Congratulations to David Williams, who beat a field of 193 other competitors last night to win the coveted title of World Poker Tour champion, $1.53 million and, better still, an invite to Calvinayre.com’s launch party.
Williams, who is sponsored by Bodog Poker, came good at the $25,000 buy-in event at the Bellagio, Las Vegas, after beating Eric Baldwin, a fellow Vegas pro, in the final heads-up, when he went all-in with pocket twos.
It was a ballsy call, and for a minute looked like being the wrong one, as Baldwin, who had ace-five of hearts flopped an ace. But Williams hit another two on the turn to take the hand – and the tournament – with three of a kind.
It wasn’t the first time Williams had been dramatically rewarded for having wrought iron cojones either. With the field down to the final three, he had moved all-in pre-flop with pocket nines only to witness Canadian pro Shawn Buchanan reveal a pair of queens. Despite being longer than a 5-1 shot to hit his cards, though, the Bodog pro hit a nine on the flop to win the hand and set up his victory.
Williams had taken Buchanan on due to a dodgy tip from a mate of his, fellow professional Josh Arieh. “This morning [Arieh] messaged me and was like, ‘I’ve got a tell on this Shawn guy. When Shawn tanks for a while and raises you, he’s trying to be creative and never has a hand,” Williams said. “That hand [Buchanan] thought, thought, thought and made it 1.7m. So I was like, I’m going to go with what my read Josh gave me was.”
The tell was wrong but fortune favours the brave, and it’s no surprise to anyone in the poker world that Williams survived to tell the tale, given that the former maths and science student has earned over $9.5m at the felts.
Williams first shot to poker fame in 2004 at the World Series, finishing second to Greg Raymer, which at the time was the best ever finish by an African American and enough to attract him to the attention of Bodog, who signed him up that same year.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working with David until 2006 and am delighted at his latest achievement,” said Calvin Ayre, who founded Bodog.com, before selling to the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group. “He is a real pro, razor sharp poker player and worthy champion. He is going from strength to strength and all power to him. It couldn’t happen to a nicer or smarter guy – and he can consider himself invited to my Calvinayre.com launch party in Prague on May 25th.”
Until last night, that 2004 finish served as Williams’ biggest payday to date, even though in the meantime the 26-year-old has continued to fly the flag in style for Bodog, cashing 46 times, including four wins and a WSOP bracelet.
“Financially, it’s not as awesome,” Williams said of his second place in 2004. “But it feels a hell of a lot better. At that point, even though I won $3.5 million, I felt miserable. I felt like I got so close to something.”
“When I saw that deuce come, it was amazing,” Williams added. “It was weird, as soon I saw it my mind was like, I just won. I couldn’t speak for a while. It was awesome.”
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WPT World Championship at Bellagio
1. David Williams- $1,530,537
2. Eric Baldwin- $1,034,715
3. Shawn Buchanan- $587,906
4. David Benyamine- $329,228
5. Billy Baxter- $246,921
6. John O’Shea- $199,888