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Top-10 WSOP final tables at the Rio

9 June 2014

The 2014 World Series of Poker has already seen its share of impressive final tables (Razz, 2-7, etc.).

In the scheme of things, however, this year is no different from any other. With dozens of bracelets to be won, and hundreds of grinders vying for titles, there are bound to be some legendary lineups each and every year.

With the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino celebrating its 10th year hosting the WSOP, it seemed like a good time to rank the top-10 final tables held at the Rio. At the end of each write-up you'll find the finishing order for the tournament, followed by the number of WSOP bracelets each player owned at the conclusion of the tournament.

10. 2008 $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em
While this group only held two bracelets between them entering final table play, it's a tough group of players. Nenad Medic claimed his first WSOP title, and Andy Bloch was the runner-up for the second time in his career. Other well-known names included Kathy Liebert, Mike Sexton, Patrick Antonius and Phil Laak.

1. Nenad Medic (1)
2. Andy Bloch (0)
3. Kathy Liebert (1)
4. Mike Sexton (1)
5. Amit Makhija (0)
6. Chris Bell (0)
7. Patrick Antonius (0)
8. Mike Sowers (0)
9. Phil Laak (0)

9. 2009 $40,000 No-Limit Hold'em
To celebrate the 40th year of the WSOP, a special $40,000 No-Limit Hold'em event was held, and what a final table.

While the bracelet count is once again a little low compared to others on this list, it had a great mix of young guns and the old guard. Vitaly Lunkin may split the difference here, playing this tournament in his early/mid-30s, with Greg Raymer and Ted Forrest representing the old guard and Isaac Haxton, Dani Stern, Justin Bonomo, Alex Torelli, Lex Veldhuis and Noah Schwartz representing the younger generation.

1. Vitaly Lunkin (2)
2. Isaac Haxton (0)
3. Greg Raymer (1)
4. Dani Stern (0)
5. Justin Bonomo (0)
6. Alec Torelli (0)
7. Lex Veldhuis (0)
8. Noah Schwartz (0)
9. Ted Forrest (5)

8. 2009 $2,500 Omaha/Stud 8 or Better
Any final table that features Phil Ivey is going to draw some interest, but this one also included former Main Event champion Carlos Mortensen, who was aiming for his third WSOP bracelet. Other top players included Dutch Boyd, who already owned a bracelet, and Ming Lee, Jon Turner and Eric Buchman, who were still seeking their first.

1. Phil Ivey (7)
2. Ming Lee (0)
3. Carlos Mortensen (2)
4. Dutch Boyd (1)
5. Jon Turner (0)
6. Eric Buchman (0)
7. Tom Koral (0)
8. Peter Gelencser (0)

7. 2006 $5,000 2-7 NL Single Draw With Rebuys
With some of the smallest turnouts and some of the toughest fields, it shouldn't be a surprise that a few of the best final tables over the last 10 years have been in No-Limit 2-7 Single Draw events. This final table featured a former Main Event champion in Greg Raymer and the runner-up to that champion in David Williams, a six-time bracelet winner in Men Nguyen, and a first-time winner in Daniel Alaei, who has since won three more bracelets to rank 24th on the all-time list. Williams and Allen Cunningham had both won a bracelet earlier that summer.

1. Daniel Alaei (1)
2. David Williams (1)
3. Philippe Rouas (0)
4. Men Nguyen (6)
5. Greg Raymer (1)
6. Allen Cunningham (4)
7. Eliyahu Levy (0)

6. 2010 $3,000 H.O.R.S.E.
Anytime Phil Ivey is at a final table, it's a pretty big deal. But this tournament win came against a stacked final table, including limit specialist Bill Chen and (at the time) four-time bracelet winners John Juanda and Jeffrey Lisandro. And while three of the players hadn't won a bracelet, not many would say David Baker and Chad Brown are slouches, either.

