. A first-time World Series participant, Van Hees has previously cashed in three Diamond Jim Brady events and has won numerous smaller poker competitions. He was introduced to poker in childhood, became a full-time professional player after being discharged from the Navy in 1986, and polished his skills at the Hideaway Cardroom in North Seattle.
. "Winning a World Series title is the one thing I've always wanted to do," Van Hees said. "It's great. I feel like I've really accomplished something."
. Van Hees came to the final table with a substantial chip lead and never relinquished his position. By the time play was three-handed, he had acquired a 6-to-1 advantage over both Eli Balas and Woody Moore, who were almost even in chips. First to be dispatched was Moore. In the big blind with 10-9, he called a raise before the flop against Van Hees, who held K-Q. The flop came Q-10-8, and when a king fell on the turn, Moore called all in. But the river failed to help him, and Van Hees took down the money with two pair.
. Two hands later, it was all over when Eli Balas was forced all in for the big blind with 7-4 offsuit. Van Hees held 6-2, and when the final board showed 10-9-6-Q-J, he secured the pot and his first World Series title with bottom pair.
. Balas, a 38-year-old competitor from Las Vegas, received $159,600 for his second-place finish. He holds a World Series pot-limit Omaha title, as well as several titles from other major poker competitions.
. For placing third in the limit Hold'em event, Woody Moore of Dallas, Texas, took home $79,800. A 46-year-old recreational poker player, Moore is a former professional polo player and is retired from the oil and gas business. This is the first time he has cashed in a major poker competition.
. As a special note of interest, Annie Duke of Las Vegas finished 18th in this event, bringing her total WSP earnings to $57,250. She currently ranks sixth on the women's roster of all-time World Series money winners.