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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

2008 World Poker Open – Event #3, $500+50 NLHE Final Table

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For the first time in the 2008 World Poker Open, there were, what you could call recognizable names at the final table.

• Tony Hartmann is a seasoned veteran of the tournament circuit and his accomplishments include winning a bracelet at last year’s WPO in the $5,000 PLO event. He entered today as the chip leader.
• Frank Kassela has nearly half a million in tournament winnings including a 4th place finish in the PLHE event where Johnny Chan won his 10th bracelet. Interesting side note about that event. Kassela was the player who had aces when Chan had queens and spiked a queen. They were the two chip leaders at the time and the hand was the one that propelled Chan to victory. Another interesting side note... Hartmann finished 6th in that same event. Final table participant
• Jonathan Tare had cashed in the last two main events at the World Series of Poker.
• Despite the experience there was still the unknown factor including Terry Stewart who was playing in only his second live poker tournament ever.

Before the final 9 were to play, one more elimination had to take place and that came from James “Catfish” Bullard who had won a WPO bracelet in 2007... he finished in 10th place for $2,371.

Chip counts and seating assignments for the final 9 were as follows:

Seat 1: Tony Hartmann 197,500
Seat 2: Ray “Dream” Weaver 77,000
Seat 3: Rhudy Maxwell 70,500
Seat 4: Dave Milam 32,000
Seat 5: John Von Holle 112,000
Seat 6: Frank Kassela 160,500
Seat 7: Travis Copeland 36,000
Seat 8: Jonathan Tare 165,000
Seat 9: Terry Stewart 225,000

As tournament director Johnny Grooms collected identification from the players, Tony Hartmann cracked a joke at Ray Weaver's expense. “Ray,” Tony said, “you're probably the only player here with a 3 digit social security number that starts with 1.” Grooms thought it was funny enough to repeat it over the microphone. Weaver is 73.

It didn't take long to get some action. The first hand in fact, Tony Hartmann opened for 12K and Dave Milam moved all in. It wasn't much more for Hartmann to call and he did so with pocket 10's. Milam had him dominated with ladies and they held up. Fortunately for Tony, Milam was the shortest stack at the table.

Besides, it would not matter because Hartmann would get all those chips back moments later. Dave opened for 24K with the blinds at 2000/4000 with a 500 ante. Tony Hartmann studies his cards and eyes Milam's stack, contemplating what he should do. A quick look back at his cards. Slow and deliberate, he finally gives a casual flick of his wrists and says “I'm all in.” Milam called instantly and found out that this was not a good thing to have done as Tony had pocket aces. Milam's 9's were in big trouble and when the board came K-J-5-6-6 his day was over prematurely. Dave Milam finished in 9th place for $3,952.

John Von Holle came into the final table with 112K in chips and immediately went to work to try and build on that by playing a lot of pots. It wasn't working. He called two raises and check folded to bets. He opened first to act twice, winning the blinds once and having to fold to a re-raise from Jonathan Tare the 2nd time. After all his hard work, Von Holle found himself with only 70K remaining in his stack.

Jonathan Tare continued his aggressive play by opening for 13K. It was folded to Tony Hartmann on the button who counted out 13K in chips and held it in his hand as if he wasn't sure he wanted to call. He glances over at the small blind and big blind and mulls over what to do for nearly a minute before finally saying “I raise” and making it 35K total to go. Tare doesn't think long before folding and Hartmann shows aces for the 2nd time this final table... in less than 15 minutes. Tony explains to the table, referring to Weaver and Maxwell in the blinds, that “if these guys were more aggressive I would have just called.”

One of the more unusual hands of the final table, and something that merits discussion, then took place. It started with Travis Copeland moving all in under the gun for 17K and John Von Holle popping it to 34K, leaving himself with 28K. Frank Kassela was in the big blind and after looking at his cards was beside himself... unsure of what to do. Von Holle's re-raise had thrown him off. Not enough to dissuade him from moving all in eventually though.

