The tournament, part of the World Series of Poker Circuit, was held over a busy holiday weekend and concluded on Veterans Day. After 105 players were eliminated on Sunday, nine finalists returned to the feature table to continue playing on Monday. Sinh Nguyen had a slight chip advantage when play resumed (with 137,000 in his stack). Stuart Spears was in second place (103,500), with the remainder of the field each below 100,000 in chips. Players and chip counts began as follows:
Seat 1: Renea Mahaffey 26,000
Seat 2: Thomas Hover 77,000
Seat 3: Stuart Spears 103,500
Seat 4: Bob Bone 39,000
Seat 5: Ronald Matsuura 72,000
Seat 6: Daniel Stephens 26,500
Seat 7: J.T. Anderson 79,500
Seat 8: S. Nguyen 137,000
Seat 9: Joshua Roberts 8,000
Blinds began at 2,000-4,000 with a 1,000 ante. Players were eliminated in the following order:
9th Place - Three short stacks doubled up early. Then, the first player was eliminated. Dan Stephens took an absolutely wicked beat - and will have a great bad beat story for anyone who wants to listen. He moved all-in with his last 25,000 holding K-K. Mr. Nguyen called the raise with A-Q. The final board showed 3-3-4-3-3 for quad threes. Nguyen's ace played as the higher kicker and as the pocket kings were mucked, Stephens walked away in disbelief. The 35-year-old electrician was shocked to end up in ninth place, good for a relatively disappointing $2,322.
8th Place - The shortest stack went out next when Joshua Roberts was forced to play a weak hand and failed to make a pair. Once again, Mr. Nguyen was the dragon slayer. He won the pot with ace-high and knocked out the 22-year-old full-time poker player from Folsom, CA. Eighth place paid $3,207.
7th Place - Next, Bob Bone found himself short-stacked and played a naked ace. The ace was good enough to push with, but he failed to make a pair and ended up as the seventh-place finisher. Bone, who owns car dealerships in California, drove off with $4,313 in prize money. Perhaps most impressive was the fact that this was Bone's first-ever poker tournament.
6th Place - Blinds increased to 3,000-6,000. Mr. Nguyen enjoyed a 2 to 1 chip lead when the next player was eliminated. Stuart Spears hung around for about 90 minutes before making his last stand holding 6-6. Once again, Mr. Nguyen proved to be the table's unstoppable force as he called the raise with A-10 and then flopped a ten. An ace on the turn only added to overkill, and Spears was impaled in sixth place, netting $5,418 for his finish. Spears also finished in the money in the WSOP main event earlier this year, earning $35,000 for that performance.
5th Place - Renea Mahaffey doubled up twice, once at Sinh Nguyen's expense. That gave the remaining players some optimism that the tide may have been turning. But that wasn't the case for Ron Matsuura, who became the first player at this year's tournament series to make two final table appearances. Matsuura was getting low on chips and lost to J.T. Anderson's straight on his final hand of the night. The 36-year-old poker finished in fifth place two days ago and again took fifth place again here, which paid $7,022. If he's ever called to testify in court, Matsuura would likely "take the fifth."
4th Place - The crowd favorite at this final table was easy to identify. Renea Mahaffey became the first female to sit among the final nine players in an open event at this year's Lake Tahoe series. Unfortunately, she was low on chips much of the way, but still managed to slide into fourth place, good for a payout of $9,289. Mahaffey pledged half of her tournament winnings ($4,644) to a charity called the Outdoor Dream Foundation. The charity helps terminally ill children to enjoy their final days by going on special outdoor excursions. Mahaffey point out that 97 percent of all monies collected by the Outdoor Dream Foundation goes directly to the children.
3rd Place - J.T. Anderson was outchipped by about 3 to 1 by Mr. Nguyen when the two big stacks went to war. Anderson raised all-in before the flop with pocket sizes and was called by Mr. Nguyen, holding A-Q. Mr. Nguyen ended up spiking an ace on the turn and ended up with a pair of aces, which meant Anderson was out in third place with $13,380. Anderson, who owns an oil field survey company in Texas, was cheered on by his brother Thomas, who took fifth place in yesterday's event.
2nd Place - When heads-up play began, Sinh Nguyen held a 6 to 1 chip lead over Thomas Hover, from Las Vegas. Hover had been silent most of the day and seemed to marvel in the stealth strategy of waiting patiently while others busted out before getting aggressive. His tactic almost paid off. On the final hand of the tournament, Hover moved all in with the best hand, but lost. He was dealt K-9 against Mr. Nguyen's K-7. Both players flopped a king and all of Hover's money went into the pot. Mr. Nguyen was not happy to see he was behind. But there is no stopping a freight train that is roaring straight ahead. Mr. Nguyen caught a 7 on the river and made two pair, which dashed Hover's hopes of making a comeback and ended the tournament. One has to wonder what might have happened had Hover been able to win that critical hand. But judging by the massacre up to that point, it was destined to be Mr. Nguyen's day. Thomas Hover, who has over $150,000 in tournament winnings to this point and has made it to nearly a dozen final tables, added $19,462 to his poker bankroll as the runner up.
1st Place - First place paid out $33,228. Sinh Nguyen was born in Vietnam. He is now a 43-year-old landscape contractor from Ripon, CA. Afterward accepting the congratulations of his opponents and a sizable crowd inside the tournament area at the Harvey's Casino-Report, Mr. Nguyen said he plans to play in more events at this tournament. The question is, after making it all look so easy, what will he do for an encore?
For more information, please contact:
Nolan Dalla -- WSOP Media Director at (702) 358-4642
Or visit our official website: www.worldseriesofpoker.com
World Series of Poker Commissioner - Jeffrey Pollack
Tournament Director - Janis Sexton
Harrah's Lake Tahoe Race and Sportsbook Manager - Steve Schorr
Harvey's Lake Tahoe Poker Room Manager - Vince Contaxis