2009 World Poker Tour Championship Recap
April 26, 2022
The crown jewel of the World Poker Tour, the $25,000 + $500 buy-in WPT Championship, began Saturday, April 18th, at the famous Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada and at the start of that event nearly every big name poker player imaginable walked through that casino doors to take their shot at claiming the WPT’s most coveted title.

Day 1A & B

337 players sat down to play during the event’s two starting days and thanks to immense starting stacks of 100,000 in tournament chips only 36 players were eliminated from the field during Day 1A and 1B. Some of the few players that made early exits included Phil Hellmuth, Josh Arieh, Allen Cunningham, Clonie Gowen and PokerRoad’s Kevin Saul.

Day 2

This trend of few eliminations couldn’t possibly last, which was proven during Day 2 of the Championships when 134 players were sent packing, including many from the PokerRoad family. Some of the biggest names to go during Day 2 included Gavin Smith, Erick Lindgren, Vanessa Rousso, John Phan, Kristy Gazes, Ted Forrest, Sorel Mizzi, Adam Junglen and “The Bear” Barry Greenstein.

Day 3

Remarkably, with only 62 players left after Day 3 of the WPT Championship, the list of surviving players continued to read like a “who’s who” in poker. Top players like Phil Ivey, David Singer, Jennifer Harman, Scotty Nguyen, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Kathy Liebert, Mike Matusow, Jimmy Fricke, David Benyamine and PokerRoad’s Jeff Madsen were still hanging in and were within twelve spots of getting a piece of a WPT prize pool worth nearly $8.2 million.

Day 4

Despite numerous short stack double-ups in the beginning of Day 4, the bubble eventually popped during that day thanks to two simultaneous bust outs for 51st and 52nd place (those two unfortunate “bubble boy” spots were taken by Ron Levi and John Martin leaving the final 50 players with a guaranteed profit of at least $7,000).

26 more players would be sent to the rail before the end of Day 4, including such pros as Matt Glantz ($32,685), David Benyamine ($32,685), Freddy Bonyadi ($32,685), David Singer ($32,685), Liv Boeree ($40,855), Mark Seif ($40,855), Will Failla ($40,855), Steve Sung ($40,855), Phil Ivey ($40,855), Barney Boatman ($40,855), Chris Bell ($40,855), Chris “Jesus” Ferguson ($49,025) and Nenad Medic ($49,025).

Day 5

An eventful Day 5 came to an end leaving only 10 players in the field thanks to a short-stacked Jen Harman getting it all-in with aces and getting busted by Yevgeniy Timoshenko’s 10-2. Notorious Bellagio “big game” cash player Harman was not the only top pro to bust during Day 5. According to official live updates, that were provided throughout the event by the worldpokertour.com, others that were sent to the rail included Freddy Deeb (12th), Ross Boatman (15th), Marco “CrazyMarco” Johnson (20th), David Grey (23rd) and PokerRoad’s Jeff Madsen, who was able to hang on till 18th place before finally shipping it all in one last time and getting snapped off. For the 18th place finish Madsen earned $65,370.

Day 6

As expected, the list of the final ten players still in contention contained a few well-known poker names, including two with a shot at World Poker Tour Player of the Year and one with a chance of achieving poker immortality by accomplishing what no other poker player ever had before.

Sitting at the WPT final table (not to be confused with the TV final table) were Justin Young and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, two players with stellar WPT seasons to their credit and both in contention to catch John Phan, who at the time sat at the top of the WPT Season 7 Player of the Year leader board. Joining Young and “ElkY” for Day 6 were Christian Harder, Shannon Shorr and poker legend Scotty Nguyen, who was dangerously close to pulling off an unheard of poker tournament hat trick, having previously won both the World Series of Poker Main Event and the $50,000 WSOP World Championship H.O.R.S.E. event.

As if that weren’t enough of a goal to shoot for, a runner-up finish in this event would also push Scotty past his friend and impersonator Daniel Negreanu on the all time tournament money list, according to official rankings at TheHendonMob.com, and a first would push him past Jamie Gold as well, making him the all-time top money winner with close to $13 million in career cashes.

Of course, for all that to happen, Scotty would have to get through nine more world-class players.

Final Day

At the start of play at the WPT final table, two well-known pros were vying for WPT Player of the Year and one had his eyes firmly set on becoming the all-time tournament poker money winner. By early Sunday morning though, once the dust had settled, only one of those things came to pass, thanks in part to a 21 year-old named Yevgeniy Timoshenko, who took down the event despite the absurd competition.

For first place, Timoshenko earned $2,149,960, easily the biggest win of his career, even with numerous six figure cashes including a first in the 2008 Asian Poker Tour- Macau worth $500,000.

By winning, Timoshenko not only spoiled Scotty Nguyen’s chance of taking Gold’s record, he also ruined amateur player (yes apparently their was at least one) Ran Azor’s chance of pulling off the near impossible by winning one of the most prestigious and difficult tournaments of the year despite his amateur status. Azor was knocked out by Timoshenko (for $1,446,265) during heads-up play.

Despite not winning the event, “ElkY” was still able to give the crowd at the Bellagio some of the drama that they had hoped for before sitting down. Thanks to a third place finish overall, Bertrand Grospellier successfully overtook John Phan for WPT Player of the Year at the last possible moment, and earned himself an impressive $776,245 to boot.

The final table finish positions for the $25,000 WPT Championship were as follows:

1. Yevgeniy Timoshenko $2,149,960  
2. Ran Azor $1,446,265  
3. Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier $776,245  
4. Christian Harder $571,965  
5. Shannon Shorr $408,550  
6. Scotty Nguyen $285,985
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