Year in Review: Pro victories mark 2008 WSOP

Nenad Medic
Medic alert! Nenad registers a WSOP win.

This is the sixth in a 12-part series taking a month-by-month look at what happened with poker in 2008. The series will publish every other day until the end of the year, covering the major happenings from all corners of the poker industry.

Poker had a big year in 2007 as it bounced back from the ugliness of the UIGEA, setting the stage for an even bigger year in 2008. With December now drawing to a close, it's time to take a look back at June's poker happenings, with a focus on the Rob Hollink broke his own personal cold streak at the WSOP and gave Holland its first gold bracelet winner by taking down the $10,000 Limit Hold'em World Championship.

Phan would also return to the winners circle on Day 27 in the $2,500 2-7 Triple-Draw Lowball event. His win over a final table that included Robert Mizrachi, David Sklansky and Gioi Luong put him in the running for Player of the Year.

Super Dario wins

Dario Minieri
Super Dario gets his day.

Day 21 of the WSOP saw Dario Minieri add his name to the list of pros taking down bracelets in 2008. The 23-year-old Italian came into the final table of the $2,500 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold'em event with the chip lead but saw his stack dip in three-handed play before he came back to win the entire thing.

"I am really happy that I had another chance to win a tournament," said the Team PokerStars pro, referring to his near miss at the EPT San Remo. "I still can't believe it. It was one of my dreams to win a bracelet. It is so beautiful."

Belgium in the books

Davidi Kitai gave Belgium its place in the WSOP record books on Day 25, claiming the top prize in the $2,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em event after defeating Chris Bell in a five-hour heads-up match.

"Yes, it's amazing. It's such a small country and not many poker players. It seemed impossible for someone [Belgian] to win," Kitai said in his interview, "but I had a lot of support."

A Nguyen win

The month of June closed out with a big win for Scotty Nguyen, who claimed top honors at the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event.

"You know, the Main Event, I already have it. The H.O.R.S.E. event, that was so important to me," Nguyen said in his interview. "I want to be the only man to ever win the Main Event at the World Series and the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. and a WPT Main Event. And now I'm the only man that's ever done that."

At the time, Nguyen's win was hailed as good for the game, but controversy would erupt later in the year after the episode aired on ESPN showing his inappropriate final-table behavior.

John Bonetti
Poker loses John Bonetti.

A Poker Loss

As the month of June drew to a close, the news came in that three-time WSOP bracelet winner John Bonetti had passed away at the age of 80.

Bonetti didn't begin to play poker until he was 55 years old. When he took up the game, though, he showed that he had a knack for being there at the end.

In addition to his bracelet wins, he twice finished in third place at the WSOP Main Event and made a total of 19 WSOP final tables.

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