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Image courtesy of Cardplayer.com

It is a little bit odd, in a way, to make a big deal out of young players who have not yet won a WSOP Bracelet.  They are incredibly difficult feats of poker accomplishment, and yet at the young age of 24, Tom Dwan is already being saddled with this infamous title of “best player to never win a bracelet.”  In all fairness to Dwan, this is only the 4th WSOP he’s been able to participate in, and with the fields deeper than they’ve ever been, and the competition tougher, the bracelets are in turn getting harder and harder to win.  But Dwan has added an entirely new level of intrigue by booking famously large side bets on whether he will or will not win a WSOP bracelet.  Last year, those bets nearly cashed in as he finished runner-up in $1,500 NLHE, and nearly managed to break up the bankrolls of some of poker’s biggest names.  This year, he had another close call, making the Final Table of Event #37, the $10K HORSE Championship.

But HORSE is a unique breed of poker game, asking each player to demonstrate top-level skill in five variants of poker, and in the end, Fabrice Soulier did exactly that.  The likable French pro outlasted not only Dwan, but a table full of others and a heads-up match with Shawn Buchanan, a Canadian pro who has also crested over the $1 Million mark in WSOP earnings.  Soulier sat in the Top 3 chip counts for most of the final table, waiting patiently as players were eliminated, and after Dwan made his exit in 5th place during a Stud Hi round, it was all of the sudden a wide-open affair.  The remaining players battled late into the night and early into Friday morning before play was finally halted around 4am.

And so it was that with limited sleep and the highest of tournament stakes to play for, Soulier and Buchanan took their seats once again on Friday afternoon, where Fabrice promptly dispatched his foe in less than one hour of play.  The win was indeed Soulier’s first WSOP bracelet, and in addition to the prize money of $609,130, he claims one of the WSOP’s most challenging bracelets and continues to draw wide respect and admiration in poker circles.  Mixed game events are always special – they require patience, skill, and a little bit of well-timed luck in the late stages, and Soulier had all of that working for him as he brought home his title.

Soulier’s comments on his victory after the event show just how difficult it is to win a title AND balance other aspects of his life.  When asked how tough it was to halt play heads-up and then come back and win, he said: “I slept very bad.  I had tons of messages on my phone, and it’s still ringing.  I had tons of messages on Facebook.  I could not read them all.  I could not stop reading them all.  I want to thank them all.  It was great getting all their support.”

Photo Courtesy of WSOP

Congratulations again to WSOP Champion Fabrice Soulier and the entire Final Table of this HORSE Event, payouts for the Top 8 finishers are below:

1    Fabrice Soulier    $609,130
2    Shawn Buchanan    $376,458
3    Andrey Zaichenko    $247,799
4    Daniel Ospina        $180,750
5    Tom Dwan        $134,480
6    Matthew Ashton    $101,813
7    Michael Binger    $78,328
8    Jacobo Fernandez    $61,160