The final table of Event #20 ($2,000 Limit Hold 'em) at the 2008 World Series of Poker began with all eyes on one man: Daniel Negreanu. The 33-year-old Canadian is one of the most recognized and liked personalities in the game and Event #20 was his shot to win a fourth WSOP bracelet and join an elite group of four time bracelet winners that includes Bobby Baldwin, Amarillo Slim, Tom McEvoy, Huck Seed, David Chiu, Scotty Nguyen and the late Puggy Pearson. Negreanu also had to contend with the added pressure of having won this event in 2004.
Standing in Negreanu's way, however, were eight men all looking for their first bracelet, including one young online pro in Richard Li, one experienced live tournament player in David Baker, and Fu Wong, who finished 2nd just days ago in Event #14 ($10,000 Seven-card Stud World Championship).
The final table began with a pair of quick eliminations and Negreanu, who began the day in the middle of the pack, moving his way up to the top of the leader board. With play five-handed Negreanu took a few big hits, the biggest of which was having his pocket Kings cracked by Baker's pocket eights. Baker soon took over the lead and after a couple of eliminations and many ups and downs; Negreanu was tied with Turkish-born Ugur Marangoz at 400,000 while Baker was sitting strong with over 1 million.
When three handed play got underway Baker began to free fall, taking several hits from Marangoz and even having his river bluff picked off by Negreanu with Ace-high. A few hands later Negreanu rivered a gutshot straight against Baker, sending him to the rail with $78,624 for his third place showing.
Heads-up play began with Negreanu taking a monster pot off Marangoz when he flopped a flush and got Marangoz to four-bet the turn and call another bet on the river. The pot all but devastated Marangoz's stack and a few hands later Negreanu raised him all-in on a board of 5-K-5-Q-3. Marangoz threw in his few remaining chips and Negreanu showed 9-5 for three-of-a-kind. Marangoz couldn't beat it and the Las Vegas poker room manager was eliminated in 2nd place ($126,671).
Negreanu shook his opponents' hand then went straight over to kiss his mother, who was sitting in the front row of the Milwaukee’s Best Light No Limit Lounge. Negreanu then thanked the fans for staying to watch, saying that having "home team advantage" helped him stay positive when he was short stacked during the middle stages of the day.
Daniel Negreanu added a fourth WSOP bracelet and $204,874 to his already stellar WSOP record.
"It's so difficult to even get to the final table, so to win is just an amazing feeling," Negreanu said.
For a full list of payouts from Event #20, see the WSOP results page.