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English online poker pro win $197,470, WSOP bragging rights

6 Jun 2010

James Dempsey, one of England's top online poker pros, topped a field of 650 players to win the $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold'em Championship (Event #9) at the World Series of Poker on Saturday night to take home $197,470 and his first WSOP gold bracelet.

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 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.

Dempsey, who is 27-years-old, has been playing poker seriously since 2003. While he holds a commercial pilot's license, he concentrates mostly on online poker. He had also amassed about $200,000 in live tournament cashes prior to this victory.

Steve Chanthabouasy, a 36-year-old business manager from Portland, Ore., was the runner up. He was born in the Southeast Asian nation of Laos, and his wife is from Cambodia.

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 before Dempsey regained the edge and closed out the victory. The final hand of the tournament came when Dempsey was dealt ace-10 and Chanthabouasy was dealt ace-seven. Dempsey raised pre-flop, Chanthabouasy moved all-in and Dempsey called. The flop (six-five-four) gave Chanthabouasy an open-ended straight draw, but the turn and river were blanks and Dempsey's hand held up.


Dempsey's A-10 held up in the tournament's final hand. (photo by GreasieWheels)

The third-place finisher was Joanne "J.J." Liu, from Las Vegas, Nev. Liu is the first woman to make a final table at this year's WSOP. She is a tournament regular who was born in Taiwan.

Mark Babekov from Fairlawn, N.J., finished fourth. He is a real estate relocation specialist, originally from Uzbekistan.

Scott Haraden, a painting contractor from San Diego, Calif., finished fifth, while Armen Kara, from Brea, Calif., was sixth. Joseph Williams from Winnipeg, Manitoba was seventh, Edward Brogdon, from Thorndale, Ariz., was eighth, and Gregg Wilkerson, from Denver, Colo., was ninth.

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).

There were three female finishers in the top 13 spots. In addition to Liu, Julie Farkas (10th) and Melissa Hayden (13th) also went deep in the tournament. 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.

(Modified from original notes by Nolan Dalla for
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