2007-2008 World Series of Poker Circuit
Grand Casino Tunica -- Tunica, MS
September 5-6, 2007
Event #8
No-Limit Hold'em
Buy-In: $500 + $50
Number of Entries: 211
Total Prize Money: $102,335

Mike Canon Wins Event No. 8 With A Little Help From His Friends

He Wanted Ring for Doug Saab to Replace One That Saab Had Left in Friends' Casket

Click here to view the official results.

Tunica, MS—Mike Cannon plays poker only occasionally, doesn’t consider himself much of a player, and was entering only his second tournament when he signed up for event eight of the Circuit tour at Grand Casino Tunica, $500 no-limit hold’em. But before the start, he got intense tutoring from two friends who happen to be top players, Doug Saab and Barbara Enright.

“They told me I needed to be more aggressive, and I was,” he said, and the advice paid off when he came in first. Of course, he was helped by getting pocket aces in late action at the final table. On the other hand, perhaps a higher force was at work because the main reason Canon wanted to win was to get the trophy ring and give to Saab. There aren’t many heartwarming stories in poker, but this one might top them all.

For many years Canon and Saab and another top player named Steve Brasher were best buddies in their hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. When Brasher passed away last September, Saab, in tribute, placed in Brasher’s casket a Circuit ring he had won here in January. And now Canon’s wish to replace it came to pass.

Along with the ring, Canon won an official $32,748, but in reality only $19,000. When the final table got to five, a deal was made for each player to take $13,000, with the winner to take the $6,000 that remained (after the 3 percent state tax). Canon, 65, is a retiree who once owned a bar and who’s lived in Birmingham all his life except for a few years in Vegas doing junket work for the Dunes Hotel. When it got heads-up, Canon was roughly even with Ross Rehrig. The back-and-forth match-up lasted 30 hands, with Saab and Enright, playing in the simultaneous HORSE event, regularly stopping by to offer encouragement.

Final table action began with blinds of 1,000-2,000, 300 antes and 16 minutes left on the clock. With 130,700 chips, Jack Sweesy enjoyed a very big lead.

Here were the starting chip counts:

  • Seat 1 Don Godsey 14,200
  • Seat 2 Henry Jensen 10,700
  • Seat 3 Brian McKain 38,500
  • Seat 4 Ross Rehrig 40,900
  • Seat 5 Mike Budde 47,000
  • Seat 6 Jeff Helton. 30,400
  • Seat 7 Jack Sweesy 133,700
  • Seat 8 Mike Canon 44,800
  • Seat 9 Warren Wiggins 67,200
  • It took just two hands to lose our first player. Jeff Helton, in the cutoff seat, looked at pocket 8s and moved in for 30,000. Mike Canon called from the small blind with pocket queens, flopped a set, and no miracle cards saved Helton.

    A business owner from Camden, Arkansas, Helton, 46, whose nickname is “KC Slayer,” has been playing poker since he was 13, hold’em three years, and has entered seven Circuit events. This is his first final table. He is married with one child, enjoys bowling, and cashed $2,047 for ninth.

    On hand 12 blinds went to 1,500-3,000 with 400 antes. Sweesy still led. Henry Jensen, meanwhile, had started with the smallest stack, 10,700. On hand 16 he moved in and doubled up for the third time, this time outrunning Warren Wiggins’ pocket 8s by hitting a queen to his A-Q. He now had close to 90,000 chips.

    Don Godsey, who started second lowest, was second out. After Sweesy raised with A-2, Godsey re-raised all in for 11,000 with Ac-4c. A flop of 9c-6c-2d gave him a flush draw, but he missed, and Sweesy’s two deuces held up. Godsey, 43, is from Kingsport, Tennessee, where he owns a bar and an auto transportation business. He has one child, and learned poker a year ago in local games. His other hobby is “women.” Eighth place paid $3,070.

    Five hands later, after Mike Budde raised with pocket aces, Wiggins put in his last few chips with just 9h-2h, and didn’t come close to catching up. Wiggins, 51, is a facilities manager from Randallstown, Missouri who is married with seven children. He learned by watching Chris Moneymaker win the World Series. He placed 11th in the second event here, and won $4,093 for seventh.

    As play went on, Ross Rehrig had a narrow escape. He was all in with 10h-3h. Mike Budde flopped two pair, but Ross rivered a flush. When blinds went to 2,000-4,000 with 500 antes, Sweesy still led with 140,000, but Jensen was close with 00,000. A few hands later, Budde tried an all-in move with 9s-8s. Brian McKain called from the big blind with pocket 4s. A board of K-5-4-5-3 changed nothing, and five were left.

    Budde, 57, is an investor from Williamsburg, Missouri who’s played poker for 30 years, entering numerous Circuit events. Fifth officially paid $6,140. On hand 53 blinds became 3,000-6,000. By now, Jensen had taken a small lead with about 110,000, followed by Sweesy, 102,000; Rehrig, 87,000; Canon, 65,000; and McKain, 58,000. The boys talked deal, finally agreeing to the $13,000 save. It was a good deal for Sweesy, because he was next out, losing with pocket 6s to Canon’s aces.

    Sweesy, 56, is from Tulsa, Oklahoma and was in the oil and gas business before turning pro. This year he had an eighth at the Wynn Classic and a fifth at the Scotty Nguyen Classic. He’s been playing 28 years, and this is his eighth Circuit event. He won an official $6,140.

    Then Rehrig took the lead, increasing it when he knocked out McKain who moved in from the small blind for about 40,000 wth Kc-5c. Rehrig called with A-2, which held up. McKain, from Madison, Indiana is a property manager/poker player from Madison, Indiana. He’s been playing 12 years and has 10 cashes, including a $1,000 no-limit win at Caesars Indiana and 11th at a Circuit main event here. McKain got an official $7,163 for fourth.

    The tournament got heads-up when Canon raised with K-Q and Henry Jensen moved in with A-2. A king flopped, getting Jensen to vow never to play A-2 again. Jensen, nicknamed “Hammerin’ Hank, is 38, was born in Germany and now lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. A retail manager, this is his first major final table. He learned poker from his father at age six and also enjoys singing, softball and skiing. For finishing third, he got an official $9,210.

    Now began the long heads-up match. On hand 74, Canon, hitting his second pocket aces, moved into a huge lead, 348,000-73,000 by easily beating Rehrig’s A-Q. But it wasn’t over yet. Rehrig soon after doubled up when he had K-10 to Canon’s A-8 and flopped two pair. Rehrig moved in again 15 hands later when he turned an ace to his Ac-2c to beat Canon’s pocket kings. But Canon paid him back by flopping two pair to his K-7 to beat Rehrig’s A-9 and take another big lead.

    Then, with blinds of 4,000-8,000, Rehrig bet blind all-in and flopped a set of 10s. Play continued with numerous uncalled all-ins. Finally, on hand 107, Rehrig moved in with A-6. Canon called with pocket jacks and won going away when the board came J-3-2-4-Q.

    Rehrig is 35, from Franklin, Tennessee, and has played poker for 15 years after learning from his grandpa. He also enjoys sports. His official payout for finishing second was $18,011