2009 Doyle Brunson Five Diamond Championship Recap
December 20, 2021

The $15,400 buy-in Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic, the last official WPT event of the 00’s, began December 14th at the famous Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas with about 292 high stakes players signing up to play.

Registration for the event remained open throughout the entire day (as it did during the previous WPT Festa al Lago event), which often meant for each player knocked out, a new one would join in - taking advantage of the flexibility affordable with deep 60,000 chip starting stacks and blinds beginning at only 50/100.

Thanks perhaps to getting so many starting chips, by the first day’s conclusion only about 55 players had been eliminated, however, many of them were big name tournament pros including Joe Hachem, David “Chino” Rheem, Chad Brown, Jonathan Little, Jeff Madsen, Barry Shulman and Daniel Negreanu.

Some of the players who fared significantly better and ended the day with above average chips included Antonio Esfandiari, David Benyamine, Carlos Mortensen, Jimmy Fricke, Gavin Smith and Bryan “Devo” Devonshire.

Day Two of the Classic saw the end of registration, giving players a first look at the size of the total prize pool, as well as what was awaiting them in terms of booty, if able to make it to the final table.

In total 329 players signed up during the first eight levels of the Classic, nearly 170 less than last year, but still enough to create a total prize pool worth $4,761,450. First prize for the event would claim $1,428,430 from that pool, with the rest spread out to the other 26 players who were fortunate enough to make the money.

Day 3 began with less than a third of those 329 players still in the fight (130 to be exact) and it turned out to be the pivotal day for the tournament.

Some of the beloved players left on the rail by the end of Day 3 included the tournament’s namesake Doyle Brunson, Kristy Gazes, Mike Matusow, Gavin Smith, Howard Lederer, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Erik Seidel, “the Bear” Barry Greenstein and PokerRoad Radio “B Team” member Bryan “Devo” Devonshire, who lost nearly all of his chips to Daniel Alaei with Ace-Queen, in one of the biggest pots of the tournament, when both players flopped trip Aces but Alaei held the higher kicker. That hand effectively threw Alaei to the top of the leader board by the end of the day, while basically throwing poor Devo out the door.

Alaei in turn became the Blue Diamond Almonds Bold Player of Day 3, and during his interview with PokerRoad’s Amanda Leatherman, he discussed that hand with Devo. Leatherman ended the segment by asking Alaei what he thought his chances were of winning the event, with so many chips and only 36 players left in the field, and Alaei, despite being a multiple World Series of Poker bracelet winner with over $2 million in career tournament earnings, still seemed hesitant to possibly jinx himself by venturing a guess.

Perhaps he was wise to play it safe and humble in front of the finicky poker gods, because in the end it was Alaei who took the event down - his first WPT title - after defeating a very tough final table that held four players that had made it to a WPT final table before, and two that had actually won one, including the always popular Scotty Nguyen.

For the victory, Alaei claimed a top prize worth $1,428,430, a Rolex watch, a WPT gold bracelet and a $25,500 entry into the 2010 WPT World Championship - which will also be held at the Bellagio.

The final table finish positions for the Bellagio’s WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic were as follows:

1. Daniel Alaei $$1,428,430  
2. Josh Arieh $$952,290  
3. Faraz Jaka $$571,374  
4. Shawn Buchanan $$333,302  
5. Scotty Nguyen $$249,976  
6. Steve O’Dwyer $$202,360
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