In a rare occurrence for a World Series of Poker event, a player won a tournament who would’ve unregistered if they allowed him to after the first hand of play. Christian Pham, a Vietnamese born pro who resides in Minnesota, won Event #23: $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Single Draw after being left in shock when he was dealt five cards on the first hand.
"I thought I had registered for the $1,500 limit hold'em," Pham said with a big smile on his face as he looked down at the bracelet he had just won. "I would've unregistered if I knew what the event was."
First-timers tend to do well in this event, as Matt Perrins won it in 2011 for $102,105, and now it was Pham who took it down this year for $81,314.
Event #23 Final Table Results
"When I got to the table, and when I got dealt five cards, I realized that something was wrong," he said. "I said, 'Oh my god!' because in Minnesota they don't have this game."
Pham currently resides in St. Paul, MN and continued by saying, "This was the first time I played this game, but I tried to learn the game at the table from the people at the table."
Pham made the absolute most of this accidental tournament registration, since he was chip leader at the end of both Day 1 and Day 2. Notable pros with quite a bit more experience in this game, like Huck Seed (5th - $15,852), Mike Leah (7th - $8,381), and Rob Mizrachi (9th - $4,881) made a deep run in this event, but they were no match for Pham, who even made some notes in his phone about what hands he was looking for.
"There was a very nice older gentleman sitting next to me, and he told me '2-3-4-5-7 is the nuts, and 2-3-4-6-7 is the second nuts,'" Pham said. "I put that in my phone and tried to figure out what hands I can play. After that I kept learning, but I also got good hands. I folded the first seven hands until I'd learned the game from the guy who was sitting besides me. He was very nice."
Pham said he ran really well on Day 1 and called a huge bluff with a made ten-nine for a pot worth 100,000 in chips, which vaulted him into the chip lead.
"I knew then that this was a big chance for me to win, and I think it was a sign of God," he said. "It was a sign, that I was chip leader again."
Pham held the chip lead in the $565 Colossus with less than 100 players remaining, but he ultimately finished 56th for $19,566, and in the Millionaire Maker when the money was reached. Pham went on to finish 215th in the Millionaire Maker for $6,973. The third time, though, did indeed turn out to be the charm.
Throughout the final table, Pham seemed extremely confident and in control, and that resulted in his first victory at the World Series of Poker. On whether or not Pham will play this game more in the future, he said the following with a big smile.
"I didn't understand much of the game, but enough, and in the future for sure I will register for this game. I love it!"