David Williams Finds a Way to Win at the WPT Championship
Level 31: 120,000-240,000, 20,000 ante
David Williams has a history of close calls. Over the course of his history with the WPT, he’s had a trio of final table appearances, including a runner-up appearance at the Borgata Poker Open in Season III and 4th place finishes at Bay 101 in Season IV and the Mirage Poker Showdown in Season V. There’s also the matter of his runner-up finish to Greg Raymer at the WSOP Main Event in 2004.
In other words, Williams had developed a reputation in the poker world for being incredibly good at making the final table, but not so stellar at closing tournaments out. After last night, that is no longer the case.
Williams came into the final table of the Season VIII WPT Championship effectively tied for the chip lead with David Benyamine. He took the chip lead on the 28th hand of play and did not relinquish it until Hand #106. For the remaining 30 hands of the tournament, Williams was almost always the man in control and his efforts resulted in his first WPT title and the honor of being the WPT World Champion.
It was not long after the Championship final table began before the first player hit the rail. Short stack John O’Shea was keen on doubling up or catching a flight back home to Dublin. O’Shea moved in from the small blind with 36, but Billy Baxter woke up with AT in the big blind and eliminated O’Shea in 6th place.
That would be the peak of Baxter’s good fortune at the final table though. He dropped a 4 million chip pot to Willliams to help cement his chip lead and found himself out in 5th a short while later when Williams’ K10 was able to get the best of Baxter’s AJ.
After that hand, Williams controlled over half the chips in play and the other three players in the field were simply trying to stay alive. Handcuffed by short stack, they could do little to defend themselves as Williams picked up pots and chipped away at his opponents. A rash of double ups shifted the chip dynamics at the table though. David Benyamine’s exit in 4th place at the hands of Shawn Buchanan put Buchanan neck and neck with Williams for the chip lead.
All eyes were on a short-stacked Eric Baldwin to be the next player to hit the rail, but a massive pot between the two chip leaders in which Buchanan moved all-in with pocket queens and Williams called with pocket nines would trim the field to two. Buchanan had the best of it preflop, but a nine on the flop would give the hand to Williams and set him up with a nearly 4-1 chip lead going into heads-up play. Buchanan’s elimination in 3rd place also meant that Faraz Jaka earned the honor of WPT Player of the Year.
Baldwin had a major chip deficit to overcome during heads-up play and, while he was making progress chipping up, the one-on-one battle would be a short-lived affair, lasting just 22 hands. On the final hand of play, Baldwin pushed all-in over the top of a raise from Williams with A5 and Williams called with pocket deuces. An ace on the flop gave the advantage to Baldwin, but a deuce on the turn sealed up the victory for Williams, who was overcome with emotion as his mom Shirley rushed the stage to give him a congratulatory hug.
For Williams, it is a landmark win and, of course, a nice prize of more than $1.5 million. It is more than just money and a win though. It is affirmation that the longtime poker pro can find a way to win, even if it is at one of the more stacked final tables the WPT has seen over the course of Season VIII.
The crowd is pretty evenly divided between Baldwin and Williams fans and both groups are riled up and ready to go. The whole crowd is eagerly applauding and cheering their respective players on and the Baldwin crew even got a group to chant "Let's go Baldy" for a couple of minutes before heads-up play commences.
Hand #114: Shawn Buchanan Eliminated in 3rd Place ($587,906)
Level 30: 100,000-200,000, 20,000 ante
David Williams raises from the button to 500,000, Shawn Buchanan raises from the small blind to 2,200,000, and Williams thinks for about 20 seconds before he moves all in. Buchanan calls with QQ, and Williams turns over 99. Buchanan needs his hand to hold to stay alive.
The board comes J9246, and David Williams flops a set of nines to win the pot and eliminate Shawn Buchanan in third place.
Seat 3. Eric Baldwin - 4,395,000
Seat 4. David Williams - 15,105,000
Seat 6. Shawn Buchanan - Out in 3rd Place ($587,906)
There will be a short break for the money presentation before heads-up play begins.
Shawn Buchanan raises from the button to 410,000, and David Williams calls from the big blind. The flop comes K97, Williams checks, Buchanan bets 470,000, and Williams calls. The turn card is the 10, and both players check.
The river card is the K, and they check again. Williams shows Q8 to win the pot with queen high, and Buchanan mucks.
Seat 3. Eric Baldwin - 4,025,000
Seat 4. David Williams - 8,090,000
Seat 6. Shawn Buchanan - 7,385,000
David Williams took the chip lead on Hand #28 of play and held onto it until Buchanan seized the lead briefly on Hand #106. Buchanan's reign on top was a short-lived though, as it took only two hands for Williams to seize it back from him.
The stacks are evening out right now though. A few hours ago, Williams held over half of the chips in play. Now let's take a look at how the chips are spread around through Hand #108:
David Williams - 6,870,000 (35.2%)
Shawn Buchanan - 6,700,000 (34.4%)
Eric Baldwin - 5,930,000 (30.4%)