Watkinson Claims First Major Win with WSOP Pot Limit Omaha Title

12 July 2006

Lee Watkinson will finally be remembered, at least for reasons he wants others to recall.

Watkinson claimed the 2006 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Event #16 $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha title late Tuesday night, earning his first WSOP bracelet and his first major tournament victory. First place paid $655,746.

"Nobody remembers second place," Watkinson said after winning the title.

On the contrary, much like Phil Mickelson before his breakthrough win at the 2004 Masters, Watkinson was well known for coming close but never closing the deal in major tournaments. At the 2004 WSOP, he finished second to Ted Lawson in the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha event, and in a one month period later that year, he was second at two World Poker Tour events.

"It's a relief," Watkinson said. "It's nice to know that I can (win a tournament)."

Watkinson started the day in fourth chip position and moved into a huge chip lead after catching a four-outer on the river to double up through Jani Vilmunen, who started the day as the chip leader.

From there he was on cruise control, easily finding his way through the field to face Mike Guttmann heads up for the title.

For a player known for his second place finishes, Watkinson's heads-up play was a clinic on how to clinch a touranment. Watkinson took control of the match early, putting constant pressure on Guttman and taking small- and medium-sized pots at nearly every opportunity.

After starting heads up play with a 3-1 chip advantage, Watkinson seemed poised to take the title when Guttman went all in with 9-8-7-3 vs. Watkinson's K-K-10-8, but Guttman hit a flush on the river to double up and nearly even the match.

"He didn't really seem to have a lot of play to his game," Watkinson said. "When he did make a play I happened to have Kings, and that's the hand I lost."

After several back and forth hands, Watkinson came back to win 10 consecutive hands, building his chip lead back to where the two started. The tournament ended when Watkinson hit a straight on the turn to beat Guttman's pocket Jacks.

"It was nice to be able to win (a tournament that way)," Watkinson said. "I didn't just win the first big pot. I feel like I earned it in heads up play, even though everyone might feel like I can't play well heads up."

While Watkinson may insist that no one remembers second place, he had become famous for his runner-up finishes. After tonight, Watkinson will be famous for an entirely different reason.


AT OffSuite
In his previous life, Aaron Todd was a sports journalist by day and a poker player by night. He can now be found covering the poker beat for Casino City and making horrendously unsuccessful bluffs in his home game.
Write to Aaron at aarontodd@casinocity.com.

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