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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2008 | WSOP 2008 Circuit Events

2008 World Series of Poker Circuit Event #9 - Main Event - Caesars Atlantic City

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2008 World Series of Poker Circuit
Caesars Atlantic City
Official Report

Event #9
Main Event Championship
No-Limit Hold’em
Buy-In: $4,900 (+250)
Number of Entries: 277
Total Prize Money: $1,357,300
March 13-15, 2008

Reversal of Fortune

Eric “Sheets” Haber Conquers the Competition at Caesars

Long Island Hedge-Fund Manager Stages Dramatic Final Table Comeback and Wins $431,136

Caesars Atlantic City Attracts the Largest Championship Field of the WSOP Circuit Season


Atlantic City, NJ – For the fourth consecutive year, the World Series of Poker Circuit returned to South Jersey. Caesars Atlantic City, located on the famed oceanfront boardwalk, hosted the ninth of 12 WSOP Circuit stops on this year’s tour. The $4,900 buy-in championship event championship attracted 277 entries creating a total prize pool of $1,357,300. This was largest turnout of any WSOP Circuit main event on the 2007-2008 schedule held so far. The large field edged out the previous high mark set by Harrah’s Atlantic City last year, when 244 players entered the main event. Atlantic City’s two Harrah’s-owned casinos rank as the top two championship turnouts on the fourth season of the World Series of Poker Circuit.

Several poker pros entered the prestigious event, including former WSOP gold bracelet winners Eric Froehlich (2 wins), Cliff Josephy, Chris Reslock, Michael “Little Man” Sica, and Cyndy Violette. Former WSOP Circuit champions included Lou Esposito (2007 Harrah’s New Orleans), Abraham Korotki (2007 Harrahs Atlantic City), Rich Rosetti (2006 Harrahs Atlantic City), and Chris Reslock (2005 Showboat Atlantic City). The defending champion, Danny Yousefzadeh (2007 Caesars Atlantic City) also entered. Other poker notables included Hevad Khan (WSOP main event final table in 2007), Bernie Lee (13th in WSOP main event in 2005), and experienced poker pro Young Phan. Dan Shak also played in the event. He is perhaps best known as co-champion of the inaugural Ante Up For Africa” poker tournament held last year at the Rio in Las Vegas. He donated his entire share of the prize money, totaling about $200,000, to the charity designed to help victims of the Darfur tragedy. He was joined by his wife Beth Shak, who finished as the runner-up in a WSOP event last year in Las Vegas.

Most of these players did not survive past the first day. In fact, 204 players were eliminated – leaving just 73 players for day two. After another 11 hours of play on the second day, the final nine were set. Florida’s Dan Hicks arrived at the final table with a slight chip lead. Eric “Sheets” Haber and Soheil Shamseddin were close behind. Players and their starting chip counts began as follows:

Seat 1: Nick Binger 546,000
Seat 2: Scott Blackman 391,000
Seat 3: Eric “Sheets” Haber 927,000
Seat 4: Soheil Shamseddin 855,000
Seat 5: Sumeet Batra 579,000
Seat 6: Steven Merrifield 624,000
Seat 7: Marc Morris 185,000
Seat 8: Steven Greenberg 251,000
Seat 9: Dan Hicks 1,182,000

Final table coverage was proved by WSOP partner, Bluff Media. The entire duration was broadcast over the Internet at the official WSOP website: www.worldseriesofpoker.com (Note: The entire show is archived at the site and can still be seen).

Play resumed at Level 20 with blinds at 12,000-24,000 and a 3,000 ante. Players were eliminated in the following order:

9th Place
– On the fifth hand of play, the shortest stack belonged to Marc “Clark Kent” Morris. He failed to turn into Superman on this day and ended up as the first player to be eliminated. On Morris’ final hand, he raised all-in pre-flop holding A-5 unsuited hoping to steal a round of blinds and antes. But Sumeet Batra called with pocket nines. The middle pair held up meaning Morris’ vaporization. Nevertheless, Marc “Clark Kent” Morris, a 39-year-old project manager from Woolwich Township, NJ earned his biggest tournament cash ever -- $26,946 for ninth place. A true ambassador for the game of poker, Morris and his wife started an annual charity event which raises money for the American Brain Tumor Association.

8th Place – This was a tough day for Steve Merrifield.
He arrived fourth in chips, slightly less than a 2 to 1 dog to the chip leader. But he never caught a big hand nor became a factor at the final table. He lost a few big pots and was down to his last 140,000 when he tried to steal the blinds on hand 35 with K-2. Sumeet Batra called from the small blind and showed 8-8. Merrifield called out for a king, but the poker gods failed to hear the echoes of desperation. The pocket eights held up, and Merrifield was forced to settle for eighth place. The 22-year-old poker pro was playing in his first tournament with a buy-in of $1,000 or higher. The West Virginia University graduate (2007, B.A. in finance) ended up collecting $40,419 in prize money.

