It wouldn’t be until the 1990s that Benson started playing tournament poker. This wasn’t rare for cash game players of that era, as the tournament scene was slow to catch up with the popularity of cash game poker. But once Benson made the move to poker tournaments, it didn’t take him long to show just how much of a force he could be.
In April of 1996, Benson travelled to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker. In his first ever cash, he won the $1,500 Seven Card Stud tournament, taking home a prize of $148,200. The win instantly put Benson on the radar for poker pros around the world.
After that win, Benson mainly went back to playing cash games for the next few years. However, he began playing more tournaments in 2002, when he started to become a regular face in events throughout Australia and New Zealand. Suddenly, his name dotted the leaderboards of virtually every major event in the region, and he began to pile up final tables and wins in small events in Melbourne and Christchurch.
While most of these tournament scores were small, there were a few notably impressive results for Benson during this time. In 2005, he finished 8th at the Crown Australian Poker Championships Main Event – the tournament that would later become known as the Aussie Millions. Then, in 2007, he won a A$1,000 buy-in tournament at the Aussie Millions, winning over A$148,000 in the process.
In his career, Benson has nine cashes at the World Series of Poker. Including his most recent final table finish at the Season IV Australia-New Zealand Poker Tour Grand Final, Benson has won more than $850,000 in his tournament career – 19th all-time among Australian players. These accomplishments, along with his unending support for the Australian poker community, earned him an induction into the Australian Poker Hall of Fame in 2009 as part of that organization’s inaugural class.
Besides being a world-class poker player, Benson has also achieved some significant accomplishments in the world of chess. Benson began playing the game at the age of 13, and took a liking to correspondence chess – the style of chess in which moves are mailed back and forth between opponents, allowing games to continue for months or years. In 2003, Benson won the Australian Correspondence Chess Championship. In the years to follow, he would earn the International Master and Senior International Master titles for correspondence chess, which signified his mastery of the game (Senior International Master is the second-highest title awarded by the International Correspondence Chess Federation, under only International Correspondence Grandmaster). Benson also has three daughters, and has been married twice.