David Benyamine has successfully earned both a World Series
of Poker bracelet and a World Poker Tour title which reflects
his incredible skills and effective techniques. Benyamine
recently made it to number two on France’s All Time Money List,
having made over $6.4 million from poker so far.
Benyamine claims to be a Pot Limit Omaha specialist, although
many of his most noteworthy accomplished were while playing
other variations of poker. Either way, no one can overlook the
fact that Benyamine is a very talented and respected poker
player, having been asked to make guest appearances in both
NBC’S Poker After Dark and the Game Show Network’s High stakes
David Benyamine was born in Paris, France on July 5th, 1972.
He learned the basics of poker when he was only twelve year old,
but he was such a talented tennis player that all of his time
was devoted to that. It wasn’t long before he started playing
tennis professionally, but a severe shoulder and back injury
lead to his early retirement.
Slightly depressed and unsure of what career path he should
take, Benyamine started going to the casino more regularly to
play rummy and pool, which he excelled at for several years
before being introduced to poker. He ironically first started
playing five-card draw poker, which he would now say is his
least favorite variant.
The Switch to a Career in Poker
Benyamine eventually started playing Omaha and Texas Hold’em
cash games at the local casinos with his friends, but many of
them noticed his natural talent and love for the game so they
encouraged him to start entering more tournaments. The first
time he won a group competition was in 1999, at the Autumn
Tournament in Paris, taking first place in the No-Limit Texas
In 2002, Benyamine placed third in back to back No Limit
Hold’em tournaments at the prestigious Bellagio Hotel in Las
Vegas. Today he’s a regular at the “Big Game” in Bobby’s Room at
the Bellagio, staking thousands of dollars every time he plays.
He once played there for two and a half days straight, only
leaving the table for quick bathroom breaks.
Benyamine was ecstatic to hear that the World Poker Tour
would be stopping in Paris, France. Excited for some tougher
competition, Benyamine entered the 2003 Grand Prix de Paris
event, expecting to get beaten since he was going up against
more experienced players. Many poker stars were competing that
day including Erick Lindgren and Daniel Negreanu. Even though
all the odds were against him, Benyamine managed to win his
first WPT title and over $410,000 in prize money.
The following year Benyamine had a run in with the San Diego,
California FBI, because his name and appearance was similar to a
person on the terrorist watch list, and to further add to their
suspicion, he had over $25,000 in his wallet. They quickly
discovered that they were mistaken, but Benyamine still had to
be deported back to France because he didn’t have the proper
work visa he needed to continue playing in Las Vegas as a
professional poker player.
He was prohibited from entering the United States for a full
year, so he focused on tournaments in Europe for awhile. He
competed in the Pacific Poker UK open tournament where he
managed to make several final tables and landing both a first
and a fourth place finish.
Benyamine came back to the United States with a three year
work visa and more determination than ever. Immediately after
returning he joined the Battle of Champions II invitational
event of the World Poker Tour in Los Angeles. He creamed his
opponents, defeating both Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari for
the $25,000 grand prize.
Benyamine entered the World Series of Poker about a dozen
times before he ever won anything substantial. In 2008 he made
three final tables and won first place in the $10,000 buy in
Omaha Hi-Lo Split, bringing home over half a million dollars.
Less than a month later, Benyamine was chasing after his second
WPT title at the Bellagio Cup IV. It was a close match, but
Benyamine couldn’t pull through for the win, losing to Michael
Watson in the final round, but still managing to take home the
second place prize of $840,000.
Benyamine was sponsored by Full Tilt Poker for several years
before the site was shut down in 2011. He won a significant
amount of money playing $200/$400 Pot Limit Omaha at their high
stakes poker tables, using various screen names such as,
“magicpitch1”, “ballsrider”, and “looseslots.”
His most recent accomplishments are taking first place in the
2013 WSOP Poker Player’s Championship event for $497,000 and for
taking eleventh place in the 2014 WSOP $10,000 buy in H.O.R.S.E
event for another $34,000.
Benyamine was engaged to Erica Schoenberg, an accomplished
poker player in her own right, but they have since parted ways.
No information has ever been released on why they decided to
split up, not that it matters anymore, because Erica is now
married to Erick Lindgren.
Today he currently lives in Henderson, NV with his daughter
from a previous relationship. Benyamine still enjoys playing
tennis and billiards in his free time and he actually is ranked
#10 of France’s Best Billiards Player of all-time list.
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