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.
Hand #104: David Benyamine Eliminated in 4th Place ($329,228)
Level 30: 100,000-200,000, 20,000 ante
David Benyamine moves all in from the small blind for 3,205,000, and Shawn Buchanan thinks for nearly four minutes before he calls from the big blind with A5. Benyamine shows QJ, and he'll need to improve to stay alive. (Buchanan has Benyamine covered by about 300,000.)
The board comes 97257, and Shawn Buchanan wins the pot with two pair, sevens and fives, to eliminate David Benyamine in fourth place.
Seat 3. Eric Baldwin - 4,830,000
Seat 4. David Williams - 7,880,000
Seat 5. David Benyamine - Out in 4th Place ($329,228)
Seat 6. Shawn Buchanan - 6,790,000
David Benyamine completes the small blind for 160,000, and Shawn Buchanan checks his option in the big blind. The flop comes AA6, Benyamine bets 200,000, Buchanan raises to 565,000, and Benyamine quickly moves all in. Buchanan folds, and David Benyamine takes the pot.
Seat 3. Eric Baldwin - 3,625,000
Seat 4. David Williams - 11,425,000
Seat 5. David Benyamine - 2,305,000
Seat 6. Shawn Buchanan - 2,145,000
David Benyamine completes the small blind to 160,000, and Shawn Buchanan checks his option in the big blind. Both players check to the turn on a board of J726, Benyamine bets 190,000, and Buchanan calls.
The river card is the 4, Benyamine carefully counts out a bet of 500,000, and and Buchanan thinks for a minute before he calls. Benyamine shows 62 for two pair, sixes and deuces, but Buchanan shows 74 to win the pot with a higher two pair (sevens and fours).
Pot Size: 1,760,000
Seat 3. Eric Baldwin - 3,625,000
Seat 4. David Williams - 11,125,000
Seat 5. David Benyamine - 1,740,000
Seat 6. Shawn Buchanan - 3,010,000
Shawn Buchanan raises under the gun to 275,000, Eric Baldwin thinks for a while before calling from the button, and Benyamine thinks for more than a minute before he moves all in for 2,630,000. Buchanan and Baldwin both quickly fold, and Benyamine shows the J10 as he collects the pot.
Seat 3. Eric Baldwin - 3,325,000
Seat 4. David Williams - 10,415,000
Seat 5. David Benyamine - 3,300,000
Seat 6. Shawn Buchanan - 2,460,000
After Hand #1 is over, Tournament Director Jack McClelland informs the crowd that John O'Shea has a plane back to Dublin he needs to catch. Before the final table got underway, O'Shea told McClelland he intends to either double up and win this thing in a hurry or make his flight back home.
O'Shea isn't the only player with places to be. David Benyamine was inquiring about flights to Monte Carlo for the EPT Grand Final, which gets underway tomorrow.
Hands #181-183: On the TV Bubble w/ 7 Players Left
Level 27: 50,000-100,000, 10,000 ante
Hand #181 - Eric Baldwin completes the small blind to 100,000, David Williams raises from the big blind to 350,000, and Baldwin folds. Williams takes the pot.
Hand #182 - Eric Baldwin raises from the button to 250,000, David Williams calls from the small blind, and David Benyamine reraises from the big blind to 750,000. Baldwin folds, and Williams folds KQ face up.
Benyamine says, "I have a queen," and he pushes his two cards toward David Williams. "Pick one." Williams points to one of the cards, and Benyamine asks, "Are you sure, this one?" Williams says, "Yes."
Benyamine turns over that card, and it's the A. (If Benyamine can be believed, then he held A-Q.)
Hand #183 - Everyone folds to Shawn Buchanan, giving him a walk in the big blind.