Dan Smith Rides Chip Lead to Win WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond Championship

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After starting the final table with the chip lead, poker pro Dan Smith was able to parlay that position into his first championship on the World Poker Tour last night at the Bellagio’s Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic.

Coming into the final table, Smith’s lead over Australian poker legend Gary Benson was a slim one (only about 600,000 in chips) and the rest of the table was formidable. France’s Eddy Sabat, Barry Hutter, former WPT Player of the Year Joe Serock and Shaun Suller were in a tight pack following Smith and Benson, only a double up from getting into the mix for the championship. With over $1.1 million on the line for first (and a not-so-shabby $175K for being the first departure from the table), the players set out on Wednesday afternoon to determine the champion.

Little occurred over the first 20 hands or so but, when the first elimination came, it was at the hands of the chip leader. On Hand 21, Serock (who had bled chips in the early going) looked to resuscitate his ailing stack with an all-in three-bet over Smith’s 90K opening bet pre-flop. Smith decided to look up Serock on the hand and it was a good call; Serock’s Q-10 off suit was behind Smith’s A-J and, after an Ace on the flop, the outlook was grim for Serock. Once a trey hit on the turn, Serock was drawing dead and out of the Five Diamond in sixth place.

Smith continued to be active at the final table, but it was perhaps a moment of discretion that allowed him to drive to the championship. After raising under the gun, Smith saw Sabat call from the small blind and then Hutter three-bet the action off of the big blind. Smith would simply call Hutter’s 275K bet but, after Sabat four bet to the tune of a million chips and Hutter called all-in for less, he tossed his cards to the muck. It was perhaps his best decision of the tournament; Sabat’s pocket Kings were trouncing Hutter’s Big Slick and, after the rollout of the Jack high board, Sabat bounced Hutter in fifth place while Smith maintained the lead.

The remaining four men then spent the next 70 hands pushing chips around the table before the next elimination occurred. Suller, after seeing his stack decimated by Benson, would push all-in on several occasions in an attempt to rebuild but, on Hand 90, ran his A 9 into the pocket Queens of Sabat. By the turn Suller had a chance at pulling off the flush but, when the river 10♠ landed on the felt, he was out of the tournament in fourth place.

With Sabat now in the lead, Smith once again went on the offensive. Smith would double up twice through the French pro, sending him spiraling down the leaderboard, and would finish him off when his K♠ Q♠ caught a King on the flop against Sabat’s A-9 off suit. By the time the river hit the baize, Smith had improved to a flush and Sabat left the Bellagio and the WPT tournament stage in third place.

It was a huge mismatch for heads up play, with Smith holding over 11 million in chips and Benson only 1.7 million, and it was over very quickly. Smith kept the pressure on Benson for about eight hands, grinding Benson’s stack down even further, before Benson found a hand to go with and pushed all-in. Smith made the call and showed only a K-10 against Benson’s pocket fours, but the flop switched the fortunes in coming down 10-9-5. Another nine hit the turn and, when a seven appeared on the river, the tournament was over with Dan Smith earning the championship.

1. Dan Smith, $1,161,135
2. Gary Benson, $672,685
3. Eddy Sabat, $436,160
4. Shaun Suller, $303,793
5. Barry Hutter, $219,165
6. Joe Serock, $175,766

The WPT trophy will look nice on Smith’s mantelpiece and surely the million-plus payday won’t hurt either. Smith has several European Poker Tour trophies in his collection (his run at the 2012 EPT Grand Final festivities earned him three alone and almost $700,000 in winnings), but this is his first win since an EPT side event in Prague last year. The WPT Doyle Brunson victory pushes Smith’s career earnings in tournament poker to slightly more than $5.6 million.

Although the lights have dimmed on the Bellagio for the WPT, there are still two more tournaments for the circuit before they take a break for the holidays. The WPT will step outside the United States for two events, the inaugural WPT Korea and the WPT Prague, which both begin on December 15. Following the conclusion of those tournaments, the WPT will take a break before continuing their Season XII schedule in January at the Borgata in Atlantic City, NJ.

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