1. Phil Ivey (8)
2. Bill Chen (2)
3. John Juanda (4)
4. Ken Aldridge (1)
5. Jeffrey Lisandro (4)
6. David Baker (0)
7. Albert Hahn (0)
8. Chad Brown (0)

5. 2011 $10,000 2-7 No-Limit Single Draw
Every single player that made this final table already owned a WSOP bracelet, and the defending champion (David "Bakes" Baker) and the winner of the event two years earlier (Nick Shulman) were also at the final table. The group had won 20 bracelets among them, entering final table play, and John Juanda eventually captured his fourth, denying Phil Hellmuth's bid to reach an even dozen.

1. John Juanda (5)
2. Phil Hellmuth (11)
3. Richard Ashby (1)
4. Steve Sung (1)
5. Nick Shulman (1)
6. David Bakes Baker (1)
7. Hasan Habib (1)

4. 2005 $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shorthanded
There were quite a few naysayers who believed Doyle Brunson would never win 10 WSOP bracelets once the poker boom began and tournament fields blew up. But Brunson did reach double digits, besting a tough field in one of the first shorthanded (now generally called "six-handed") events the WSOP ever held.

The tournament also featured former Main Event winner Scotty Nguyen along with Minh Ly, Layne Flack, Ayaz Mahmood and Jason Lester. And it could have been even more legendary if the final table had more than six seats – Men "The Master" Nguyen finished eighth.

1. Doyle Brunson (10)
2. Minh Ly (0)
3. Scotty Nguyen (4)
4. Layne Flack (5)
5. Ayaz Mahmood (0)
6. Jason Lester (0)

3. 2011 $50,000 Poker Players Championship
The 2011 WSOP was the last year that the $50,000 Poker Players Championship (previous the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event) was the highest buy-in event of the WSOP, as 2012 saw the inception of the Big One for One Drop. And what a way to close out the tournament's run as the highest buy-in event of the summer.

Brian Rast won his second bracelet of the series, beating Phil Hellmuth heads up. High-stakes cash game players Minh Ly and Matt Glantz were also in the top-five, and online wizard George Lind and young guns Owais Ahmed and Ben Lamb were also seeking their second bracelet of the summer.

1. Brian Rast (2)
2. Phil Hellmuth (11)
3. Minh Ly (0)
4. Owais Ahmed (1)
5. Matt Glantz (0)
6. George Lind (0)
7. Scott Seiver (1)
8. Ben Lamb (1)

2. 2008 $5,000 No-Limit 2-7 w/rebuys
Talk about a murderers’ row. While the bracelet totals for the players entering the event weren't that high, there's not one unrecognizable player in this field, and when the final table began. This table is also probably the best in terms of all-time characters, with noted talkers Mike Matusow and Tony G leading the way.

And it was a good summer for most of the players at this table – Erick Lindgren won his first gold bracelet earlier in the summer, and David Benyamine won his first later that year.

1. Mike Matusow (3)
2. Jeffrey Lisandro (1)
3. Barry Greenstein (2)
4. Erick Lindren (1)
5. Tom Schneider (0)
6. Tony G (0)
7. David Benyamine (0)

1. 2006 $50,000 H.O.R.S.E.
Forget about the best final table ever held at the Rio; I'd rank this as the best final table of all time.
This was the first year the WSOP held an event that cost more than $10,000 to enter, and the idea behind the H.O.R.S.E. format and the high-roller buy-in was to make the event poker's "All-Star Game." I think it's safe to say the concept worked.

When a former Main Event winner is one of the least notable players in the final nine, that's saying something (no offense to Jim Bechtel). With 27 bracelets and three Main Event titles amassed among them, this was one of the most highly decorated final tables of all time.

The epic heads-up match between the winner, Chip Reese, and Andy Bloch wasn't necessary to cement the legacy of this event, but it certainly didn't hurt.

1. Chip Reese (3)
2. Andy Bloch (0)
3. Phil Ivey (5)
4. Jim Bechtel (1)
5. T.J. Cloutier (6)
6. David Singer (0)
7. Dewey Tomko (3)
8. Doyle Brunson (10)
9. Patrik Antonius (0)
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.