Fast play, major comebacks at Indiana WSOPC

Ship Teh Chips

Poker players from the Ohio River Valley and beyond have begun their pilgrimage to Elizabeth, Ind., where the latest WSOP Circuit festival at Caesars Indiana is under way.

In the five days since the world's largest gaming riverboat opened its doors to players and fans alike, three champions have already been crowned. Here's a quick look at what's happened so far.

Event 1: $300+$40 NLHE

Event 1 attracted a healthy field of 416 players. The pace of play was so brisk throughout the event that the tournament director allowed the competitors to play through the final table on Day 2 instead of returning for a third day of action.

Rising to the top of the field was 55-year-old David Burch, an Air Force veteran and former poker dealer from Loogootee, Indiana. Burch claims to only play No-Limit "when he has no choice," preferring Limit games, which he says require more skill than big-bet games.

Still, Burch must have been thrilled that the rules of the game allowed him to move all-in and double up three times in the opening round of the final table.

After coming in with the shortest stack - only $28,000 of more than $1,000,000 in play - Burch found himself over the $600,000 mark with just four players remaining. To complete the sense of turnabout, incoming final-table chip leader Rick Stinson was in fourth place with just $116,000 in chips.

Stinson held on tight, making it down to the heads-up match and offering to make a deal with Burch. But the self-described "old Limit player" refused, saying he'd never made a deal in 33 years of playing tournaments. He closed Stinson out six hands later when he hit quad jacks to seal his victory.

This is how the chips fell at the final table:

David W. Burch
Loogootee, Ind.
Rick Stinson
Henderson, Ky.
Robert jolley
Monroe, Tenn.
Kevin M. Davis
Shepherdsville, Ky.
Jason Ainsworth
Fort Mills, S.C.
Matthew Andrews
Nashville, Tenn.
Alan Tavel
Indianapolis, Ind.
Lewis Campbell
Maryville, Tenn.
William Pfister
Jasper, Ind.

Event 2: $300+$40 1/2 NLHE, 1/2 PLO

Event 2 was a change of pace; the $300+40 tournament was half No-Limit Hold'em, half Pot-Limit Omaha. The field size dropped off to just 155 players, but there was plenty of action at the tables with the 30-minute alternating rounds of Hold'em and Omaha.

Just as had been the case in Event 1, the tournament was played at a torrid pace. The relatively small field was whittled down to the final table halfway through Day 2, and the final table would come and go even more quickly.

The incoming chip leader, 24-year-old Nima Hassanejad of Brentwood, Tenn., made an amazing run just to be in contention. With the tournament down to four tables, the computer engineering student found himself down to his last three big blinds; a rush of cards helped him to cruise to the final table.

Hassanejad didn't have to do much heavy lifting once he reached the final 10. When he wasn't busy picking up uncontested pots, he let his opponents do the dirty work of knocking one another out. In fact, before entering the heads-up match, Hassanejad only knocked out one player, seventh-place finisher Hamid Shami.

The ease with which Hassanejad mastered the final table was reflected in his heads-up match with Edward Sullivan, who has been playing poker for 11 years longer than Hassanejad has been alive. In just two hands, the younger man decimated Sullivan's stack to claim the title and the $34,772 first prize at a final table that played out as follows:

Nima Hasannejad
Brentwood, Tenn.
Edward Sullivan
Durham, N.C.
Bryan Sapp
Louisville, Ky.
Richard Austin
Louisville, Ky.
Admon Tomma
Sterling Heights, Mich.
Richard Guthrie
Kokomo, Ind.
Hamid Shami
Dearborn, Mich.
Patrick Curran
Birmingham, Mich.
9th Lloyd Borba Jr.
Waverly, Tenn.

Event 3: $500+$50 NLHE

Event 3 returned the Caesars Indiana poker room to the familiar stand-by, No-Limit Hold'em, and brought in 261 players hoping to claim the top prize.

Jeff Burns of Mount Juliet, Tenn., came into the final table with the chip lead, and he held a healthy stack throughout his stay at the table. But in the end it was Craig Brumfield, a 33-year-old former minor league outfielder from Kenova, W. Va., who emerged victorious.

Much like Event 2 winner Nima Hassanejad, Brumfield made a big comeback just to make the final table. Down to a short stack before the dinner break on Day 2, he took a chance by pushing all-in before the flop with a suited 5-2. He rivered a wheel straight to stay alive; once he had a decent stack, Brumfield went back to his trademark patient style of play.

Brumfield and Burns both made it down to the final three trailing 29-year-old Jerry Payne of Centerville, Ohio, in the chip counts. Just one hand in, Brumfield came over the top of Burns' opening raise, moving all-in with A-K. Burns made the call with A-J and found his way to the rail when the board brought no help.

That gave Brumfield a healthy lead over Payne. The former ballplayer used his stack like a cudgel, pummeling his opponent Payne at every opportunity. After closing the gap some, Payne finally fell into the runner-up position when his A-J failed to prevail over Brumfield's 5-5.

The final table looked like this when the dust had settled:

Craig Brumfield
Kenova, W. Va.
Jerry Payne
Centerville, Ohio
Jeff Burns
Mt. Juliet, Tenn.
Pat Peercy
Fortville, Ind.
Karec Terrell
Brownstown, Ind.
Jeff Sluzinski
Dearborn, Mich.
Mark "Pegasus" Smith
Georgetown, Ky.
Chris Jones
Paris, Ky.
Larry Kozlove
Louisville, Ky.

The WSOP Circuit action continues at Caesars Indiana all next week, with another eight events scheduled before the $5,000 championship event begins on Sunday, April 13.

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