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Hellmuth denied again; Rodawig wins $10K Stud-8 title at WSOP

22 June 2011

Eric Rodawig, a relatively unknown poker player, defeated a final table of poker heaviest heavyweights — including runner-up Phil Hellmuth — to claim the $10,000 Seven Card Stud Eight or Better title at the World Series of Poker and $442,183.

Consider the formidable lineup of stellar superstar poker talent which finished -- second, third, fourth and fifth, respectively: second place – 11-time gold bracelet winner and 1989 world champion, Phil Hellmuth; third place – last year’s WSOP Main Event Championship runner up, John Racener; fourth place – five-time gold bracelet winner and Seven-Card Stud specialist, Ted Forrest; fifth place – former gold bracelet winner and high-stakes cash game pro, David Benyamine.

Rodawig is a pro/instructor at the poker training website Cardrunners. However, until this victory in the most recent World Series of Poker tournament in Las Vegas, Rodawig’s credentials had pretty much been purely academic. Now, with his first gold bracelet victory achieved, he can rightfully declare himself as the 2011 Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split World Champion.

Rodawig is a 26-year-old banker. Originally from South Dakota, Rodawig graduated from Georgetown University. He now lives with his wife in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.

To gain some perspective on Rodawig’s gold bracelet victory, consider the emotional devastation felt by virtually everyone around him who played deep in this tournament. No adversary felt more envious of Rodawig than the iconic player who finished second.

Barely a week after his less-than-satisfying runner up finish to John Juanda in the Deuce-to-Seven Lowball championship, Hellmuth had a shot to redeem himself and win what would have been an unprecedented, record-smashing 12th career gold bracelet victory. Instead, Hellmuth was a WSOP bridesmaid yet again, forced to witness the excruciating victory celebration of someone else from the cold, dark, lonely place that exists only within the perspectives of true poker champions for which there is no substitute for victory. With two second-place finishes at roughly the midway point of the series, Hellmuth’s only consolation in finishing second was the top spot in the current WSOP “Player of the Year” standings.

Well, that and the $273,233 he took home in prize money.

The third-place finisher too, endured his own private sense of bitter disappointment. Few poker players have won more money than John Racener within the past nine months. But until Racener achieves what has become an elusive moniker of “WSOP gold bracelet winner,” he remains grouped amidst the millions of wannabe's – although clearly in great position both in terms of talent and finance to eventually achieve his prize. Racener, who won $5.5 million for his runner-up finish in the Main Event last year, won $171,122 for his third place showing.

It’s hard to figure out how Forrest was feeling after falling a few spots short of victory, in fourth place. The calm, coy, poker-faced legend is widely-regarded as one of the best Stud players ever to play the game. But his wait too, shall continue. It’s been seven years since Forrest achieved a victory at the WSOP. Now, his wait will last a little while longer. Forrest won $123,904 for his finish in the tournament.

Then, there’s David Benyamine, who won his first and only gold bracelet three years ago. He’s become something of an icon within the poker world, due largely to his regular appearances on several late night poker shows. He’s also known to be one of the planet’s best cash-game specialists. But Benyamine too has his pride and wants to win. The bottom line is -- he didn’t. That hurts. Hence, Benyamine joined the procession in the pain parade, along with Hellmuth, Racener and Forrest.

Mikhail Savinov from St. Petersburg, Russia, was sixth, Las Vegas pro Joe Tehan, was seventh, and Ali Eslami of Van Nuys, Calif., was eighth.

Tournament summary by Nolan Dalla, WSOP Media Director, reprinted by permission.

 
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