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California's Davis collects first WSOP gold bracelet

19 Jun 2018

Matthew Davis

Matthew Davis (photo by WSOP)

Name: Matthew Davis
Nationality: American
Current Residence: Dublin, CA
Age: 50
Profession: College statistics teacher
Number of WSOP Cashes: 3
Number of WSOP Final Table Appearances: 1
Number of WSOP Gold Bracelet Victories (with this tournament): 1
Best Previous WSOP Finish: 231st, 2007 WSOP Event #3: $1,500 No-Limit Hold-em ($3,888)
Total WSOP Earnings: $670,135
Personal Facts: Davis is married and has three children, and he cites snowboarding, hiking and mountain biking among his interests.

Matthew Davis, from Dublin, California, has collected his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet and $662,676 for winning the record-breaking Event #32 of the 2018 WSOP, Seniors $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em.

Davis, a 50-year-old college teacher, earned the giant payday in just the third cash of his WSOP career. Davis's two prior WSOP cashes occurred in 2007 and 2009 and combined for about $7,500, a figure vastly dwarfed by his payday here.

Davis was among the chip leaders throughout the day at the Seniors Event final table, which was pushed to an extra fourth day of play by the massive 5,918-entrant turnout. That number smashed the prior record of 5,389 players, set just last year.

Davis's victory in this traditional WSOP offering open only to players age 50 and up was sealed when he closed out Salem, Oregon's Bill Stabler during heads-up play. Stabler, a 61-year-old financial advisor, made the final table of this same event in 2014, where he finished fifth; his second-place showing here was worth $409,387.

Third place and $303,807 went to New Zealand's Scott Hamilton-Hill, Early final-table chip leader Gary Friedlander finished fourth, cashing for $227,072.

Davis teaches statistics at Chabot College in Hayward, California, and had to take an unscheduled sick day just to play in this event's originally-unscheduled Day 4 finale. Still, the winner's paycheck of nearly two-thirds of a million dollars should cover the lost day's pay.

Davis was also involved in a couple of unusual hands at a final table that featured several. Among them was his knockout of Rachel De la Torre, detailed below, where both players had pocket tens, De la Torre was all in and called on a nine-high flop, and Davis hit runner-runner hearts for the four-flush and the knockout. “I don't like to it go down that way,” he later admitted. “I'd almost like to forget that hand. I would've felt so bad on that one.”

Davis also took down a nice pot with quad eights early, had the better part of the massive cooler that sent this final's only previous bracelet winner, Bill Bennett, to the rail, and was also involved in an odd hand late in the duel against Stabler where Stabler folded his hand on a Broadway-heavy board, but did so only after the action had gone check-check on both the turn and river.

Stabler led through most of the duel while Davis weathered cold cards, but momentum flipped during the duel's last half hour. In the final hand, Stabler raised to 900,000 and Davis called. Davis checked on the flop, Stabler bet 1.5 million, and Davis, sitting on a 2:1 lead, check-raised all in.

Stabler gave it just a moment's thought before calling. He turned up his hand for a pair of threes, while Davis paused and then carefully announced, "I want to see diamonds, and then I am going to buy my wife some." He then turned up his hand, overcards with the flush draw.

Davis didn't get his diamond, however; the turn brought the six of clubs, and the river the eight of clubs. Neither player realized at first that Davis had paired his eight and won the pot and the event. Then, with the players and their rails catching on that the dealer was pausing before shoving the chips Davis's way, they looked again. “I got it!” Davis shouted, and he and his rail then began their celebration.

Davis decided to tell the WSOP a story during his post-win interview: “I came and played my first [WSOP] event, it was a $1,500 event, about 10 or 11 years ago. It was 10% of the field back then [who cashed], and I cashed, but it was barely over a min-cash. I made the money with three big blinds or something.

“I was talking to my daughter after the score – she was like in first or second grade – and she asked me, 'How much did you spend to enter the tournament?' And I told her it was one thousand five hundred dollars.

"She said, 'That's kind of a big risk.' I was just curious; what did she even mean by that? Six, seven years old, right? So I asked that. 'What do you mean?'

“And she said, 'You're not that good at poker.'”