7th Place – Hand number 50 was unlucky for Scott Blackman. He raised to 100,000 pre-flop with A-K. Soheil Shamseddin re-raised to 400,000 from the button holding Q-Q. The raise and call was enough to put Blackman all in. Five low cards on the final board meant that Blackman failed to make a pair, resulting in a seventh-place finish. Scott Blackman a 25-year-old poker pro from Rochester, NY and former ice hockey All-American at Penn State University ended up with $53,892.

6th Place – Blinds increased to 20,000-40,000 with a 5,000 ante. By this time, Soheil Shamseddin had seized the chip lead, although Dan Hicks was still a force with about 1,000,000 in chips. Nick Binger arrived at the final table with the highest lifetime tournament winnings (about $400,000) and was expected to be a force as play became shorter-handed. However, Binger lost over half of his stack in the initial two hours of play and was low on chips when he moved all-in with A-2 suited on what turned out to be his final hand of the day. Dan Hicks called the raise with K-J and connected when a jack hit on the flop. Binger failed to improve and was eliminated from the tournament in sixth place. The Las Vegas-based poker pro now has 19 cashes on his tournament resume. Binger who finished in-the-money in the 2007 WSOP main event, added $67,365 to his poker bankroll.

5th Place – Shamseddin did not hold the chip lead for long. He lost a series of small pots, which added up to a significant portion of his stack. He did have Dan Hicks down to his last 300,000 at one point, but could not call Hick’s final all-in river bet when a scary board developed. In short, Shamseddin grdually lost his momentum, while the other players feasted on the bit of misfortune. For Steven Greenberg, things went from bad to worse. He was down to his last 200,000 and with it costing 85,000 per orbit, he moved all-in with K-Q. Sumeet Batra called with A-8. An ace flopped, which essentially put Greenberg out of the tournament on the 78th hand of play. Steven Greenberg, a 43-year-old telecommunications specialist from Flanders, NY collected $80,838

4th Place – Soheil Shamseddin went out on a hand that he will surely regret. On hand 89, he raised to 120,000 from the button. Batra (dealt 8-8) was in the small blind and re-raised all-in. Shamseddin had a vulnerable hand (K-J) but decided to make the questionable call. As it turned out, he was only a slight dog with his two overcards. But an eight flopped, giving Batra a set. The board showed 9-8-7, which meant Shamseddin still had an inside straight draw. He missed as two blanks fell, which meant a fourth-place finish. Soheil Shamseddin – the 51-year-old owner of a company called GolfQ, which sells and markets golf packages and promotes tour events – had to settle for a payout totaling $94,311. This marked his second time to cash in a Caesars Atlantic City event this year. He also took seventh place in a series event last week.

3rd Place – Blinds increased to 30,000-60,000 with a 5,000 ante. As play entered the fifth hour, Dan Hicks had regained the chip lead. One of the final table’s most intense moments took place on hand 116 when Eric Haber was bluffed out of a monster-sized pot. The hand deserves a close look and should be talked about for a long time to come. Haber raised to 180,000 from the button. Hicks called. The flop came 10-7-6 rainbow. Hicks checked and Haber bet out 250,000. The turn paired the board as a ten fell. Again, Hicks was first to act and checked. This time Haber bet 500,000. Hicks called. The river made things even more interesting as a jack fell. This time, Hicks led out with an all-in bet. Haber appeared frozen. Still left with about 900,000 in chips he was clearly not pot-committed. But folding a 1.8 million pot is never easy. Haber contemplated his decision for five full minutes. “This is either the worst call of my life or the worst fold in poker history,” he announced to the crowd and to his opponent, trying to ignite a response. Hicks didn’t blink. Finally, Haber folded (he later revealed that he had J-9 and had been gunning for an inside straight, but instead ended up with top pair). Hicks tumbled over 8-8 for two pair, a hand Haber obviously could have beat.

Haber later explained his reason for folding. “Dan (Hicks) had played with me for three full days. He had to have noticed that I call (the river) often. I figured he caught onto that and could not possibly have been bluffing me on such a big hand. I mean, I made like (so many) calls and the way he bet out on the river, he seemed to want the call. As it turned out, he made a great move and I made the wrong decision.”

