Mexico City resident Angel Guillen survived a nearly six-hour heads-up showdown to win his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet late last night.
Gullen defeated a field of 1,534 players in the $2,000 buy-in no-limit hold'em to capture the first place prize of $530,548 at the Rio.
The 26-year-old poker pro built up his skills playing online. He started playing live tournament poker in January, and has two cashes in this year's series.
He finished second in another series no-limit hold'em tournament and has earned $843,348 at this year's World Series of Poker.
Guillen is the second Mexican national to win a series gold bracelet, the other winning in 2006.
The win moved Guillen into sixth place in the series' Player of the Year standings.
Official event report from the World Series of Poker
Total Net Prize Pool: $2,791,880
Number of Places Paid: 171
June 15-17, 2009
The Winner --
Guillen attended college in Mexico City, and is a few credits short of a degree in economics.
Guillen has worked in business, concentrating in investments.
Guillen is fluent in both Spanish and English.
In addition to playing poker, Guillen also enjoys chess reading, doing math puzzles, and travel.
Guillen is a strong proponent of legalizing poker in his native country. Guillen says he hopes his victory at the World Series of Poker will inspire more Mexican citizens to take up the game and gradually overturn current laws which forbid casinos and poker tournaments.
Despite just starting out in tournament poker about six months ago, Guillen came into this year’s WSOP with an impressive track record. He finished third in the Latin American Tour’s Punta del Este (Uruguay) championship earlier this year. He has numerous other cashes as well, including tournaments in the Bahamas and Monte Carlo.
Guillen’s plan to play in many WSOP events. He arrived in Las Vegas with a tournament bankroll of $40,000, which has now grown to over 20 times that amount.
Winner Quotes (Angel Guillen) –
On the local poker scene in Mexico: “The problem in Mexico is that poker is not legal. So, the growth of poker in our country has been very slow. We are trying to develop that now. We want to make a boom in Mexico. We mostly play online and in underground games – and sometimes in home games. There are no casinos. That’s basically how it works. Hopefully, Mexico will soon export more poker players.”
On what makes Mexicans and other Latinos so prideful to win a WSOP gold bracelet: “Latin Americans, in general, are very passionate people. We love to win. We have a different type of life. We get an energy boost when we win. It’s like all your hopes and dreams come together. We are very warm people.”
On how his supporters helped him to win: “I feel very fortunate to have the support of my family, my friends and all the people that supported me.”
On his future plans: I plan to keep on playing and learning more as I play. I want to become a well-known player and win many more events.”
On what his win means for Mexico: “Like Chris Moneymaker did for you (in the U.S.), I want to do the same thing in my country. Hopefully, I can.”
The Final Table --
The final table contained no former WSOP gold bracelet winners. This was the 12th of 32 finales held so far this year with no former winners.
The final table was an international mix which included players from six different nations – including Canada, Finland, France, Mexico, Switzerland, and the United States.
The runner up was Mika Paasonen, from Hameenlinna, Finland. He said he got into poker after seeing the 1998 film “Rounders.” Paasonen’s poker nickname is “Sharkie.” Paasonen put up a noble fight, making Guillen battle for every chip. Their heads-up match lasted about six hours.
The third-place finisher was Jason Boyes, from Calgary, AB (Canada). He had previously cashed in a few events at Caesars Palace Las Vegas. This was his highest WSOP finish ever.
The fourth-place finisher was Steve Kohner, from Phoenix, AZ. He is a 57-year-old real estate developer. This was Kohner’s first WSOP in-the-money finish.
The fifth-place finisher was Eric Ladny, from Mercerville, NJ. He is a 21-year-old student at Penn State University. He now has three WSOP cashes, all this year.
The sixth-place finisher was Daniel Makowsky, from Zurich, Switzerland. He is a poker tournament specialist who spends most of his time playing in Europe. Last year, Makowsky was the runner up in a WSOP event.
The seventh-place finisher was Chris MacNeil, from Peabody, MA. This was his third WSOP in-the-money finish. MacNeil mentioned that he began playing in this tournament on the day of his son Christopher’s birthday, and wanted to give his ten-year-old son a special birthday present. A memorable final table appearance at the WSOP and $71,192 in prize money should buy a nice birthday gift.
The eighth-place finisher was Antoine Amourette, from Rennes, France. He is a poker pro. This was his second time to cash at the WSOP.
The ninth-place finisher was Clark Hamagami, from Vancouver, BC (Canada). He is a 23-year-old student.
In-the-Money Finishers --
Former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included – Scott Clements, Chau Giang, Justin Scott, and Jans Orensen.
Tony Cousineau, from Daytona Beach, FL cashed for the fifth time at this year’s WSOP. He currently holds the peculiar record as the player with the most cashes in WSOP history without a gold bracelet victory. His in-the-money finishes currently number 39.
The defending champion was Blair Hinkle, from Weatherby Lake, MO. He entered this tournament but did not cash.
Odds and Ends --
The $2,000 buy-in no-limit ’em championship attracted 1,534 entries, which is a 14 percent increase over the same event last year, which totaled 1,344 players.
Guillen will be honored with the playing of the Mexican national anthem – which is Himno Nacional Mexicano.
The Event --
The tournament was played over three consecutive days.
The End of Day One chip leader was Jing Shan, from Arcadia, CA. He ended up finishing in 29th place.
Eric Ladny was the chip leader coming into the final table. He ended up finishing in fifth place.
Guillen came into the final table ranked seventh out of nine players. In fact, two of the finalists had over 2,000,000 in chips while Guillen began with 604,000. He seized the chip lead about mid-way through the finale, traded the lead back and forth several times during the match.
The heads-up match between Angel Guillen and Mika Paasonen from Finland lasted about six hours. Paasonen was all-in a few times during the fierce battle, but managed to survive each time his tournament life was at stake. When Guillen had about a 2 to 1 chip lead, the final hand of the tournament took place just after midnight when Guillen was dealt 3-3 and flopped a set when the board showed K-4-3. Paasonen moved all-in after the flop and tabled K-10, which was good for top pair. The set of threes held up, and Guillen sealed his victory.
The heads-up match provided a rare opportunity for those nearby to learn how to count in two different languages. Guillen was cheered on by a dozen or so Mexican fellow countrymen. Meanwhile, Passonen was supported by a more reserved group of Finns. During all-in situations and other critical moments, the players’ cards were revealed and fans from the two nations shouted the desired card in the player’s native language. The Mexicans shouted the card they wanted, while the Finns countered with their request. It made for a fun and festive finale.