Robert Varkonyi wins 1st Prize - 2002 World Series of Poker Main Event
by Greg Cavouras  

With another record-setting field, and the biggest pot in Poker History- a massive $2 Million- on the table for the taking, the 2002 World Series of Poker won’t be soon forgotten. Seated at a table with relative unknowns, Robert Varkonyi played his hands and got his draws to become the 2002 World Champion.

Amazingly, not one of the player’s at the final table has ever won a WSOP bracelet. Not one! As a matter of fact, 13 former champions entered this event, and not one of them even made it into paying 45th position! Despite this, the table featured some great Poker. While Varkonyi would eventually take all the chips, his title effort started off with a fizzle, as he almost immediately doubled up Julian Gardner, depleting his chip stack by almost $400,000- he was now down to a meager $250,000. At this point one of the more interesting subplots of the day developed; Phil Hellmuth, in a rare candid moment, blurted out the fateful words “If Robert Varkonyi wins the World Series of Poker, I’ll shave my head!” Hellmuth would live to regret this, however it seemed a safe bet at the time, as Robert had not played particularly well to this point. Inevitably, the production crew smelled a story, and barber’s equipment was procured in short order.
At any rate the action unfolded slowly at first, as the table felt itself out.

Ultimately the hand that would secure Varkonyi’s victory would be the all-conquering Q-10. Q-10? Yes, that modest hand would be the undoing of Varkonyi’s opponents. Indeed, Phil Hellmuth will have nightmares about it, as not only was it the hand that eliminated the legendary Hellmuth, but it would also by the hand that secured Varkonyi’s victory, resulting in a new hairstyle for Phil. It also took out Chris Ferguson earlier in the tournament, and with 4 players left, Varkonyi unleashed his secret weapon on Scott Gray, sending him home early. After eliminating Ralph Perry with pocket rockets, it was down to Julian Gardner and the ever lucky Varkonyi. In the final dramatic hand, Gardner thought he had Varkonyi on the spot with a club flush, but miraculously, that made Gardner’s flush was the wrong one- it was a 10. Inevitably, this made a flush of 10’s full of Queens out of Varkonyi’s Q-10, and that final card delivered victory to Robert.

With another successful tournament in the books, the only thing left was to settle the bets; Robert Varkonyi collected his $2 million, and a man of his word, Phil Hellmuth paid up on his verbal bet. Varkonyi left Binion’s with a lot more money, and Hellmuth left with a lot less hair.

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