On the first day of the World Series of Poker Circuit event here at the Grand Casino Tunica, a player named Bart Tichelman (pronounced tickle-mun) from Atlanta, Ga. walked up to the PL.com crew and introduced himself.
It turned out he was the chip leader at the time and was looking for a little pub so friends and family back home could see how great he was doing. Even Tichelman himself figured that would be the closest he'd ever get to his 15 minutes of poker fame. Turns out we were all wrong.
On a cloudy day in Tunica, Mississippi, a place that seems a million miles from the rest of the civilized world, Bart Tichelman made the impossible possible, coming from out of nowhere in the middle of nowhere to win the WSOPC Grand Tunica, more than $400,000 in cash, a fancy ring and another chance to take on the best in the world with a seat at the 2008 Ryan Young.
Young checked a turned straight twice, finally check-raising all-in against Schneider on the river. Schneider called for his tournament life and had to have been floored by the fact that his rivered trip nines were second-best.
Tichelman Takes Charge
Young could not ride the wave of that great play to better than a seventh-place finish, though. He came into the day second in chips, but caught a major cooler early on holding kings against Donald Nicholson's aces and failing to catch a miracle.
Once the blinds got high, the 2007 WSOP bracelet winner was forced to shove with K-Q offset and ran into Giovanni Marcacci's big slick.
Mark Garner and Ben Sabrin made some noise today, but exited sixth and fifth respectively, while the most disappointed player would have to be end-of-Day 2 chip leader John Devia. The Floridian powerhouse came into the final table with the chip lead, but did very little except lose all day long and finally went out fourth when he shoved with 10-9 suited and ran into Tichelman's queens.
Early on Tichelman had picked up a few small pots uncontested, then doubled up with jacks against A-K. Now, with a stack and the favorites out of the way, the door was open and he walked right through it.
The first thing he did was snatch a huge pot off of Nicholson.
With the benefit of the hole card cams from the WSOPC Webcast, we now know that Tichelman fired two barrels at Nicholson with 6-4 suited being good only for bottom pair and Nicholson holding 7♠ 8♠ for both the straight and flush draws on the turn in the hand.
We also know Nicholson's eights were a better pair on the river, but he could not find a way to call Tichelman's all-in bet with the board reading K♦ 9♠ 6♦ K♠ 8♦ when it was all said and done.
Tichelman had grabbed the chip lead, Nicholson was short and then the biggest hand of the entire trip to Tunica played out. Giovanni Marcacci made it $200k from the button and Tichelman raised it up $300k more from the small blind. Nicholson stepped out of the way and Marcacci made the call only to see Tichelman shove on the 6♣ 7♣ 9♠ flop.
Marcacci called and was right; Tichelman was on a draw. The only problem was his tens were bested when that draw hit. Tichelman had A♥ 8♣ and the 5♦ on the turn made him a straight and a massive chip leader going into the heads-up match.
With more than $3 million in chips to Nicholson's $500,000, it was a two-handed affair and Tichelman got it in with king-high over Nicholson's queen-high, ending it all with a king on the turn.
All in all it was a fun-filled three days by the Mississippi River and it is always great to see one of these Cinderella stories come true. In the immortal words of Norman Chad, this was "beyond fairytale."
Bart Tichelman isn't a pro poker player; he isn't going to be after the big win either. He's just a guy from Atlanta who took on the best in the world and won, and you can't beat that. Somehow, when they devised this whole World Series of Poker Circuit idea, one has to think this was the kind of scenario they were trying to create.
From the Harrah's staff to each and every player who coughed up the $7,500 to play, kudos for making it happen.