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English poker pro collects half-a-million at WSOP

2 June 2010

Praz Bansi, a 32-year-old professional poker player from London, England, won $515,501 by claiming the title in the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em championship (Event #5) at the World Series of Poker on Wednesday.

The win was Bansi's second career WSOP title. He also won a $1,000 No Limit Hold'em event in 2006 and finished third in last year's WSOP Europe Main Event championship in London. He has been playing full time for about six years. Prior to playing poker, Bansi worked as a personnel recruiter.

"I worked in recruitment," said Bansi. "I decided after a few months that it wasn't what I wanted to do. But I stuck it out because of family and the things they expected me to do, and everything. But then I started playing (poker) and got a bug for the game and decided I just couldn't do the nine-to-five in an office."

Bansi now has more than $2.5 million in accumulated overall tournament winnings worldwide. He also crossed the million-dollar threshold in WSOP winnings with this victory. With his win, Bansi is now tied with two others as the only English players in history with multiple WSOP gold bracelets. The others are Chris Bjorin (2) and John-Paul Kelly (2).

The runner up was Vincent "Vluff" Jacques, from Quebec. A 21-year-old student, Jacques collected $320,913. The final hand of the tournament came when Bansi was dealt ace-jack, and Jacques had ace-eight. Bansi paired his jack to take the tournament title.

Bansi won his second bracelet on Wednesday

Bansi won his second bracelet on Wednesday (photo by GreasieWheels)

The third-place finisher was Calvin Kordus, from Anchorage, Alaska, while David Tuthill of St. Petersburg, Fla., was fourth. Tomer Berda, who is originally from Israel but now lives in Menlo Park, Calif., finished fifth. He previously owned a successful software development company before getting seriously involved in poker.

The sixth-place finisher was Don Offord, a.k.a. "Little He-Man," from Broomfield, Colo. The seventh-place finisher was Hugh Bell, from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. He is believed to be the highest WSOP finisher in history from the Caribbean nation. The eighth-place finisher was David Sands, from Las Vegas, Nev., and Kyle Knecht from Cincinnati, Ohio, was ninth.

The top 216 finishers collected prize money. Aside from those who made the final table, former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included Thomas Alenius, David Bach, Humberto Brenes, Antonio Esfandiari, and Todd Wittles. With his cash in this tournament, Humberto Brenes now has 56 in-the-money finishes, which moves him one spot ahead of T.J. Cloutier. Brenes is now alone in sixth place all-time.

Poker has reached the stage where a 2,000-player field no longer causes much of a stir. The first live poker tournament to break the 2,000-player barrier was the 2004 WSOP Main Event. Since then, 17 WSOP events have been played with 2,000+ player fields. At least seven tournaments this year are expected to crack that figure, which would be the most in WSOP history.

The tournament was played over three consecutive days, from May 31st through June 2nd, 2010.

(Modified from original notes by Nolan Dalla for www.wsop.com)

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