last gold bracelet events made the victory more special:
“It did make it very special. I had kind of a rough summer so far. I played almost every event and only had two small cashes. It was a bad summer right at the end here. I actually was playing in the $1,500 No-Limit and busted out with minutes to spare to late register for this tournament and it was the last one. I ran over to the cage and registered at like 9:30 p.m. It was a 5 p.m. tournament. I knew it was the last event. I ran in, late registered, sat down at my table and played my heart out to get here. My back was against the wall. I had to do something this event.”
On if Pot-Limit Omaha High-Low has a future in tournament poker:
“I would say so. I don’t know if it will be as popular as No-Limit Hold’em. I think it’s an extraordinarily fun game, and it has that going for it. The only downside that I would say is the bad players bust too quickly. If you’re playing PLO-8 the good players are going to get all the money very, very quickly. So that hurts it for its booming popularity aspect. No-Limit Hold’em strikes a really nice balance between the best players are going to win, but it happens over time. Bad players can get lucky and win the short term. PLO-8 is a little bit more difficult. Players are going to bust pretty quickly if they don’t know what they’re doing.”
On his journey to the gold bracelet:
“A lot of the best players are going to eat up the worse player very quickly. When it got down to the final two tables there were a lot of really good players left. A surprising amount, especially compared to the beginning of Day One when most of the tables were fairly soft. It was tough going through the final two tables. I’m just happy that I got lucky enough to make it all the way through.”
THE FINAL TABLE
The official final table was comprised of the top nine finishers.
The final table contained three former gold bracelet winners – including David Bach (1 win), Nick Schulman (1 win), and Phil Laak (1 win).
Four different nations were represented at the final table – including Denmark (1 player), France (1 player), Sweden (1 player), and the United States (6 players).
The runner-up was David Bach, from Athens, GA. He is a former professional bowler and a highly-accomplished poker pro, who is a Mixed Games specialist. Bach’s biggest claim to poker fame was a victory in the 2009 Poker Players Championship. As runner up in this tournament, Back collected $245,314 in prize money. He previously finished fourth in another tournament this year.
Final table play began Thursday afternoon at 7:00 pm. Play concluded about 10.5 hours later (playing time-wise) at 5:30 pm the following day. Players stopped in between due to the so-called “hard-stop rule” which allows only about 12 hours of play per day/night.
The Amazon Room hosted the start of the Main Event Championship, Day 1-A, which coincided the same day. The final table was played inside the Amazon Room, on the ESPN so-called secondary stage. The new final table set this year is receiving raves in terms of design and appearance. No stage in the history of poker has ever looked as spectacular. Viewers will be able to see ESPN’s coverage again once the WSOP Main Event begins in July.
OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS
The top 36 finishers collected prize money.
Aside from those who made it to the final table, among those who cashed in this tournament were former gold bracelet winners – Lee Watkinson (21st), Ram Vaswani (27th), Johnny “World” Hennigan (30th), Erik Seidel (33rd), and Max Stern (35th).
Erik Seidel now has 65 career cashes at the WSOP. He ranks third on the all-time list.
ODDS AND ENDS
This tournament attracted 352 entries. Attendance increased from last year when there were 284 entries.
There were only 5 female entrants, which represented 1.4 percent of the field.
The average age of all entrants was 36.2 years.
This is the 948th gold bracelet awarded in World Series of Poker history. This figure includes every official WSOP event ever played, including tournaments during the early years when there were no actual gold bracelets awarded. It also includes the 16 gold bracelets awarded to date at WSOP Europe (2007-2010). Moreover for the first time ever, one gold bracelet was awarded for this year’s winner of the WSOP Circuit National Championship.
The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony usually takes place on the day following the winner’s victory (or some hours later when the tournament ends very late). The ceremony takes place inside The Pavilion, which is the expansive main tournament room hosting all noon starts this year. The ceremony begins at the conclusion of the first break of the noon tournament. The ceremony usually starts around 2:20 p.m. The national anthem of the winner’s nation is played. The entire presentation is open to the public and media. Video and photography is permitted by both the public and members of the media.
Nick Binger’s gold bracelet ceremony will take place on Saturday, July 9th.
Omaha High-Low Split has predominantly been a limit game since it was first introduced into cardrooms in the early 1980s. However, about five years ago, a few online poker sites began offering Pot-Limit Omaha High-Low Split, which fueled greater interest in the game. Pot-Limit Omaha High-Low Split made its debut at the 2007 WSOP.
During the first two years, the Pot-Limit Omaha High-Low Split tournament had a buy-in of $1,500. A $5,000 buy-in level tournament was added to last year’s schedule for the first time in 2009.
There are two Pot-Limit Omaha High-Low Split tournaments on the 2011 WSOP schedule – one at the $1,500 buy-in level and this event, which had a $5,000 buy-in.
Last year’s champion was Chris Bell, from Raleigh, NC.