Mike Watson captures first WPT win

Jul 29, 2008 7:01 PM

By Staff and Wire Reports| After more than seven hours of play, Mike Watson captured the World Poker Tour’s Bellagio Cup IV title last week in Las Vegas and first place money of $1,673,770.

The 24-year-old resident of Toronto, Canada also received a WPT champion bracelet and a $25,000 entry into the WPT World Championship.

Starting the final table as chip leader, Watson had many ups and downs, but was able to secure a strong lead to end the night.

"It feels pretty damn good," said Watson when asked how it felt to overcome the other 445 players to win the tournament.

The first player to be eliminated was Henderson, Nevada resident Gabe Thaler who took home $129,275 in sixth place. Poker pro and California resident John "The Razor" Phan was next to go, pocketing $193,915 in fifth. This was Phan’s 10th cash in at a WPT event and his third WPT final table.

Russian born Ralph Perry, who was consistently short stacked throughout the evening, was eliminated by Watson shortly after Phan exited the table, but still saw $290,900 for fourth place.

Once play became three handed, the audience roared in support of Watson and Luke Staudenmaier. Watson was able to win Staudenmaier’s crippled stack to take on David Benyamine in heads-up play.

"You never want to have to be the one to knock your friend out," Watson said of Staudenmaier, "but at the same time it’s part of the game. In tournaments you end up playing against your friends all the time. You get used to it."

In the 154 hand of the night, Watson eliminated Benyamine, the only WPT champion seated at the final table, sending him home in second place with just under $1 million in earnings.

This tournament kicked off the seventh WPT season. The final table will air as a two-part episode on Fox Sports Network Sunday Night Sports Block. FSN and WPT will announce the timeslot and schedule for the complete season broadcast at a later date.

For more info and to view complete hand-by-hand final table action, visit WPT Live Updates at www.worldpokertour.com.

One World Poker Tour® (WPT) champion, one WPT veteran and four WPT final table newcomers faced off Thursday, July 17 at Bellagio vying for the title of Season VII WPT Bellagio Cup IV Champion and the lion’s share of the $6,489,300 prize pool.