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From the WSOP Main-Event Final Table to Notable Poker Success

The Main Event Has Been a Launching Pad for a Number of Poker Pros


The Rio, home of the 2010 WSOP.If recent history is any indication, of the nine players who make it to this year’s final table of the main event, most of them will be relatively unknown to the poker community at large.

But if recent trends continue, a number of them will likely become legitimate pros in their own right in the years ahead.

Making it to the final day of poker’s most prestigious tournament and then falling short is a bitter-sweet accomplishment for most players — especially since the 2003 poker boom, when final-tabling the event could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

However, with the disappointment comes the opportunity to use the final table to launch a successful career of playing high buy-in tournaments.

Whether the final table provided the experience, the endorsements, or the bankroll necessary to fund traveling the poker circuit, a number of professional players, who prior to the main event had little to no notable tournament success, have used that single deep run to travel the circuit — and in some cases, achieve notable poker success.

David WilliamsThe first man to start the trend during the poker boom was David Williams. In the 2004 main event, Williams recorded his first career cash — a $3,500,000 payday after finishing runner-up to Greg Raymer.

Williams used the experience and the winnings to record two more huge scores during that calendar year.

In the time since 2004, Williams has remained among the best in the poker community. He won his first career bracelet in a 2006 seven-card stud event and recently won the 2010 World Poker Tour Championship for $1,530,537.

“I think the most important thing was that 2004 gave me the bankroll to keep playing,” Williams said during a break on day 1C of the 2010 main event. “It’s really hard to sustain playing in these tournaments all the time, they are expensive. So, it allowed me to do that and get the experience I needed, which is a big edge I have over a lot of players because I’ve played so many $10,000 buy-in tournaments.”

Paul WasickaAnother main-event runner-up who has gone on to amass impressive earnings after the no-limit hold’em championship is Paul Wasicka. Wasicka finished second to Jamie Gold in the 2006 world championship for $6,102,499.

After his massive payday, Wasicka final-tabled the 2007 L.A. Poker Classic championship event for $455,615 and won the 2007 NBC National Heads-Up Championship for $500,000 just three days later. In 2010, Wasicka added a WSOP circuit event title to his poker résumé.

For Wasicka, his main-event final table not only gave him a rich bankroll, but also confidence that he would someday make it back there again.

“The bankroll issue was a dream come true,” Wasicka said on the dinner break during this year’s day 1C of the main event. “Making the final table helped me to know that it can be done. Every year when I play, I know that not only can it be done, but in my opinion, it’s going to be done again. At least that’s what I am convinced of. For me, it’s confidence, bankroll, and also experience knowing I’ve been there and that allows me to project myself there in the future. But it’s something I definitely try to keep level, because you can’t allow yourself to get egotistical if you have a few deep runs and start thinking you’re the s—t, that’s when you start getting yourself into bad situations.”

It’s not just second-place finishers who have had success afterward. Also at that final table in 2006 was Michael Binger. Binger finished in third place for $4,123,310, right behind Wasicka. Since his multimillion-dollar score, Binger has accumulated about $2,500,000 in tournament earnings.

John BarchAnother third-place finisher who found has success is John “Tex” Barch. Barch was awarded $2,500,000 after falling two eliminations short of the bracelet in the 2005 main event.

Although Barch made another WSOP final table in 2007, his ultimate redemption came this year in event No. 20 ($1,500 pot-limit Omaha). Barch won the event for his first career bracelet and took home $256,919 in prize money.

Barch hasn’t been the only former main-event finalist whose used the 2010 WSOP to validate their poker career and avenge a final table that just didn’t go quite right. Professionals Eric Buchman and Scott Montgomery have also won gold this summer.

Eric Buchman The chain reaction started when Buchman won event No. 18 ($2,000 limit hold’em) for $203,607.

Buchman, who finished fourth in the no-limit hold’em championship last November, had two cashes at this year’s WSOP before capturing his first bracelet and erasing some of the disappointment from the 2009 main event.

Shortly after Barch was able to redeem himself by winning his first major tournament, Montgomery found himself as the next player to garner WSOP success. The Canadian won event No. 36 ($1,000 no-limit hold’em). Remarkably, he almost defended in the very next $1,000 event, finishing in 29th out of 3,128 entrants.

Dean Hamrick, the inaugural November Nine bubble boy, used the heart-breaking experience of a 10th-place finish at the unofficial main event final table to achieve success this year.

“This [bracelet] does a lot,” said Hamrick, who won a $1,500 no-limit hold’em event this summer. “It soothes a lot of pain.”

Hevad Khan

Young poker pro Hevad Khan has also taken advantage of a main event final table to fund a successful live tournament career.

Even though Khan was one of the few main-event finalists of recent years to win less than $1 million at the last table of the no-limit hold’em championship, Khan has gone on to achieve great results since his sixth-place finish for $956,243 in 2007. Khan won a 2009 PokerStars EPT Caribbean Adventure side event for $200,000 and the 2008 Caesars Palace Classic no-limit hold’em championship for a payday larger than his main event prize — $1 million.

In less than two weeks, we will know our new November Nine. Many of them might not be too well known right now, but don’t be too surprised to see a number of them in the poker headlines in the future.