WSOPC heads to Hawkeye State

The Money
The Prize

With poker tournaments currently running in locales both international (the European Poker Tour's Scandinavian Open) and domestic (the World Poker Tour's L.A. Poker Classic), you wouldn't think that Council Bluffs, Iowa, would figure as a hot poker destination.

But the World Series of Poker Circuit has landed there for its latest stop at the Horseshoe Casino and Hotel, transforming the small city into a bit of a poker mecca, and its 11-event schedule has already seen poker players turning out in droves.

Although there hasn't yet been a slew of star-player sightings, a solid stable of Midwesterners have been putting on a great show during the past week.

Event 1

Monday saw the first event kick off, the $300 No Limit Hold'em tournament. A surprising 492 players ponied up the buy-in for a shot at the top prize of $42,942 and the WSOPC championship ring that goes to each event winner.

Joel Brown, a 22-year-old college student at the University of Nebraska, came to the final table Tuesday with almost half of the $1.5 million in chips in play, only to find himself under attack from the outset. Michael Armstrong wrested the chip lead away from Brown when his pocket jacks defeated Brown's A-K, and he continued to hold that lead as the action led to a heads-up brawl between him and Brown.

Leading by a 2-1 margin, Armstrong looked good to deliver the final blow and take the championship, but Brown wouldn't go away. After 100 hands of play, it looked as if Armstrong had found his moment when, on a 10-7-3 flop, Brown moved all-in with 10-4.

Armstrong called the bet with his dominating 10-6 but, when a four came on the turn, the tide had changed once again and Brown assumed an edge that he wouldn't release.

Three hands later, on a K-J-6-5 board, Brown bet out with an innocuous K-2 and Armstrong responded with an all-in push. Brown reluctantly called but found himself in decent shape when Armstrong could only muster a 7-5 to go against him.

When the river blanked out, Brown had a WSOPC win. The final-table results were:

Place
Name
Hometown
Prize
1st
Joel Brown
Lincoln, Neb.
$42,942
2nd
Michael Armstrong
Chicago, Ill.
$23,051
3rd
Eric Francois
Bellevue, Neb.
$11,454
4th
Don Marchi
Leawood, Kan.
$10,022
5th
Corey Ferger
Rock Falls, Ill.
$8,590
6th
Glenn Wallin
Dixon, Ill.
$7,159
7th
Duane Gerleman
Ridgeway, Iowa
$5,727
8th
Larry Cascio
Bellevue, Neb.
$4,295
9th
Tim Laws
Columbia, Mo.
$2,863

Event 2

Tuesday also saw the second event, the $500 No Limit Hold'em tournament, play down from its starting field of 223 to a champion.

Professional player Danny Walker carried a slim lead into the final table with $203,000 in chips and, from the start, he controlled the play at the final table. After suffering a little hiccup and tripling up the short-stacked Jason Vargas, Walker eliminated Blake Cahail on the next hand to extend his lead until Larry Christensen passed him during three-handed play.

This seemed to spark Walker's competitive fires, as he went on the attack against Christensen. Surprisingly, he took a hand when he moved all-in with a ten high and Christensen could only muster a nine high to compete with him, giving the chip lead back to Walker.

Shortly after hand, on a K-J-6 board, Christensen moved in with K-2 and was crushed by Walker's K-J for two pair, eliminating Christensen in third place.

Heads-up against John Kurtenbach, Walker held nearly a 3-1 lead, but Kurtenbach chipped up to cut that lead to 2-1. During a break in the action, the two players agreed on a chop for the majority of the money. They played on, however, for the title and the WSOPC championship ring, per Iowa law. In the end, Walker flopped a pair with 9-8 on a Q-J-9 board, turned two pair when another jack hit, and filled the gut-shot draw when a ten came on the river. Kurtenbach couldn't show a better hand and Walker pulled down the $500 event at the WSOPC.

The final-table results were:

Place
Name
Hometown
Prize
1st
Danny Walker
Omaha, Neb.
$34,608*
2nd
John Kurtenbach
Omaha, Neb.
$19,035*
3rd
Larry Christensen
Kennebec, S.D.
$9,734
4th
Scott Buller
Lincoln, Neb.
$7,571
5th
Ron Miller
Mosinee, Wis.
$6,489
6th
Steve Spratlen
Lincoln, Neb.
$5,408
7th
Daniel Sindelar
Omaha, Neb.
$3,245
8th
Jason Vargas
Omaha, Neb.
$3,245
9th
Blake Cahail
Columbia, Mo.
$2,163

* Does not reflect deal.

Event 3

Wednesday saw the second $300 No-Limit Hold'em event hit the felt with 374 runners battling for the title and the $33,742 first-place prize. Once they worked their way down to the final table, they came back on Thursday.

Two of the short stacks at the start of the final table were able to get into the game through key double-ups early on. David Andrew outran Josh Shmerl's pocket jacks with K-J when he rivered a king, and Rick Behrendt used an aggressive all-in style to build himself up from the bottom of the leaderboard to the top.

As play winnowed the field down to the final three, Behrendt still held a sizable lead over Shmerl and Andrew but was unable to drive to the victory.

Shmerl took around 450k in chips from Behrendt when Shmerl made two pair with K-5 against him, and it was Shmerl who dispatched Behrendt from the final table when both had pocket pairs. Shmerl's pocket pair was bigger, though, as his kings stood up to Behrendt's pocket tens to eliminate Behrendt in third.

Shmerl and Andrew swapped the lead on several occasions during heads-up action. After losing a pot with pocket eights to Shmerl's pocket nines to even up the chip counts, Andrew began to seize control. He ground Shmerl's stack down relentlessly.

Then Shmerl made the mistake of slow-playing pocket aces, and let Andrew see the flop with 6-5. When it came down 6-5-x, Shmerl went all-in only to see that he had allowed Andrew to hit two pair. When the turn and river didn't improve Shmerl's hand, David Andrew had captured the title.

The final-table results were:

Place
Name
Hometown
Prize
1st
David Andrew
Bondurant, Iowa
$33,742
2nd
Josh Shmerl
Wauconda, Ill.
$17,413
3rd
Rick Behrendt
Ravenna, Neb.
$8,707
4th
Jason Bartholomew
Sarasota, Fla.
$7,618
5th
Amy Miller
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
$6,530
6th
Chris Drew
Omaha, Neb.
$5,442
7th
David Sawyer
Lincoln, Neb.
$4,353
8th Sean Johnson
Chamberlain, S.D.
$3,265
9th
Jeff Hubbard
Lincoln, Neb.
$2,177

Weekend action at the Horseshoe Casino will bring the $300 Omaha Hi-Lo final table on Friday, the $1500 No-Limit tournament on Saturday and the $500 H.O.R.S.E event on Sunday. It's all paving the way for the start of the $5,000 Circuit Championship Event Monday, where PokerListings.com will be in attendance to provide live coverage.

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