“I'm all in,” Frank finally proclaimed. Now it was John who had a decision to make, although I don't think it was much of a decision. There was 130K in the pot and John had 28K left. He was getting nearly 5:1 on his money. For whatever reason he decided the price wasn't enough and that he would take his chances later because he folded. Copeland had 10-8 of spades and Kassela had A-Q. When a 10 flopped, John shook his head in disgust proclaiming that he had folded 10's. No ace or queen came and Copeland tripled up with Kassela winning the 34K in the side pot.

Tony Hartmann looked at Von Holle and said “no way you folded 10's in that spot” but John swore to me after the tournament was over that he indeed did have pocket 10's and that he didn't want to go against what he thought for sure was 4 over cards. Obviously, I hate the fold. Hate is actually being kind... I think it's one of the worst folds I've ever seen in all the tournament poker I've been covering. Let's count the ways it's bad:

1) He committed 55% of his stack (he should have moved all in pre-flop).
2) He left himself with less than 5 big blinds in a very shallow structure.
3) The pay jump between 8th place and the next few spots was minimal.
4) He was getting nearly 5:1 on his money.

I can probably think of a few more reasons but I think you get the idea... it was a mistake... a huge one... and for an experienced player like Von Holle, one that I am surprised he made.

The elder statesman of the table was next to be eliminated when he decided to call Frank Kassela's pre-flop raise out of the big blind. Stewart had also joined in on the fun and the three players saw a 9-8-4 two diamond flop. Weaver moved all in and Frank folded. It was only 21.5K to call with 60K in the pot and Stewart decided to gamble with him and called with Q-10 of spades. Weaver had A-4 for bottom pair and was in the lead... for all of 3 seconds... because a jack came on the turn to seal his fate by giving Stewart the nut straight. Ray Weaver finished in 8th place for $5,927.

On the very next hand, Tony Hartmann was still feeling the Christmas spirit because a few hands later he doubled up Rhudy Maxwell on a stone cold bluff when Rhudy had the stone cold nuts. Hartmann raised on the button and Maxwell called out of the big blind. The flop came 8-8-3 with two hearts. Both players checked. The turn was a 9 and Maxwell checked and Tony bet enough (25K) to set Rhudy all in. Maxwell called instantly with 9-8 of diamonds and Tony shrugged his shoulders as he flipped over K-10.

A few hands later there is a blind vs. blind confrontation between Frank Kassela and Travis Copeland. Frank bets 9K on the flop and Travis (who is short), looks at him and says “how much you have behind you” bringing a chuckle from Frank who says “160K... ”

Frank raised Jonathan Tare's big blind to 20K and Tare tested him with a 45K re-raise leaving himself with 90K. Kassela said “test this” by going all in.

Tare doesn't like it... he tells Hartmann “can you believe someone will fold tens in this spot?” and throws his cards in the muck. Completely different situation than the Von Holle hand but Tare admitted to me that he knew that.

It's folded to Terry Stewart in the small blind and he began doing something he would do all night long by raising Tony Hartmann's big blind. Tony is very deliberate and takes an inordinate amount of time in deciding what to do. It's a pattern I've noticed from him, not only this tournament, but in past tournaments. Stewart thinks better of it and Hartmann, as expected, has a monster. “My favorite hand,” he says flipping over aces for the third time in under an hour.

Another three way pot developed, this time the confrontation was between Jonathan Tare, Tony Hartmann, and Rhudy Maxwell. Tare opened the pot for 17K and Hartmann and Maxwell both called. The flop came Q-9-4 and the two callers deferred to Jonathan who bet 60K. Tony gives a worried look and rubs his eyes. “17, then 60 huh? You like your hand a lot better now?”

Tare doesn't respond and Tony and Rhudy both fold. Tony reaches into the muck and shows a queen and Jonathan flashes a queen back. “If you are showing me a queen, you had me beat,” Hartmann responded, adding “if you would have bet 30K, you would have gotten a lot of my chips.”

Tare answers by telling Hartmann that he bet so much because of all the straight and flush draws.

Travis Copeland had been hanging on by a thread since the final table started and when John Von Holle raised his big blind, and he saw A-7, he figured he was ahead and now was the time to make a stand. He wasn’t pleased when Von Holle turned over A-K. The board came Q-J-2-K-3 and Travis Copeland finished in 7th place winning a total of $7,903.

The remainder of the final table action will be covered in Part II , make sure to read it to catch the exciting conclusion!

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