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Wahlbeck wins WSOP Mixed Championship
After a grueling stretch of six straight 12-hour days of poker, Ville Wahlbeck's emotions were too much to overcome.
The 33-year-old pro Finnish pro broke down in tears after his victory at the $10,000 World Championship mixed event.
Moments ago, he'd defeated veteran pro David Chiu in heads-up Omaha 8, taking the win with A♦ Q♦ 8♦ 8♠ and a rivered Broadway Straight.
Faced with the exhausting reality of his first WSOP bracelet, Wahlbeck needed a few minutes to compose himself.
"This is every poker player's dream," he told PokerListings.com. "This is the first bracelet for Finland."
"Obviously I've been dreaming about this since I started playing poker. Now being here and having a bracelet is like a dream come true. So no wonder if I'm emotional."
Saturday's final table marked the sixth consecutive day of poker for Wahlbeck, who is having an extraordinary 2009 WSOP.
A regular on the EPT circuit, the Finn entered his first 2009 WSOP event Monday, buying in for the $10k Seven Card Stud World Championship.
He battled a brutal field full of pros all the way to the final table in that event, cashing for more than $150,000 after busting out in third place early on Thursday morning.
He then registered for Thursday's Mixed Event World Championship and after three more exhausting days, found himself at another final table.
Wahlbeck started at the final table with the chip lead, but faced a tough challenge with players like Chiu, Huck Seed, Todd Brunson and Mark Gregorich still in the field as the event came down to the final eight.
He managed to stay out of major trouble as his rivals faltered, avoiding any big confrontations and not eliminating anyone until he busted Scott Dorin in third place in a Deuce to Seven Triple Draw hand.
Wahlbeck recently blogged about quitting poker after this year, but has to be reconsidering after proving himself against such world class fields twice in the same week.
"I've been playing professional poker for six years now, and this is such an exhausting profession," Wahlbeck said. "I don't know if I want to keep doing this."
"I've been playing six days in a row, 12 hours each day. Nothing but sleeping and poker. Now it feels wonderful, but I just know it's a rough job, and maybe in the future I would like to do something a bit more relaxing."
Chiu nearly survived the final hand to double up on Wahlbeck. Holding A♣ 5♣ 9♦ T♠, Chiu went all in pre-flop and the flop came J♣ J♠ 5♥.
The turn came 10♠, giving Chiu the lead, but the river K♣ to give Wahlbeck the straight, the bracelet and $492,375 in prize money.
Chiu takes home $304,176 for 2nd place.
For Wahlbeck, there's no time for partying, as the $10k Omaha 8 World Championship begins later today at 5 p.m. So any celebrating will have to wait.
"Maybe [I'll] have a beer and then go to sleep," Wahlbeck said. "I have to play tomorrow. I'm really tired."
Check out the PokerListings 2009 WSOP section for more details.