- Andrew Feldman, ESPN.com
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Event 44 | Event 46
Since 1996 John Kabbaj has came to the WSOP looking for a chance to make poker history. After finishing in second in a pot-limit hold 'em event in 2004, Kabbaj made it a priority to overcome that disappointment and win his first bracelet. It may have taken five years, but Kabbaj's victory is sweeter than ever as he outlasted a field of 275 players in the pot-limit hold 'em World Championship event 45.
Kabbaj, 36, is a professional poker player from London. In addition to poker, he's an avid sports bettor and Tottenham Hotspur soccer fan. Playing poker has been his profession since he was a teenager. After attending college for a few years, Kabbaj determined that poker would be most fitting as a profession and has played around the world since.
"I always come out here [to the WSOP] for seven or eight weeks every year," Kabbaj said to the WSOP. "I am used to it now. This is part of my life."
The disappointment of 2004 weighted heavily on his mind during this final table. After his previous three final table appearances, Kabbaj hoped that he wouldn't leave this final table with the same frustration. He would have to finish the job by defeating another WSOP-veteran in Kirill Gerasmiov who was at his ninth WSOP final table.
"In 2004, it was the first time in the history that the WSOP went to a day three," he said. "We were so tired and exhausted. When we got three handed, it was all over in 15 minutes. It was like -- bang, bang, and it was over. Afterward, I didn't pick up my money for a week. I didn't talk to anyone for about three days. I was really down. It was the biggest score of my career at the time, but I thought I let myself down heads-up. There were a few demons here, but I dealt with it.
"Poker has changed in the last five years, or so," he continued. "Bracelets are a big thing now. In previous years when I came to the World Series, I really did not play in that many tournaments. I was a cash specialist. Pot-limit is my game and live action is where all the money was. I won a few big tournaments in Europe. But I never put a big effort here. The last few years I really tried, and now it has paid off."
With the first place prize-money of $633,335, Kabbaj eclipsed the $1 million dollar milestone becoming the 129th player in WSOP history to do so.
Other notable finishers included J.C. Alvarado (fifth), Jason Lester (sixth), Eugene Todd (seventh) and Issac Haxton (eighth).
Below are the complete results of Event 45:
Event 45: Pot-limit hold 'em world championship
Prize pool: $2,585,000
Players in the money: 27
1. John Kabbaj ($633,335)
2. Kirill Gerasimov ($391,369)
3. Eric Baldwin ($259,534)
4. Davidi Kitai ($183,638)
5. Juan Carlos Alvarado ($138,375)
6. Jason Lester ($110,431)
7. Eugene Todd ($93,085)
8. Isaac Haxton ($82,668)
9. Darryll Fish ($77,136)
10. Moshin Charania ($57,645)
11. William Kopp ($57,645)
12. Michael Kamran ($57,645)
13. Ken Lennaard ($43,091)
14. Thomas Pettersson ($43,091)
15. Vanessa Rousso ($43,091)
16. Florian Langmann ($32,209)
17. Gary Rabin ($32,209)
18. Justin Young ($32,209)
19. Erik Seidel ($24,066)
20. Sam Simon ($24,066)
21. Michiel Brummelhuis ($24,066)
22. Bryn Kenney ($24,066)
23. Keven Stammen ($24,066)
24. Luke Staudenmaier ($24,066)
25. Masaaki Kagawa ($24,066)
26. Daniel Drescher ($24,066)
27. Keith Charles Lehr ($24,066)
John Kabbaj waited five years for a chance to redeem himself at the WSOP.