WSOP champions: Where Are They Now, Part 6

This is the sixth article in a 10-part series taking a look at the World Series of Poker champions from the very first to the most recent and at what they've done since in the world of poker.

The fifth instalment featured Phil Hellmuth, who has become a modern-day legend in the game, as well as highlighting the first non-U.S. resident to win the Main Event and the first $1 million Main Event winner.

This week will look at Hamid Dastmalchi, Jim Bechtel and Russ Hamilton.

Past WSOP Champions

Hamid Dastmalchi (1992)

Dastmalchi is most well-known in the poker tournament world for his 1992 WSOP Main Event win. It was his largest tournament win and his second WSOP bracelet win, but it wasn't his only success in the poker world during the '90s.

He added another WSOP bracelet to his jewelry box the following year when he won the $2,500 Pot-Limit Omaha event. He also went on to make the final table of the Main Event again in 1995, going out in fourth place.

For the most part since then, Dastmalchi seems to have dropped out of the tournament circuit. In 1999, he had a cash in the Carnivale of Poker II in Las Vegas, and in 2002 he came in 14th in the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic.

Instead of tournaments, Dastmalchi has returned to mainly cash-game play. In that realm he was thrust into the public eye in 1999 after getting into a lawsuit with Binion's Horseshoe over whether or not he could cash in some chips.

Dastmalchi had more than $800,000 in chips that he had won prior to a change in management at the casino. Becky Binion Behnen replaced Jack Binion as the head of the casino after winning a legal battle against Jack, and under her management she wasn't going to honor the chips Dastmalchi was holding.

In the end, the gaming commission ruled that the casino had to cash the chips.

Jim Bechtel (1993)

Jim Bechtel

Quietly amassing tournament cash.

Bechtel has been just as quiet in the poker tournament world as Dastmalchi has been since winning the championship title in 1993, but it's not because he's disappeared from tournament play.

As poker has become more popular and made others famous, Bechtel has continued his pursuit of poker wins in the shadows. Known as a quiet man, he chooses to attend only some of the biggest events on the circuit, including the World Series and World Poker Tour events, and has amassed more than $2.5 million in cashes.

His most recent success was six more cashes in the World Series in 2006 including making the final table of the inaugural $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event, but so far he hasn't been able to add any more WSOP wins to his resume.

Russ Hamilton (1994)

This seems to be the week of players who stayed well out of the spotlight in the poker world after becoming world champions, and Hamilton is no exception.

The 1994 WSOP Main Event was Hamilton's one and only win so far in the World Series, though he has cashed in World Series events many times since, including going deep in the Main Event as recently as 2005 for one of those cashes. He's also taken on WPT events over the past few years, cashing in the Mirage Poker Showdown in 2004 and the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2006.

His biggest accomplishment since winning the World Series Main Event, however, has been in another card game altogether. Before turning to poker, Hamilton had been a pro blackjack player, and he chose to return to those roots in 2005 by founding The Ultimate Blackjack Tour.

The Ultimate Blackjack Tour is a nationally syndicated television show featuring blackjack competitions which has aired on CBS and Super Station WGN and is now in international syndication.

The Ultimate Blackjack Tour has also led to the tournament game of Elimination Blackjack in casinos through the United States.

Not only are the show and tournament endorsed by blackjack pros, some high-profile poker players such as Phil Laak, Robert Williamson III, Annie Duke, Layne Flack, Johnny Chan and more also endorse the show and are part of the UBT Team.


Stay with us next week as we bring you three more WSOP champions and take a closer look at what they've been up to since they won the big dance.

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