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Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Former pro Leo Wolpert wins Event 29

By Andrew Feldman
ESPN.com

Event 28 | Event 30

Scratching your head because of that headline? Well, it's the truth. The best part of the story is that the winner of Event 29, the $10,000 no-limit hold 'em heads-up tournament, is 26!

Leo Wolpert
Leo Wolpert, 26, won his first WSOP bracelet in the heads-up world championship.

Leo Wolpert, a former professional poker player, won $652,682 in the heads-up tournament by winning eight matches against some of the best in the world. This was his eighth WSOP cash and second final table with a third-place finish in a shootout event in 2008. Third place wouldn't be good enough this year, and Wolpert defeated the co-founder of the European Poker Tour, John Duthie, in the finals to win his first bracelet.

"I can't really even describe it," Wolpert said. "I actually didn't really expect to win. I mean, I always enter a tournament hoping to win. But with a tough field like this I wasn't even really thinking about it until today. The goal was to just play against whoever I was going to play and run good against them, see if they had some leaks, and try to exploit those -- and I happened to run really, really good during the entire tournament. Now here I am."

Wolpert lost the first match in the best-of-three finals but was able to come back and win the next two.

"I was steaming a little bit," he said after the loss in the first match. "I'm not going to lie. I just decided, 'I have to grind back and get the best two out of three.' So I stayed calm and remembered there was another match coming up. And hopefully I could run a little better the next time. I would not say it strengthened my resolve. I would say I was already pretty resolute [to win]."

The former professional poker player is now in law school at the University of Virginia. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he spent two years playing professionally online and used his winnings to pay for law school.

"The University of Virginia is a top-ten school," Wolpert said. "I had a big score last year, so that has been helping to finance my education."

While many of the world's best players entered the event, the biggest name was eliminated in the Elite 8. During the event's broadcast on ESPN360.com, Johnny Chan was eliminated by Jamin Stokes after a long battle. Stokes has a WSOP Circuit event title on his résumé, and now he can add that he beat one of the best heads-up.

Other notable finishers include Alec Torelli (12th), Justin Smith (13th) and Yevgeniy Timoshenko (14th).

Below are the complete results of Event 29:

Event 29: Heads-Up World Championship
Buy-in: $10,000
Entries: 256
Prize pool: $2,406,400
Players in the money: 32

1. Leo Wolpert ($625,682)
2. John Duthie ($386,636)
3. Jamin Stokes ($214,289)
4. Nathan Doudney ($214,289)
5. Johnny Chan ($92,580)
6. Dustin Woolf ($92,580)
7. Stephen O'Dwyer ($92,580)
8. Bryan Pellegrino ($92,580)
9. Roberto Romanello ($38,424)
10. Clavet Mathieu ($38,424)
11. Ben Sprengers ($38,424)
12. Alec Torelli ($38,424)
13. Justin Smith ($38,424)
14. Yevgeniy Timoshenko ($38,424)
15. Mike Caro ($38,424)
16. Jason Mercier ($38,424)
17. Andrew Lichtenberger ($17,987)
18. Ben Lamb ($17,987)
19. Matt Woodward ($17,987)
20. Dmitry Lesnoy ($17,987)
21. Jason Senti ($17,987)
22. Benjamin Tollerene ($17,987)
23. Brian Lemke ($17,987)
24. Albert Iversen ($17,987)
25. Benjamin Spindler ($17,987)
26. Steve Zolotow ($17,987)
27. Jonathan Jaffe ($17,987)
28. John Brock Parker ($17,987)
29. Evan Roberts ($17,987)
30. James Dambrosio ($17,987)
31. Nathanael Poysti ($17,987)
32. Dragan Galic ($17,987)