"I was all in with the best hand every time," Michael Borovetz said after his victory in the sixth event of the Harrah's WSOP Circuit at Harrah's Atlantic City. "Reading hands is my strength, and I always knew when a player was bluffing." In fact, picking off a bluff on the final hand gave him his win in the $1,000 no-limit hold'em event, which was worth $66,240.
Borovetz, 31, is from Pittsburgh and worked for five years as a chemical engineer before turning semi-pro two and a half years ago. His best money finish was $70,000 for finishing second in a $1,000 Circuit event at Tunica last year, and he also finished second at a $1,500 Circuit tournament here the same year, losing both times, he said, to "bad beats." Tonight he had confidence, feeling he was the best player at the final table.
This tournament saw the chip lead change numerous times, with a 30-hand final heads-up match. Borovetz started with a 2-1advange against State Farm agent Jeff Gottesman, but then had to come from behind after Gottesman hit a river flush.
Day one ended with 13 players left. The final table started the next day at 4 p.m. Gary Schoengold led with 251,000 chips. Play began with 4,000-8,000 blinds, 1,000 antes and 45:34 left.
Seats and chip counts:
SEAT 1 Judi Frame 152,000
SEAT 2 Matt Brady 142,000
SEAT 3 John Gilcher 83,000
SEAT 4 Andrew Kloc 148,000
SEAT 5 Ted Ely 32,000
SEAT 6 Jeff Gottesman 67,000
SEAT 7 Tai Ho Baik 50,000
SEAT 8 Gary Schoengold 251,000
SEAT 9 Michael Borovetz 195,000
Ted Ely, 28, jokingly wrote on his bio sheet that he is a former Formula 1 race car driver. In any event, he spun out on the first hand. Lowest-chipped with 32,000, he called all in from the big blind with Ah-Kh after John Gilcher button-raised with pocket jacks. Gilcher made a set on the turn, and Ely collected $4,140 for ninth. He is from New York City and has been playing three years.
The prospect of a fast final table was illusory because all eight players were still left when blinds increased to 6,000-12,000 with 2,000 antes 24 hands later. Play continued with lots of all-ins but no challengers. On hand 35 we finally had another drop-out. Schoengold raised all in from the small blind for 91,000 more, and Tai Ho Baik called from the button with a few less chips. Baik had Ks-9s, Schoengold Ad-6d, and when the board missed both players, Baik cashed eighth for $6,210. Baik, 44, originally from Korea, now lives in Leonia, New Jersey, and has played a year and a half, learning by watching TV.
Schoengold at this point still led with 257,000, but then Borovetz took down some pots and took the lead. As the level ended, players faced tough calls. Gottesman opened for 90,000 and Schoengold re-raised all in for 101,000. Gottesman pondered for several minutes, trying to get a read, before finally folding. Then Judi Frame took even longer before she also folded after raising 50,000 and facing a 100,000 re-raise by Matt Brady.
Blinds now were 8,000-16,000. Suddenly, starting with the 68th deal, we would lose three players in six hand. John Gilcher was the first to go. He moved in under the gun for 76,000 holding Kc-Jd. Andrew Kloc called with pocket 9s, and then Gottesman pushed in for 93,000 with pocket jacks. Nobody helped when the board came 4-4-3-7-A. Kloc lost half his chips while Gilcher was out in seventh place, worth $8,280.
Gilcher is a 34-year-old real estate appraiser from Brooklyn, New York. He's been playing poker for four years, and finished third in a $1,000 Circuit event here last February.
On the next hand, a short-chipped Frame, who had managed to hang on, put in the rest of her 45,000 chips in the small blind with J-3. Brady easily beat her with A-J, and we were down to five.
Frame, a realtor from Cape May Court House, New Jersey, learned poker from her brother 12 years ago. Tonight she earned $10,350 for sixth. Her resume includes seconds in a $500 Circuit event here last year and a $1,000 United States Poker Championship event in 2004.
Four hands later, Kloc was all in with K-7, called by Borovetz with A-10. The board came J-9-8-Q-K, giving Borovetz a straight, and Kloc cashed fifth for $12,420. He learned poker from uncles 15 years ago, played while in college, and has a second in the Borgata Holiday Weekend event. He said he learned to do "chipectomies" from his friend Richard Huang, who won event four.
The players went on dinner break, Borovetz still leading with 485,000. Blinds were now 10,000-20,000 with 3,000 antes. Two hands into the new level, we lost another player. Under the gun, Matt Brady tried to take the blinds by raising 129,000. Borovetz called with Ac-8c and blew Brady away by flopping an unbeatable flush. Brady is 25, from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, has played poker for five years, two professionally. His has two $50,000 cash-outs for a win in a Bellagio $1,000 event and a fourth at Foxwoods last month, along with a USPC $500 event win. Fourth paid $14,490.
As play continued, the chip count totals got closer together. Then Gottesman took the lead when he beat Borovetz in a big pot with just a queen-high. Schoengold later missed a chance to double up. He was free-rolling with Ac-Qc against Gottesman's A-Q off when the flop came Kc-Jc-Jd, but he missed his flush and settled for a chop.
The players moved up a notch to 15,000-30,000 blinds and 3,000 antes. Borovetz then took the lead back when he went all in with Q-10 and made two pair to beat Gottesman's pocket 6s.
Halfway through the round, we finally got heads-up. On the 130th deal, Schoengold moved in from the small blind with just 6-3. Borovetz quickly called with J-10. Schoengold had the best hand after a flop of K-K-3, but then two running 8s gave both players kings and 8s, and Borovetz's higher kicker decided it. Schoengold, 49, is in the remodeling business and lives in Maryland. He taught himself poker three years ago, and his prior highlight was just missing a final table at a WPT event. He got $18,630 for third.
Borovetz now enjoyed a better than 2-1 lead, 841,000 to 401,000. On the first hand, Gottesman opened for 150,000 with Ah-2h, and Borovetz put him in with Ac-8c. Borovetz thought he had a winner when the board came K-J-9-J, but it was already a chop at that point.
Four hands later a big hand played out. The flop was Kd-3d-2c. Gottesman immediately bet with Ad-Qd, and Borovetz just as quickly called, having made two pair with 3-2. Gottesman had only queen high, but was the favorite, needing a king, queen, diamond or even a runner-runner straight. The turn was an offsuit king, and then a 10d on the river gave Gottesman his flush, and suddenly he was in the lead with roughly 700,000 to for Borovetz's 500,000.
Borovetz eventually built up into a small lead. On hand 150, the blinds became 20,000-40,000 with 4,000 antes, the highest yet in the six events. The final hand, number 160, saw a flop of 9d-2d-2h, Gottesman tried an all-in move with Ad-4s. Borovetz had the best hand with 9h-8c and called. Two blanks came, and the semi-pro scored a full victory.
Gottesman, 38, has been playing 20 years, and eight in a major home game. His best cash was winning $42,000 for winning a PartyPoker event online. He said poker has been a hobby, but he hopes to play more events next year. His second paid $36,432.
-- Max Shapiro
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