It was a spectacular finish to the opening tournament of the World Poker TourÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 7th season as 6 highly skilled poker players converged on the final table, only to be out-maneuvered by the extraordinary aptitude of professional poker player Michael Ã¢â‚¬Å“SirWattsÃ¢â‚¬Â Watson. The victory earned Watson the WPT title and not quite $1.7 million, followed by $840,295 to the runner up, David Benyamine.
As the tournament was moving along smoothly, working its way towards the final table, the biggest fear for WPT VII executives was its lack of a television coverage deal. As it turned out, mere hours before the final table was set, it was finally decided that Fox Sports Net would be this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s home of WPT VII. Though no host had yet been decided upon, long-time poker reporter Amanda Leatherman stepped in to handle exit interviews for the impending broadcast.
Now that we can all rest easy, knowing that the WPT Season VII and Fox Sports Net are all snuggly happy Ã¢â‚¬â€œ letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s get on with the real news!
As the WPT Bellagio Cup Final Table came together, the following players and their respective chip stacks took to the felt:
1st Seat – Ralph Perry – 1,635,000
2nd Seat – Luke Staudenmaier – 3,495,000
3rd Seat – John Phan – 3,495,000
4th Seat – David Benyamine – 4,860,000
5th Seat – Gabriel Thaler – 1,550,000
6th Seat – Mike Watson – 5,060,000
The assault began immediately with the first hand as David Benyamine gave up 1.3 million to Luke Staudenmaier, followed by ThalerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all-in run that continued until Mike Watson Flushed him out. On that note, Gabriel Thaler was the first man ousted from the final table, collecting his 6th place winnings of $129,275.
The next target was John Phan, who took a few brutal hits, first from Staudenmaier, then again from Ralph Perry. Left short stacked, Phan moved all-in with his remaining 760,000. Benyamine called from the Big Blind with As-6s against PhanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ah-9d. The Flop came down Kd-Jd-7s, keeping PhanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hopes alive. The Turn Qs left Phan limping with the lead, but gave Benyamine a multitude of outs, including the Flush Draw. Finally came the River Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 3s. BenyamineÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Flush sent Phan to the rails in 5th place for $193,915.
Ralph Perry, who had recently upped his stack over 2 million by doubling off of Phan, ran into the brick wall of Michael Watson. With As-Qs, Watson Raised 360,000 from the Big Blind. Perry pushed 2.2 million all-in with Ks-Jd, called by WatsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stronger hand. The Flop/Turn/River were no help to Perry, offering only another Ace for Watson, and thus RalphÃ¢â‚¬Ëœs run came to an end in 4th position with $290,900.
Luke Staudenmaier, who had been relatively quit for awhile, suddenly found himself losing two massive pots; the first an all-in against Watson, both holding similar stacks, that left Staudenmaier with just enough chips to afford 6 Big Blinds; and the second and all-in last-ditch effort that was called by both Benyamine and Watson. Benyamine folded out after Watson raised 500,000 on the Flop, and Watson finished him off with a pair of Queens against King High. Luke Staudenmaier was eliminated in 3rd for a respectable $452,465.
Heads-up play finally began between Michael Watson with 8,410,000, and David Benyamine leading with 11,695,000. It came down to two decisive hands that determined the outcome. First was an all-in from Watson for 8.6 million, called by Benyamine pre-Flop. Both players had enormously strong hands:
Then came the board: 10d-9s-2h-5d-Ad
Benyamine had to be heart-broken as the Ace finally fell on the River, but Watson doubled up, leaving Benyamine in dire straits with only 2,665,000.
Then came the final hand as from the button, Watson pushed all-in. Benyamine called with Kh-9h to battle WatsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Qh-9s. The Flop gave Watson the lead Ad-Qc-6c, and the 9c River was no help for Benyamine. In desperate need of a King, the River came down 7d, and that was all for David Benyamine, earning $840,295 for the 2nd place finish.
Michael Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sir WattsÃ¢â‚¬Â Watson, after an intimidating run for the title, came away with $1,673,770 for his impressive victory at the WPT Season VII opener Bellagio Cup.
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