The nine remaining players at the World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event at Harrah’s Atlantic City were like weary prizefighters, punch-drunk after an 18-hour Day 2. But when the survivors of that marathon settled back around the table, the bust outs came in a flurry, and it took less than five hours to crown John Racener the WSOP Circuit champion, marking the first major tournament victory for the 22-year old poker pro.
Eric Buchman had a small chip lead as the final table began, with seating assignments and chip counts that looked like this -
Seat 1: Adrian Velez — 755,000
Seat 2: Eric Buchman — 870,000
Seat 3: David Fox — 535,000
Seat 4: Thomas Fee — 255,000
Seat 5: John Racener — 780,000
Seat 6: Joseph Brooks — 450,000
Seat 7: James "Mike" Nelson — 470,000
Seat 8: Feming Chan — 690,000
Seat 9: Sam Skolnik — 80,000
Sam Sklonik was the short stack coming into the final table, and he shoved all in preflop on the second hand of the day. Eric Buchman and Dave Fox both called, then Fox fired at the flop of . Buchman folded, and Fox revealed . Skolnik tabled for top pair, but the board came down to give Fox a runner-runner straight and bust Skolnik in 9th place ($23,712).
James Nelson was the next victim, as he got all his money in good with to Joseph Brooks’ , but the flop of gave Brooks the lead. No help on the turn or river for Nelson, and he was eliminated in 8th ($35,568). Eric Buchman sent Adrian Velez to the rail in 7th ($47,424) when Buchman’s held up against Velez’ .
Buchman got all his chips in against Dave Fox next, running his into Fox’s . The flop of was gin for Buchman, and his straight held up to bust Fox in 6th place ($59,280). Thomas Fee then got all in preflop with against John Racener’s . The board of gave Racener the nut flush on the river and sent Fee home in 5th place with $71,136. Racener claimed another victim when he limped in with Aces against Joseph Brooks in the big blind. When the flop came down , Racener led out. Brooks raised, Racener re-raised all in, and Brooks called with . Top pair was no good for Brooks against Racener’s over pair, and he busted in 4th ($82,992).
When three-handed play started, Eric Buchman had a slight chip lead over Racener and Feming Chan, both of whom were making their second final table in this event. In 2006, Racener and Chan finished 3rd and 4th, respectively. Chan improved his 2006 finish by one spot this year, busting in third after his couldn’t run down Buchman’s pocket Jacks in a big hand, then was eliminated when he put the last of his chips in the middle with K-8, and Racener busted him with K-9 on a board of . Chan picked up $106,704 for his 3rd-place finish.
Buchman held the chip lead as heads-up play began, but it only took a few hands for Racener to double through. Racener raised preflop with , and Buchman made the call. When the flop came down , Buchman check-raised all in with . Racener quickly called, and his top pair held up to give him the chip lead. Buchman pushed all in on the next hand with , and ran right into Racener’s . The flop of gave Racener two pair and left Buchman drawing to running nines for the win. The on the turn was not one of his runners, and the on the river sent him home in 2nd place ($208,666). John Racener picked up $379,392 for his first major tournament victory, as well at an entry into the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event and the gold and diamond Circuit Champion’s Ring.