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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2007

Todd Williamson Stages Terrific Come-From-Behind Victory

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Stateline, NV - When Todd Williamson first sat down at the final table of the fifth event at this year's World Series of Poker Circuit, played a Harvey's Lake Tahoe, he had to realize the formidable challenge that lay ahead. Down to just 35,500 in chips, he looked across the felt and saw the chip leader with 401,000, which amounted to more than a 10-1 chip lead. Not only that, but there were seven other players at the table, each competing for what would be a first victory at a WSOP-related event.

No one could have foreseen that just three hours later, Williamson would hold every chip in the tournament, while his opponents were left wondering what might have been. Williamson dominated play throughout and won key hands at the right moment, which catapulted the 25-year-old college student to his biggest cash ever in poker. He collected $27,666 for first place.

The $340 buy-in no-limit hold'em tournament began on Veterans Day and was nearly sold-out. To celebrate the holiday and pay tribute to the many veterans who were present, Poker Dealer Coordinator Sue Phillips took hold of the microphone prior to the start of the event and belted out a rousing version of the Star Spangled Banner that left every player and spectator in the house standing and applauding. It was a nice touch by Ms. Phillips and Tournament Director Janis Sexton, which was much appreciated by those in attendance.

Once the cards were dealt, players were gradually eliminated over the next 12 hours. After 356 players were eliminated on Monday, nine survivors returned the following afternoon to battle for the championship at the final table. It was a case of the "haves" versus "have nots." Four players had over 100,000 in chips. Five players had 53,000 or less, including Williamson who would ultimately triumph. Craig Dixon arrived with a sizable chip advantage. Players and chip counts began as follows:

Seat 1: Marc Mestrovich 53,000
Seat 2: Todd Williamson 35,500
Seat 3: Stephen Dodson 272,500
Seat 4: Craig Dixon 401,000
Seat 5: Drew Farrar 31,000
Seat 6: Jason Baldwin 108,500
Seat 7: Kathy Fowler 150,000
Seat 8: Ken Daniels 23,500
Seat 9: Matthew R. Simpson 28,000

Players were eliminated in the following order:

9th Place - Drew Farrar had arrived as one of the lowest stacks. He survived about 20 minutes on day two before succumbing to the blinds and antes. Farrar was forced to play a weak hand and ended up losing his final hand of the tournament to Jason Baldwin's pocket sixes. Farrar, a 27-year-old poker pro from Las Vegas, collected $1,221 for ninth place.

8th Place - A short time later, Ken Daniels was bounced off the final table. Shortest on chips, he took A-Q up against Craig Dixon's pocket nines. Daniels caught a queen on the river, but by then it was too late as Dixon had flopped a nine, good for trip-nines. Daniels, a 57-year-old retiree from Pollack Pines, CA earned $2,496 for eighth place.

7th Place - Matthew Simpson was the next player to be eliminated. He went all-in with the best hand (A-7). But Kathy Fowler had enough chips to call from the blind, holding K-5. Simpson appeared to be in good shape until the turn, when a king came, giving Fowler a pair. Simpson failed to improve and was forced to settle for seventh place, which paid $3,346.

6th Place - Kathy Fowler lost many of her chips a few hands later when her A-10 was topped by Todd Williamson's pocket aces. That hand made Williamson a force, alongside the chip leaders - Stephen Dodson and Craig Dixon. Jason Baldwin was not so fortunate. He decided to move all-in with A-6 and was called by Dixon, with A-8. Holding a dominated hand, Baldwin's remaining time was short. He made things interesting as the flop came 2-3-4, giving Baldwin some extra outs with an inside straight draw. But two blanks on the turn and river sealed Baldwin's fate, a sixth-place finish. The project manager from Folsom, CA received a payout of $4,461.

5th Place - Kathy Fowler was the second female to appear at a final table in an open event at this year's Harvey's Lake Tahoe series. She was dealt a number of marginal aces and had survived until her final decisive hand of the night, when she took A-10 up against Steve Dodson's pocket threes. Fowler failed to make a pair, while Dodson spiked a set on the river, ending Fowler's hopes of victory. The registered nurse from Sacramento collected $5,629 for fifth place. She also cashed in 34th place in the 2007 Ladies World Poker Championship at this year's World Series of Poker.

4th Place - Craig Dixon got most of his chips by playing fast and aggressive. He remained stuck in overdrive during his two hour stay at the final table, constantly forcing the action with bets and raises. However, the strategy backfired when he tried to push with a marginal hand and got called, losing all of his chips. Todd Williamson's A-Q got all of Dixon's stack, leaving the 37-year-old engineer time to ponder what had gone wrong. Dixon was paid $7,541 for fourth place.

3rd Place - Knocking out Dixon gave Williamson a 3 to 1 chip lead over Steve Dodson, with Marc Mestrovich hanging on in third place. Mestrovich managed to double up a few times. But he failed to win the key hand that might have placed him in a position to gain the lead and roll on to victory. On his final hand of the night, Mestrovich busted out with A-10 but lost to a full house, held by Williamson. That meant the 41-year-old firefighter was destined for third place, which paid $11,206. This was his first final table ever.

2nd Place - When the heads-up duel began, Williamson enjoyed a 4 to 1 chip lead over Steve Dodson. The players discussed a financial settlement away from the table, and whatever happened didn't prevent a dramatic final hand from taking place which ended the tournament. On the very first hand of two-handed play, Williamson moved all-in with A-7. He was called quickly by Dodson, holding 3-3. On the turn, the board showed 9-5-4-3. That meant Dodson had trip threes. But Williamson had eight outs with two inside straight draws (i.e., he could win with either a 2 or a 6). Wham! A six fell on the river, making a straight for Williamson, to go with the seven in his hand. The crowd cheered. The players shook hands. The tournament was over. Steve Dodson, who was playing in just his third tournament ever, cashed for the second time here at Lake Tahoe. He finished in 10th place in the $1,060 buy-in event two days ago. The 29-year-old poker player, who is also currently serving in the U.S. Air Force, collected $16,729 as the runner up.

1st Place - Todd Williamson staged a remarkable come-from-behind victory. He was one of the lowest stacks at the start of the final table. But a mix of aggressive play, skill, and favorable cards gave him a well-deserved win. Williamson is a graduate student at UC-Davis. He is currently studying computer science - that is, when he is not busy winning poker tournaments.

The WSOP Circuit events will continue at the Harvey's Casino and Resort through November 18th.

For more information, please contact:
Nolan Dalla -- WSOP Media Director at (702) 358-4642
Or visit our official website:

Jeffrey Pollack - Commissioner, WSOP
Ty Stewart - Director, Sponsorship and Licensing, WSOP
Craig Abrahams - Director, Broadcasting and New Media, WSOP

Tournament Director - Janis Sexton
Harrah's Lake Tahoe Race and Sportsbook Manager - Steve Schorr
Harvey's Lake Tahoe Poker Room Manager - Vince Contaxis

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