Wild weekend of action at WSOPC Tunica

Anonymous Dealer

After a wild weekend of tournament action that saw four men, including a pro baseball player, take down championships, the World Series of Poker Circuit stop in Tunica moves into the home stretch this week with the main event beginning Saturday.

Event 9

Friday saw the final nine contenders in the $300 Seniors No-Limit Hold'em event play down to the end. The tournament started Thursday with 394 players from the 50-and-over set, building a prize pool of $114,654.

Notables in the crowd included Senior Poker Hall of Fame member Jim Spain, at 80 the oldest participant in the event. Making the final table of the tournament was Martin Berchenko, who had already made a final table in Event 5 where he finished in second place.

Berchenko came to the final table with the chip lead, but his chips were gone within the first 10 hands. He folded an early hand to Markie Gardner, gave up the chip lead to Gardner, then found himself making an all-in move with Q-9 of diamonds.

Andy Clements called Berchenko with pocket fives, and once the board blanked out, Berchenko was out in ninth place.

"I played bad," he admitted. "I [hadn't gotten] much sleep."

Gardner rode his chip lead all the way to heads-up action against William Peoples.

On the final hand, Peoples landed a flush with his 6-5 of diamonds on a J-8-Q monochrome board. He put a $300k bet to the center and was called by Gardner, who himself had hit a part of the board with J-8.

The turn jack sealed the hand with a boat for Gardner, and after Peoples bet again, Gardner moved in, Peoples called and it was over. The final table looked like this:

Markie Gardner
St. Amant, La.
William Peoples
Jacksonville, Ark.
Bob Haughton
Lansing, Mich.
Robert Hoffman
Roswell, Ga.
Andy Clements
New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
James Garrett
Allons, Tenn.
Bruce Davie
Southhaven, Miss.
Larry Siler
Tryon, N.C.
Martin Berchenko
Woodland Hills, Calif.

Event 10

The $500 Seven-Card Hi/Lo tournament drew 75 players for its Thursday start, but the final eight players at the table Friday still had plenty to fight over with the $12,762 first-place prize and the WSOPC ring up for grabs.

Tom Chambers, who has another WSOPC Tunica final table under his belt, led the players to the felt. Morgan Stringham joined him, becoming the second female to make a final table during the schedule here, and there was a professional at the table as well.

Jason Stern, who has claimed a second-place finish on the World Poker Tour among the $1 million he's won as a pro, was hot on Chambers' heels for the top spot.

Stern went to work quickly at the final table, eliminating Gary Settlemoir in eighth place and assuming the chip lead by the end of the level. Chambers attempted to reclaim his chip lead, eliminating Ron Ware in fifth place, but ended up departing in third place.

Heads-up action found Stern up against Charles Williams, with Stern holding a 3-1 lead. It took four hands of action before Stern had Williams all-in with (6-6) 3 on third street.

Stern had an excellent hi/lo hand with (4-5) 2 to start and, on sixth street, nailed his six-high straight to scoop the hand against Williams' queens up.

The final-table results were:

Jason Stern
San Jose, Calif.
Charles Williams
Reno, Nev.
Tom Chambers
Michael Woods
Hernando, Miss.
Ron Ware
Tracy, Calif.
Doug Saab
Trussville, Ala.
Morgan Stringham
Houston, Texas
Gary Settlemoir
Brookland, Ark.

Event 11

No-Limit Hold'em became the game of choice for the weekend action at the Grand Casino as Event 11, the $300 buy-in tournament, drew an astounding 1,000 players on Friday, the largest tournament in the three-year history of the Tunica WSOPC stop.

After competitors played down to three tables the night before, Saturday was the day to determine who would walk away with the most spoils. Players were winnowed down to a final table by late afternoon with Mark Ellis as the sizable chip leader with a 2-1 lead over his nearest competitor.

The first hand of the final-table action saw a set-over-set-over-set situation. Scott Dreicer moved all-in with pocket fours and Rory Monahan went all-in over the top with his pocket kings.

Then Ellis stepped into the battle and tabled a bullet each for Dreicer and Monahan with pocket aces. The A-5-4 gave both Dreicer and Ellis a set and a king on the river gave Monahan his own set, but it wasn't enough to prevent Dreicer leaving in 10th place and Monahan in ninth.

Ellis built up to almost $4 million in chips at one point before the tournament came crashing down around him. First Robert Castiore relieved Ellis of chips when his two pair withstood Ellis' third pair and straight draw, then Rami Jradeh ended Ellis' night when he couldn't catch with K-J against Jradeh's A-8.

After all the action, both Castiore and Jradeh were nearly identical in chip counts, with Jradeh holding a slight lead. However, it only took two hands to end the action.

On the final hand, Castiore popped it up to $400k and was called by Jradeh. After a Q-9-5 rainbow flop, Castiore bet $500k and was re-raised by Jradeh.

Castiore moved all-in with his pocket sevens and found that Jradeh held the Q-7 for best pair. Once the turn and river ran dry for Castiore, Jradeh was able to take a $74,914 first-place check and the WSOPC ring.

The final-table results were:

Rami Jradeh
North Quincy, Mass.
Robert Castiore
Cecelia, Ky.
Mark Ellis
Tyler, Texas
Brian Wolfe
Duluth, Ga.
Gergory Stallsmith
Haubstadt, Ind.
Ben Mintz
Oxford, Miss.
Michael McKuin
Fisk, Mo.
Terrence Ferentinos
Alpharetta, Ga.
Rory Monahan
Carbondale, Ill.

Event 12

Saturday saw the start of the second of three $700 No-Limit Hold'em tournaments. A prize pool of $256,120 was amassed from 380 runners for the final 36 players to divvy up.

The final table gathered Sunday with Gene Frank as the chip leader, and it was the fastest of the final tables at this year's WSOPC stop. It took only two hours of play and approximately 50 hands to reach heads-up action, where a name potentially familiar to baseball fans appeared.

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Wade Townsend found himself staring up at the larger chip stack of Frank, but it didn't seem to slow down the major leaguer. He quickly took over the chip lead in just two hands.

Townsend, who said he preferred the action of heads-up Hold'em, treaded water for a few hands before crushing Frank on the final hand when he turned a straight against Frank's top pair of nines.

The final-table results were:

Wade Townsend
Dripping Springs, Texas
Gene Frank
Evansville, Ind.
Rex Rigdon
Twin City, Ga.
Justin Cometti
Fairhope, Ala.
Scott Sitron
Glendale, Wis.
McDonald Ledbetter
Oxford, Miss.
Jimmy Tidwell
Leoma, Tenn.
Wayne Harvey
Savannah, Ga.
Chance Steed
College Station, Texas

There's more action to come in Tunica as three of the largest events on the WSOPC schedule, a $1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha with re-buys tournament and two No-Limit Hold'em tournaments are on the way.

Saturday will mark the start of the championship event, but there's still quite a bit of cash and hardware to hand out yet at the WSOPC Tunica stop.

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