No Deposit Poker
WSOP logo

Great Moments in Poker History: The Most Impressive Final Table Ever?

WSOP logoAt the 2008 World Series of Poker, the poker world was introduced to two young stars who would go on to become two of the biggest names in the game, Vanessa Selbst and Phil Galfond, one of whom would triumph over what is arguably the toughest final table of all time.

In 2008 Vanessa Selbst captured her first World Series of Poker bracelet (and her first major tournament victory) in a $1,500 PLO tournament, kick-starting what has become a Hall of Fame career. But the bigger PLO story in 2008 was the $5,000 PLO rebuy tournament, won by online legend Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond.

The tournament’s rebuy structure made this an absolute sharkfest (there were 142 entries and more than thrice that many rebuys, which put the average buy-in at over $20,000) with only the best players in the game competing. And with an all-star field, poker got an all-star final table.

Many people consider this the greatest final table in poker history.

  1. Philip Galfond – $817,781
  2. Adam Houran – $493,748
  3. David Benyamine – $316,307
  4. Johnny Chan – $246,874
  5. Kirill Gerasimov – $192,870
  6. John Juanda – $154,296
  7. Daniel Negreanu – $123,437
  8. Phil Hellmuth Jr – $100,292
  9. Brian Rast – $84,863
  10. Chris Ferguson – $69,433

At least half of the participants are or will be in the Poker Hall of Fame when all is said and done, so it’s pretty hard to argue with anyone who tags this as the toughest final table lineup in poker history.

What makes the final table all the more impressive is the fact that there wasn’t a single soft spot in the lineup – there was not one player whose resume at the time was a blank sheet.

The Internet guys

Galfond, Rast and Houran were among the top online players when this tournament took place.

Galfond and Rast would go on to be considered among the top players in poker, live or online. In 2008 online players were just starting to gain the respect of live players, and all three of these players were relatively unknown outside of online circles.

If Rast and Galfond continue to put up results like they have up to this point it wouldn’t be all that surprising for the 2008 $5k PLO event at the WSOP to have seen seven Hall of Fame resumes seated at the final table.

The hot-running Frenchman

When the 2008 WSOP rolled around, David Benyamine was in the midst of an incredible run that had many talking about the Frenchman as one of the top players in the world.

He was on an absolute tear at the Full Tilt Poker tables, where he could be found sitting at just about every nosebleed table waiting for anyone to sit down and play – during this time period he didn’t get many takers.

The hard-luck Russian

Kirill Gerasimov was one of the first Russians to really make an impact in the poker world, and had a couple of cards gone his way Gerasimov could easily have a couple bracelets or a WPT/EPT title on his resume.

One of the true hard luck losers during the poker boom years, Gerasimov never won a major tournament title, but he has made nine WSOP final tables and finished second three times. Gerasimov was also the runner-up in the 2003 WPT $25k Championship, and finished 3rd in the 2006 EPT Deauville Main Event.

The Hall of Famers

Take away the FTP debacle and Chris Ferguson is an obvious Hall of Famer, as are Daniel Negreanu and John Juanda, and Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth are already in poker’s most exclusive club.

The presence of one of these players is enough to fill a 500 word column, so imagine the buzz around the Rio when all five of these players were all playing for a bracelet, taking on some of the hottest players in the game along with a trio of Internet hotshots.

The bracelet race

An added dimension at the final table was the heated bracelet race taking place during this time period between Hellmuth, Chan, and Doyle Brunson.

When the $5k PLO tournament was down to just ten players, two of those players were still alive and chasing WSOP history. Phil Hellmuth went into the final table with eleven WSOP bracelets and Johnny Chan with ten.

Tournament results and player statistics courtesy of

Steve Ruddock

Steve has been writing about online poker news for about as long as there has been online poker news to write about. A contributor to over a dozen sites, Steve handles our weekly Around Online Poker news wrap up.

Welcome to is an affiliate of the brands we promote throughout this site. While we strive to maintain accuracy throughout our content, we do receive compensation for this promotion.

Here you will find the latest no deposit poker bonuses from the top poker rooms for players from the UK and beyond.

We currently have deals available from some of the UK's top poker rooms that let you play for real money without making any deposit. Use any of the links you see on this site to secure great poker deals at reputable online sites.

UK Poker News& Notes