A Straight Flush and Quads Help Him on Road to Victory

Click here to view the official results.

Elizabeth, IN—After three hours of wild action at the final table, Steve “Virus” Saris, 32, won the seventh event of the WSOP Circuit tour at Caesars Indiana, pot-limit Omaha. A showdown hand ended the night after the four finalists had earlier made a $9,000 save. Officially, he won $17,527 and a $5,000 seat into the championship event.

Saris, from Canton, Ohio, is a former nightclub owner who now plays full time, mostly high-limit PLO cash games. Deciding to take a shot at a couple of events here, he also finished 15th in the six-handed no-limit hold’em contest the night before. He also placed 15th in a $500 no-limit event earlier here. Tonight he was up and down, as the chip lead changed several times, before he ended up on top.

Saris, who describes himself as an always aggressive player, says he likes this game because of the action. His strong play was also helped a lot by some good cards as he made quads once and a straight flush another time. Saris is married with one child and has played poker for 10 years.

It was only 8 p.m. when we got to the final table, playing with blinds of 400-800 and 23 minutes left. Leading with 75,400 chips was Jeremy Kottler.

Here were the starting chip counts:

SEAT 1 Brian Ahern        15,200    
SEAT 2 Steve Saris        49,300        
SEAT 3 Tony Schoenlein    6,200    
SEAT 4 Brian McKain    31,900    
SEAT 5 Bruce Gans        127,900    
SEAT 6 Richard Fero        15,200
SEAT 7 Rich Guthrie        61,800
SEAT 8 Larry Romine    12,200
SEAT 9 Jeremy Kottler    75,400

Shortest-stacked, with just 6,200 chips, was Tony “Louisville Tony” Schoenlein. In early action he built back up, doubling through twice with flushes and taking another pot by betting the flop. Then came hand 14. On a flop of 9s-3s-2c, Schoenlein bet the pot holding 10-10-9-9. “Be sure to tell everyone I flopped the nuts,” he kept telling this writer afterwards. OKAY, TONY, YOU FLOPPED THE NUT SET! Then Richard Fero, with Ks-6h-5s-5d, moved in with flush and straight draws. Steve Saris, with A-A-10-3 and a suited ace, called and so did Schoenlein. An Ad turned to give Saris a bigger set, and then a 7s on the river gave him the nut flush. Two players were gone. Fero, with slightly fewer chips, finished ninth for $1,461, while Schoenlein got $1,947 for eighth. But he did flop the nuts!

Ferro, 35, from Dallas, is self-employed, married with one child, and has been playing poker two years. He’s played an estimated 25 Circuit events, and this year had a sixth at Tunica in $1,000 no-limit and a 12th in $2,000 PLO at the World Series.

Schoenlein is a 42-year-old engineer from Indianapolis who’s been playing 25 years. He’s married with two children and has entered numerous Circuit tournaments. His other hobby is swimming.

Two hands later, with blinds now at 600-1,200, Brian “Bubba” Ahern was all in with Q-Q-J-5, losing when Kottler hit his king and his jack. Seventh place paid $2,434.

Ahern, 35, is a heavy equipment operator from Beachpark, IL and is married with one son. He taught himself poker three years ago and in 2005 had a fifth in a Circuit event at the Rio and a 10th in a $10,000 Circuit championship at Tunica.

On hand 27, Saris took the lead when the board showed Jd-Jc-10d-Js-Kd and he turned over a queen and 10 of diamonds for his straight flush. He now had about 80,000.

Blinds were now 800-1,600. Bruce Gans, short-chipped and holding A-J-Q-7, got blown out in sixth place when the flop came 9-8-8, giving Brian McKain, with A-9-8-10, a full boat. Sixth paid $2,921.

Gans, 61, from Ooltewah, Tennessee is a pool service owner, married with three children. He’s played 35 years and has made two prior final tables.

Next out was Larry Romine. Flopping a nut flush draw, he bet 5,600 and got raised all in by Saris. Romine missed his flush, losing to Saris’ two pair. Romine was paid $3,408 for fifth.

Romine, 60, is a retiree from Louisville, married with one child. He’s been playing 50 years, entered 10 Circuits, and wrote “still in action.”  

The four players left, at McKain’s suggestion, began talking deal, and they finally agreed to lock up $9,000. At that point, Saris was in front with a bit over 90,000 chips. Kottler and Rich Guthrie were in the 75,000 range and McKain had about 60,000.

Right after the deal was cinched, blinds went to 1,000-2,000. Saris then suffered a  setback when Kottler beat his pocket kings in a big pot with a set of 10s on the river and took over the chip lead with about 100,000.

Another big pot developed on hand 71. The board showed Jh-10h-8h-9s. Kottler bet enough to put Saris, down to 51,000 all in. Saris thought for a very long time, said he had a flush and asked if Kottler had a straight. Finally, after getting Kottler’s promise to show, he mucked. Kottler turned up a straight, saying he thought he had a straight flush.???

Later, Saris made a substantial recovery. In three-way action that got heads-up, Guthrie was down to 4,000 after missing a flush draw and losing to Saris’ pocket kings. A hand later, Guthrie moved in with Q-8-J-2. Saris, calling calling with J-8-8-7, flopped a full house when 9-9-8 came, knocking Guthrie out fourth and beating Kottler’s aces. Guthrie collected an official $3,895 for fourth.

Guthrie, 35. is from Kokomo, Indiana and in the retail business. This was his first Circuit. He’s been playing about six years and his other hobbies are fantasy football and hanging out with his daughter.

The tournament got heads-up after blinds went to 1,500-3,000. McKain had 8-8-6-2 in the big blind, made a set when the flop came Ac-8c-2h, and moved in. Saris called with Qc-9c-5h-3s and hit his flush. Finishing third, McKain collected an official $5,355, and Saris had his lead back.

“Doc” McKain, 33, from Madison, Indiana, is a property manager/poker player playing for 10 years, learning from his grandpa. He has entered 20 or so Circuits and his the highlight of his numerous cashes was a $70,675 win in a $1,000 event here in March.

Saris and Kottler now agreed to go all in each time. On the first deal, Saris was dealt Kc-10d-5h-6h, Kottler Qd-10c-4c-2c.  A board of Q-J-8-K-8 gave Saris the higher two pair and the win. Kottler, 27, is a commercial realtor from Columbus, Ohio. He is self-taught and has played for 10 years. —Max Shapiro

Here were the starting chip counts:

SEAT 1    
SEAT 2        
SEAT 3    
SEAT 4    
SEAT 5    

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

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 -- Craig Carman