2006 World Series of Poker
Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino – Las Vegas
Official Results and Report
No-Limit Hold’em Shootout
Number of Entries: 600
Total Prize Money: $1,092,000
Defending Champion (2005): None (New Event)
The Dragon Catches Fire
David “Dragon” Pham Wins His Second WSOP Gold Bracelet
Vietnamese-born poker champ collects $240,222 top prize in No-Limit Hold’em Shootout
Las Vegas, NV –If America is the “land of opportunity,” then poker is the amphitheater for fast-track success. The green felt provides equal opportunity for just about everyone to become rich and famous. Things which are important to the rest of society – such as race, religion, age, sex, education, language skills, family ties, personal background, and job title – have absolutely no bearing on who wins or loses at the poker table. Indeed, poker is the most “democratic” of all games. Short, tall, skinny, fat, black, white, male, female – none of these things matter when the cards are dealt.
David “Dragon” Pham arrived in the United States at the age of 17. During the mid-1980s, he was one of many Vietnamese immigrants who left everything behind in search of a better life. They crammed into small lifeboats which floated around the South China Sea for days, before being rescued and brought to the United States. Pham eventually settled down in the Los Angeles area and worked a number of low-wage jobs before being introduced to the game of poker by his cousin. Pham’s cousin had won several major poker tournaments and was quite well-known within the local Vietnamese-American community. He even shared some of his prize money with family members. The cousin’s name was Men “the Master” Nguyen.
Pham started playing poker about ten years ago, and tutored by his mentor “the Master,” he gradually improved his game. Before long, Pham was one of the best tournament players in poker. Pham got so good so fast, that he won Card Player magazine’s “Player of the Year” in 2002. Pham was anointed as “the Dragon,” an odd nickname considering that Pham is one of the calmest and most polite poker players on the tournament circuit. Prior to this year, Pham won his only WSOP gold bracelet back in 2001, in the S.H.O.E. championship, a contest of four different games.
At the 2006 World Series of Poker, presented by Milwaukee’s Best Light, Pham was one of 600 players who paid $2,000 each to enter the No-Limit Hold’em Shootout. It took two days to eliminate 590 competitors. That left ten players to return for the third day to compete for the championship.
Since the finale was a shootout format, this meant every player at the final table arrived with the exact same number of chips. Although there were some tough competitors amongst the final ten, David Pham had to like his chances in this field. He was the only previous WSOP gold bracelet winner of the final ten players.
The bust-outs started fast. Jeff Heiberg went out in tenth place and received $16,380.
Adam Kagin went out next when his ace in the pocket paired on the turn, but lost to two-pair on the river. Ninth place paid $21,840.
Dustin “Neverwin” Wolf was the next player to exit. The Los Angeles-based pro, well-known to many online poker players, went out with queen-jack suited against an ace-king. Wolf, who finished 32nd in the main event last year, took eighth-place on this occasion. He received $27,300.
David “Gunslinger” Bach was eliminated when his pocket queens were shot down by pocket kings. Bach, who holds a college degree in psychology from the University of Georgia, tried to figure out the meaning of a seventh-place finish, which paid $32,760.
Jason DeWitt has been playing poker for only two years. This was his first WSOP appearance. DeWitt went out in sixth place when his pocket fours were steamrolled by a higher pair. DeWitt received $38,220.
Chad Layne was the next player ejected. The insurance broker from Las Vegas cashed out for $43,680 when his ace-ten was topped by pocket jacks. Layne ended up fifth.
Reno Williamson went out next. The manager of a pipe fitting company, Williamson was drilled into a fourth-place finish. Williamson tried to steal from the button on his final hand of the night, got called, and then lost the hand. Fourth place paid $49,140.
Roland De Wolfe was the only non-American to play at the final table. The English writer turned poker pro took a tough beat when his ace-seven was edged out by David Pham’s ace-eight after an ace flopped. The higher kicker played and De Wolfe was sent away to howl about his fate. For third place, De Wolf received $65,520.
When heads-up play began, David Pham enjoyed a dominating 6 to 1 chip lead over Charles Sewell. It didn’t take long for the end to come. The final hand of the tournament was dealt when Sewell moved all-in holding ace-eight. Pham called with pocket jacks. The board didn’t help either player, so Pham’s jacks held up. Pham took the final pot.
As the runner up, Charles Sewell received $124,488. Prior to the event, Sewell joked that his Las Vegas trip had been a complete disaster. First, the resident of Okalahoma City was involved in a serious car wreck. Then, a short time later, Sewell was run over by a taxi cab. Perhaps the hundred grand-plus in prize money he won at the World Series made up for what has been a harrowing experience, thus far.
David “Dragon” Pham has also seen and experienced more than his fair share of personal hardships. Years ago, Pham started off with nothing, and through sheer talent and ambition, he became a highly-successful poker player. By winning, Pham collected $240,222 in prize money and received his second WSOP gold bracelet.
by Nolan Dalla
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