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Tunica turns up heat with final preliminary events
The $5,000 championship event is under way at Harrah's Tunica now, so let's recap the last of the preliminary events leading up to today's action.
Event 8 - $230 No-Limit Hold'em
Dennis Booze, a 25-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas, went on a wild ride at the final table in Event 8. After entering the second day with nearly a quarter of the chips in play, Booze saw his fortunes take a nosedive not long after play began, when his A-3 couldn't crack Darryl Harris' pocket jacks.
Fate proved to be on Booze's side, though; while the chip lead changed hands and other players were eliminated, he held on to his short stack before a fortunate confrontation put him on the road to victory.
All-in and holding T-5 against Indiana bookkeeper Annette Sturgeon's A-J, Booze caught two pair against Sturgeon's paired jack and got himself back into the game.
Once Sturgeon busted, the remaining three players made an unofficial deal. Booze won a coin flip against fellow pro Frank Mayo to bust him in third place before taking just four hands heads-up to eliminate Michael McKee and claim his first WSOP Circuit gold ring.
|9th||Darryl Harris Jr.||$1,322|
Event 9 - $340 No-Limit Hold'em
The Tunica trend of creating repeat WSOP Circuit winners continued in Event 9. While Arkansas farmer Joey Don Huey did all the heavy lifting, amassing over three-quarters of the chips in play by knocking out most of the players, Ken Smith played the role of stalking horse.
Then in just 12 hands, thanks to one fortunate coin flip and a few pair versus pair situations, Smith went from 3-1 underdog to winner, and Huey was left on the outside looking in.
Smith, a 51-year-old dental office manager from Jacksonville, Fla., has traveled the circuit trail with a few friends the last couple of years and already had a win to his credit from the 2007 stop in Council Bluffs. He is the third winner at this Tunica stop to win his second WSOPC event.
Event 10 - $440 No-Limit Hold'em
The tables were turned on former WSOP Main Event Chris Moneymaker in Event 10 in Tunica. After making his name by defeating Sam Farha in 2003, this time Moneymaker played the role of the experienced pro taking second place to an unheralded amateur from Tennessee.
Kenny Long, a 32-year-old adolescent rehab counselor from Dickson, Tenn., who mostly plays in home-game tournaments, came out on top after a cautiously played 60-hand heads-up match against the Team PokerStars pro.
In just his second casino poker tournament, Long finished off a world champ when he flopped two pair holding J-2 against Moneymaker's top pair. He dedicated the win to his friend Corey Sanders, a former WSOPC Tunica winner who passed away last year.
(316 entries, $122,608 prize pool)
Event 11 - $550 No-Limit Hold'em
Event 11 saw the continuation of a few more trends at this WSOP Circuit stop. The last five players at the table made an unofficial deal, as has been the case in a few other events so far. Allen Kessler took a bad beat to bust out, his A-K falling to K-Q.
And for the second straight event, the incoming heads-up chip underdog came out on top.
Mike Carter, a family lawyer from the small town of Milan in western Tennessee, played the role of comeback kid this time around. He got things started by doubling up with 9-9 against Sean McMahon's 3-3.
Then he finished off the tournament by making a good call with top pair on a 7-3-2 board to McMahon's A-J. The victory was the second of Carter's career in Tunica after a win in a $500 event at the Gold Strike in 2006.
Event 12 - $1,080 No-Limit Hold'em
The 12th and final preliminary event in Tunica saw the biggest buy-in of the series, sporting a $1,080 price tag. Despite the price hike, 321 players still turned up to contest the title.
The eventual champion was Justin Truesdell, a 27-year-old professional poker player from Fort Thomas, Ky. He had originally planned to play in a different event but had to rearrange his plans because of a canceled flight.
In the end things worked out, as the $77,836 payday was nearly four times bigger than any other in his career, despite his having cashed twice on the EPT and twice in the WSOP Main Event.
En route to the title, Truesdell eliminated 2007 Heartland Poker Tour champion Leon Morford in third place. Morford moved all-in holding A-3 on a board of J-4-2, and Truesdell made the call with 6-4.
That gave the Kentucky pro the chip lead, and he finished off South Carolina independent contractor Chris Love in just two hands to claim the title.
The main event is now under way in Tunica. Stay tuned for an update on how Day 1 plays out, and you can check out all the details in the Live Tournaments section as well.