The Year in Poker: May, 2008
May was history-making in many ways for the poker world, beginning with the announcement of the month's very first day that the final table of the WSOP Main Event would be delayed. The end of the month brought the start of the 2008 WSOP in Las Vegas, and between the two several other major events, both live and online, saw champions crowned. Among the month's headline-makers were the following:
WSOP Final Table Delay Announced
A 117-delay between the majority of action in the World Series of Poker Main Event and the final table itself? In an attempt to build excitement for the final and reduce widespread advance knowledge of the winner, ESPN and Harrah's announced that for the first time ever, the final table would be adjourned for nearly four months until the second week of November. The delay had been rumored for many weeks and had seemed less likely in the days prior to the announcement, due to the WSOP itself getting underway only a few weeks later.
2008 World Series of Poker Begins
The World Series of Poker returned to the Rio in Las Vegas at the end of May to begin its annual run, kicking off seven weeks of non-stop action and a 55-event schedule. A day's worth of satellite and cash-game play preceded the start of the first bracelet event, and the series got off with a bang in the first two events – the $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em World Championship (Event #1) and the first of several $1,500 no-limit hold'em tourneys (Event #2), which shattered the attendance record for a non-Main Event WSOP tourney.
Allen Cunningham Wins WSOP-C Caesars Las Vegas
World Series of Poker Circuit events don't come any bigger than the May stop at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and Allen Cunningham triumphed over a formidable field to win $499,162. Cunningham's road to the title was formidable, as the final table also featured Justin Bonomo, Ralph Perry, Blair Hinkle (who would win a WSOP bracelet a few weeks later) and eventual runner-up Ben Fineman ($257,637).
David Singer Wins Full Tilt $25,000 Heads-Up Championship
Full Tilt debuted a new event in May designed specifically for the high roller, a $25,000 heads-up championship limited to 64 players. Those 64 players were trimmed to four semifinalists after a long first day of play, as David Singer, Emil "whitelime" Patel, Andy Bloch and Brian Hastings returned to battle for the deepest money. Singer dispatched Hastings in one semifinal while Patel topped Bloch in the other, and Singer then triumphed over Patel to win the event's $560,000 first-place money. Patel's runner-up showing was worth $320,000, while Hastings and Bloch collected $168,000 each.
UltimateBet Releases Statement on Unfair Play
The second of two major online-poker scandals became widely known in late May, when Tokwiro Enterprises ENRG issued a statement acknowledging that unfair cheating had been uncovered at UltimateBet. The investigation was still in progress as this first report was released, and the scope of the cheating – which eventually involved some 88 account names, spanned nearly four years, and totaled over $16 million in illicit winnings – staggered the online world. As with the first online scandal, at sister site Absolute Poker, the cheating was uncovered by the players themselves, whose mathematical examination of hand histories exposed accounts with win rates all but impossible by chance.
Julien Nuitjen Wins Inuagural LAPT Event
The PokerStars.com Latin American Poker Tour went live in May with the first of several large events that promised to provide a grand stage for poker throughout Central and South America. The LAPT's first-ever event was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in early May, and Holland's Julien Nuitjen went wire-to-wire at the final table to walk away with $222,940. Russian-born American Vitaly Kovyazin finished as the runner-up, for $117,750, with Nikolai Senninger of Germany third for $86,350.
Nick Ceci Wins WSOP-C New Orleans
The last World Series of Poker Circuit stop before all things WSOP returned to Las Vegas was the late May event at Harrah's in New Orleans. Lou Esposito made the final and tried to become a repeat winner before exiting in sixth, but it was Nick Ceci who carried the day and captured the tournament's 382,928 first prize. Ceci topped Timothy Miles (second, $210,610) for the title, while third-place finisher Floyd Vanderford might have had the best return on investment, parlaying a $65 satellite win into a $107,699 payday.