Georgia poker pro wins $1.28M title in Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A 37-year-old former pro bowler from Georgia outlasted a 44-year-old New Yorker in a marathon poker session Wednesday to win $1.28 million and the mixed-game H.O.R.S.E. title at the World Series of Poker.

David Bach of Athens, Ga., took the last of John Hanson's chips with a nine-high in Razz on Wednesday morning, about 20 hours after the final table began Tuesday afternoon.

Heads-up play lasted about seven hours including breaks, as the players' chips slowly swung back and forth across the felt at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

"I'm just going to go to bed," said Bach, who said he was no stranger to long poker stretches — but it had been a few years.

"I'll celebrate at some point," he said.

Bach, a pro poker player nicknamed "Gunslinger" after Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" novel series, took a 2-1 chip lead on Hanson four times during heads up play before finally ending the match. He had Hanson on the ropes for all his chips about four hours into heads-up play, but Hanson won the seven-card stud hand and regained the lead a few hands later.

"He wanted to play big pots with a big hand," Bach said. "I just said to myself 'Be a professional.' "

Bach picked up roughly 5 million chips in a crucial limit Texas Hold 'em pot when he made a pair of eights and called Hanson after the opponents built a large pot.

"No pair," Hanson said after the betting in the hand was finished.

Chips have no monetary value; Bach needed to win all the chips in play to win the tournament.

Hanson won $789,199 for second place. He took third at the same tournament in 2007 for $852,000. He left the tournament room without speaking to reporters.

The final table officially lasted 18 hours and 44 minutes, the second longest in World Series of Poker history behind last year's World Series of Poker Europe main event in London.

The $50,000 buy-in tournament rotates five games and tests the all-around player more than no-limit Hold 'em. Instead of the drama of all-in bets that allow players to risk their tournament at anytime, H.O.R.S.E. is said to truly reward the more skilled players over time.

The mixed game tournament is largely considered the series' most prestigious event behind its main event, the $10,000 buy-in no Limit Texas Hold 'em tournament that offers poker's richest prize.

The final table on Tuesday boasted five previous gold bracelet winners among eight players, including eight-time bracelet winner Erik Seidel and Huck Seed, who won the series' no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event in 1996. Seidel busted out eighth to win $162,382 while Seed finished fifth, winning $276,610.

Bach said he felt he had a good read on Hanson and two other opponents at the final table because they started the tournament Friday at the same table.

Bach said he knew that Hanson had some side bets on his finish in the tournament, which Bach believes helped him understand Hanson's play.

"A lot of poker is if you can figure out someone's motivation, you're halfway to figuring out their hand," Bach said.