Jeff Madsen Becomes the Youngest Winner in WSOP History
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Jeff Madsen Becomes the Youngest Winner in WSOP History
21-year-old UC-Santa Barbara college student wins $660,948
Las Vegas , NV – For the third consecutive year, the record for youngest World Series of Poker winner has been broken. Back in 2004, Gavin Griffin became the youngest player in history to win a gold bracelet. Even then, with so many young people turned on to poker, it seemed just a matter of time before a younger star would emerge and eclipse the record. Next came 2005, when Eric Froehlich won the $1,500 buy in Limit Hold'em championship. At 21 years, three months, and three days of age, Froehlich established a new benchmark for the youngest poker champion. Now in 2006, the record has been shattered again.
Jeff Madsen, aged 21 years, one month, and nine days, has likely set a record that will not be broken for quite some time. Madsen defeated a whopping 1,578 players, who each put up $2,000 to enter Event #22 on this year’s World Series of Poker schedule. First place paid $660,948. Not bad for a young college student preparing to return to school next month for his senior year.
It took two long days to eliminate most of the huge field. On Day Three, the nine finalists took the stage at the Rio Las Vegas to play for the championship. The final table included several well-established tournament veterans. However, this was the first open event in 2006 not to include at least one former gold bracelet winner.
John Shipley was the first player out. The British pro was low on chips and was forced to play a sub-par hand in the end, resulting in elimination. Shipley, who won the European Poker Tour championship in London two years ago and also made the final table of the WSOP main event in 2002 (one of two players at this table to do so), received $60,349 for ninth place.
Billy Duarte, who has been playing poker for 60 years and made several final tables at major tournaments in recent years, was the next player to exit. Duarte arrived as the low stack and went out on the tenth hand of play holding ace-eight suited. His opponent had king-jack suited and flopped a jack. Duarte locked up eighth place, which paid $71,845.
Michael Chow followed next with pocket nines, which lost to pocket jacks. Chow, 230th in the main event last year (out of 5,619 entries), took seventh place. The Hawaiian said “aloha” and pocketed $83,340.
Robert Bright went out in sixth place with pocket fours, which were steamrolled by a straight. Bright, the CEO of a stock trading firm, cashed out for $94,835 in prize money.
Robert Dylan Cohen was the next player to exit. The New York actor and comedian turned poker player was low on chips and lost his final hand with jack-ten versus pocket queens. Cohen had to settle for fifth place, which paid $112,077.
A few hands later, Troy Parkins made a very bold move with an all-in bet on a straight draw. Jeff Madsen made a tough call holding top pair. When Parkins missed his draw, it meant a fourth-place finish. Parkins, an information technology specialist from Leesburg, Virginia collected $132,194.
Julian Gardner hoped to become the third main event runner-up to win a gold bracelet this year. So far, Sammy Farha (2003) and David Williams (2004) have won events. Gardner finished second in 2002 to world champion Robert Varkonyi (earning $1.1 million). This time he could do no better than third place. On his final hand, Gardner had top pair but lost to Jeff Madsen’s spade flush. Gardner, one of England’s top poker players, received $172,427 in prize money.
When heads-up play began, Jeff Madsen enjoyed a slightly better than 2 to 1 chip lead versus Paul Sheng. It didn’t take long for the final hand of the tournament to come. Madsen had jack-seven versus Sheng’s ace-seven. Madsen’s hand was completely dominated, normally a bad situation. But all the chips went into the pot on the turn when the board showed 10-9-8-6. Both players had a seven, good for a straight. However, Madsen also had a jack, which meant a higher straight. It was a brutal way for Sheng to lose, but there was not much defense against a higher straight.
As the runner up, Paul Sheng received $330,485. The Taiwanese-born software executive, who now lives in San Francisco, had his best showing ever at the WSOP. This is Sheng’s third year to play on poker’s biggest stage and certainly won’t be his last.
Following his win, Jeff Madsen demonstrated why he has been so successful in poker at such a young age. Madsen displayed none of the bravado that one might expect from someone who had just won $660,948 at the World Series. Remarkably, this was Madsen’s second big cash at this year’s WSOP. He also finished third in the Omaha High-Low championship held two weeks ago – good for $97,552.
Madsen is currently a film student at UC-Santa Barbara. He says he hopes to eventually get into film and perhaps try his hand at directing. “I will definitely finish college,” Madsen said afterward. “College is very important, so it will be part of my life. But the reality is -- I’m still young, so I have some time to figure things out.”
Despite his youth, Madsen has played live casino poker for nearly three years. He played regularly at various California Indian casinos near his home, where the legal gambling age is 18. Due to Nevada state law, this is the first year he was eligible to play at the WSOP.
Madsen expects that his record might stand for quite some time. “It’s going to be tough (to break),” Madsen said. “I’m just lucky that my birthday was so close. It’s going to be hard, since I’m 21 and one month. It will sure be tough to break that record.”
by Nolan Dalla
WSOP Media Director
Overall Tournament Statistics (through end of Event #22):
Total Entries to Date: 21,148
Total Prize Money Distributed: $ 44,399,912
World Series of Poker Commissioner – Jeffrey Pollack
Director, Sponsorship and Licensing -- Ty Stewart
Director, Communications and Operations – Gary Thompson
Director, Broadcasting and New Media – Craig Abrahams
Vice President of Specialty Gaming -- Howard Greenbaum
WSOP Tournament Director – Robert Daily
WSOP Tournament Director / Director of Poker Operations for Harrah’s Entertainment – Jack Effel
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