David Benefield, who hails from Fort Worth, Texas, is an online poker legend known by the name “Raptor.” That’s the moniker Benefield used when he first ran $450 into $20,000. Years later, that sum would be in the millions. In fact, as of October 2022, he has more than $4.5 million in lifetime live tournament earnings according to the Hendon Mob, and millions more online.
Born May 17, 1986, Benefield was 19 years old when he joined a group of college dropouts including Andrew Robl, Phil Galfond, and Tom Dwan to become the “Ship It Holla Balls” He even bought a half-million-dollar house in Fort Worth with Tom “durrrr” Dwan when he was 20. The exploits of the group were documented in the poker book Ship It Holla Ballas!: How a Bunch of 19-Year-Old College Dropouts Used the Internet to Become Poker’s Loudest, Craziest, and Rich Crew by Jonathan Grotenstein and Storms Reback.
Credited with creating the quad monitor set-up – a grind station system used by hundreds of online players nowadays – Benefield once posted a “Raptor Challenge” on Two Plus Two stating that he wanted to make enough money to buy a $1.4-million vacation home in Costa Rica, though that never came to be.
Like many others, Benefield, who was at one time an instructor for CardRunners, grew a bit disillusioned with the game back in 2008.
“For some reason, I am just not all that happy with what I am doing,” Benefield admitted in a blog post. “I have made a ton of money, have set myself up for life, but can’t seem to get any fulfillment out of poker. I am working on some lifestyle changes, and they are coming along nicely.”
Among those lifestyle changes were eating healthfully, practicing yoga, and moving to New Mexico to study philosophy and literature at St. John’s College. Benefield proceeded to announce his “retirement” from poker two years later and transferred to Colombia University, where he graduated after studying Chinese and political science.
Eventually, Benefield found his way back to poker with big things yet to come.
World Series of Poker
Prior to 2013, Benefield’s largest score was for $150,035 after finishing eighth in the €50,000 Majestic Super High Roller at the 2012 WSOP Europe. He also took sixth in the 2010 Event #17 $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em for $135,718. Other notable live accomplishments included 73rd in the 2008 WSOP Main Event for $77,200, 13th in the 2008 WSOP Event #1 $10,000 World Championship Pot-Limit Hold’em for $41,360 and 10th in Event #50: $10,000 World Championship Pot Limit Omaha for $53,721 the same year.
In 2013, Benefield burst back onto the poker scene by navigating a 6,352-player field to make the November Nine of the WSOP Main Event. He ultimately finished in eighth place for a career-high score of $944,650.
David Benefield’s Top 5 WSOP Results
|2013||$10,000 Main Event||8th||$944,650|
|2012||WSOP Europe Majestic €51,000 Super High Roller||8th||€115,000|
|2008||$10,000 Main Event||73rd||$77,200|
|2008||$10,000 PLO Championship||10th||$53,721|
2019 Triton Poker Short Deck Heater
After amassing $1,545,514 in tournament earnings in 2013, Benefield returned to relative obscurity amassing modest five-figure years from 2014-16 before not cashing at all in both 2017 and 2018. However, he returned with vengeance in 2019, which wound up being the best year of his career.
In January, he finished 90th in the PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) for $45,700, and in March took fourth in the Triton Poker Jeju Event #1: HK$250,000 Short Deck Ante Only for $206,414.
In August, he was at the Triton Poker London when he won Event #6: £25,000 Short Deck Ante-Only for $789,707, and the next day placed eighth in Event #7: £100,000 Short Deck Main Event for $447,886. Amazingly, a day after that he finished runner-up in Event #8: £50,000 Short Deck Ante-Only for $681,989. All told, Benefield won $2,171,696 playing tournament poker in 2019.
Did You Know?
- Went back to school after playing poker for five years to study philosophy and classical literature. In May 2015, he finished college after 11 years of undergrad.
- He skipped playing the 2012 WSOP Main Event, and his final table appearance in 2013 marked the fifth time he played the $10,000 championship.
- He was the short stack headed into the 2013 WSOP Main Event November Nine.