When the day began, Benny Chen of Prince Edward Island, Canada was a restaurant manager. When it ended, he was a millionaire.
The 32 year-old amateur poker player bested a massive field of more than 6,300 entries to win the first-ever "Millionaire Maker" No Limit Hold’em Event at the 44th Annual World Series of Poker. The win sent Chen’s career tournament earnings from an impressive $300,000 to an unbelievable $1.4 million, not to mention earned him a prestigious gold bracelet. It also blew his previous best WSOP cash, worth just over $11,000, out of the water.
Chen emerged victorious from a lengthy final table, defeating doctor and commercial pilot Michael Bennington heads-up for the $1,199,104 payday. Bennington didn’t fare too poorly himself, taking home $741,902 for second place. Chen is the second Canadian bracelet winner of this series, joining Event 3 winner Charles-Andrew Sylvestre of Quebec.
More importantly, Chen joins the ranks of WSOP-made millionaires. He is now the 257th player with seven figures in WSOP earnings and the 26th player to earn a million dollar payday in a WSOP tournament outside of the Main Event. In other words, Chen had a pretty good day off from the restaurant business.
It is the kind of stuff poker dreams are made of, this victory. Chen takes his $3,000 investment (he was one of may players who took advantage of the event’s single re-entry option), and turned that into almost 400 times that amount–a life-changing sum of money whether you are a poker pro, an entrepreneur, a blue collar worker, or, in the case of Benny Chen, a restaurant manager.
When the World Series of Poker announced plans for the Millionaire Maker tournament, people knew it was going to be special. A tournament with a small buy-in of just $1,500 and a guaranteed first place payday of $1 million? How could it be anything but a win win scenario.
What we didn’t know was just how big a win this new tournament would be.
It is difficult to list all of the records the Millionaire Maker shattered when it began on Saturday. We knew this event was going to draw a big crowd, but when it exceeded 6,000 entries, it entered the ranks of some of the biggest tournaments in poker history. Thanks to two starting flights and a single re-entry option, the 6,343 entries made for the largest single starting day field in poker history. It also made it the largest non-WSOP Main Event field in poker history.
This tournament was even gigantic by Main Event standards. It is the eighth largest poker tournament of all time and generated a million dollar payday without having to adjust the prize pool to have seven figures up top as was initially planned. Every player at the final table earned six figures and the top 648 finishers all earned at least $2,740.
There was one player at the final table who amazingly already had a seven-figure score from the WSOP. Back in 2010, Dan Kelly earned one of the 25 non-Main Event seven figure paydays in WSOP history when he won the $25,000 Six-Handed event along with his first bracelet. There was no second million dollar score for Kelly today though, as he exited in fifth place. This was, however, his second final table appearance this week, having previously finished in sixth place in the $5,000 Eight-Handed No Limit Hold’em Event 2.
Some of the other notables who made deep runs in this event include John Eames (99th), two-time bracelet winner Scott Clements (68th), bracelet winner Ryan Welch (25th), commentator Bart Hanson (16th), and Joe Kuether, who bubbled the final table in tenth place.
Here are the final table results from the Millionaire Maker:
1st: Benny Chen – $1,199,104
2nd: Michael Bennington – $741,902
3rd: Jonathan Gray – $534,505
4th: Justin Liberto – $400,408
5th: Dan Kelly – $302,104
6th: Chris Hunichen – $229,575
7th: Upeshka Desilva – $175,713
8th: Robert McVeigh – $135,467
9th: Theron Eichenberger – $105,154