The $2,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event attracted 1,395 entrants. The prize pool totaled $3,213,100. The top 99 places collected prize money.
The turnout for this year’s tournament increased by 7.5 percent over the previous year. In 2007, 1,290 players registered for this event.
The tournament was played over three consecutive days. Day Two ran longer than usual, due to the large field. On Day Three, the final table was dealt out on the ESPN stage, also known as the “feature table.” The secondary final table, located adjacent to the main stage area, featured the conclusion of Event #14 in an intentional scheduling overlap. Most days at the WSOP this year will include two final tables.
Proving that the World Series of Poker is truly international event, players from 12 different nations finished in-the-money in this tournament – including Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, England, China, France, Germany, Romania, Russia, Scotland, and the United States.
The winner was Duncan “Pumper” Bell from Vancouver, BC (Canada). He is a 32-year-old professional poker player. Bell is married to his wife Joyce, and has one son, Ian.
“Pumper” Bell got his poker nickname from playing aggressively. Friends say he likes to “pump up the pots.” He concentrates mostly on live-action games played near his hometown. However, Bell has played at casinos throughout Western Canada.
Bell collected $666,697 for first place. He also earned his first WSOP gold bracelet. To date, Bell now has two cashes at the WSOP. He took 318th place in the Main Event in 2005.
Prior to turning pro, Bell played ice hockey in the amateur ranks, He also worked as a bellman at the famous Banff Springs Hotel, a luxury resort in the Canadian Rockies.
The real story of this final table was the remarkable dream come true scenario for the champion (Bell) and his poker pal, Shawn Buchanan, from Abbotsford, BC (Canada), who finished fourth. Many friends say they hope to play against each other for a gold bracelet at the WSOP. In this case, the dream really came true. Bell and Buchanan play together regularly in casinos and some home games around Vancouver. They ended up making it all the way to the final table in this event, with Bell winning the bragging rights.
Following his victory, Bell stated in a post-tournament interview:
(Winning this gold bracelet) means a lot to me. Every poker player’s dream is to win a bracelet. Some people have 11 of them. I will happy with just one. But we will see what happens.
This was one of the least-experienced final table lineups in WSOP history. In fact, none of the nine finalists had ever played at a WSOP final table before. Four of the nine had never previously cashed in a WSOP event of any kind. The highest prior finish belonged to Nicolas Levi, who took 26th place at last year’s WSOP Europe championship.
Nicolas Levi, from Paris, France, brought along the most interesting cheering section of supporters. He wore a checked fedora while sitting at the final table. A group of seven supporters wore identical hats in the gallery. “We Frenchmen are not very many people here, so we must all stick together,” one of them said. Unfortunately, the Champs-Elysees fashion parade did not last long. Levi busted out in ninth place.
So far at this year’s WSOP, the average final table has run about seven hours in duration. However, this finale ended in slightly more than three hours. Only 73 hands were dealt. It was the quickest final table of the year.
The final hand of the tournament pitted “Pumper” Bell’s pocket aces against Steven Merrifield’s pocket tens. The rockets held up.
The second-place finisher was Steven Merrifield, from Fairmont, WV. He is a recent graduate of West Virginia University.
Talk show host Montel Williams played in this tournament. He was one of the chip leaders after Day One in last year’s Main Event. Williams says he intends to play in four or five events at this year’s WSOP, including the Main Event.
Through the first 13 events, professionals now lead amateurs in the gold bracelet count – 10 to 3.
This was the fourth WSOP event of the year to be featured by Bluff Media on the ESPN360 website. Viewers around the world can log on at www.espn360.com and watch final tables live. Bluff will feature 20 more WSOP events to be held over the next month. The broadcasts begin daily at 2 pm PST. Note: On some days, events will begin later due to unforeseen tournament length times on the previous day.