Kosta "Gus" Sengos is 23, works in his father's Greek restaurant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and until tonight had won nothing more than some small local tournaments. He's always wanted to play at the Horseshoe Casino Council Bluffs, and got his wish when he won his seat into the championship event here with a victory in a bar league called the Player Club Poker League. "I got here for free," he exulted.

It didn't seem like it would mean much when he was down to a couple of thousand chips on day one, and then never won a race-off until late into the second day. But he persevered, overcame a huge chip disadvantage on the final day, and finally rode to victory to become tournament champion in the first WSOP Circuit tour event ever held here. His victory was worth $219,576 plus a 10,000 seat in this year's WSOP main event.

Sengos is single and learned poker four years ago playing with friends. Probably the key hand for him came when he picked off a bluff in a big pot with just ace-high. He was also aided by a big, loud, cheering section of poker buddies.

When the day three final table started, Sam "Chicago Kid" Von Duhn arrived with the most chips, 444,500. He took the lead on the final hand the night before when he knocked out the 10th player with what he described as a "true donkey play." Holding A-K, he moved in on a flop of 9-4-3 after Jeff Bryan trapped him by checking pocket kings, but drew out when an ace hit the turn. In second place was Jeff "Mr. Rain" Banghart with 330,000 chips, giving the two players more than half the 1.4 million on the table.

Seats and Chip Counts

SEAT 1: Everett Carlton 42,000
SEAT 2: Kosta Sengos 210,000
SEAT 3: Sam Von Duhn 444,500
SEAT 4: John Kincaid 56,000
SEAT 5: Paul Kraus 104,000
SEAT 6: Thadd Wolf 70,000
SEAT 7: Doug "Rico" Carli 80,000
SEAT 8: Larry Vance 81,000
SEAT 9: Jeff Banghart 330,000

Action began with blinds of 3,000-6,000 and 500 antes. Everett Carlton, with 42,000, had the fewest chips and lasted 12 hands. After Banghart raised with As-3s, Carlton moved in for his last 27. Banghart hit a flush on the river and Carlton cashed ninth for $13,544.

This is Carlton's second final table here. He finished third in the $1,500 no-limit event three days ago. He is 52, from St. Paul, Minnesota, and learned poker four years ago. He's had several big cashouts, including $92,715 for finishing seventh at a WSOP $1,000 rebuy event in 2006. That same year he made a WPT final table at Foxwoods. He is single, enjoys golf and might turn pro later.

To this point, Banghart, had been picking up a lot of blinds and antes by doing most of the raising. On the next hand he took the lead with about 470,000 after he bet 100,000 into a big pot, forcing Sengos to fold.

As the level neared an end, Thadd Wolff put his last 40,000 in the middle with A-7. Sengos called and had him dominated with A-K. The board came A-10-6-9-4, and Wolff took home $20,331 for eighth.

Wolff, 35 is a self-employed accountant from Omaha. He's been playing poker for 20 years. Asked how he learned to play, he said "I didn't." His other hobbies are golf and travel.

Play resumed with blinds of 4,000-8,000 and 1,000 antes with Banghart now holding more than 500,000 chips. On the first hand at the new level, John "Johnny K" Kincaid pushed in for 34,000. Then Doug "Rico" Carli went in for 60,000, and Banghart called. Kincaid had J-5, Carli had A-K, and Banghart had pocket 9s. Banghart offered to buy the dealer a yacht if a 9 was dealt, but the board came A-Q-7-10-7. Carli raked in a big pot, the dealer didn't get a yacht, and Kincaid busted out in seventh place, which paid $27,108.

Kincaid, 27, is from Omaha. He learned poker while a sophmore in college and turned pro when he was 19. His other hobbies include "reading, politics, history, travel and women." What does he want the audience to know about him? "Nothing. That way they have no idea what to expect when I play."

Just three hands later we lost another player when Larry Vance moved in, risking his last 45,000 in early position holding just 9d-8h. Sengos called from the button with K-Q, and Vance was drawing dead when the board showed A-Q-3-6.

Vance, originally from Kentucky, now lives in Torrance, California, and is retired. His hobbies include ballroom and latin dance, and he says he learned to play poker the same way he learned to dance: "My mom taught me." His poker highlight was learning that his brother had given tee shirts to poker friends with an inscription reading "WWLD" (What would Larry Do?) What Larry did tonight was cash out sixth and take home $33,885.

Two hands later, the action was spooky. In the cut-off seat, Von Duhn raised holding only 10-3 and got two calls. The flop came 8-3-3. Von Duhn bet 30,000 and Carli, with pocket 4s, moved in for more than 100,000. Von Duhn jubiliantly called with his set of treys (was he psychic?) to take the lead with more than 500,000 chips.

