David Woo won a World Series of Poker bracelet on Monday after finishing off the final table of a huge 2,720 player field in Event #39 ($1,500 No Limit Hold 'em).
The final table began with everyone chasing Thom Werthmann, a 38-year-old poker pro from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Werthmann was gunning for his second WSOP bracelet to go with the one he won 2005 after defeating Layne Flack heads-up in a Pot Limit Hold 'em event.
It was Woo, however, who came out swinging at the final table, eliminating Jim Paras on the fifth hand and taking over the chip lead just ahead of Werthmann. Woo and Werthmann were then involved in a big pot where Woo fast-played a flopped set of queens and got Werthmann to call him all the way. The pot put Woo firmly ahead and the 30-year-old Atlantan, known as "The Magnificent Woo", never looked back.
Woo busted 33-year-old L.A. poker pro Thanh Dat Tran in seventh place when his A-K help up against A-Q, increasing Woo's lead and setting up the next big pot, which was one of the only double eliminations at a final table at the 2008 WSOP.
Woo limped in from middle position and Curtis Early called from the button. Matt Wood called from the small blind, Werthmann checked his option and the four players saw a flop of Q-J-10. After Wood checked in first position, Werthmann made a bet and Woo called. Early then moved all-in, Wood folded and Werthmann moved all-in over the top. Woo had them both covered and quickly called.
Early showed K-Q for top pair with a straight draw and an overcard, Werthmann showed Q-J for top two pair and Woo showed A-K for the flopped nut straight. There were no flush possibilities and Woo needed to avoid a jack, queen, and running kings or tens to take the pot and bust out both opponents.
"I'm just hoping right there somebody makes a move preflop and I can come over the top," Woo said. "As it turns out, everybody limped, I flopped the stone cold nuts and scared for my life because I know people have tremendous draws."
But the rest of the board ran out clean and Woo took down a massive pot, sending Early and Werthmann packing in 6th and 5th place, respectively.
"That was a key hand."
Habib Khanis, a 52-year-old store manager from San Diego, was the shortstack when the double elimination happened and celebrated his guaranteed pay jump of more than $80,000. Khanis was busted on the very next hand and the table was down to three players: Woo, Matt Wood and Eric Beren.
Wood eliminated Beren with A-Q versus A-10 and the heads-up match began with Woo holding a 5:3 chip lead. Woo dominated the heads-up match early on, winning six of the first five pots, including a big one in which he checkraised Wood on a flop of A-3-A and showed K-9 after Wood folded. Woo opened up a 6:1 chip lead and although Wood grinded back up, he was never able to draw even and was eliminated after getting all-in with 9-6 on a nine high board against Woo's pocket tens.
Wood takes home $389,844 for second place. Woo, who gave up working in his family's coffee show to play poker, gets $631,656 and a gold WSOP bracelet.
"The bracelet is a huge validation," Woo said. "To win it is definitely a good feeling."
Woo added that he never sucked out throughout the entire tournament. "To win [big field tournaments], most of the time you have to suck out several times, but fortune smiled on me."
For a list of complete payouts from Event #39 see the WSOP results page.