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Benyamine Headlines WPT Championship Final Table
David Benyamine will carry the chip lead into a star-studded final table at the 2010 WPT Championship tomorrow.
The French Full Tilt pro will be joined by Eric "BaseBaldy" Baldwin, David Williams, Billy Baxter, Shawn Buchanan and John O'Shea when the final table begins Saturday.
Benyamine already took down $400,000 for winning the PartyPoker Premier League IV this year and seems to have more of an appetite for tournaments lately.
When asked what it would mean to win the prestigious WPT Championship, Benyamine was modest.
"It would mean that I've been very lucky and probably played good," he said.
Eliminations were hard to come by on the second to last day of the 2010 WPT Championship. It took more than nine hours to bust four players and set a final table of six.
Online poker entrepreneur Cliff Josephy was the first player to be eliminated when he flopped a set again David Williams who had actually flopped a straight.
It was a sick cooler for Josephy and the money went in the middle all too quickly. The turn bricked but the river paired the board giving Josephy a full house. Unfortunately for him, it also gave Williams a straight flush.
Nikolay Evdakov followed Josephy shortly thereafter when Phil Hellmuth laid a massive bad beat on him.
Evdakov got all his chips in the middle with pocket kings and Hellmuth made the call with pocket jacks. A miracle jack on the river gave Hellmuth the set and pot.
The Russian was crippled down to less than five big blinds and busted in ninth place on the very next hand.
Action slowed right down and it wasn't until several levels later that David Benyamine won what turned out to be the defining hand of the day and perhaps of the tournament.
The poker gods did not smile on Scotty Nguyen as the former World Series of Poker $50k H.O.R.S.E. winner turned a set of eights against Benyamine, who had flopped a set of tens. Nguyen was unable to find the miracle one outer and was relegated to the rail in eighth.
Benyamine catapulted to the chip lead with over six million chips and maintained his stack over the last level of play. He will take 4.705 million chips to battle tomorrow.
The final elimination of the night was none other than the Poker Brat himself - Phil Hellmuth.
After losing a quick succession of hands, Hellmuth found himself on the short stack and finally shipped it in the middle with K-T against David William's A-J.
The board bricked, Hellmuth was shut out from the 2010 WPT Player of the Year race and was denied a chance to win a WPT Championship to go with his 1989 WSOP Main Event title.
Canadian pro Shawn Buchanan is the only player left in the POY race and could clinch the title from Faraz Jaka with a first-place finish tomorrow.
"It's a big deal for sure," said Buchanan. "I like to compete. Anything you win is nice."
Meanwhile, David Williams has had a very strong tournament and will enter the final table with 4.7 million chips, just slightly less than Benyamine.
He said he prefers playing against some of the best players in the world, making the small-yet-elite field at the WPT Championship a perfect fior for him
"I think it just works to my advantage that a lot of these players have misconceptions about me," Williams said. "Against good players I'm able to figure out what they think about me and play accordingly whereas in smaller events it's much more unknown."
Eric "BaseBaldy" Baldwin finished the day right behind Williams with 4.4 million.
Baldwin, the 2009 CardPlayer Player of the Year, won a WSOP bracelet last summer, but this is his first WPT final table.
"I'm really excited," said Baldwin. "I had a lot of success last year, but none of it was really televised."
The final table is rounded out by veteran pro Billy Baxter who, despite having seven WSOP bracelets, has never won a WPT event. He finished the day with 2.4 million chips.
Finally, upstart Irishman John O'Shea, who won a $2,500 satellite into the event, will attempt to turn his 1.2 million chips into a WPT upset.
The WPT's Season 8 will culminate with the final table at 4 p.m. PT tomorrow, where one player will walk away with $1.5 million and a championship title. For comprehensive coverage live from Las Vegas tune in to PokerListings' Live Updates and News.