Despite being primarily known as a cash game player, David Benyamine has been crowned champion in the fourth edition of the Party Poker Premier League. For winning the league, Benyamine picked up the title and US$400,000. He was the second-most consistent player coming out of the preliminary heats picking up a win, a second and a third place finish from just four preliminary tournaments. The Frenchman would only trail the super-hot Phil Laak who crushed the heats winning three of the qualifying rounds.
Benyamine and Laak would automatically qualify for the final of the league, along with Luke “Full_Flush1” Schwartz and Party Poker qualifier Giovanni Safina courtesy of the points that these players earned from the preliminary heats. There would be two best-of-three heads up playoffs to decide the final two members of the six-handed final table.
Daniel Negreanu eliminated defending champion JC Tran to book his place in the final, while Roland De Wolfe overcame a bout of tilt to beat out Ian Frazer.
The final table started with players receiving 10,000 chips for each point they earned during the preliminary rounds. The starting chip counts for the final table were as follows:
Phil Laak – 480,000
David Benyamine - 380,000
Giovanni Safina - 290,000
Luke Schwartz – 290,000
Daniel Negreanu – 260,000
Roland De Wolfe – 220,000
Each player on the final table was also guaranteed a payday with US$50,000 for a minimum cash, up to US$400,000 for first.
Things started slowly for Benyamine losing some chips to Daniel Negreanu, but the catalyst for his win would be a big bluff early against Phil Laak. Laak and Benyamine saw a flop of . Benyamine led 9,000 with at that flop and Laak check-raised to 27,000 with . Benyamine called. The fell on the turn and Laak bet 36,000, which Benyamine flatted again. The hit the river and Laak checked. Benyamine bluffed at the pot, betting 98,000 and Laak surprisingly snap-folded his trips.
Their fortunes would prove very different after the hand, with Laak going on to become the first player eliminated, making a dramatic descent from first to worst in just over three hours. On his final hand of the night Laak’s tens were unable to hold against the of Benyamine.
The made-for-TV nature of the tournament meant that the structure was going to force play along, and after Laak went out, the eliminations came thick and fast. Daniel Negreanu and Roland De Wolfe got it in preflop with De Wolfe’s unable to beat Negreanu’s set of nines, sending the Full Tilt pro out in fifth for US$70,000.
Negreanu would take a rather short-lived chip lead after eliminating De Wolfe, but would relinquish that to Luke Schwartz. In a battle of the blinds Schwartz found two red kings and put in a standard raise. Negreanu looked down at two red sevens and moved all in, only to find himself in horrible shape.
The hand sent Schwartz over one million in chips and left Negreanu on the ropes. Benyamine would finish him off, after Negreanu limped the button with , and Benyamine completed the small blind with .
A flop would ensure all the money went in and the on the turn meant there would be no sweat for Benyamine who moved up to 694,000. Daniel Negreanu took home US$80,000 for fourth.
Schwartz would set the heads up battle after eliminating qualifier Giovanni Safina in third place. Safina qualified for the series for just $120 in an online satellite on Party Poker and would meet an interesting demise. After moving all in with , he was snapped off by Luke Schwartz with . Schwartz looked at his cards in horror, stating, "I thought I had king-jack! Am I spastic or something?"
Safina looked good until a three spiked the river to send him out in third place with US$120,000 - not a bad return on investment at all. Schwartz would take the advantage into heads-up play with 1,320,000 chips to Benyamine’s 580,000.
However Benyamine soon got back in the battle with a double up. Schwartz shipped it with , and Benyamine called with . The board ran out to level things up.
A short time later Schwartz with and Benyamine holding limped to a flop. Both checked and the turn was the .
Again they checked, and the action card hit the river giving both players straights. Schwartz made it 80,000 and Benyamine raised to 150,000. Schwartz thought about it for a bit saying, "How did you make the flush?" before making the call.
Benyamine scooped the pot and the advantage. The final hand of the league would see Schwartz raise with and Benyamine make the call with .
The flop would have the money go in. Benyamine check-raised, with Schwartz moving all in over the top. Benyamine went into the tank for a good while but in the end made the call. "Why'd you slow roll?” Schwartz said to Benyamine, "That's an easy call."
The turn card was the eliminating any chance at a chop, before the blanked off the river and crowned Benyamine champion. Schwartz earned US$200,000 for his runner-up finish.
Benyamine was modest in victory. “It feels really good winning a title, I’m not used to it,” said Benyamine. “The whole time I never thought about winning, I just wanted to do what I thought was right. I know people always say that when they win but it’s true. I haven’t really been around for a while and I hope this gives me momentum going forward! I really enjoyed the format and competition – I’m sure it will make great TV.”
“Position in these final tables can help and I didn’t do anything special today, I just got hands at the right time and played my own game. Luke (Schwartz) is a very impulsive player but I just stuck to my own game heads-up and it was enough.”
Schwartz as usual was good for a quote as well, stating, “I’m really, really disappointed, I think I played the best this week and deserved to come first but that’s the way it goes.”
The win for Benyamine is yet another feather in the cap of a man who already has both a World Series Bracelet and World Poker Tour title to his name. It also rounds out yet another successful Party Poker Premier League, with all the action due to hit TV screens later in the year.