2011 WSOP $25k Heads-Up Breaks Records

Tom Dwan
Tom Dwan

The 2011 WSOP got off to a fast start on Tuesday with the $25k Heads-Up Championship breaking prizepool records.

The Heads-Up Championship, which was the first open-event of the 2011 WSOP, drew 128 players to create a prizepool of $3.04 million with $851k dedicated to first place. It’s the most cash ever generated by a heads-up tournament.

Technically the event had half as many players as last year’s heads-up championship but because the buy-in was increased from $10k to $25k it was a much larger prizepool. 

It was anyone’s guess who would show up for the event, thanks to online poker’s Black Friday in April, but the majority of the big names were there with Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Tom Dwan, Erick Lindgren, Vanessa Rousso and Patrik Antonius all patched up in either PokerStars or Full Tilt gear.

There were several notable absences, however, as Howard Lederer, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson and Andy Bloch were not on hand for the event.

Perhaps the most glaring omission was Phil Ivey and later in the day poker fans were given the reason he didn’t play.

Ivey released a statement on his Facebook fan page that said he was skipping the entire WSOP and suing Tiltware. In the post, which was originally thought to be a hoax, Ivey said it would be unfair for him to play the WSOP when many other FTP players have yet to be paid and are unable to play. 

Despite that huge bombshell, play continued normally with pros remaining silent on the issue.

As one would expect from a high buy-in heads-up tournament there were a number of high profile match-ups including Gus Hansen vs. Jason Mercier, Phil Laak vs. Jonathan Duhamel, Vanessa Selbst vs. Chris Moorman and many more.

The final match of the night saw Kenny Tran play John Juanda for nearly four hours before finally falling.

In the end the tournament lasted through two rounds of play and went from 128 players to 64 and finally to 32 at approximately 2 a.m.

There are a number of compelling storylines left in the tournament with big name players Tom Dwan, John Juanda, John Duthie, Matt Marafioti, Gus Hansen, Carlos Mortensen and Daniel Alaei all looking to snag an early bracelet.

The $25k Heads-Up Championship will culminate with the final heads-up match this Friday.

The 2011 WSOP continues through July 19. For comprehensive coverage live from Las Vegas be sure to check PokerListings’ Live Updates and News.

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