Thursday, May 1, 2014, was a big day for long-time poker professional Bernard Lee when he defeated Alex Masek, heads-up, to win his first World Series of Poker Circuit gold ring and deny Masek a record ninth ring.
Lee had his work cut out for him when he hit the final table — there were five WSOP Circuit ring winners working on their own 'ring-goals' with plans on stopping Lee's run for a first.
Final Table Results
Event 9: $365 Turbo No-Limit Hold'em was hosted by the Lodge Casino in Colorado and brought a field of 179 entries all trying to take first place. The top 18 players would be paid. Lee wasn't coming as the new kid on the block, his record featured four top-three finishes in WSOP Circuit events, but all ended short of the coveted prize — the ring.
"It feels fantastic to get the monkey off my back. I had been so close recently, but I felt I was playing well and it would just be a matter of time," Lee told PokerNews.com. "Also, I had just won the RunGoodGear.com series main event in March, so to win another title so quickly feels awesome. Finally, my daughter, Maya, turned nine years old last Monday and she always wishes me luck before every event. I dedicated the win to my little sweetheart."
In the final, Lee faced off heads-up with Masek, the most decorated man in WSOP Circuit history! Masek sports eight gold rings and once he makes it to heads-up play, his opponents normally hit the rail while he collects the honors. Masek had just claimed eight out of nine events previous to his heads-up play with Lee. Masek's loss to Lee was only his second loss in a WSOP Circuit gold ring event after making it to heads-up play.
"To win my first WSOP ring against such an incredible player like Alex makes this even more special," said Lee. "Alex and I have become good friends as we discuss a lot of hands throughout the year. Ironically, he recently came on my radio show to discuss strategy on winning WSOP Circuit events. Maybe I learned too much from him (laughs)."
"Overall, we were fairly short stacked as it was a turbo event. By the last levels, the average stack was below 20 big blinds, so it was hard to see flops. I decided to make sure that when I went with a hand, I was prepared to potentially go all the way. Fortunately, I was ahead on most of the all ins (I did win a huge flip with ace-five versus his when an ace hit on the turn) and my hands held up."
Lee's first ever WSOP Circuit events took place back in 2005 in Atlantic City and he's become a regular ever since. "I flew in that morning from Boston and barely got into the event. The line was so long that I was one of the last alternates. I cashed something like 20th place."
"Ever since then, I have enjoyed the events especially since they have improved their structure," Lee added. "Also, the WSOP National Championship is such a great opportunity with the smaller field to win a bracelet, which is obviously one of my top poker goals."
Lee took 13th in the WSOP Main Event for $400,000 for his first big leap into the tournament waters. He is “the voice of poker in New England" and recognized worldwide as a poker media personality.
Lee interviews poker players and industry personnel that provide poker news and tips on his show the Bernard Lee Poker Show, which began in May of 2007. Some of Lee's guests have included WSOP champions Doyle Brunson, Chris Moneymaker, Joe Hachem, Greg Raymer, Jonathan Duhamel and Greg Merson; the World Poker Tour's Mike Sexton and Lynn Gilmartin; ESPN commentators Norman Chad and Lon McEachern; poker superstars Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Dennis Phillips, and Jason Mercier; and members of the 2008 through 2013 WSOP November Nine.
Image courtesy of the WSOP.