It was a battle of poker heavyweights at the final table of the World Poker Tour (WPT) Championship this weekend at the Bellagio as the six remaining players fought for the $1,530,537 first prize. In the end, it was Bodog pro David Williams who emerged victorious, claiming his first significant title since winning a $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em event at the Bellagio Cup III in 2007.
Five of the six players at the final table should have been quite well known to the poker community. David Benyamine was the chip leader going in with 4,705,000 chips, though Williams was just 5,000 chips behind. Close on their heels was’s Eric “basebaldy” Baldwin, with 4,490,000. There was about a 2,000,000 chip gap between Baldwin and seven-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Billy Baxter, who himself was up by about half a million chips on Shawn Buchanan, who placed 4th in the $15,000 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event at the WPT 2009 Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic in December. The short stack, the only “non-name” at the table, was John O’Shea, with 1,200,000 chips.
As is often the case at final tables, the short stack was the first to go. He had to find something to push with and decided to try his luck with 6-3 offsuit. Baxter called with A-10 and neither hit anything, sending O’Shea home in 6th place.
Despite moving up to second in chips, Baxter was the next to go, largely because of losing a $4,400,000 chip pot to Williams. Williams was the one who ultimately did in Baxter, as well. Baxter moved all-in pre-flop with A-J, slightly ahead of Williams’ K-10, but the flop was a monster: A-Q-J, giving Williams broadway and Baxter two-pair. Baxter was unable to complete the full house and his exit meant that Williams now had half the chips at the table.
The next elimination once again happened after an pre-flop shove. This time, Buchanan’s A-5 bested Benyamine’s Q-J and Benyamine was gone in 4th place.
With that, Buchanan moved close to Williams in chips, but was unlucky a bit later when he and Williams were all-in pre-flop, a battle of the big stacks. Williams had just 9-9 against Buchanan’s Q-Q, but a 9 flopped, eliminating Buchanan. As a result, Williams had a sizeable 7-to-2 chip lead on Baldwin going into heads-up play.
On the 136th hand of the final table, Baldwin found a hand with which to go to battle and chose to move all-in pre-flop (what else is new?) with A-5 of hearts. Williams made the call after some serious thought with 2-2. He likely pondered whether or not he wanted to commit his hand with at best a 50/50 shot to win, but his chip lead and the possibility of making that $500,000 jump in money probably convinced him to do so. Baldwin took the lead on the flop when he paired his Ace, but the turn gave Williams a set of deuces, allowing no possibility for Baldwin to win on the river.
Williams victory meant that Faraz “The-Toilet” Jaka won the WPT Player of Year competition, as the only player who could catch him in the points standings was Buchanan, who needed to finish first in order to do so.
World Poker Tour Championship – Final Table Standings
1. David Williams – $1,530,537
2. Eric “basebaldy” Baldwin – $1,034,715
3. Shawn Buchanan – $587,906
4. David Benyamine – $329,228
5. Billy Baxter – $246,921
6. John O’Shea – $199,888

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