Duncan “Pumper” Bell finished off the final table in a mere 73 hands to collect a World Series of Poker gold bracelet and USD 666,777 in Event #13 (USD 2,500 No Limit Hold ‘em). The 32-year-old poker pro began the final table with the chip lead followed closely by his good friend from home, World Poker Tour title holder Shawn Buchanan, and West Virginia’s Steve Merrifield.
The day got off to an action filled start when Merrifield busted Nicolas Levi on the second hand of play, his A-10 winning a race against Levi’s pocket sevens. Incredibly, just 14 hands later Bell had sent three more players to rail, increasing his chip lead and narrowing the field to five players. After Bell’s multiple eliminations Merrifield followed suit, busting Brent Hanks, Buchanan and Nathan Doudney, setting the stage for a heads-up match between the snipers at the table.
The heads-up match started with Bell and Merrifield almost dead even in chips, but Bell took down the first four pots to break the tie. Merrifield fired right back, however, and took down two big pots, including one that could have been the defining hand of the tournament. Bell raised pre-flop and Merrifield called to see a flop of 5-8-2. Merrifield made a bet and Bell smooth called, bringing a 4 on the turn. Merrifield fired again and again Bell called. A 9 on the river induced a third barrel from Merrifield, this time for a million chips. Bell made the call and when Merrifield turned over K-9, the usually stoic Bell looked visibly frustrated, making it obvious to the crowd that he was ahead until the river paired Merrifield’s hand.
The pot was worth almost 4 million chips, but just as it looked as though Merrifield had Bell on the ropes, Bell doubled up when Merrifield moved all-in on a 9-4-7-4 board. Bell called with A-9 and Merrifield winced, turning over a huge underdog in pocket fives. The river blanked and once again the two were close to even.
The final hand came just a few minutes later. Holding two black Aces, Bell called a pre-flop button raise from Merrifield. The flop came out 6-8-2, all black. Bell bet out and Merrifield came back over the top, inducing an all-in from Bell. Merrifield called instantly and confidently tabled pocket tens, an over pair to the board. But when Bell rolled over his Aces Merrifield put his hands over his face and Bell’s rowdy cheering section – including fourth place finisher Buchanan – went wild.
The turn and river provided no help for Merrifield and he was eliminated in 2nd place, collecting USD 428,948 and his second cash of the 2008 WSOP.
Bell will take the bracelet and USD 666,777 back home to his wife and son in Vancouver.
“It means a lot to me. Every poker players dream is to win a bracelet,” Bell said in a post-tournament interview.
Bell also thanked his good friend Shawn Buchanan for his support and rightfully acknowledged how unlikely it was for two home town friends to enter a tournament with nearly 1,390 players and end up next to each other at the final table, first and second in chips. “He’s an amazing, world class player,” Bell said of Buchanan. Apparently, so is Bell; he’s got a gold WSOP bracelet to prove it.