Three Ladies Finish in Top 13 Spots – a WSOP First
James Dempsey Wins First WSOP Gold Bracelet

English Online Poker Pro Collects $197,470 in Prize Money

Rowdy English Crowd Cheers Dempsey to Saturday Night Victory

James Dempsey was the winner of the $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold’em championship (Event #9).  He is one of England’s top online poker pros.  Dempsey lives in Brighton, UK.  He collected $197,470 for the victory plus his first WSOP gold bracelet.

Dempsey topped a field of 650 players and won the game’s most coveted prize.  The tournament began on Thursday June 3rd and ended at 10:40 pm on June 5th.

Dempsey’s win at the Rio in Las Vegas was amplified by the roars of several English supporters.  The cheering section, numbering perhaps 15 to 20 slurring and stammering fans, chanted constantly for eight full hours, making the final table scene resemble a third-world soccer match rather than a poker event.  Things got so loud at one point, Mike “the Mouth” Matusow who was sitting nearby, complained the boisterous fans were too noisy.

English poker players are enjoying quite a strong WSOP through the first nine events.  Dempsey became the second Englishman to win a gold bracelet this week, following Londoner Praz Bansi’s win in an earlier No-Limit Hold’em competition.  

Dempsey also became the second consecutive Brit to win this event, following John-Paul Kelly’s victory in this same competition last year.  Indeed, British players are acknowledged to be strong Pot-Limit players since many of the poker games played in England going back for more than 20 years are played using the Pot-Limit format.

The runner up was Steve Chanthabouasy (Portland, OR), a 36-year-old poker pro who cashed at the WSOP for the first time.  Among those who also cashed were former gold bracelet winners Bob Slezak, Tom McEvoy, and Tom Schneider.  

There were also three female finishers in the top 13 spots.  J.J. Liu (Las Vegas, NV) finished third.  Julie Farkas (Albuquerque, NM) finished tenth.  Longtime poker player Melissa Hayden (Las Vegas, NV) took 13th place.  This is believed to be the first time three female players have ever finished in the top 13 places at the WSOP in any open event.
For the official results and Event#9 tournament portal page, click here.

THE CHAMPION – James Dempsey
The $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold’em champion (Event #9) is James Dempsey, from Brighton, UK.

Dempsey is 27-years-old.   He has been playing poker seriously since 2003.

Dempsey holds a commercial pilot’s license.

Dempsey concentrates mostly on online poker.  However, he had amassed about $200,000 in live tournament cashes prior to this victory.

Dempsey’s favorite poker game is Pot-Limit Omaha.

Dempsey’s first recorded tournament cash was in 2005.

Several fellow British poker players who know Dempsey well remarked that he has had a reputation for playing exceptional tournament poker during the early to middle rounds of tournaments, but then sometimes gets bored and becomes disinterested.  However, his record to this point does not appear to reflect this pattern.  Out of 27 major cashes over the past five years, he now has six wins.

Dempsey has only cashed one time at the WSOP prior to this win.

Dempsey collected $197,470 for first place.  He was presented with his first WSOP gold bracelet.

According to official records, Dempsey now has one win, one final table appearances, and two cashes at the WSOP.   His career WSOP earnings now total $210,137.

On what winning his first WSOP gold bracelet means:  “It’s great to win a tournament.  But there’s no reason why this should hold any edge over another tournament.  You play for money.  Like someone can come in third in a tournament and make like $300,000 but if you win another event (with a smaller field or lower buy in) you might get first and its $200,000 – that to me does not make any sense at all.  Poker players play for money.  It’s great to win a major tournament.  But I just think there’s too much put onto winning a World Series of Poker gold bracelet.  You want to try and win one, of course.  You win more money.  But you see people playing three events at the same time.  It’s just stupid.”

On allegedly being his own worst enemy at the poker table, sometimes blowing off big chip leads purely out of boredom:  “It’s something I used to do.  But I think I matured a bit.  Like today, I lost two big pots and then I was the short stack.  But I really focused and tried to maintain my head.  It’s definitely something in the past I used to do.  I used to rush some of my decisions.  But today, I gave myself some extra seconds to think it through and it worked out.”

The final table consisted of no former WSOP gold bracelet winners, which guaranteed a first-time champion.

Three different nations were represented at the final table -- Canada, Great Britain, and the United States.  One of the Americans (Mark Babekov) was born in Uzbekistan.

The final table began nine-handed.

