You don’t have to have the biggest field to have a prestigious event, and the $5k Seven Card Stud event has some illustrious past champions: Men “The Master” Nguyen, Joe Awada, Allen Cunningham, David Chiu, Mel Judah, Henry Orenstein, Ted Forrest, Paul “Eskimo” Clark, Bobby Baldwin, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Moss, Chip Reese, and Stu Ungar. For throngs filling the Rio as well as many of the new players, watching only 186 players sit down at an event is a letdown. For many in poker, this is the most coveted bracelet of all.
Paul “Eskimo Clark knocked out Joe Awada like two gladiators, one former champion of this event sending another out with honor. Clark had an early chip lead as the dinner break approached. Doyle Brunson and Chip Reese followed Awada out after coming back from dinner. Benjamin Lin was all-in after midnight, but his two pair held up and he played on. Play ended around 3:00AM with Lonnie Heimowitz the first to cash (16th, $12,831. Cyndy Violette sat at $157k and the chip lead, and she had her sights on a 2nd WSOP bracelet.
There were great veteran players like Mike Caro, David Grey, and Miami John Cernuto at the final two tables, as well as new hot players like Sean “Sheiky” Sheikhan
and Allen Kessler. Violette had been here before, having made it to the final table of this specific event 10 years ago. She finished 3rd that year behind runner-up Humberto Brenes and Harry Orenstein , inventor of Transformers, the poker hole camera, and producer of High Stakes Poker for GSN.
and David Singer left early (14th & 13th, $12,831). Benjamin Lin took over then, grabbing a huge pot from Sheikhan then running rampant through the table. By the time it was down to nine players, he’d built his stack to $235k, a $90k chip lead over 2nd place Violette. Russ Salzer was out in 9th ($12,831), and Violette had slipped to 3rd behind Lupe Munquia. Allen Kessler broke Mike Caro with quad 8’s, and Benjamin Lin finished off the Mad Professor (8th, $21,385). Patrick Bueno staved off elimination by catching a full house to triple up. Allen Kessler had gotten down to $85k only to take three hands in a row to pierce the chip lead. He eliminated Lupe Munquia (7th, $29,939) to increase his lead.
After a break, Lin sent Patrick Bueno (6th, $38,493) and Cernuto (5th, $55,601), and with this came a $330k chip stack. He built it to 410k, Sheikhan with 210k, Kessler at 175k and Violette down to 170k. She built her stack at the expense of Kessler, knocking him out in 4th ($76,986). She closed the gap to $300k to Lin’s $330k, after she took a pot with trip 7’s. She now sat ready to build on her finish 10 years ago, and how fitting it would be in what has been called the Seven Card Stud World Championship. Lin took dead aim, however, and it was Violette in his sights. He won pot after pot from her, she mucked after his river bet, and he showed the ace-high flush to confirm her read. A measly pair of 6’s showing finisher her night (3rd, $102,648). She wanted to be part of history, and she is.
It is Benjamin Lin’s history. Lin had amassed what proved to be an insurmountable number of chips in this limit event. Sheikhan made one step forward with his down cards paired for two pair, but then Lin did the same on the next hand. The wheel (A-2-3-4-5vstraight) further set Sheikhan back, and Lin ended the evening with a flourish. Sheikhan’s ()--() gave him a pair of kings on fifth street to Lin’s ()-. Lin hit the () on the river giving Lin a straight and with it the championship (1st, $256,620) and bracelet. Sean Sheikhan ($171,080) had his second World Series runner-up and his best cash next to last year’s 11th place in the Main Event, but this day belonged to Lin.