Last year the WSOPC Indiana main event brought name players like Joe Sebok, Vanessa Rousso and David Williams out to play but this year the $5,000 buy-in tournament faced some steep competition from tournaments being held north of the border and across the Atlantic.
Fortunately 144 players decided to battle it out in the event including 2007 WSOP Player of the Year Tom Schneider who made the journey and was rewarded with a very good day.
Schneider was joined by a few other recognizable players including Bill Edler, who amazingly managed to make the journey down to Caesars Indiana despite having just busted out of the WPT event in Niagara Falls the night before; Chad Batista, who won this event last year; Amanda Baker, who already won a preliminary event and went deep in the 2007 WSOP Main Event; and finally Doug "Rico" Carli.
The famous live players were joined by a number of well-known Internet players, guys like Ari Engel, aka BodogAri, Bryan Sapp, aka Squirelly1, Kevin Stammen, aka Stammdog, and many more.
The field was boosted by the addition of local living legend Denny Crum. Crum was a basketball coach for the University of Kentucky and guided the team to two NCAA championships. Crum has a local radio show and was seen giving out numerous autographs.
Coach Crum was also one of the luckiest players of the day. Although he played well and built a good-sized stack there were a couple of occasions where the poker gods smiled on him.
In the first incident Crum found himself involved in a large pot with one other player. Crum's opponent pushed all-in on a board of J♣ 7♦ 6♣ 6♠ and the former basketball coach made the call with J♥ 7♥ for two-pair. Unfortunately his opponent flipped over 7-6 for the boat. Crum was looking for a jack and much to his dismay another player who wasn't involved in the hand said he had folded a jack. That meant that Crum was looking for the case jack. As luck would have it that's exactly what came on the river - J♦ to be more precise. Crum was happy; his opponent was not.
Although that hand was astounding the next one had the entire poker room buzzing for most of the day.
Again it was Crum, this time calling an all-in bet from an opponent pre-flop. Crum flipped over K♦ K♠ and looked to be dominated by his opponent's A♣ A♦. Amazingly the flop came K♥ Q♠ J♣ and all of a sudden Crum had a set of kings and the lead. It wasn't to last as the turn card came A♠ giving the lead back to his opponent with top set. Incredibly the river was K♣ giving Crum quad kings!
Everyone in the room was left shaking their heads and the phrase "I've never seen that in all my years playing poker..." was heard many times.
Meanwhile in regular poker action both Schneider and Carli were playing well early. Carli was fortunate enough to hit a set of sixes on the flop against an opponent with aces. The other player couldn't get away from the hand and Carli grabbed the early chip lead with over $20,000.
Schneider was getting exceptional reads on people all day long and in one hand he called an opponent on a very dangerous board with straight and trip possibilities with a very modest two pair. His opponent ended up having nothing; Schneider raked a pot that was worth more than $15,000.
Unfortunately Carli's luck didn't hold and he made his exit when his pocket queens fell to A-9.
The Stunning One, or Bill Edler as you may know him, didn't make it more than a few hours into the tournament. He would have to settle for the $50,000 or so he made at the WPT the night before.
Baker was one of the few female representatives and virtually the only player to get into the Halloween spirit and dress up as a witch. Sadly Baker couldn't conjure up a spell to save herself and she went missing right around dinner.
Chad Batista was also one of the fallen during Day 1. Batista got caught in a semi-bluff with K♣ J♣ and that spelled the end of his poker tournament.
Although play usually speeds up after dinner at poker tournaments, things went extraordinarily fast in this event. With 80 players making it back from dinner, only 50 of them remained after an hour of play.
During this time several chip leaders started to emerge. For a while it appeared that Kou Vang was going to take control of the entire tournament and at one point he had well over $150,000. Vang must have gotten overconfident or hit a bad run of cards because he ended the day with an average stack of $60,000.
At the end of the day it was little-known player Vito Casullo Jr. holding onto the chip lead with $139,900 while Internet player Bryan Sapp came in second with $105,900. Denny Crum also survived the day, although he only has $25,000 with which to work with tomorrow. Of course tomorrow all eyes will be on the player ranked third in chips with $97,400 - Schneider. The Donkey Bomber continues to bring a whole meaning to the phrase "Oops I won too much money" and is in great shape to take down yet another meaningful tournament in 2007.
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