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HOME > VEGAS > Vegas News > Villanova student wins WSOP title, $1.3 million

Villanova student wins WSOP title, $1.3 million

3 July 2010

The $25,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold'em championship had just about everything compelling in a poker tournament. It was one of the biggest buy-in tournaments in WSOP history. It attracted just about every big name in poker. And, it had a memorable breakthrough career victory for a player already acknowledged as one of the game's top online players but who had yet to prove his talent in live tournaments.

Dan Kelly, a 21-year-old student at Villanova, won the second-highest buy-in event at this year's WSOP to pick up his first WSOP gold bracelet as well as over $1.3 million in winnings on Saturday. The mechanical engineering major is scheduled to return for his senior year this fall.

"I definitely thought I could win, or I wouldn't be playing," said Kelly. "But you can't expect to win a tournament, even if you play perfect. This definitely exceeds my expectations."

Kelly's parents were initially not enthusiastic about his poker playing. But the fact that he has performed well in school despite using much of his free time to play poker combined with the large sums of money he has won at the at poker tables, Kelly's parents have become more supportive. Kelly's father was a trademark attorney. His mother is a former nurse.

Kelly does not have much experience playing in U.S.-based poker tournaments. However, he has previously played major events held in The Bahamas, Spain, and Germany. Incredibly, the first WSOP tournament Kelly ever entered was this year's $50,000 buy-in Poker Players Championship. This is believed to be the first time in history a new player has ever made his maiden WSOP voyage in the highest buy-in tournament, with one of the toughest fields in WSOP history.

The runner up was Shawn Buchanan, from Vancouver, B.C. Buchanan has been playing poker seriously for about nine years. He currently has eight cashes this year, which places him in a tie for most in-the-money finishes along with Allen "Chainsaw" Kessler. The all-time record for most cashes in a single year at the WSOP is 10, held by Nikolay Evdakov. He set the record in 2008. Buchanan collected $812,941.

Kelly will return to Villanova with more than $1.3 million in poker winnings this fall.

Kelly will return to Villanova with more than $1.3 million in poker winnings this fall. (photo by GreasieWheels)

The final hand of the tournament was one of the most thrilling of the year. Kelly was dealt ace-10, while Buchanan held pocked jacks. Buchanan moved all-in pre-flop; Kelly had his opponent covered by about a 2-to-1 margin and made the call. It looked like the players would be swapping the chip lead, but the river was an ace, which gave Kelly a pair of aces to beat Buchanan's jacks for the victory.

Frank Kassela, from Las Vegas, Nev., was third. Kassela is having one of the best years of any player at the WSOP. He has already won two gold bracelets in 2010. He came close to a third in this tournament, which would have tied the record for most WSOP wins within a single year (the record is shared by Puggy Pearson, Ted Forrest, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, and Jeffrey Lisandro). Kassela became the player to catch in the 2010 WSOP Player of the Year race. Third place paid $556,053 giving him $1.3 million in earnings at this year's WSOP.

Jason Somerville, from Stony Brook, N.Y., finished fourth for $386,125 in prize money, Mikael Thuritz, from Las Vegas, Nev., was fifth for $272,084, and Eugene Katchalov, from New York, N.Y., was sixth for $194,559.

There were 191 entries. The total prize pool amounted to $4,536,250. The top 18 finishers (three tables) collected prize money. Former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included Daniel Negreanu (11th), Abe Mosseri (12th), and Carlos Mortensen (17th).

Modified from notes provided by Nolan Dalla for www.wsop.com.


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