There are professional poker players and then there are poker pros with additional impressive talents. In the same vein as Alex Jacob, poker and Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions champion, there is David Williams. In addition to being a talented and prolific poker pro, Williams was the runner up on Season 7 of the popular show MasterChef.
Williams is also known for placing second in the 2004 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event.
Take a look at this interesting and multi-talented young man.
David Williams early life
Williams was born in Arlington, Texas, in 1980. At the tender age of 16, he attended the early college entrance program at the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science at the University of North Texas. He later attended Princeton University and then transferred to Southern Methodist University where he majored in economics.
Magic: The Gathering
As a teen, Williams was an avid and successful Magic: The Gathering player who traveled the world competing. First introduced to the wildly popular card game’s pro tour in the late 1990s, Williams won three Grand Prix championships.
Following a one-year suspension by the Duelists Convocation International (DCI) for allegedly marking cards, something he would later explain on Joey Ingram’s podcast, Williams turned to Texas Hold’em—primarily online—and, well, the rest is history. Despite returning to—and winning several additional Magic events—Williams’ focus on poker has taken precedence. He does continue to play Magic—more for fun, Williams says, while he plays poker to make money. And make money he has, indeed.
Williams’ mom, Shirley, is one of her son’s biggest fans as well as a poker player herself. In fact, she outlasted her son in the 2007 WSOP Main Event where she finished 465th and won nearly $30,000 while he was eliminated on Day One.
The Las Vegas-based Williams has a daughter, Liliana, who was a huge fan of MasterChef Junior and spurred Williams’ desire to compete on the show. Liliana—who was four at the time—even filmed her daddy’s audition videos. Here is Williams discussing how Liliana urged him to compete on the show, the WSOP, and watching himself cook on television.
Even before MasterChef, Williams was known as a foodie. Take a look at the Williams-inspired burger from Las Vegas’ own Fukuburger, developed thanks to a mutually respectful and friend-making Twitter exchange.
David Williams on the felt
Williams was the runner up at the 2004 WSOP Main Event behind Greg “Fossilman” Raymer. Williams won a hefty $3.5 million for his efforts. Take a look at the final hand.
Four months later, Williams also finished second at the World Poker Tour’s (WPT) Borgata Open where he pocketed a respectable $573,800.
Williams has a coveted WSOP bracelet he earned in 2006 at the $1,500 Seven-Card Stud event, along with the $163,118 prize. He discusses his satisfying win in this video.
Also in 2006, Williams enjoyed two fourth-place finishes at WPT events. Then, in 2010, he won the WPT Five-Star World Poker Classic championship and $1.5 million.
David Williams has a truly impressive poker tournament portfolio, and, to date, his live poker winnings exceed $8.7 million, with the majority earned at various WSOP events. Williams is currently #2 on the Texas All Time Money List—sandwiched between the great T.J. Cloutier (#1) and Doyle Brunson (#3).
Williams also dabbles in live cash games. Take a look at this hand versus “Action” Dan Harrington where Williams makes a gutsy call facing Harrington’s all-in bet.
In this humorous Poker After Dark battle with Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari, Williams wins his first PAD title. Esfandiari is, as always, classy.
In yet another high-stakes cash game—this time the 2010 PokerStars Big Game—Williams and Loose Cannon Will Davis—are schooled by Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu.
On the virtual felt
In 2004, after the WSOP, Williams became a member of Team Bodog. In 2010, he severed ties with Bodog and then enjoyed a sponsorship with Team PokerStars.
Williams plays under the online moniker “RugDoctor” and, in 2009, he went on to win the $2,100 8-Game World Championship of Online Poker event (#42) and $107,800.
David Williams MasterChef Success
Williams appeared on the hit cooking competition television reality show MasterChef in 2016. He—along with Brandi Mudd—finished in second place behind winner Las Vegas’ Shaun O’Neale. Williams had an impressive six challenge wins—both individual and team ones—during the season.
Take a look at his delicious, episode 12 competition-saving dishes in this video.
Williams faced some trouble late in the series but prevailed and made it into the finals. In episode 16, he faced elimination but was saved by the judges and able to move on to the semifinals. Then, in episode 17, Williams was, again, in the bottom two. He faced fellow contestant Tanorria Askew in a three-dish, pork challenge where he reigned supreme and made it into the finals.
You can watch the entire season finale—and Williams’ impressive culinary skills—here.
Not only is David Williams an impressive cook, he is a successful poker player and former Magic champion. And, perhaps most importantly, he is a devoted and loving father. You can follow Williams on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Until next time.
Read more from Upswing Poker:
- Golden Nugget Poker Room Review: A Taste of Old Las Vegas
- John Hennigan: From Pool Shark to Poker Pro
- Best Poker Tournaments in Las Vegas
Natalie Faulk is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer/blogger and the author of several books. She is an avid low-stakes (for now) poker player and huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.