Although the Australian poker year wrapped up last week with the completion of APT Sydney, many eyes were locked to the Bellagio in Las Vegas as Sydney’s own Gary Benson was sitting second in chips at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Five Diamond World Poker Classic final table.
The televised final table would not only be Benson’s first WPT final table appearance, but also first cash and first attempt at playing a WPT. With the final table kicking off at 4:00 p.m. local time, the final table combatants were a group of experienced pros led by chip leader Dan Smith who has accrued over US$4.5 million in lifetime winnings including a win in the 2012 Aussie Millions $100,000 Challenge. WPT Season X Player of the Year Joe Serock has accumulated over US$2.1 million in lifetime earnings including two runner-up finishes in WSOP events. 2008 APPT Macau Champion Eddy Sabat has three WSOP final tables to his name and over US$1.6 million in lifetime earnings.
Nearly four orbits of play would occur before Serock exited in 6th place when he pushed with over Smith’s button-raise holding . The board didn’t connect with Serock, and when he headed to the rail, Smith extended his chip lead further. Just a few hands later Barry Hutter would fall in 5th place running his into Sabat’s .
As Smith continued to increase his lead, the remaining three players all began slipping equally before Sabat snagged a huge pot to be near-equal with Smith when his on a board managed to find a river call from Smith. Benson’s stack on the other hand continued to slide downward reaching a low of 15-big blinds before winning two pots to virtually double through – the second when he picked off a Shaun Suller six-high bluff with a counterfeited two pair.
Benson then managed to find a big double to be in contention with the chip leaders after his held up against Suller’s when he bet-called Benson’s all-in on a flop. Suller wouldn’t be able to recover as he headed home next in 4th when his button shove with was called by Sabat from the small blind with .
As play continued, chips would circulate between the three before Benson began making a charge up the leaderboard before eventually taking a slight lead heading into break. However, with only 170-big blinds on the table, chip changes would occur often between the three before Sabat surged ahead. Smith however would find two doubles through Sabat before eventually eliminating him in 3rd when Sabat’s was outdrawn by Smith’s on a board.
Dan Smith – 11,955,000 in chips
Gary Benson – 1,720,000
With Benson at a huge disadvantage, there was still hope for the Australian as he looked to become the second player from Down Under to capture this very title following Joe Hachem’s win in Season V for US$2,182,075. The first three hands went to Smith before Benson gathered some life when he won a pot with a bet on the river. The next hand however saw Benson call bets on the turn and river only to run into Smith’s top pair to be down to roughly 1 million in chips.
Benson then folded to a shove, gave Smith a walk, then folded to another Smith shove before the ninth hand of heads-up play saw Benson move all in for 6.5-big blinds with as Smith called with . The dealer spread a board Benson was eliminated in 2nd place for US$672,685 as Smith was crowned the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Champion and recipient of US$1,161,135.
Final Table Results
Benson has been one of Australia’s poker stalwarts and was one of the inaugural inductees into the Australian Poker Hall of Fame back in 2009. Although viewed by many as a tournament veteran of yesteryear, Benson has been one of the most consistent performers on the tournament poker circuit amassing over $1.1 million in lifetime earnings from 67 cashes (previous to this results). Amazingly however, if Benson managed to win this WPT on his first attempt, it would have doubled his lifetime earnings in one monster hit. Benson has arguably had his best year to date which has seen him register 11 cashes amounting to over US$925,000 in earnings putting him in contention to be one of Australia’s best performing players of 2013.
Gary Benson’s Major Results
|April, 1996||WSOP $1,500 Seven-Card Stud||1st||US$148,200|
|January, 2007||Aussie Millions $1,150 No Limit Hold’em||1st||$148,480|
|October, 2007||PokerNews Bad Boys of Poker $10,000 Invitational||1st||$50,000|
|January, 2010||Aussie Millions $1,150 No Limit Hold’em||2nd||$92,800|
|August, 2012||ANZPT Melbourne $5,000 Grand Final||5th||$72,475|
|January, 2013||Aussie Millions $1,150 No Limit Hold’em Rebuy||1st||$109,000|
|March, 2013||ANZPT Sydney $2,200 Main Event||7th||$29,900|
|June, 2013||WSOP $2,500 Seven Card Stud||6th||US$24,003|
|June, 2013||WSOP $50,000 Poker Players Championship||16th||US$55,947|
|December, 2013||WPT Five Diamond WPC||2nd||US$672,685|
*Photos and Information courtesy of World Poker Tour.
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