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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2008 | The Works

2008 WSOP Event #37 Recap

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The $10,000 buy-in Omaha High-Low Split World Championship, Event #37, was the largest Omaha High-Low Split prize pool in poker history. Only one previous event had ever jumped the million dollar mark; – the $5,000 buy-in championship held at the 2006 WSOP. Event #37 ranks as the only Omaha High-Low Split tournament to ever have a $2 million-plus prize pool. Battling for their share of the $2,209,000 were 235 entrants, with the only the top 27 cashing in.

It was 18 years ago, in 1990 that Omaha High-Low Split was first introduced at the WSOP. Omaha High made its debut seven years earlier, and during the 1980s, the WSOP schedule included both Omaha-High and Pot-Limit Omaha events. In a down-turn of popularity, Omaha-High gradually faded and was removed from the WSOP schedule after 2003. Omaha High-Low Split however, continues to generate a steady following, proven by the three events on this year’s WSOP schedule. Scotty Nguyen and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson are the only two players in WSOP history to have won two gold bracelets in Omaha High-Low Split.

While all 55 tournaments on the 2008 WSOP schedule are categorized as “gold bracelet” events, not all of them are known as “world championship” events. For 2008, all $10,000+ buy-in tournaments are designated as official world championships; therefore ten WSOP tournaments qualify under these guidelines. The schedule included eight gold bracelet tournaments with $10,000 buy-ins, the $50,000 buy-in HORSE event, and the Main Event.

The Omaha High-Low Split World Championship tournament was played over three consecutive days. The final table was played on the secondary ESPN stage due to the main stage being reserved for the conclusion of Event #36, the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament.

Proving again that the “non-cashes for defending champions in their respective events” curse continues, last year’s winner, Frankie O’Dell entered, but failed to cash. This brings the current non-cash streak to 37 straight.

David Benyamine
emerged as the 2008 Omaha High-Low Split World Champion, winning his first gold bracelet and $535,678 for first place. Benyamine is a 35-year-old professional poker player who calls both Paris, France and Las Vegas, NV his home. He is also a familiar face in some of the highest-stakes cash games in the world, being on the unofficial short list as one of the best players in the game. Born in Paris, France, Benyamine set his sights on being a professional tennis player. Although he possessed the talent to become a world class tennis player, a painful back injury forced him to change course. He then focused on shooting pool and eventually became one of France’s best pocket billiards players.

If not for poker, Benyamine says he would have loved to have been an archeologist, because he says he enjoys discovering new things. Regarding his poker career, Benyamine stated matter-of-factly, “I also think I would have found poker one way or another. I have too much gamble in me.”

When asked how important winning a WSOP gold bracelet was to him, Benyamine was overjoyed, “Winning is always important to me. But I never thought I had anything to prove.” Dispelling the notion that he prefers playing Pot-Limit Omaha to other forms of poker, he said, “I like all games, I do not have a favorite game.”

Proving he likes all games is the fact that he has had four cashes this year, in four different games. When asked who his toughest opponent at the final table was, Benyamine answered with a laugh, “Myself, and the deck.”

Las Vegas resident Greg Jamison finished the tournament in second place. Although Jamison failed to win the gold, popular opinion is that if there was an award for “Player of the Year” in Omaha High-Low Split, it would likely go to Jamison. This belief comes from his Omaha High-Low Split final table showings including; his 6th place finish in the $1,500 buy- event this year, and his 5th place finish in last year’s world championship event. Racking up three final tables in the last four WSOP Omaha tournaments, plus his win at the Omaha High-Low Split championship at the Tunica Grand series two years ago, proves Greg Jamison knows how to play the game.

The final table lasted ten hours, while the finale heads-up match only went for about 75 minutes. Out of the final 10 players, six of them were former WSOP gold bracelet winners, but the top three spots all were notched by players who had never won a bracelet.

The final table included former WSOP gold bracelet winner Toto Leonidas who finished in fourth place; fifth place finisher and three time WSOP gold bracelet winner Mike Matusow, who made his second final table appearance at this year’s World Series; Ram Vaswani who finished in seventh place and is a member of the popular poker team called “The Hendon Mob,” from London; four-time WSOP gold bracelet winner David Chiu finished in eighth place. This win marked Chiu’s 39th career WSOP cash, which now ranks in a tie for 17th place on the all-time in-the-money list.