Final table participants ranged in age from 27 to 52.

In general, many younger players grew up playing No-Limit Hold’em, whereas many older veteran poker players are more conditioned to playing Limit and Pot-Limit games.  The age of players at this final table was arguably a reflection of the existing gap between young players and their older counterparts.  Many No-Limit Hold’em final tables in recent years are dominated by players in their 20s.  However, the youngest player in this finale was 27.  Lowball and Omaha High-Low games also tend to attract a more veteran poker crowd.

This final table featured the first female top-nine finisher at the 2010 WSOP.  J.J. Liu broke up the week-long stag party by becoming the first lady to take her seat in the finale.

The runner up was Steve Chanthabouasy, from Portland, OR.  This was his first time to cash at the WSOP.  He collected $121,963 in prize money.  The heads-up match between Dempsey and Chanthabouasy lasted about two hours.
Chanthabouasy is a 36-year-old business manager.  He was born in the Southeast Asian nation of Laos.  His wife is from Cambodia.  Chanthabouasy sat tableside draped in the pre-1975 Cambodian flag.  He was also flanked by two smaller flags hoisted at tableside – representing Laos and Cambodia.   

The third-place finisher was Joanne “J.J.” Liu, from Las Vegas, NV.  She is a tournament regular who was born in Taiwan.  Liu has 95 major cashes dating back to 1994 – 14 of which have taken place at the World Series of Poker.  With her $86,512 cash in this event, she now has nearly $300,000 in career tournament winnings at the WSOP.

The fourth-place finisher was Mark Babekov, from Fairlawn, NJ.  He is a real estate relocation specialist, originally from Uzbekistan.  Babekov cashed for the first time at the WSOP in this event, worth $62,232 in prize money.

The fifth-place finisher was Scott Haraden.  He is a painting contractor from San Diego, CA.  Haraden earned $45,393.

The sixth-place finisher was Armen Kara, from Brea, CA.  Kara now has four cashes at the WSOP.  He earned $33,573 in prize money.

The seventh-place finisher was Joseph Williams, from Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada).  He is primarily a Pot-Limit Omaha cash player.  This marked his first time to cash at the WSOP.  Seventh place paid $25,166.

The eighth-place finisher was Edward Brogdon, from Thorndale, AZ.  This marked his eighth time to cash in a WSOP event.  The farmer and rancher collected $19,120 in prize money.  This was his highest career finish at the WSOP, to date.

The ninth-place finisher was Gregg Wilkerson, from Denver, CO.  He is a 36-year-old businessman.  This marked Wilkerson’s best tournament performance ever.  He earned $14,715.

The final table officially began at 2:30 pm and ended at 10:40 pm.  The final table clocked in at 8 hours and 10 minutes – minus a one-hour dinner break.

The top 63 finishers collected prize money.  Aside from those who made the final table, former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included – Bob Slezak (35th), Tom McEvoy (41st), and Tom Schneider (52nd).

With this finish, 1983 WSOP Main Event champion Tom McEvoy now has 43 career cashes, which is 17th on the all-time list.  He is currently tied with Daniel Negreanu and Howard Lederer.

There were three female finishers in the top 13 spots.  J.J. Liu (Las Vegas, NV) finished third.  Julie Farkas (Albuquerque, NM) finished 10th.  Longtime poker player Melissa Hayden (Las Vegas, NV) took 13th place.  This is believed to be the first time three female players have ever finished in the top 13 places at the WSOP in any open event.

Last year’s winner was John-Paul Kelley, from Aylesbury, UK.  The victory marked his first of two gold bracelet wins in 2009.  Kelly also won an event at last year’s 2009 WSOP Europe.  Kelly entered this year’s tournament, but did not cash.

This is the 839th gold bracelet event in World Series of Poker history.  Note:  This figure includes every official WSOP event played, including tournaments during the early years when there were no actual gold bracelets awarded.  It also includes the 11 gold bracelets awarded at WSOP Europe (to date).

Some poker purists consider Pot-Limit to be a greater test of skill than No-Limit.  This is due to Pot-Limit’s emphasis on post-flop play.  Since pots gradually escalate in size in Pot-Limit, the magnitude of every decision is amplified as the hand progresses.  Contrast this with No-Limit, in which players can push “all in” at any time, which tends to create more coin-flip and races, which (some claim) reduces the element of skill.

Pot-Limit means a player can wager only up to the exact amount of what is contained in the pot at any time. By contrast, No-Limit means a player can wager any or all of his/her chips at any time.

