Shining Stars: A Look Back at the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Part II

By Sean Chaffin The WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic is one of the most prestigious tournaments in poker and this season’s event is right around the corner. The $10,400 event will be back in Las Vegas at Bellagio from December 11-15. The annual event offers players a stay in style at the world-class hotel…

Matt Clark
Dec 4, 2018

By Sean Chaffin

The WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic is one of the most prestigious tournaments in poker and this season’s event is right around the corner. The $10,400 event will be back in Las Vegas at Bellagio from December 11-15.

The annual event offers players a stay in style at the world-class hotel resort, a chance at huge money, and the chance to win an event that has been won by some of the game’s elite players. Here’s a look back at Part II of the event’s winners and their poker careers.

Season VII – Chino Rheem

Chino Rheem

No stranger to tournament success including on the WPT, Rheem topped a field of 497 to win $1.5 million. This marked the first of three WPT titles for Rheem. That included another win at Bellagio in Season XI at the WPT World Championship.

The win at Five Diamond came just a few months after he finished seventh at the WSOP Main Event for $1.8 million, and helped kickstart a career that now includes numerous titles and major scores. Rheem now has almost $9 million in career tournament winnings. He continues to play on the WPT with a 19th place run in Season XVI at Five Diamond his latest score.

Season VI – Eugene Katchalov

Eugene Katchalov

The Five Diamond Poker Classic proved to be a breakout performance for this Ukrainian poker star. As the event continued its growth, Katchalov topped a field of 664 to take home almost $2.5 million. It was a huge payout and came after he notched his first major tournament win that year, which also came at the property in a $5,180 Bellagio Cup III event for $118,785.

Katchalov has gone on to more success with many more five- and six-figure scores including winning a WSOP bracelet, EPT side event titles, and the $100,000 Super High Roller title at the 2011 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for $1.5 million. Katchalov now holds $9.2 million in lifetime tournament and even scored a 685th-place cash for $19,900 this summer in the WSOP Main Event.

Season V – Joe Hachem

Joe Hachem Five Diamond Winner's Shot

After taking home the WSOP Main Event title in 2005 for $7.5 million, Hachem added his name to the WPT Champions Cup in Season V by winning yet another prestigious title. The field continued to climb, this time attracting 584 entries with Hachem taking home $2.2 million.

The Australian earned a unique place in poker history by winning a Main Event and a WPT title, one of only six players who can claim that distinction. The former chiropractor and married father of four now has more than $12.3 million in tournament winnings and is still a regular on the tournament poker scene.

After such a huge win at the WSOP, the Five Diamond cemented his name in the record books and shined another light on his skills at the table.

Season IV– Rehne Pedersen

Rehne Pedersen Five Diamond

While this player from Denmark may not be a household name, Pedersen topped a massive field of 555 with the poker boom in full swing. It wasn’t easy and Pedersen faced a final table that included Doyle Brunson, Patrik Antonius, J.J. Liu, and Phil Laak.

After beating Antonius heads-up, Pederson took home a colossal payday of $2.1 million and appears to have mostly disappeared from tournament poker with his last cash in 2013. His name is etched in poker history, however, as a Five Diamond winner for a colossal payday.

Season III – Daniel Negreanu

Daniel Negreanu Five Diamond Winner's Shot

Another major poker name emerged in Season III to claim the title. Daniel Negreanu, Kid Poker, had already won the WPT Borgata Poker Open in September for $1.1 million and then added a Five Diamond title in December for another $1.8 million.

At the time, Negreanu had three WSOP bracelets and a win in the 1999 U.S. Poker Championship Main Event for $210,000. But the WPT wins were something else entirely and helped vault the Canadian to become one of the most popular players in the game. Negreanu has gone on to numerous titles including six WSOP bracelets and almost $40 million in live tournament winnings.

“It was huge for me,” Negreanu told about his Bellagio win. “When I won it, it was a very prestigious event with the second-highest buy-in of any tournament all year at $15,000, behind only the $25,000 WPT Championship.”

“When I won, there was more than the $1.8 million on the line for me. I was also playing to win CardPlayer of the Year and needed a final table to accomplish that. Not only did I make the final table, I did so with the biggest chip lead in WPT history and mostly cruised to victory from there.”

Still a player in WPT events, Negreanu was part of the field at the Tournament of Champions at ARIA in May and also plans to be at Bellagio in December – although he says he’s more of a “purist” and longs for the days of freezeout events.

Season II – Paul Phillips

Paul Phillips Five Diamond Winner's Shot

A regular on the tournament poker scene in the 2000s, Phillips had a big year on the WPT in Season II. In September, he finished runner-up at the Legends of Poker in L.A. for $293,550. That same month he won a preliminary $540 event at the WPT Borgata Poker Open for $64,010.

The best was yet to come in December when he topped a field of 314 to take the Five Diamond title and $1.1 million. Some more nice finishes followed, but Phillips mostly dropped off the tournament radar in the late-2000s. However, after an absence from the game, Phillips returned to the tables at ARIA in June for the Tournament of Champions. The 44-year-old software designer spoke about his absence from the game. What has he been up to since his days on the felt?

“Not playing cards,” Phillips said with a laugh. “I moved to Oregon after my first daughter was born and led a regular life – and continue to do so. I’ve been writing software. It’s not so much I just got busy as I just didn’t want to play cards anymore.”

Season I – Gus Hansen

Gus Hansen

This event was the first-ever recorded for WPT broadcast and Hansen topped a field of 146 for $556,460. When the tournament was aired in 2003 on the Travel Channel, the WPT helped launch the poker boom and introduced the world to high-stakes tournament poker.

Hansen went to an illustrious poker career including three WPT titles, one runner-up, and three third-place finishes. The Great Dane added aWorldd Series of Poker bracelet in 2010 when he won the £10,350 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em High Roller in Europe for £288,409. In 2010, he also won an Aussie Millions Main Event title for $1.2.

His unique and aggressive playing style earned Hansen numerous fans and TV appearances. While he hasn’t been on the tournament scene much in several years, Hansen continues to play in high-stakes cash games and online. His name is synonymous with televised poker in the 2000s – including the WPT.

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