Pocket treys was the key hand tonight for Mohamed Elkerdawy in his victory in event seven of the Harrah's WSOP Circuit event at Harrah's Atlantic City, $1,000 no-limit hold'em. With four players left, Mikhail Gurevich bet 100,000 into a flop of 8-8-4. Elkerdawy raised 240,000 with his treys, Gurevich folded, showing an A7, and Elkerdawy took the chip lead which he never surrendered. 

Gurevich was critical of his opponent's play with the small pair, but Elkerdawy said he read Gurevich for an ace and knew the flop didn't help him. First place in the event brought him $72,000. That matches the $72,310 he got for finishing second in a $500 no-limit event at the Borgata Poker Open this past September. 

Elkerdawy, 55, is originally from Egypt and now lives in Brigantine, New Jersey. He owns a wholesale furniture company that replicates imported antiques, which gives him lots of free time to play poker. He also enjoys side game action, $40-$80 and higher limit hold'em.

When play ended on day one, 13 were left, with Gurevich holding the most chips, 267,000. When the final table started, William McMahon was in front with 242,000. Play began with blinds of 4,000-8,000, 1,000 antes and 26:44 left.

Seats and chip counts

SEAT 1 Joe Siegel                 105,000 
SEAT 2 Bernard Lee                92,000
SEAT 3 William McMahon       242,000 
SEAT 4 Mikhail Gurevich        207,000
SEAT 5 Mohamed Elkerdawy   72,100
SEAT 6 Mike Beasley             133,000
SEAT 7 Richard Davidson     197,000
SEAT 8 Manelic Minaya         114,000
SEAT 9 Frank Pellegrini         105,000

There were two all-ins and calls in early action, with Bernard Lee and Manelic "Manny" Minaya, both going in with better hands, surviving and doubling up.

Frank Pellegrini wrote on his bio sheet that he was the underdog, and he proved it by being first out. Soon after blinds went to 6,000-12,000 with 2,000 antes, he moved in for $89,000 with A-J.  Lee then pushed in with pocket queens, which held up. Pellegrini is a 42-year-old veterinarian from Streetsboro, Ohio who's been playing for a year, learning from a friend. He got $4,500 for finishing ninth.

On hand 31, pro player Minaya suffered one of the most brutal beats of this tournament to date. After Gurevich raised all in for 154,000 with A-K, Minaya called with pocket aces, a 91 percent favorite. When the board showed J-10-9-8, Gurevich was dead to a queen (or a 7 for a chop). A lady rivered to give Gurevich a straight, and Minaya was down to 13,000, which he had to post in the big blind on the next hand. All he had was 10-9. Richard Davidson raised 50,000 to get heads-up. Ironically, Richardson had just A-5, and proceeded to make aces full.

Minaya is from the Dominican Republic and now lives in Tampa, Florida. He had been in billings and collections before turning pro. He's made six final tables, finished second in the WSOP Circuit championship at Tunica earlier this year, winning $160,557  and finished 61st in the WSOP main event  last year, which paid $145,875. Tonight he got $6,750 for eighth.

Returning from the break, Gurevich was in front with 348,000. Blinds now were 8,000-16,000 with 2,000 antes. 

William McMahon, a firefighter from Cedar Grove, New Jersey, was left with about 40,000 on hand 59. He raised to 60,000, and Elkerdawy moved in for 89,000 more. After long thought, McMahon had the clock put on him, and finally called. He turned up A-J, and had a straight draw on a flop of K-Q-2, but Elkerdawy, with pocket 10s, had two of his needed cards. McMahon couldn't hit the straight or either of his overcards. Two hands later was all in with A-7. Gurevich and Beasley called, and Gurevich won with J-10 when the checked-down board showed K-J-4-8-6.

McMahon is 45 and started playing poker in pool rooms 25 years ago. His best achievement to date was making back-to-back final tables last week. His payout for finishing seventh was $9,000.

As play continued Gurevich still remained in command with 550,000 chips.

Next out was Lee. Down to 43,000, he moved in with Qh-10h and lost to Richard Davidson's K-9 when the board showed A-K-4-8-5. Lee, who is 36, is from Wayland, Massachusetts, works as a senior marketing manager and has an impressive poker resume. He finished 13th in last year's WSOP main event, collecting $400,000, and $368,919 for winning a $5,000 event at the World Poker Finals this year.  He also writes a poker column for the Boston Herald and ESPN.com.  His sixth place finish was worth $11,250.

Joe Siegel followed him out. Siegel is 54, from North Charleroi, Pennsylvania, is in auto sales and has been playing poker for 40 years, learning from his father. In this tournament, the first major one he has ever played, he had aces eight times, twice at the final table, and never got them, or any other pocket pair, cracked. Short-chipped in the latter stages, he lasted until fifth. After Beasley raised with K-9, Siegel re-raised for his last 14,000 with Qc-10c. The board came A-7-2-5-6, and Siegel cashed out for $11,250. 

Hand 85 saw everything turn around. Gurevich opened for 60,000. "You have anything?" Elkerdawy asked, calling. Gurevich had A-7, and after Gurvich made Gurevich fold when he bet his treys, he took the lead with more than 500,000.

On the next hand, Elkerdawy opened for 65,000 and Gurevich called. The flop was 10d-6d-Jd. Gurevich, with a 5d-4d flush draw, moved in for 300,000 and Elkerdawy called with Kd-Jh. An offsuit queen turned, and then a river king gave Elkerdawy a winning two pair. Gurevich was out in fourth place, which paid $15,750, while Elkerdawy now had a commanding chip lead with 945,000 to 300,000 for Beasley and 105,000 for Davidson.

Gurevich, 23, is a year out of college, where he was a philosophy major at Rutgers, and hasn't yet decided what direction to take in his life. Originally from Belarus, a nation in Eastern Europe, he now lives in Manalapan, New Jersey. He's been playing poker three years, is single, and likes table tennis. Tonight he picked up $15,750 for fourth place.

Three-handed, Elkerdawy now had about 945,000 chips to 300,000 for Mike Beasley, and 105,000 for Davidson. Davidson went broke when he moved in for 85,000 with 8-5 and couldn't catch Basley's pocket 10s. Davidson, 37, is from Whippany, New Jersey and owns a heating and air conditioning company. His nickname is "The Slicer," and he says poker is in his blood because he's half Hungarian. He's been playing the game 10 years, and the $20,250 he got for third is his best finish so far.

Heads-up, Elkerdawy enjoyed a 916,000 to 434,000 advantage. The match-up would last 29 hands. After blinds went to 15,000-30,000, Beasley had closed the gap to about 750,000-600,000. largely by taking pots with all-in bet and raises. But a couple of hands later it was all over. Elkerdawy raised to 70,000 with Ac-5c and Beasley moved in with pocket 8s. With a board of 9d-4s-3c-Kc, Elkerdawy needed an ace, deuce or club to win. The river was a 10c, and Beasley was out in second place, worth $39,600.

Beasley, 43, is a pathologist and adult club owner from Hollywood, Florida, who learned poker at age 12 in a barbershop. Making back-to-back final tables in the two $1,000 events is his best poker feat to date.

-- Max Shapiro