Duthie falls short, Wolpert strikes WSOP gold

Leo Wolpert

University student Leo Wolpert derailed what would have been one of the biggest surprises at the 2009 WSOP on Tuesday night.

Wolpert found himself heads-up against European Poker Tour Founder John Duthie for a WSOP bracelet and although Duthie is more well-known for his poker commentary he nearly pulled off a victory.

"It seems so surreal it hasn't even sunk in yet," said Wolpert. "It's really hard to describe just how elated I am right now."

Wolpert won a total of nine matches, including one against John Juanda, to secure first place in the $10,000 World Championship Heads-Up event and the $625,682 that came with it. It took over 200 hands for Wolpert to beat Duthie as they played out three consecutive heads-up matches.

Wolpert was boosted by one of the most supportive rails at this year's WSOP with online legends like Vivek "Psyduck" Rajkumar, Jimmy "Gobboboy" Fricke and Shaun Deeb all rooting for their peer.

"I didn't want to let down all these people that came out here to see me ship a bracelet!" said Wolpert after winning.

John Duthie
You don't see this at the EPT.

In many ways Wolpert is proof that dreams do come true at the WSOP and, in a stark contrast to poker players who drop out of school to pursue poker, he actually helped finance his way into law school through his poker winnings.

Wolpert just finished his first year at the University of Virginia law school and is currently doing an internship for the Nevada chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"I gotta go home and check my grades," joked Wolpert. "I think my last two have finally been posted. I want to see how I did."

Meanwhile the $386,636 for second place had to be bitter-sweet for Duthie, who came within one player of winning his first WSOP bracelet and would have been the third player from the U.K. to strike gold.

Duthie became the first player to win $1 million in a televised event when he came in first place at the Poker Million in 2000. Duthie hasn't had a huge score since then but has been building somewhat of a reputation in heads-up poker. He finished second for $250,000 in PokerStars.com Spring Championship of Online Poker $25,000 Heads-Up event.

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