Most people would have backed the Red Pros at Full Tilt to pocket at least a couple of bracelets at this year’s World Series. As it stands, the Full Tilt collective have amassed 7 tournament victories this year, a strong showing in anyone’s book.
It will come as no surprise to hear that poker-master Phil Ivey is the proud owner of two of the seven, but it may be more of a shock to hear that former ice hockey pro Greg Mueller has matched his achievements step for step. The player known as “FTB” online recently picked up his second bracelet of the series in the $1,500 Limit Hold ‘em Shootout.
After quitting hockey 1999 Greg dedicated himself to poker. Although he has made a name for himself online in the last few years, he was yet to truly burst through onto the live scene. Despite his relative anonymity he has an impressive WSOP record, with 19 cashes since 2003.
His series had a positive start with Event #6, the $10,000 World Championship Seven Card Stud. He final tabled, finishing in 7th for $53,885. His real breakthrough would follow a couple of weeks later in another $10k event, the World Championship of Limit Hold ‘em. His first place finish netted him $460,841 and confirmed his right to sit among the likes of Phil Ivey and Chris Ferguson on the Full Tilt roster.
Like a number of his professional compatriots, Mueller elected not to enter the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event due to the small field. His decision proved wise, as the tournament he entered instead was Event #50, the $1,500 Limit Hold ‘em Shootout. 570 other players joined Greg at the tables, building up a prize pool of $779,024. Sixty-four people finished in the money, including luminaries such as David Williams (4th), Tom Schnieder (13th), and Humberto Brenes (17th).
Event #50 was a shootout event, meaning that each table acts like a Sit and Go. The winner of each table advances to the next round. Each of the 8 players that started the final table had won two rounds each to get to that point. The shootout structure meant that every player started the final table with 450,000 in chips.
In the end it would come down to a heads up battle between Greg and Dutch pro Marc Naalden. This was a match between two limit specialists, with both players having captured limit hold ‘em bracelets earlier in the series. Greg later said that, “the player I beat (Marc Naalden) is such a great limit hold ’em player. He was the player coming into today who I thought would be the toughest to beat.”
The contest took two hours to complete and saw the chip lead flip-flop a number of times. Mueller started the fight with a 4-1 chip lead, but quickly saw it eroded by his opponent, only to retake and then lose it a number of times. Eventually, on a board of 10-4-3-K the final few chips went in. Mueller was holding K-5, far ahead of Naalden with K-2. A Jack missed everyone on the river and awarded Mueller his second bracelet of 2009, just 11 days after he captured his first.
With only the main event left to complete, the odds of an eighth Full Tilt victory are pretty slim. But with a certain Mr. Ivey still going strong in the ME you never know who might make it into the November Nine.