Sebastian Ruthenberg won the 2008 World Series of Poker Seven Card Stud Eight-or-better World Championship early Friday morning after winning an epic heads-up match against five time bracelet winner Chris "Jesus" Ferguson.
Ruthenberg came into the final table of Event #33 ($5,000 World Championship of Seven Card Stud Eight-or-better) with the chip lead but the 24-year-old German poker pro was up against a tough field that included Marcel Luske, Annie Duke, Steve Sung and the aforementioned Chris Ferguson.
Former professional football player Bob Beveridge was first to be eliminated at the final table, followed by Sung, Italian poker pro Alessio Isaia and Duke, whose brother Howard Lederer missed the final table by one spot when he was eliminated in 9th place.
Ferguson made the most progress in the early stages of the final table, building his stack from 434,000 to more than 1.3 million while Ruthenberg sat stagnant around 600,000. The other big mover was West Haven's Bob Lauria, who started the day with just a few bets but managed to outlast more than half the final table and build up a competitive stack in the process.
Luske was the next to bust out and three handed play lasted for more than two hours until Ferguson made a full house to send Lauria packing in third place.
Ferguson, who was looking to join an exclusive group of six-time WSOP bracelet winners, started heads-up play with the lead but quickly lost it when his trip fives were bested by Ruthenbergs trip aces in a huge pot. Ruthenberg had Ferguson outchipped 2 million to 600,000 after the hand, but the 45-year-old veteran turned things around and after winning several small pots, Ferguson delivered what looked like the final blow when he made queens up to knock Ruthenberg down to around 200,000.
Ruthenberg, who had an exuberant gallery of German supporters, fought right back to double up twice in quick succession and get back into the game. Ruthenberg then won a crucial pot with aces up against Ferguson's tens up and 3.5 hours after the heads-up match began Ferguson was down to just his last few bets and got his money in on fifth street. From the official WSOP updates:
"When the last card was dealt and the crowd rose to their feet to watch the action, Ruthenberg peeled slowly before revealing another seven, for two pair sevens and fours. Ferguson would need to best two pair to take the pot and stay alive. He slowly lifted his hand and let Sebastian know he didn't have anything across and that it was a spade. He mentioned that unless it was the ace of spades, Ruthenberg would be a champion. He then revealed a spade... the 3s. It took a moment for Ruthenberg to realize it was a blank and then he erupted from his chair, arms held high in victory."
Ferguson was eliminated in second place for $202,406 and Ruthenberg was awarded the World Championship title, the gold bracelet and $328,756, much to the delight of his supporters.
"It's really wonderful," Ruthenberg said. He said that the reality of the bracelet hadn't yet sunk in and then thanked his railers for being so enthusiastic. "It was really nice to have my friends here to support me and cheer for me."
For full results from Event #33 check out the WSOP results.