The World Poker Tour’s World Championship is one of the biggest poker events in the professional poker world, and the 2006 tournament lived up to that hype – it will go down has one of the more exciting tournaments in WPT history. When all the chips were passed and the cards were laid it was Joe Bartholdi, of Las Vegas receiving the grand prize of $3.76 million.
An equally compelling story was that of Davidson Matthew, who placed second in the in the tournament and took home the $1.9 million prize to match. The interesting thing about the Davidson Matthew’s tale is the fact he made his way into the tournament with a $25 online buy-in at an online poker tournament. If the WPT Championship is any indication towards how well Davidson Matthews can play Hold’em, poker fans have a lot of expectations on this up-and-coming player. Matthew earned over $76,000 for every one dollar of the $25 he originally spent making his way into the online tournament.
“This tournament has turned me from an amateur to a professional. It's set me up to play poker,” said Davidson Matthew. “Now if I lose, financially, it just doesn't matter."
This year’s tournament featured the most players in the event’s history with 605 people from nearly 40 countries from around the world; the high amount of people also allowed the WPT to offer their highest prize pool ever for the tournament – over $15 million. This is the first time in the tournament’s history that a player won more than a million dollars with an initial investment of $25, like Davidson Matthew did.
The $25,500 tournament buy-in did not stop some of poker’s elite from making their way to the Bellagio to try their skill at the table. Poker greats like defending champion Tuan Le, Alan Goehring, T.J. Cloutier, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, Doyle Brunson, Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari, Jennifer Harman, Daniel Negreanu and Scotty Nguyen made their way to the tournament. Let’s not forget that Hollywood Poker’s own celebrity poker player James Woods played poker with the world’s best.
"This tournament captures the dream and the reason we created the World Poker Tour," explained Steve Lipscomb, Founder and CEO of WPT Enterprises, Inc. "The Championship is an open event where anyone with the drive and courage to enter can test his or her skills against the best players in the world. This Final Table match-up will absolutely fuel the poker fantasies of millions of players. We congratulate Joe and welcome him to our family of WPT Champions."
Joe Bartholdi felt like Babe Ruth in Yankee Stadium, when the hometown crowd rooted him on in true Las Vegas style and it appeared to have worked. Over the next couple of months Joe Bartholdi plans to relax and let his victory set in. There are also some plans for a new car, a new house and a possible vacation Caribbean with his friends.