Event #44: $2,500 Mixed Hold'em

Congratulations to Gavin Smith, Event #44 Champion ($268,238)

Gavin Smith - Event #44 Champion

A long-standing member of the "best-without-a-bracelet" club, Gavin Smith tonight leaves that club to join another one -- those who have crowned their poker careers with WSOP gold!

This tournament attracted an especially tough field of 507 entrants, and the final table proved tough as well, all of the way down to a lengthy heads-up match between Smith and Danny Hannawa. Despite ballooning limits, the pair battled for two hours through the alternating limit and no-limit rounds before Smith finally took the last of Hannawa's chips.

There's a celebratory mood here at the main feature stage, as Smith's many supporters -- among them Jeff Madsen, Jon Friedberg, Erick Lindgren, Chau Giang, Joe Sebok, Layne Flack, and Court Harrington -- have gathered to congratulate their friend and fellow competitor.

"It feels good," he said afterwards, employing an almost uncharacteristic seeming understatement. Smith has always maintained he didn't need the bracelet to validate his career, but he clearly recognizes this as a moment worth noting. When asked if he planned to party it up tonight, he said perhaps, but not too much -- there's another tournament to be played tomorrow!

Congratulations to Gavin Smith, Event #44 Champion! Thanks for following our coverage on PokerNews, and be sure to return in the coming days as we wind our way down to the Main Event.

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