The last two final table finishers were former WSOP gold bracelet winner Tony Ma who finished ninth and 1986 world champion and Poker Hall of Fame member Berry Johnston, who finished in 10th place. This marked Johnston’s 54th career WSOP cash, ranking him fifth on the all-time cashes list.

Not quite making the final table was three-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Chau Giang who finished in 13th place. This marked Giang’s 43rd career WSOP cash, which ranks him 11th on the all-time list. Busting out in 15th place was two-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Brent Carter. This marked Carter’s 44th career WSOP cash and puts him tied for ninth on the all-time cashes list.

The Grand Old Man of poker, legendary Doyle Brunson barely missed the money when he busted out late on Day Two, when play was down to only four tables.

Through Event #37, only two players have made three final table appearances; Jacobo Fernandez and David Benyamine. Sixteen players have made two WSOP final table appearances including; Chris Bjorin, Andy Bloch, Alex Bolotin, Scott Clements, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Barry Greenstein, Fu Wong, Greg Jamison, Mike Matusow, Erick Lindgren, Minh Ly, Daniel Negreanu, David Singer, J.C. Tran, Theo Tran, and Tim West.

At the end of Event #37, Nikolay Evdakov, from Moscow, Russia is still the only player at this year’s WSOP who has cashed seven times, just one short of the all time record. Evdakov is well positioned to break the record set for “Most WSOP Cashes in a Single Year,” shared by five players; Michael Binger (2007), Chad Brown (2007), Phil Hellmuth (2006), Richard Tatalovich (2006), and Humberto Brenes (2006), with eight. The player with the most cashes, but no wins in WSOP history is Tony Cousineau. Cousineau has 35 in-the-money finishes in his WSOP career, which began in 1999, but he has yet to win a gold bracelet. His highest finish was seven years ago, in 2001 when he finished in 4th place.

At the conclusion of Event #37 at this year’s World Series of Poker, the gold bracelet count by nations and states reads as follows:

10 – Nevada
6 – California
4 – New York
2 – Canada
2 – Germany
2 – Italy
2 – Missouri
1 – Denmark
1 – France
1 – Holland
1 – Maryland
1 – Michigan
1 – Pennsylvania
1 – Russia
1 – South Carolina
1 – Wisconsin

France becomes the eighth nation to produce a gold bracelet winner at this year’s WSOP. This list now includes Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Russia, and the United States.

The “Pro-Am” gold bracelet scoreboard reads:

Professionals – 30 wins
Amateurs -- 5 wins
Semi-Pros --2 wins

The Milwaukee’s Best Light “Player of the Year” standings as of event #37:

1. Jacobo Fernandez – 222 points
2. David Benyamine – 220 points
3. Barry Greenstein – 185 points (tied)
3. Erick Lindgren – 185 points (tied)
4. Daniel Negreanu – 170 points
Event #37 Final Results:

1 David Benyamine $535,687 Las Vegas Nevada
2 Greg Jamison $331,350 Las Vegas Nevada
3 Jason Gray $209,855 London England
4 Toto Leonidas $171,197 Los Angeles California
5 Mike Matusow $138,062 Henderson Nevada
6 Eugene Katchalov $110,450 New York New York
7 Ram Vaswani $88,360 London England
8 David Chiu $71,792 Rowland Heights California
9 Hieu "Tony" Ma $55,225 S. El Monte California
10 Berry Johnston $38,657 Bethany Oklahoma
11 Shun Uchida $38,657 Las Vegas Nevada
12 Chau Giang $38,657 Las Vegas Nevada
13 Danny Dang $33,135 Whittier California
14 Pat Pezzin $33,135 Toronto Ontario, Canada
15 Stuart Paterson $33,135 Boca Raton Florida
16 Brent Carter $27,612 Oak Park Illinois
17 William McMahan $27,612 Newport Tennessee
18 Ray Dehkharghani $27,612 Huntington Beach California
19 Rao Pasqual $22,090 Huntington Beach California
20 James Groves $22,090 Las Vegas Nevada
21 James Van Alstyne $22,090 Las Vegas Nevada
22 Daniel Smith $22,090 Folsom California
23 Bradley Booth $22,090 Richmond British Columbia, Canada
24 Bruno Fitoussi $22,090 Paris France
25 Dustin Sitar $22,090 Las Vegas Nevada
26 Yueqi Zhu $22,090 Rowland Heights California
27 Alexander Kostritsyn $22,090 Moscow Russia

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