WSOPC Tunica crowns three more champions

Jonathan Westra

As the World Series of Poker Circuit stop at the Grand Casino in Tunica, Miss., moved into its second week of action, those professionals not a part of the tournament schedules in the Bahamas or in Australia are making some noise down on the banks of the Mississippi River.

Event 6

The $500 Short-Handed No-Limit Hold'em event drew in a stout 205 players, building a prize pool of $98,400 for the top 24 players to fight over. Four of the final six players at the final table were professionals, demonstrating the skill that the short handed game takes.

The bustouts were rapid in the tournament until it reached heads up play. After eliminating the four other players from the table in an estimated 40 hands, professional Jonathan Westra and newcomer Jim Sears hooked up in an epic 50-hand heads-up battle to determine the champion.

The pace of the game had many in the Grand Casino buzzing about the skill that the two were displaying and even had tournament director and announcer Brooks Turk calling the crowd to watch the action between the two.

After Turk commented, "Come over and watch two of the best small-pot players in the world," the players then ended the tournament within three hands.

Westra, in command of the game with about 75% of the chips in play, moved all-in on Hand 111 with only a suited Q-6; remarkably, Sears made the call and tabled the lesser hand, a suited J-8.

Once the board blanked off Westra, who has a very impressive resume for a 22 year old professional that includes a championship at the Bellagio Cup III tournaments and a chop at the Five Diamond in 2006, was able to take the gold WSOPC ring and the top prize of $26,742.

The final table played out as such:

Jonathan Westra
Gainesville, Fla.
Jim Sears
Dayton, Ohio
Matt Brady
Upper Darby, Pa.
Doug Taylor
Manchester, Tenn.
Ron Picou
Chester, Ill.
Nick Woolworth
Plainfield, Ill.

Event 7

The $500 Pot-Limit Hold'em event may have only drawn 74 players for their midweek tilt, but two of the names at the final table drew the attention of the crowds at the Grand Casino.

Noted writer and poker player Vince Burgio and double WSOP bracelet winner Howard "Tahoe" Andrews drove from California to the deltas of Mississippi to take on the field and their trip wasn't for naught. Both made the final table, whose participants were the only players to cash in the event.

While Burgio went out in seventh, Andrews managed a fluctuating chip stack to make it to heads-up competition against Richard Ferro, with both having nearly equal stacks. He then demonstrated the skill of his long career as he gradually wore down Ferro to the point where he had a nearly 7-1 chip lead, bringing Ferro to remark, "You're outplaying me and getting better cards too."

Ferro would seal his own doom with an ill-fated all-in move with a suited 4-2 on Hand 151. Andrews called with his pocket fours and when the board brought no rescue for Ferro, Andrews added the WSOPC ring and $13,799 to his collection of poker championships.

He was followed at the final table by these men:

Howard "Tahoe" Andrews
Walnut Grove, Calif.
Richard Ferro
Dallas, Texas
Todd Bernstein
Germantown, Tenn.
Clyde Bass
Southhaven, Miss.
Jim McBride
Slidell, Miss.
Chad Smithson
Franklin, Tenn.
Vince Burgio
West Hills, Calif.
Kyle Caslin
St. Louis, Mo.
Bob Redman
St. Josephs, Mo.

Event 8

Two hundred forty rounders came to the felt for the $300 Omaha Hi/Lo event on Wednesday, with the final nine returning to the table on Thursday afternoon. Continuing his impressive play at the WSOPC Tunica stop, Randall Witt, who already has a final table appearance and a 10th-place finish in previous events on the schedule, was the chip leader as play began.

Witt was able to aggressively chip up in the early going, including making quad aces, to push his chip stack up to $1.2 million (about half the chips in play).

The blinds and the nature of Omaha Hi/Lo eventually caught up with him. Down to the final three players, Witt couldn't make a low against the two pair of Eric Mink and then Richard Pilchman pulled in a couple of hands, drawing the threesome close together.

The final hand brought a rarity in the poker world, a tournament ending double knockout. On the 103rd hand, Pilchman was dealt aces and kings while Witt and Mink both started with three babies. A flop of A-4-9 gave Pilchman a set and all kinds of nut low and straight draws for the other two.

Both Witt and Mink went all in on the flop and could not make the low when a nine and a queen came on the turn and river, Pilchman scooped the pot and the championship while Mink finished second and Witt third.

The rest of the final table looked like this:

Richard Pilchman
Brick, N.J.
Eric Mink
Cincinnati, Ohio
Randall Witt
Nashville, Tenn.
Albert Suarez
Milwaukee, Wis.
Leonard St. Germain
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
David Segal
Memphis, Tenn.
Larry Dingler
Sycamore, Ill.
Robert Brouemann
Monticello, Iowa
Scott Baker
Douglasville, Ga.

Action this weekend will be all No-Limit Hold'em events and there will be many other tournaments over the next week that lead up to the $7,500 Championship Event of the Tunica schedule. The professionals should start drifting in as the week progresses and the Grand Casino should have some great action as the WSOPC Tunica continues.

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