In the year 2001 a lot of things happened in the poker world – the PokerStars online poker site was launched as well as one of the three major poker tournaments – the World Poker Tour (WPT). Ten years later PokerStars is celebrating their 10 Year Anniversary with loads of promotions and millions in cash prizes, while the WPT has just finished its 10 year celebration with the Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic final table at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
The six-handed final table featured last year's winner Antonio Esfandiari who had the chance to become the first player to score back-to-back Five Diamond World Poker Classic honors and join Gus Hansen and Carlos Mortensen both of whom hold the title of the most WPT wins in history – three. However, Esfandiari was not the only big shot at the final table. He was joined by the 2010 November Niner Soi Nguyen, and a back-to-back NAPT Mohegan Sun winner – Vanessa Selbst, and Andrew Lichtenberger, the young gun who won the WSOP-C Caesars Palace Main Event last year and finished eighth in the previous Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event.
These were the chip stacks before the final table:
The final table began with Esfandiari's dreams of scoring his second Five Diamond Poker Classic title shattering on the 10th hand. Esfandiari got into an battle against Dempsey's . Despite last year's champion having better odds, Dempsey caught a 4 on the board and Esfandiari was the first player to leave the final table.
Just two hands later it was the short stack Vitor Coelho who hit the rail as well. He shoved all-in holding a pair of eights against Nguyen and Selbst, but the eights were not enough and Coelho left the game in 5th place with a cash prize of over $150,000. The final table play continued in high speed and soon another contender was out. Andrew Lichtenberger went home after his pair of eights couldn't stand against Nguyen's pair of nines. Lichtenberger finished in 4th place for almost $220,000.
Three-handed play lasted just six hands after which Selbst was the one to leave the game. She went all-in with and was called by Dempsey holding . The board brought another ace for Dempsey and Selbst was out in third place. With players falling out really fast, heads-up play was not expected to last very long as well, however it did.
With the first four players on the rail after just 41 hands, the one-on-one action took a surprising number of hands to determine the winner – 85. The final hand of the tournament was decided by the lucky river and it was Dempsey who was thankful for it. Nguyen went all-in preflop with and was called by Dempsey holding . The brought a pair for Nguyen, but also a straight draw for his opponent. The on the turn didn't change anything, but the on the river did. James Dempsey won the tournament and received a cash prize of over $820,000, a $25,500 WPT World Championship seat and the WPT Five Diamond Poker Classic title.
These are the final standings of the tournament:
*photo courtesy of the WPT.com