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Russia's Demidov makes history at WSOPE2 October 2008
The "big names" that sat down at the final table of the World Series of Poker Europe's Main Event when play began on Thursday in London were Daniel Negreanu and John Juanda.
The "big story," however, was Ivan Demidov, who carved out a piece of poker history for himself by becoming the first player to make the final table at the Main Event of both the World Series of Poker and the World Series of Poker Europe.
But the 27-year-old Russian pro fell short in his bid of trying to win both events. That's because after a grueling 22-hour final table, veteran John Juanda was the last man standing and was crowned the WSOPE Main Event champ. For complete details on Juanda's victory, click here.
Juanda, who was the chip leader coming into the final table when it started play on Thursday afternoon, is the first American player to win a WSOPE event after taking out Stanislav Alekhin following a seven-hour heads-up match.
Demidov ended up finishing in third place, but will now head to Las Vegas in five weeks with a ton of momentum as the WSOP returns from its 117-day hiatus to crown the 2008 champion.
At 23 years old, Alekhin was the youngest player at the final table, which was a good omen for him heading into Thursday since Annette Obrestad was the youngest player at last year's inaugural WSOPE Main Event final table and she went on to win. The appearance of both Alekhin and Demidov marked the first time in WSOP history that two Russian players made the same final table.
The casual fan knows all about Negreanu and Juanda. Heading into this event, the two veterans had seven WSOP bracelets between them. But Juanda, who last won a bracelet in 2003, has now caught "Kid Poker" by winning his fourth bracelet while adding to his more than $7 million in career lifetime earnings.
Negreanu, meanwhile, is one of the most recognizable stars in the game today. With four bracelets – including one that he won this past summer in a $2,000 Limit Hold'em event – he had more than any other final tableist in London, but his quest for No. 5 fell short early Friday morning in London when he finished fifth.
Sonnert, who finished fourth, is a 27-year-old professional from Sweden who was making his first appearance at a WSOP final table. He came into the day as the short stack but played well enough to make it to the late-evening, early-morning portion of the event.
The four other players eliminated from the final table Thursday night included Robin Keston, Chris Elliot, Toni Hiltunen and Scott Fischman.
Keston cashed in at a WSOP event for the ninth time in his career while Elliot, who was in 176th place when there were 179 players remaining in the tournament, is an online player who was making his first appearance in a live tournament.
Hiltunen is a 31-year-old poker pro from Finland who fell short in trying to become the first Finnish WSOP gold bracelet winner in history. Fischman is a two-time WSOP gold bracelet winner from Las Vegas. He won both of his bracelets at the 2004 WSOP and is the author of the poker book, "Online Ace: A World Series of Poker Champion's Guide to Mastering Internet Poker."
Best of Gary Trask