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Last night saw the conclusion of the 3rd day of event number 4 in this years WSOP calender, the $5,000 Mixed Hold ’em event. The structure combined both limit and no-limit, as part Harrah’s attempts to offer a diverse range of tournaments to satisfy every type of player. The levels were 60 minutes a piece, the first half for limit poker and the second half for no-limit. Blinds were halved for the no-limit portion of play, in order to account for the larger pot sizes it accommodates compared to its sister game.

The lucky last nine were competing for a first place boon of $374,505, but the winner was going have to make his way through a raft of high profile names in order to reach it. The final table included, among others, Erick Lindgren, David Williams, Isaac Haxton, Howard Lederer, Justin “ZeeJustin” Bonomo and Roland de Wolfe. These professional poker heavy weights count numerous titles between them, as well as a combined total of $22 million in live tournament winnings.

The chip counts at the start of final table play were:

Seat 1: Howard Lederer (Las Vegas, NV) 324,500
Seat 2: Roland de Wolfe (London, UK) 194,000
Seat 3: David “Chino” Rheem (Los Angeles, CA) 885,000
Seat 4: Pat Pezzin (Toronto, Canada) 108,500
Seat 5: Isaac Haxton (Syracuse, NY) 115,500
Seat 6: David Williams (Las Vegas, NV) 678,500
Seat 7: Justin Bonomo (Las Vegas, NV) 517,500
Seat 8: Andrew Robl (East Lansing, MI) 162,000
Seat 9: Erick Lindgren (Las Vegas, NV) 345,000

As you may already know, the eventual victor was first time bracelet winner, Erick Lindgren. Generally regarded as one of the best players never to have won one of the coveted WSOP wrist decorators, Erick has finally set the record straight and confirmed his place amongst the top poker minds in the world. Although he had come close before, finishing second in the 2005 $5,000 Short-Handed No-Limit Hold ’em event in 2006, nothing tops the prestige winning a WSOP event.

Lindgren played aggressively during the limit phases and despite starting 4th in chips at the table, battled his way to heads up against internet whiz-kid Justin “ZeeJustin” Bonomo. Starting with a 3:2 chip lead it took Erick just 40 hands to put the tournament to bed. In the final hand Lindgren raised preflop with Bonomo making the call. Both players checked on the 10-5-3 board, and a 4 of hearts arrived on the turn. Justin put in a bet and Lindgren made the call, an 8 of hearts the last card to hit the felt. Justin again lead out, but this time Erick put in the re-raise. Justin went over the top all-in and Lingren quickly called, flipping over an Ace-2 wheel to beat Bonomo’s 5-4 two pair.

It is shocking to think that Lindgren might not have even made it to the start of play on Monday were it not for his incredible tenacity and willpower. In June of last year he accepted a prop bet from fellow pros Gavin Smith and Phil Ivey that ran to the tune of $350,000. All Lindgren had to do to win the money was complete 4 rounds of golf in the searing Las Vegas heat, back to back, between sunrise and sunset. To the astonishment of practically everyone Lindgren completed the challenge and claimed the money. The prize, however, came at a cost. Upon completion he was suffering from extreme heat exhaustion – Lindgren himself reports that he lost 12 pounds of body weight.

Even considered among his countless other tournament successes there is little doubt that winning yesterday’s bracelet is the peak of his career so far. With countless events still to be played Lindgren must now be considered one of the favorites to capture the WSOP 2008 Player of the Year award. At the very least this is not likely to be his last ever World Series bracelet.

Final Table payouts where:

1 Erick Lindgren $374,505
2 Justin Bonomo $230,159
3 Andrew ‘Good2cu’ Robl $144,337
4 Roland de Wolfe $117,030
5 David ‘Chico’ Rheem $93,624
6 Howard Lederer $74,119
7 David Williams $58,515
8 Pat Pezzin $46,812
9 Isaac Haxton $35,109