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David Benyamine Biography

David Benyamine Biography
by Chad Holloway of

David Benyamine was born on July 5, 1972 in Paris, France. Early in his career, he was a professional tennis player but was forced to retire at the age of twenty because of arthritis and back pain. On top of this, he was a top ten billiards player in France. Although he learned to play poker at the age of twelve, he didn't start playing serious cash games until later on:

"I first started to play cash games in France when I was 26 years old . . . Before I played poker, I played rummy; that is how I gambled. I consistently did very well playing rummy. A friend from the rummy club asked me if I wanted to try playing poker, but I had no idea how to play. I mean, I knew how to play five-card draw poker, but I did not know how to play open-card poker [hold'em, Omaha, stud], which are the games that people play the most. My friend took me to a poker room, and I never looked back."


Benyamine is known as one of the highest stakes players in the world, and as a Pot-Limit Omaha specialist. It wasn't until 2003 that Benyamine made his presence know to the poker world when he took down the World Poker Tour Grand Prix de Paris (357,200). He followed this up with numerous other cashes, but concentrated primarily on cash games, to which he offers the following advice:

"When you play cash games, you need to have a different frame of mind than you would have in a tournament. In cash games, you do not need as much patience. What you do need in cash games is to get rid of any fear that you may have. In tournaments, you buy in for a certain amount, and that is all that you can lose. But in cash games, you can rebuy and rebuy and rebuy. People can ruin their financial lives by continuing to rebuy in cash games that they can't beat. I have seen that many times. Even I lost my bankroll, a long time ago, then built it back up and then lost it again. Then I rebuilt it again. That has happened to a lot of players. You have to make sure that you can handle the pressure of playing for money that comes out of your pocket, and you must be able to control it."

In March 2004, Benyamine was arrested by the FBI in San Diego, California because his name was similar to that of a man on the terrorist watch list. The authorities eventually discovered they were mistaken but Benyamine was informed he would be deported back to France because his profession as a poker player required he hold a work visa, not a tourist visa. Benyamine was held for the weekend in a detention center and then spent five days in jail before returning to Paris. On top of this, he was banned from the United States for a year. In 2005, Benyamine acquired a three-year work visa and moved to Las Vegas to pursue poker.

In 2008, Benyamine began to devote more attention to tournament play and immediately found success. He made three final tables at the 2008 World Series of Poker and took home his first bracelet in the $10,000 Omaha Hi-Low Split ($535,687). The other two final tables were third in the Pot-Limit Omaha with Rebuys event ($316,307) and seventh in the No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball with Rebuys event ($58,990).

His other poker accomplishments include sixth at the WPT 2004 L.A. Poker Classic ($132,355), fourth at the 2005 Poker Global Poker Challenge ($40,000), thirteenth at the 2006 W.S.O.P. Tournament Circuit-Caesars ($23,575), sixth at the 2007 W.S.O.P. Omaha/Seven Card Stud High/Low 8/OB ($29,708), fifth at the 2008 NBC National Heads-up Championship ($75,000), second at the WPT 2008 Bellagio Cup IV ($840,295), eighth at the 2008 EPT London High Roller Showdown ($120,967), winning the WPT Battle of Champions II invitational (defeating the likes of Hoyt Corkins, Phil Laak, Mel Judah, and Antonio Esfandiari), appearances on GSN's High Stakes Poker and NBC's Poker After Dark, and being a regular at the "Big Game" in Bobby's Room at the Bellagio.

Benyamine has one daughter and is currently dating blackjack and poker professional, Erica Schoenberg. He often plays at Full Tilt Poker under his own name and under "MR B 2 U SON." Benyamine has lifetime tournament earnings in excess of $2.9 million.


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