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James Dempsey Conquers Sick WPT Final Table

by Daniel Smyth, Rakeback.com Poker News Staff Writer

Sometimes a final table comes together that is so sick that medical permission has to be granted before any cards can be dealt. At this year’s WPT Five Diamond Classic the diagnosis was terminal as the host of talent on display threatened to have Mike Sexton and Vince van Patten flatlining before a winner was crowned. 

Having attracted 413 runners, the Main Event at the Bellagio was overrun with talent, and after each player’s $10,000 entry fee had been added to the prize fund, the winner’s reward was set at $821,612. 

Final Table Frolics

It took 5 days of play to whittle down the stellar field to a final table crammed full with poker luminaries. Of the talent on display it was short stack Vitor Coelho who was the least notable; however, with over $200K in winnings before the start of the tournament he certainly wasn’t there to make up the numbers. 

Despite being on life support with only 9 big blinds, Vitor managed to ladder up one payout place after Antonio Esfandiari failed to capture another WPT title. After the UK’s James Dempsey applied the pressure from the button with Ad-4h, Esfandiari decided that his Ah-Ts was strong enough to commit all his chips. 

A favourable pre-flop situation soon turned sour, as a 7s-3c-2h-4s-Kc board ended Antonio’s tournament life after just ten hands. Only two hands later the stack decimation continued as Soi Nguyen and Vanessa Selbst made it a tag team effort to eliminate Vitor Coelho. 

Two Down, Two to Go 

With two players down in super quick time, the ECG monitor was given a rest as the pace slowed somewhat. The lull in action was nothing more than the calm before another chip storm, as Andrew “Lucky Chewy” Lichtenberger and Vanessa Selbst met their maker just six hands apart. 

Lichtenberger was the first to hit the rail after his cold 4-bet all-in for 2,800,000 was called by the opening raiser, Nguyen. With pocket eights Lichtenberger was in trouble against Nguyen’s pocket nines, and after the dealer kept the odds in Nguyen’s favour the final three were set. 

Another 4-bet all-in caused the demise of Vanessa Selbst when she found herself all-in and dominated with Kc-9s against the Ah-9c of James Dempsey. An ace on the board sealed the deal for Dempsey and left Selbst with nothing but a cheque for $338,351. 

Heads-Up Finale

While the preceding action was fast and furious, the final duel became an epic battle. Starting the clash just 100,000 chips apart, Dempsey and Nguyen shifted chips back-and-forth for two hours before the former gradually edged ahead. 

The prolonged match could only last so long, and after Nguyen 3-bet all-in with Kc-Jd, all that was left for Dempsey to do was call with Kh-Qc. The Jc-9h-6c flop gave Nguyen an unlikely lead in the hand and while the turn was a safe 4h, the 10d on the river restored the pre-flop harmony and gave Dempsey his first WPT title.

Final Table Payouts:

  • James Dempsey  – $821,612
  • Soi Nguyen  – $517,478
  • Vanessa Selbst – $338,351
  • Andrew Lichtenberger  – $218,933
  • Vitor Coelho – $159,224
  • Antonio Esfandiari – $119,418



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