Just when it appeared that Hicks might use his chips to steamroll his final obstacle into submission, things changed. Call it a reversal of fortune, with Eric Haber standing at the end of the rainbow in the pot of gold. Haber restocked his stack when next, he knocked out Sumeet Batra. Hand number 124 ended up as a bad beat for Batra, who called a pre-flop all-in re-raise with A-7, versus Haber’s A-6. Batra held a big lead until the river card. A six fell, giving Haber the only pair, and crushing Batra’s dreams of victory. Sumeet Batra, a 24-year-old financial analyst and hedge-fund trader originally from India, ended up with $121,257. Batra says he plans on attending law school at some point and will soon be working for a hedge-fund trading firm based in New York.

2nd Place – When heads-up play began, Hicks enjoyed a slight chip lead over Haber. Incredibly, these two finalists actually started playing together two days earlier at the same table when the tournament began. 275 eliminated players later, Hicks and Haber were the final two. Over the next 30 minutes, Hicks was clearly the aggressor (indeed, he was the most aggressive player all day and arguably throughout the tournament). Without much drama, he managed to chisel away at Haber’s dwindling stack. Haber was fed up at one point and decided to make his final stand with 6-5 after the flop came 5-3-3. Hicks called and showed A-J. The small pair held up, suddenly putting Haber in the chip lead.

A few hands later, Haber won another sizable pot. Then he took even more chips from Hicks when he made a diamond flush about 30 minutes into the duel. It was stunning turn of events for both players, as Haber now had his opponent outchipped by about 6 to 1.

Hand 149 ended the tournament and left many observers shocked, especially those expecting to see Hicks win. On the final hand, Haber raised 180,000 before the flop. Hicks called. The flop came J-9-5. Hicks moved all in, and Haber could hardly believe what he was experiencing. Haber called instantly and flipped over J-J for a set of jacks. “When are you going to stop catching?” Hicks muttered in disgust as he tabled his 10-9, good for middle pair. The last two cards did not help Hicks, who was forced to settle for second place. Meanwhile, the celebration in Haber’s corner began, as the new poker champ high-fived several friends in the audience.

Dan Hicks, a 36-year-old investor from Tampa, FL dominated nearly every phase of the tournament, except for the final half hour. Hicks congratulated his opponent, but he was clearly disappointed with the turn of events. He received $237,124 in prize money.

1st Place – Eric “Sheets” Haber collected a $431,136 cash prize. He also received the WSOP Circuit gold and diamond champion’s ring, presented to all main event winners on this year’s tournament circuit. Haber was also given a voucher worth $11,000 good for an entry into the 2008 World Series of Poker championship event.

Haber is a 41-year-old hedge fund manager. He is married and has two children. Haber is a lead instructor at a popular website called pokerxfactor.com, which is a site dedicated to helping poker players improve their game. Look for Haber to pick up a few more students following his big win. Haber now has 15 cashes in his resume, and $660,000 in tournament winnings. He has earned considerably more money and has won other events playing online.

“I really cherish the opportunity to play in live tournaments. I am married with kids and I do not get the opportunity to play in as many events as some others, so I really have to make the most of it when I play live with real people,” Haber said. “To be able to grind it out day after day after day at one of these major events and then make it all the way to the final table is something really special. This is what it is all about for me.”

He offered another interesting perspective on tournaments and the challenges of winning on the circuit. “I would not want to travel around the country and play tournaments every day. I know there are many players who do that. But to me, you can’t possibly play your best game when you are out there day after day. For me, it is better to come to one of these events occasionally and really focus my efforts. When I get a shot, I really am determined to play my best.”


Official Results:

1st Eric “Sheets” Haber Syosset, LI (New York) $431,136 (plus $WSOP main event entry)
2nd Dan Hicks Tampa, FL 237,124
3rd Sumeet Batra Lubbock, TX 121,257
4th Soheil Shamseddin Houston, TX 94,311
5th Steven Greenberg Flanders, NY 80,838
6th Nick Binger Las Vegas, NV 67,365
7th Scott Blackman Rochester, NY 53,892
8th Steven Merrifield Fairmont, WV 40,419
9th Marc “Clark Kent” Morris Woolrich Township, NJ 26,946

10th Joseph Siegel 16,167
11th Seth Akash 16,167
12th Nick Olivieri 16,167
13th Young Phan 13,473
14th Hevad Khan 13,473
15th Richard Kirsch 13,473
16th Ed Pham 10,778
17th Tiffany Williamson 10,778
18th Mark Roland 10,778
19th Charles Hook 8,084
20th Scott Glazer 8,084
21st Ylon Schwartz 8,084
22nd Adrian Velez 8,084
23rd Patrick Madden 8,084
24th Steven Cho 8,084
25th Allie Prescott 8,084
26th Bryce Carroll-Coe 8,084
27th Sheree Bykofsky 8,084



For more information, please contact:
Nolan Dalla -- WSOP Media Director at (702) 358-4642
e-mail: nolandallawsop@gmail.com
Or visit our official website: www.worldseriesofpoker.com

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