Carli, meanwhile, took home $40,662 for fifth. He 51, a retired stockbroker turned full-time player. He lives in Alliance, Ohio and began playing poker with his father and five brothers when he was six. In 2005, his rookie year as a pro, he was ranked 23rd by Card Player and was fourth in final tables. He's had numerous cashes in his two years as a pro, including two prior Circuit final tables: a fifth in the championship event at Caesars Indiana, and a second in a $500 event at Paris/Bally's. He also finished seventh in a $5,000 event at the World Series last year.

As play continued, Banghart moved into a small lead. Then came a turnaround hand on the 56th deal. On a flop of Qh-10c-2h, Banghart, with 5h-4h, bet 30,000 and Von Duhn, with 9h-8h, made it 80,000 to go. A 10h turned to give both players a flush. Banghart bet 200,000, Von Duhn moved in, and when the smoke cleared, Von Duhn had roughly a million chips with Banghart down to 60,000.

Banghart hung on for another 10 hands before bowing out. With a board of J-9-7-K, he moved in for 75,000 holding 7-5. Kraus had K-J for a bigger pair, and Banghart took $54,216 for fourth.

Banghart is 45 and lives in Bennigton, Nebraska. He got his "Mr. Rain" nickname from his ownership of a lawn sprinkler company called Controlled Rain. He has a finance degree and started playing poker in seventh grade with a group of friends, four of whom now play in WSOP or WPT events. In all, he's played poker 30 years but took a 12-year break before 2004. He is married with two daughters in college and two younger stepsons.

When blinds went to 6,000-12,000, Von Duhn still led with about 850,000 to around 300,000 for Sengos and 260,000 for Kraus. Then Von Duhn took a big hit, turning over about 200,000 to Sengos when he paired a 7 on the flop while Sengos paired a jack.

As play proceeded, Paul Kraus made a great laydown. With the board showing K-3-2-J-3, Sengos bet 125,000. Kraus, with a paired king, folded and asked if he had been bluffed. Not exactly. Sengos had quad treys. Then, perhaps the key hand came down on the 98th deal. With the board showing 5-3-3-K-3, Sengos bet 120,000 and Von Duhn moved in. Sengos called with just ace-high to beat Von Duhn's J-10 bluff as the crowd of South Dakota cheerleaders went wild. Sengos soared to over a million while Von Duhn now was down to 270,000 and Kraus had 135,000. Sengos said he made the call because Von Duhn had been raising too frequently, and he picked up a tell from how his opponent shuffled his chips.

Not long after, Von Duhn moved in for his last 38,000, and got two calls. He had A-K, flopped an ace, but busted when Sengos turned a set. Von Duhn is 35 and from Chicago. He owned a cell phone stores business before turning pro. He learned poker 10 years ago "by losing a load of money" and has played seriously for two years. He is single, enjoys aviation, pool and partying and goes by various nicknames, including "Luck Box" and "Sir Nuts." He won his seat in a mega satellite and his third place finish was worth $67,770.

Heads-up, Sengos still had about a million to about 400,000 for Kraus. As play continued through the next 20 hands, Kraus gradually pulled into a small lead, the key pot being when his A-K beat Sengos' K-Q. It was now dinner time, but the two finalists preferred to play through.

Blinds were now 8,000-16,000 with 200 antes. It was already hand 130, but the two would battle it out for some 65 more deals. Chips would go up and down. At one point, Kraus was down to 275,000 after laying down jacks on the river with an ace and two treys showing before he battled his way back into the lead again. Then, just as the level came to an end, Kraus got crippled. With a flop of K-9-4, Sengos bet 130,000 holding A-K, and Kraus moved in with K-10. The ace kicker held up, and Kraus had only 110,000 left.

With blinds now at 10,000-20,000 and 2,000 antes, Sengos moved in with J-8, and Kraus called with his last chips holding Qc-10c. Kraus was still in the lead when the board showed Ah-7c-3s-9d, but then Sengos caught an 8 on the river to nail down his championship victory.

Kraus, who collected $115,209 for second, is 35 and from Los Angeles where he buys and sells commercial aircraft. He learned poker four years ago playing with friends, and his biggest thrill was playing short-handed aganst Doyle Brunson, Layne Flack, Chris Ferguson and John Juanda at a WSOP event two years ago. Kraus, who is single and enjoys deep sea fishing, adds that "I'm keeping my day job." --Max Shapiro

For more information, please contact:
Max Shapiro -- WSOP Media Director at (323) 356-3303
Or visit our official website: http://www.worldseriesofpoker.com

World Series of Poker Commissioner - Jeffrey Pollack
Director of Poker Operations for Harrah's Entertainment - Jack Effel
World Series of Poker Circuit Tournament Director - Janis Sexton
Horseshoe Casino Council Bluffs Poker Room Manager - Gary Margetson