High Stakes WSOP Review: Ben Yu Continues The Beat; Hellmuth Final Table; Foxen Featuring

ben yu
Ben Yu – Image by pokercentral

On Monday night, Celine Dion called time on her 16-year residency at Caesars’ Coliseum on the Las Vegas Strip. 


What do we do on a Saturday night, now?

You’re in luck because until July 16th you can play at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), a collection of poker tournaments involved a constellation of poker players ranging from T Tauri to those sparkling in the highest stakes in the business.

At Paul Phua Poker (PPP), we focus on the latter part of that equation, and, today, we run through the finishing order of Events #3 to #8 to see how those that ink the pages of high stakes fairy tales rated.

We’ll begin with a world record, after Event #3: BIG 50 – $500 No-Limit Hold’em attracted a field of 28,371-entrants, all vying for the $5m in guaranteed prize money, and a $1m guaranteed first prize, and not one high roller regular made either one of the 100 ITM spots. Femi Fashakin collected the $1,147,499 first prize after taking a machete to a final table bereft of experience. 

The same can’t be said for Event #4: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Li 8 or Better. Derek McMaster conquered 853-entrants to win the $228,228 first prize, and a few high rollers, past and present, finished ITM.

Last year, Ben Yu finished runner-up to Shaun Deeb in the WSOP Player of the Year stakes, and he’s started this year in the same fashion. The winner of last year’s $50,000 No-Limit Hold’em tournament, finished seventh in this one. 

Patrick Leonard has a love/hate relationship with high buy-in live events, and a little over a year ago decided to quench his thirst on the online poker grind, leaving big money live events behind. It was an excellent choice with Leonard currently sitting #3 in the PocketFives Online Poker World Rankings. Let’s hope he makes #1 soon so he can turn to high stakes live events as his next challenge. Leonard finished ninth to add to his side event win at MILLIONS South America earlier this year.

Step into a time machine and backpedal a decade and you’ll find David Benyamine and Eli Elezra competing in high stakes poker tournaments – the golden oldies finished 68th and 97th in this one.

James Obst and Alex Foxen Bag a Couple of ITM Finishes

A year ago, James Obst announced plans to leave poker to focus on playing tennis. The Australian, never competed in high roller tournaments, regularly, but he would flick it in the significant buy-in events at the WSOP and Aussie Millions, so he gets some finger time.

Obst finished 45/296 in Event #6: $2,500 Limit Mixed Triple Draw (an event that Dan Zack won, beating 296-entrants for $160,447), and also finished 167/2825 in the first online bracelet event of the summer ($400 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em). 

The former WSOP Player of the Year and high stakes cash game grinder, Mike Gorodinsky finished eighth in Event #6, and Phil Hellmuth Jr showed his ability to caress a mouse like a queen feels a pearl, making the final table of the online bracelet event. Hellmuth’s search for a 16th bracelet ended respectively in fifth (Yong “LuckySpewy1” Kwon would take the title).

Other players cashing in the online event, who like to swim in high stakes waters were Niall Farrell (27th), Alex Foxen (74th), Darren Elias (132nd), Chris Hunichen (243rd), and Pete Chen (332nd).

Global Poker Index (GPI) World #1, Alex Foxen, also made money in the inaugural Short-Deck event, finished twelfth. Alex Epstein conquered a field of 114-entrants to win the $296,227 in Event #8: $10,000 Short Deck. High rollers making money included Anson Tsang (3rd), Chance Kornuth (4th), Andrew Robl (7th), Justin Bonomo (11th) and Bill Perkins (17th).

Kane Kalas isn’t a reg on the high stakes scene, but the one time, Triton Poker Super High Roller Series commentator, who finished 15th in this event, deserves a shout thanks to this incredible pot against Jason Koon in the 2018 Triton Poker Super High Roller Series in Montenegro. 

Kalas, my man, I know you have a singing voice that can make cheeks wetter than a cut, so I thought you should know a spot has opened up at the Coliseum mate.