More often than not, those playing for the love of the game triumph over players who are simply seeking the big payday. Such was the case in the final regular WSOP event of 2010. On the eve of the Main Event, software engineer Tomer Berda outlasted a loaded field, capturing his first gold bracelet and an astonishing $825,976.
The founder of a prosperous digital firm, the 34 year-old from Israel had more on his mind than the cash.
“I didn’t get into poker to make money,” says the champ. “Money was not the ambition. I just fell in love with the game. I just wanted to play.”
Despite starting off with a 3-to-1 chip disadvantage heads up against Vladimir Kochelaevskiy, Berda was able to eek out a win.
“I never lost hope,” he says. “I think he was playing better than me. I am supposed to be a good player heads-up. He was playing better than me, heads-up – I have to admit. But I was lucky because I did manage to win a coin flip and then another two big pots. So, I was lucky on the big pots. But he kept chopping me down. I was lucky to win the pots that mattered most.”
With WSOP attendance up by a whopping twenty percent, the total prize pool for Event 56 weighed in at $4,466,600. A group of 1,942 players each chipped in $2,500, with the top 198 players earning a return on their investment.
Several former bracelet winners finished in the money, including Mike Wattel (5th), James Mackey (10th), David Baker (35th), and Jason Dewitt (65th). One other notable winner was Jamie Gold (195th), who managed to cash for the first time since his WSOP Main Event victory three years ago.
The final table shaped up like this:
#1 – Tomer Berda ($825,976)
#2 – Vladimir Kochelaevskiy ($510,939)
#3 – Bryan Porter ($353,260)
#4 – Salvatore Bonavena ($254,777)
#5 – Mike Wattel ($186,250)
#6 – Hungchen Hung ($137,946)
#7 – Ali Alawadhi ($103,527)
#8 – Joseph Curcio ($78,705)
#9 – Alfonso Amendola ($60,580)