Davidi Kitai became the first Belgian bracelet winner in World Series of Poker history on Sunday after defeating Chris Bell in a marathon five hour heads-up match to win Event #38 ($2,000 Pot Limit Hold 'em).
Kitai, 28, is an economic analyst from Brussels attending his third WSOP. He cashed in last year's Main Event and in a $1,500 No Limit Hold 'em event earlier in 2008.
Kitai and Bell both came began the final table in the middle of a leaderboard that was headed by German Jan von Halle and 2006 Pot Limit Hold 'em World Champion Lee Watkinson.
The table started slowly and it took Nick Greco running kings into Bell's aces too see the first elimination. However, after the first player was off the table it took only 75 more hands to bust out six more, setting the stage for the heads-up match between Kitai and Bell.
Bell had been a force at the table, busting five of the seven players on the way to heads-up. Bell started with a 3:2 lead and the action got off to a slow start as Kitai was treading very carefully, often limping pre-flop and giving Bell a lot of walks in his big blind. The slow pace boded well for Kitai and within 90 minutes he had reversed the chip counts and was in the lead. But Bell made a comeback and over the course of the next two hours the lead would swaps hands 10 times. Excitement was so rare that Layne Flack, Peter Feldman and Joe Tehan, all there to sweat Bell, began playing Chinese poker in the stands.
The crucial hand of the match came almost four hours in when Bell limp-called a pre-flop raise from Kitai. The flop was 2-3-Q rainbow and Kitai fired a bet, only to be raised by Bell. Kitai took his time making the call and the turn was a 4. Kitai checked this time and Bell made a huge bet. Kitai instantly moved all-in over the top for only a few more chips and Bell reluctantly made the call. Kitai turned over pocket queens for the set and Bell tried to muck his cards, despite not having seen the river. Bell was forced to turn over his K-8 and after a meaningless river Bell was crippled with only 200,000 of the 2.4 million chips on the table.
Bell doubled up the next hand with K-7 against A-4 and made a valiant comeback effort that lasted more than an hour, but in the end the deficit was too much and he was eliminated after getting all-in pre-flop with A-J against Kitai's A-Q. Bell earns $155,806 for second place while Davidi Kitai gets $244,546 and his first WSOP bracelet.
Kitai celebrated with his friends and father, who had delayed a flight back to Brussels to watch his son play at the final table
"[Winning the bracelet] is amazing," Kitai said. On being the first of his countrymen to win a WSOP bracelet, Kitai said "a lot of Belgians support me, that's just like a dream."
Full payouts from Event #38 are available at the WSOP results page.