David Williams is a professional poker best known for finishing in 2nd place to Greg Raymer at the 2004 WSOP main event.
He was born in 1980 in Arlington, Texas. Williams received a score of 1550 out of 1600 on his SATs. He was accepted to several Ivy League universities, including Princeton. He went went to Princeton but hated it and left soon after getting there. He then took 2 years off and then decided to go to SMU and study economics.
Like some other professional poker players, Williams was very involved in "Magic: The Gathering". He joined the Magic's Pro Tour came in the late 1990s and had already won over $30,000 playing Magic when he made the final day of competition at he 2001 World Championships in Toronto. However, he was disqualified for marked cards, which were bent more than the other cards in his deck, making them easier to cut to when Williams cut his own deck. The tournament's judges determined that Williams the bending was not accidental and that Williams had cheated. Williams denied cheating by marking the cards intentionally but was suspended for one year. During this suspension, Williams started to play poker. He continued to be successful at Magic after his suspension ended but by this time his focus was more on poker.
He began playing in underground poker games in the Dallas area, using his winnings to pay for college. He qualified for the main event in 2004 by winning an online satellite. During the breaks in the tourney, Marcel Luske, one of the best European players, would coach Williams because he was the friend of a friend. He would give him advice about strategy and at one point, when there were only 50 players left and Williams was short-stacked, Luske took him aside to tell him that he was going to have to make a move. Right when he returned to his table, he made a move and doubled-up against Harrington.
Williams faced Raymer heads-up for the bracelet. After Raymer has Williams outstacked 2-1. Willams got dealt A-4 offsuit and raised $300,000. Raymer had pocket 8's and only called. Williams didn't put Raymer on a pair because he only called quickly and didn't raise. The flop came 2-4-5. Raymer, with an overpair to the board, checked. Williams, who had middle pair and an inside straight draw and an overcard, figured he was ahead and bet $500,000. Raymer raised $1.6 million and Williams instantly called. The turn was the two of hearts. Raymer, holding two pair - eights and twos - bet $2.5 million. Williams called. The river was the two of clubs. Raymer went all-in, and Williams immediately called. They both had a full house, but Raymer's was better.
Williams finished in 2nd place to Raymer and won $3.5 million. His second-place finish is the best finish by an African American in the WSOP Main Event, beating Phil Ivey's 7th place finish in 2009. During the tournament Williams, being the underdog, became a fan favorite. His mom, Shirley Williams, was watching as the action unfolded and was profiled on TV. Williams became a member of Team Bodog after the 2004 WSOP.
Four months after the WSOP, Williams finished 2nd at the WPT Borgata Poker Open in 2004 where he won $573,800. In March 2006, he made a 2nd WPT final table, finishing 4th for $280,000. Two months later he made another WPT final table, again finishing 4th and winning $221,958.
Williams won his only WSOP bracelet in 2006 in the $1,500 Seven-card stud event, winning $163,118. That same year he finished 2nd in the $5,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball w/rebuys event, winning $256,091.
There have been many players who have burst onto the scene in the 2002-2005 era who have notched high-profile cashes in the WSOP. But few players have been able to sustain that success and maintain a consistency that David Williams has. He has 18 cashes from 2004 to 2009 and added on $800,000 in WSOP earnings and $1.3 million in WPT earnings after his big $3.5 million win. As of 2009, he has 1 WSOP bracelet, 18 WSOP cashes, and total live tournament winnings exceeding $6,325,000.
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