John Kabbaj's win in Event #45 – the $10 000 buy-in World Championship Pot-Limit Hold'em competition at the World Series of Poker this week was a case of third time lucky – it was the third time the UK professional player had made it through to a WSOP final table. The difference was that this time he took home the bracelet (his first) and the main prize of $633 335.
The event started with an entry field of 275 hopefuls generating a prize pool of $2 585 000, and ended in an endurance test of a final table and a heads up between Kabbaj and runner-up Kirill Gerasimov, who took home $391 369 for his second place efforts.
By Day 3 the field was down to 14 players, but these were finally diluted down to a stellar final table of Internet and land pros that comprised 37-year-old Kabbaj holding the chip lead on 1 867 000, followed by Davidi Kitai (1 737 000), Isaac Haxton (1 139 000), Eric Baldwin (1 115 000), J.C. Alvarado (810 000), Kirill Gerasimov (621 000), Jason Lester (386 000), Eugene Todd (341 000) and Darryll Fish (241 000).
Kabbaj did not have it all his own way despite holding the chip lead going into the final table, and at one stage he had to fight back from a badly eroded chip stack to regain dominance and the eventual win.
Eric Baldwin's trip to the rail in third place for $259 534 cleared the decks for the Gerasimov vs. Kabbaj heads up, with the Russian holding the advantage. Kabbaj turned that around when he doubled up on a big showdown around hand 10 to even things up and then started to pull away from his opponent. This was the tipping point in the game, Kabbaj said afterwards; going forward from there he was confident and started playing more aggressively to finally prevail.
20 hands further on, the final hand was reached, with Kabbaj's pocket aces holding up against Gerasimov's kings, giving the Londoner the win and his first World Series of Poker bracelet.
Kabbaj is a Pot Limit specialist from London in the UK who has enjoyed 7 first placings in major tournaments and 57 cashes in a career that has brought him total winnings of almost $2 million. He also enjoys betting on sports, and is a passionate and knowledgable supporter of English football. He started playing poker as a teenager.