But Eric Crain, Starting with HugeLead, Only Makes it to Fifth Place 

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Elizabeth, IN—This tournament offered a testament to the virtue of patient, controlled play. At one end was Eric Crain, who arrived at the final table with a tremendous lead, holding 374,000 of the 1,017,000 chips in play, but finished a disappointing fifth. After he busted out and left the table, the remaining players shook their heads at what they felt was his overly loose and sometimes reckless play.

At the other end was Keith Correll, a 42-year-old controller for an auto parts company from Greenwood, Illinois. He started lowest-chipped with 47,500 but, as he explained later, picked his spots, waited on hands hoping to get play,  hung on, then went on a rush in the final stages to take down the ninth event of the WSOP Circuit tour at Caesars Indiana, $500 no-limit hold’em. His victory was worth a substantial $49,372 along with a $5,000 main event seat.

Correll also admitted to his share of luck, saying that his hands held up all day, and he once got very lucky, being all in with A-5 against a better ace, escaping when he flopped a flush.

Correll is unmarried and has played poker three years, splitting his time between tournaments and $2-$5 and $5-$10 no-limit cash games. His prior highlight was winning $10,000 in chips in a mega-satellite at the WSOP last year. He also has an eighth in a $1,000 no-limit Circuit event here in March.

When we got to the final table, blinds were 3,000-6,000 with 29:24 on the clock. 

Here were the starting chip counts:
SEAT 1 Dave Brown               54,000
SEAT 2 Nick Guagenti 75,000            
SEAT 3 Eric Crain                   374,000          
SEAT 4 Mohammad Hamid     91,000            
SEAT 5 Keith Correll               47,500
SEAT 6 Marc Wertheim           92,000
SEAT 7 Todd Bartley               109,000
SEAT 8 Thad Haas                  84,500
SEAT 9 Brad Mason                89,500

The first big pot came on the eighth hand and it offered a prime example of the differences in play between the two players. 

On that hand. Mohammad Hamid moved in with pocket queens, Keith Correll quickly called, and so did Crain—with just A-10. Correll turned up pocket aces (“The fifth time tonight,” Hamid complained). When the board came J-1-14-3, Crain lost about 80,000 while Correll tripled up to around 150,000, moving into second place.

Aces then proved fatal to Marc Wertheim. He moved in for 36,000 with Ad-6d, and Nick Guagenti crushed him when all small cards hit the board.

Wertheim is 39, self-employed and from Cincinnati. He’s married with two children and has been playing poker five years. This is his fifth Circuit, which paid him $3,185 for ninth.  

Blinds went to 4,000-8,000 with 1,000 antes, and suddenly everything turned around. On a flop of Q-J-7, Correll bet 35,000, Crain moved in, and Correll called. They both had queens, but Correll’s kicker was an ace to Crain’s 10. Crain couldn’t help, and suddenly Correll was chip leader with 305,000 to 225,000 for Crain. 

As play continued, Brad “Mace” Mason was down to 28,000 after losing to Todd Bartley’s pocket kings, but quickly recovered by doubling through twice.

Next out was Mohammad Hamid. Crain raised from the small blind with just 8-6 and Hamid went all in from the big blind with A-10. “Good flop,” he said as the board showed A-Q-10. But it was a bad river, because after a jack turned, a 9 gave Crain an inside straight.

Hamid, 25, born in Puerto Rico, now lives in Chicago where he is a valet parker. He’s single, learned the game from TV, has been playing five years, and this was his fifth Circuit. Eighth paid $4,778.

Hand 51 was the last for Brad “Mace” Mason. He was all in with K-Q. Dave Brown had A-K and made two pair.

Mason, 32, is a bank security director from Burlington, Kentucky. He’s married with two children, learning poker from reading   David   Sklansky’s  books  three years ago.  This is his first Circuit and he was paid $6,371 for seventh.

On the next hand, Thad Haas was on the button and tried an all-in move for 46,000 with just 8-5. Nick Guagenti picked him off with A-Q and hit a queen on the river.

Haas, 33, is from Naperville, Illinois, and is a consulting actuary. His hobbies are hockey, films, and spending time with his family. He is married with three children. This is his fourth Circuit, and his best finish ever. Sixth paid him $7,963.

After blinds went to 6,000-12,000 with 2,000 antes, Guagenti moved in with pocket deuces. Crain looked at just one card, an ace, and called. His other card was a suited 4, but the deuces held up, and suddenly Crain was down to 132,000. After folding a pot on the flop a few hands later he was left with 47,000. That went all in a few hands later when he had pocket 9s against Guagenti’s pocket jacks. The board came 10-5-4-8-7, and Crain was out.

Crain, 23, is a poker player from Murphysboro, Illinois. Before that he was a student. He is single and his other hobbies are sports and the drum corps. He learned poker playing with friends 4-1/2 years ago. He’s entered eight to 10 Circuits, and won a ring in a Circuit event at Tunica last year. Fifth place paidv$9,556.

Guagenti now led with about 280,000. As play went on, Correll was blinded down, but survived an all-in when he flopped that flush. By the end of the level, on hand 113, Correll was lowest-chipped again with 154,000, while Todd Bartley had now pulled into the lead with 330,000, followed by Guagenti with 266,000 and Dave Brown with 265,00

We were now playing with blinds of 8,000-16,000 and 2,000 antes. The race tightened after Correll A-Q beat Bartley’s A-10. Correll’s rush began on hand 142. First he beat Bartley’s A-8 with A-K to move into a tiny lead. Then he later beat Bartley again by hitting a king on the river to move way in front with about 425,000, finally climbing to more than 600,000.

On hand 160 he knocked out Bartley who had Q-3 in the big blind to Correll’s A-6 in the small. Bartley couldn’t hit anything and now three were left.

Bartley, 35, is from Bardston, Kentucky and owns a floor covering store. He has two children, learned poker “by losing a lot of money,” and has been playing seven years. This is his best finish to date. Fourth place paid $11,249.

The other two players offered Correll a deal, but he just wanted to play. He didn’t regret his decision, because on the next hand he had Guagenti all in holding pocket 7s to Guagenti’s K-5. The board came 9-8-3-Q-6 as Guagenti finished third.

Guagenti is 23 and from Columbus, Ohio. His occupation is “cards,” and before that he was a greenskeeper. Guagenti has been playing poker for four years, winning his way into this event through a satellite. He’s played in numerous Circuit events and has 10 cashes, including $11,633 for a $2,500 pot-limit hold’em event at the WSOP, $10,860 for $5,000 pot-limit hold’em, and $10,450 in a Midwest Regional Championship poker event, all in 2006. Tonight he collected $12,741 for third.

Seven hands later, right after blinds went to 10,000-20,000 with 3,000 antes, it was all over. Brown moved in for his last 55,000 chips with pocket 5s. Correll called with Q-J, outdrawing Brown when the board came K-K-Q-3-3.

Brown, 54, is from Minooka, Illinois, where he is an electrician with Local 176. His nickname is “Diamonds Dave,” he’s married with four children, and he learned poker playing with friends 35 years ago. His other hobby is fishing. He’s entered some 20 Circuits, and his prior highlight was a third-place finish in a $1,000 Circuit event at Tunica last year. Tonight his second-place finish was worth $25,482.   —Max Shapiro     
For more information, please contact: 
Max Shapiro -- WSOP Media Director at (323) 356-3303

World Series of Poker Commissioner – Jeffrey Pollack
World Series of Poker Tournament Director -- Jack Effel
Caesars Indiana Poker Room Manager – Jimmy Allen
Caesars Indiana Tournament Directors -- Andy Cunningham and Chris Reason