Davis also noted that all three of his WSOP cashes to date have come in big-field events that have set attendance records, each in their own fashion. That includes this year's Seniors Event, which Davis won the first year he was eligible to take part.

This year's Seniors Event stretched to a fourth day due to the record turnout of 5.918 players, easily smashing last year's record of 5,389 players. Day 3 action found the field moving just inside the official final table of ninth, with Thad Smith, of Bryan, TX, busting in ninth for $59,064 shortly before action was halted for the day.

Bellaire, TX's Friedlander led the final's eight remaining players as Day 4 began, his 8.08 million in chips some two million ahead of the nearest chasers, Bill Stabler and Matthew Davis.

The five others returned to comparatively short stacks and one of those, Joseph Schulman, was the day's first casualty. Schulman, from Pasadena, CA, busted in a set-over-set hand to Bill Bennett, with the chips going in after the flop. Bennett had eights, Schulman had fives, the turn and river were irrelevant, and Schulman was off to collect $76,191 for eighth.

About an hour later, it was Frank Berry's turn to visit the cashier. Berry shoved his remaining 580,000 in, and Bennett and Scott Hamilton-Hill called. The flop came and Bennett raised Hamilton-Hill out of the pot. Bennett showed for a pair of deuces, and that stayed good through the turn and river, leaving Berry to collect $99,015 for seventh.

Rachel De la Torre's deep run ended in sixth ($227,072). De la Torre, from Yuba City, CA, had been trimmed to little more than a million in chips when she squared off against Davis. De la Torre moved all in with her tens on the flop, and Davis called, giving him an unexpected freeroll to a runner-runner flop. That's how it played out, with the turn and river completing Davis's flush and ending De la Torre's day.

Bennett's exit came next, in a huge pot against Davis. Davis flopped a flush and slow-played it against Bennett, who started with pocket tens. Bennett spiked his set on the turn, and the chips went in with Davis's flush still ahead. Bennett needed the board to pair, but the river brought a four instead to complete the board. Davis had Bennett just covered, sending Bennett off for a $170,944 fifth-place payday.

Bennett, now from Hoquiam, WA, offered one of the most interesting back stories at this final. He captured a bracelet in Event #3 of the 1984 WSOP, $1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha (Rebuy), and had he won here, would have set a record for the longest gap between bracelet wins, at 34 years. The late Chip Reese holds that mark at 24 years, the span between his second and third bracelet wins in 1982 and 2006.

Fourth-place winnings of $227,072 went to Friedlander, whose stack took several middle-sized hits earlier in the final. In his bustout hand, he moved all in from under the gun for 3.375 million, and Stabler called from the big blind for nearly all of his own stack. It was a good call, and though Friedlander had live outs throughout the runout, Stabler stayed ahead and the final was trimmed to three.

Three became two about a half hour later when Hamilton-Hill was bounced. The earlier near-double that bounced Bennett had moved him near the lead, but dropped several pot to become the short stack. He re-raised all in over the top of a Stabler raise for his last 1.6 million, and when Stabler called, Hamilton-Hill was narrowly ahead of Stabler. The board came Stabler's way, however, sending the New Zealander to the rail and bringing on heads-up play, with Davis and Stabler virtually even as the duel began.

Event #32, $1,000 Seniors No-Limit Hold'em, drew a record field of 5,918 entrants and created a prize pool of $5,326,200. 888 players earned a payout, with a min-cash worth $1,500.

Other notables
Among those cashing in the annual Seniors Event were Keith Lehr (36th, $18,515), Larry Wright (55th, $10,126), Per Hildebrand (73rd, $7,045), Kevin O'Donnell (108th, $4,344), Men Nguyen (121st, $4,344), and John Esposito (123rd, $4,344).

Final table payouts
1st: Matthew Davis, $662,676
2nd: Bill Stabler, $409,387
3rd: Scott Hamilton-Hill, $303,807
4th: Gary Friedlander, $227,072
5th: Bill Bennett, $170,944
6th: Rachel De la Torre, $129,626
7th: Frank Berry, $99,015
8th: Joseph Schulman, $76,191
9th: Thad Smith, $59,064

(Article courtesy of World Series of Poker)
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