"I'm so happy to win a World Series event here at the Horseshoe", Ma said. "At the final table, I felt confident that I could win this tournament." This is the third in-the-money finish at the World Series for Ma, who holds two titles from the California State Poker Championship tournament and has cashed in several other major competitions. He came to the United States from his native Vietnam in 1975 and has been playing poker seriously for just four years.
Placing second in the $5,000 buy-in limit Holdem event and winning $135,700 was John Bonetti of Houston, Texas. A 67-year-old retiree from the property management business, Bonetti has to his credit three World Series of Poker titles, as well as numerous titles from other major competitions, and currently ranks 17th on the World Series roster of all-time money winners. He began playing poker on a serious level when he moved from New York to Texas 18 years ago.
Peter Vilandos, a 55-year-old recreational poker player from Houston, Texas, won third place and $70,800. The owner of three auto repair shops, Vilandos holds one title from the World Series of Poker and several titles from other major tournaments. He began playing poker 36 years ago in his native Greece.
Finishing in fourth place for $41,300 was Johnny Chan, a two-time World Champion of Poker (1987, 88) and the only player to accumulate earnings of more than $2 million at the World Series of Poker. He ranks No. 1 on the tournament roster of all-time money winners.
The 1996 World Series of Poker continues at the Horseshoe through May 16. The $1,000 buy-in Womens Seven Card Stud event begins today at noon, followed by the Press Invitational Tournament at 6 p.m.
The $10,000 buy-in World Championship No-Limit Texas Holdem competition is slated to begin at noon tomorrow and will run four consecutive days, ending on May 16 and concluding the 1996 World Series of Poker. More than 270 players are expected to compete in the championship event, including reigning World Champion Dan Harrington, and $1 million is guaranteed to the winner.
More than 4,000 entrants -- representing at least 20 countries -- are expected to participate in this years World Series, and the total money distributed is anticipated to be in excess of $11 million.