Large entry fields, plenty of professionals and big money continued to feature in events 36 and 37 at the 2008 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas over the weekend.
In Event 36, the $1 500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em, a starting field of almost 2 500 players generated some big six-figure prizes and deep cashes for the survivors. Having bested them all, it was Jesper Hougaard who started the 155 hand final table of nine players as the chip leader, and despite a spirited late challenge from his final heads up opponent Cody Slaubaugh, he controlled the game.
The 31 hand heads up ended with Hougaard, who hails from Denmark, taking his first WSOP bracelet and a first place prize purse of $610 276, leaving Slowbaugh with a still impressive second prize of $389 128. The third place went to Aaron Kanter, who earned respect by fighting back from the short stack to become a serious threat throughout. His take home was $258 862.
One of poker's most recognisable names, David Benyamine won his first WSOP bracelet in Event 37, the $10 000 buy-in Omaha Hi-Low World Championship, playing against a field that included opponents of the calibre of Doyle Brunson, John Juanda, Howard Lederer, Tony G, Phil Hellmuth, Johnny Chan, Alexander Kostritsyn, Jeffrey Lisandro, Greg Raymer, Barry Greenstein, Michael Mizrachi, Thor Hansen, Jeff Madsen, Daniel Negreanu, Jimmy Fricke, Mike Matusow, Tony Ma, Men "The Master" Nguyen, Carlos Mortensen, Richard Ashby, Max Pescatori and Gary Benson.David Chiu, Toto Leonidas and Ram Vaswami.
By the end of Day 1 the 235-strong entry field was down to 123, and by the end of Day 2 only 18 players were still in contention, with Ras Vaswami holding the chip lead.
The composition of the final table was decided when Benyamine eliminated 1986 WSOP Champion Berry Johnston in tenth place, setting up an international final match with Benyamine holding a significant chip lead over David Chiu, Toto Leonidas, Jason Gray from Australia, Greg Jamison, Hieu ‘Tony' Ma, Eugene Katchalov, Mike Matusow and Ram Vaswami from the UK.
The heads up contestants were decided when Benyamine eliminated Jason Gray in third spot, to face his sole remaining rival, fellow American player Greg Jamieson from Iowa.
With a three-to-one advantage in chips, Benyamine quickly decided the match with efficiency and courtesy to take home the major $535 678 main prize and his first bracelet. Jamison collected a $331 350 second placing check on his way out. The contest was Jamison's second final table this year, and his third career WSOP cash.