The second day of competition at the World Series of Poker Circuit Event from the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs Iowa has reached its logical end with a final table of nine players being established after another day of intriguing, fast and sometimes head-scratching play.
We began the day with 42 survivors, but by the end of the first level of play had seen 11 quickly fall by the wayside. Tyler Meierotto was the first elimination of the day, finding himself headed to the other side of the velvet rope after exactly one hand of play. Joining him a few minutes later were Shannan Roberts, Stan Schrier, and Yoon Kim, among others.
The second level of the day continued the trend of extreme bustification, seeing 10 more players hit the bricks, including the final three female contestants of the tournament. Linda Hackney was the first to go, after her ace-jack ran into Jeff "Don't Call me Matt" Banghart's ace-queen, while Krista Gifford and Deb Blair were eliminated on back-to-back hands later in the level, Gifford with ace-jack against Matt Streeter's pocket aces, and Blair with pocket aces against Jeff Banghart's set of eights.
As the shorter stacks were falling by the wayside, Day 1 chip leader Jeff Banghart continued to gobble up chips left and right, taking it upon himself to eliminate a large portion of the field on his own, including one memorable hand when he was caught trying a steal from the cut-off with 8♠ 2♠, only to turn a spade flush and send an unlucky David Wintroub to the rail.
By the middle of the third level of the day, the money bubble had arrived, and after an extended period of slow-as-molasses play, Matt Streeter and David "Gigabro" Dicken both found themselves eliminated in simultaneous hands. Both players got their money in with hands that their opponents had dominated, and neither could manage to catch any help from the board to stay alive.
With the bubble burst, the poker continued with eliminations coming at a steady pace, and Banghart continuing to augment his chip lead. At the second of the final two tables, however, one particular seating assignment had added a little spice to the event.
Sam Von Duhn and John "JohnnyK" Kincaid had been, without a doubt, the two wildest men at the poker tables throughout this event. Both talkative, spastic creatures with predilections towards maniacal (and sometimes bizarre) play, they were seated at the same table after the field was consolidated into two groups of nine, and with both men raising at every opportunity and taking any opponent's raise as a personal affront, a confrontation was bound to emerge.
By the fourth level, the tension that had been rising in between the two men finally came to a boil, with Kincaid taking exception to Von Duhn's calling the clock on him while he pondered an all-in move from James English.
"Prepare to have the clock called on you every hand, every hand!" Kincaid warned upon learning it was Von Duhn who had called the floor. "We're playing for $200,000 and you call the clock on me?"
"Why do you think people call the call the clock on you?" Von Duhn retorted, his voice steadily rising. "It's because of the kind of person you are."
"Yeah, I'm the jerk."
"You said it, not me. Why do you think no one called it on me?"
"Because they want your chips!" Kincaid spat. "Because you play like a donkey!"
Unable to think of a witty/cutting rejoinder, Von Duhn simply sneered. Kincaid folded his hand, and like two children on a crowded playground the men glowered at each other while play resumed around them.
They would continue to bicker verbally and do battle with their cards throughout the night, with Von Duhn doubling up Kincaid when he called his opponent's all-in raise with A-3 against JohnnyK's A-J.
By 9 p.m., the field was down to 10 players and one table, thanks to the elimination of the very tenacious Ray "Ribo" Flavin, who nursed his short stack into the money and finally gave up the ghost when his opponent rivered a set of eights against his pair of jacks.
Just a few hands into the single-table play, Sam Von Duhn made the last elimination of day on a self-professed "donkey play" in which he pushed all-in on a raggedy board with naught but ace-high and was looked up by Jeff Bryan, who was slow-playing pocket kings.
Unfortunately for Bryan, Von Duhn turned an ace and won the hand. He made sure the entire state of Iowa knew it, too, continuing his tradition of celebrating every hand won as though he had just been named Champion of the World.
His sportsmanship notwithstanding, Von Duhn had made the final table, as had John Kincaid and Jeff Banghart, who will begin play tomorrow second in chips, having been supplanted for the chip lead by Dr. Von Doom on the final hand of the day. Kincaid and Banghart are both online professionals, with each having taken down a PartyPoker.com or PokerStars.com Sunday tournament within the last year.
The online pros are joined by seasoned circuit veterans Doug Carli and Larry Vance, both of whom play an old-school style of play that seems to result in them cashing in every tournament they play. Rounding out the field is Everett Carlton, as well as lesser-knowns Kosta Sengos, Paul Kraus, and local boy Thadd Wolff.
Action will begin at 2 p.m. (CST) from the Whiskey Roadhouse in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and as usual, PokerListings.com will have comprehensive coverage of the final table, including scintillating live updates, thrilling photographs and an exclusive interview with the new champion.
This event is akin to the Super Bowl of poker in Iowa, so make your famous five-alarm chili and invite your friends over to the cubicle for some "refresh" button action - you don't want to miss the party.