The final table was played on ESPN’secondary stage.  This is located near the ESPN Main Stage, which is the site where most of the biggest WSOP events are filmed.  Many spectators prefer the secondary stage, since the setting is more intimate.

The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s victory (or some hours later when the tournament runs past midnight).  The ceremony takes place inside The Pavilion, which is the expansive main tournament room hosting all noon starts this year.  The ceremony begins at the conclusion of the first break of the noon tournament, usually around 2:20 pm.  The national anthem of the winner’s nation is usually played.  The entire presentation is open to public and media.  Video and photography are permitted by both public and members of the media.

Dempsey indicated he plans to attend the WSOP gold bracelet ceremony.  He requested his national anthem not be played during the presentation.  The WSOP plans to comply with the request.


Pot-Limit poker made its WSOP debut in 1984, when two Pot-Limit Omaha tournaments were offered.  There were no Pot-Limit tournaments of any kind at the WSOP from 1970 through 1983.

The only Pot-Limit game played at the WSOP between 1984 and 1991 was Pot-Limit Omaha.  Pot-Limit Hold’em action at the WSOP during this period was restricted to cash games.

The first Pot-Limit Hold’em tournament at the WSOP took place in 1992. The game has been a fixture on the WSOP schedule ever since.  During many years, it was one of the first tournaments on the annual schedule.

This event’s inaugural champion was three-time WSOP gold bracelet winner John Bonetti.  The always colorful ex-champ passed away during the 2007 WSOP.

Previous WSOP $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold’em event winners include:

John-Paul Kelly (2009)
David Singer (2008)   
Michael Spiegel (2007)
Rafe Furst (2006)
Thomas Werthmann 2005)
Minh Nguyen (2004)
Prahlad Friedman (2003)
John McIntosh (2002)
No Event (2001)
No Event (2000)
No Event (1999)
No Event (1998)
No Event (1997)
Al Krux (1996)
Peter Vilandos (1995)
Jay Heimowitz (1994)
No Event (1993)
John Bonetti (1992)

Note about “No Event” years -- Several years (above) included Pot-Limit Hold’em on the schedule, but event buy-ins were higher than $1,500.

The largest live Pot-Limit Hold’em tournament in poker history took place at the 2006 WSOP when there were 1,101 entries.

Last year's event attracted 633 entries. Entries increased by about 2 percent over last year as this tournament attracted 650 players.  This was the fifth of nine WSOP events completed so far which has seen an increase over last year’s numbers.

The $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold’em championship attracted 650 entries.  The total prize pool amounted to $877,500. The top 63 finishers collected prize money.

Dempsey’s win was amplified by the roars of several English supporters.  The cheering section, numbering perhaps 15 to 20 slurring and stammering supporters, chanted constantly for eight full hours, making the final table scene resemble a third-world soccer match rather than a poker event.  Things got so loud at one point, Mike “the Mouth” Matusow who was sitting nearby, complained the boisterous fans were too noisy.

When heads-up play began, Dempsey enjoyed better than a 2 to 1 chip advantage.  But he lost a big hand and the lead swung in Chanthabouasy’s favor.  Dempsey regained the edge and closed out the victory   

The final hand of the tournament came when Dempsey was dealt    .  Chanthabouasy was dealt    .  Dempsey pre-flop raised, Chanthabouasy moved all-in and Dempsey called.  The board ran out       which presented some interesting possibilities for the dog hand.  The   fell on the turn and the   came on the river, which snapped off Chanthabouasy’s straight draw.  Dempsey won the tournament and a long night of celebration instantly began.  

Through the conclusion of Event #9, the 2010 WSOP has attracted 11,732 total entries.  $20,221,200 in prize money has been awarded to winners.

Through the conclusion of Event #9, the nationalities of winners have been:

United States (4)
Canada (2)
England (2)
Hungary (1)

Through the conclusion of Event #9, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has been:

United States (3)
Vietnam (1)
Canada (2)
England (2)
Hungary (1)

Through the conclusion of Event #9, the ratio of professional poker players to semi-pros and amateurs who won gold bracelets is as follows:

Professional Players (6):  Michael Chow, Michael Mizrachi, Praz Bansi, Josh Tieman, Peter Gelencser, James Dempsey

Semi-Pros (0):  None

Amateurs (3):  Duc Pham, Aadam Daya, Pascal LeFrancois