2007-2008 World Series of Poker Circuit
Grand Casino Tunica -- Tunica, MS
August 31-September 1, 2007
Event #2
No-Limit Hold’em
Buy-In: $500 + $50
Number of Entries: 249
Total Prize Money: $120,765

Another Race Car Driver Laps Field In Tunica Grand Circuit Event #2

Danny Griffith Wins $500 No-Limit Playing His First Major Tournament

Click here to view the official results.

Tunica, MS--Is this the World Series of Poker Circuit or NASCAR? We’ve had two events, and both times a race car driver was first across the finish line. The first day it was drag racing champion Bobby Lassie. In today’s $500 no-limit event, Danny “Dano” Griffith, who raced cars semi-professionally for 14 years, winning two championships one year, sped off with the win.

He had to work for it. He started the final table with the second chip lead if 108,700, lost a pile with a bad call early on, then got knocked down again when his pocket kings lost to pocket aces, dropping to 40,000 at one point. But he climbed back steadily, took the lead when he flopped a straight that became a flush, and played strongly and consistently after that as he coasted to victory. The win brought him $37,481 and a coveted trophy ring.

Apart from a stab at a second-chance event, this is the first tournament he has ever played, his experience consisting of five years of home games. Griffith, from Little Rock, Arkansas, is married with two children. Along with racing, he also used to work on cars, finally found the hours too long and grueling, and drifted into real estate. Today he has 34 rental homes.

Reflecting on his race car/poker career, he remarked that his mother always used to pray for rain so he couldn’t race. “Now I play indoors where rain can’t affect me. I wonder what she prays for now.”

This event drew 249 players, one of them being television personality Montel Williams, who didn’t last too long.

Final table action commenced with 1,500-3,000 blinds and 400 antes. Walter Hodges led with 139,100 chips..

Here were the starting chip counts:

  • Seat 1 Jim Mink 25,600
  • Seat 2 Walter Hodges 139,100
  • Seat 3 Bobby Fillers 37,500
  • Seat 4 Richard Johnson 13,200
  • Seat 5 Danny Griffith 108,700
  • Seat 6 Shae Drobushevich 33,200
  • Seat 7 Dion Plump 96,600
  • Seat 8 David Forsythe 19,100
  • Seat 9 Ciaran Carter 27,300
  • In the first 14 hands, five of the shorter stacks went all in and doubled through, Shae Drobushevich when his pocket kings held up; Richard Johnson when he pairedan ace to outrun pocket 7s; Bobby Fillers when his pocket jacks stood up against pocket 8s; David Forsythe when his pocket kings crushed a J-9; and finally, Jim Mink with A-A against K-K.

    Finally, we had our first eviction on hand 19. Johnson opened for 7,000 with A-K. Ciaran Carter moved in for 7,700 with Ad-Jd and was called by Hodges with J-7 and by Johnson. The pot was checked down and Hodges easily took it down when two more 7s gave him trips.

    Carter, 27, is single and hails from Ontario, Canada. When his occupation as a customs/immigration officer was announced during the introductions, it drew mock gasps of fear from the onlookers. Carter enjoys running and is a member of the world record 100-mile relay team. Tonight he ran off with $2,343 for ninth place.

    The players took a break as the black 100 chips were raced off, returning to blinds of 2,000-4,000 with 500 antes. Hodges still led with about 130,000.

    On the first hand, Griffith opened for 10,000 and Forsythe moved in for about 40,000 from the small blind. His A-K couldn't outrun Griffith’s pocket 8s when the board came J-6-3-4-7, and he ended up with $3,514 for finishing eighth.

    Forsythe is from Selmer, Tennessee and works in sales. He’s married with three children and has played poker for three years, learning “just by losing.”

    As play continued, Hodges gave up his lead, dropping down to about 70,000 when he lost a 105,000 pot to Johnson. Hodges had moved in with Kh-Qh and Johnson, calling with pocket 9s, flopped a set. Not long after, Johnson took the lead

    when, with a board of Kc-8h-8c-Qc-10c, Fillers bet 10,000 with a flush and Johnson made it 30,000 to go, then turned up a 10-8 for a full house. Johnson now had about 140,000.

    Fillers was next out when he lost a heart breaker. After Dion Plump opened for 35,000 with pocket 4s, Fillers gladly put in his 29,000 with pocket rockets. He was still ahead on fourth street, but the river brought a 4 and he cashed out seventh for $7,686. Fillers, 55, is a self-employed brick mason from Greenville, Tennessee. He’s married with three kids, has been playing for 30 years, learning his craft in home games, and got into this event via satellite.

    Three hands later, another player left. Mink had A-Q, looking good when the flop came A-K-7. But Hodges had him virtually dead with A-K. Hodges waited until the turn to move in. Mink called and cashed sixth for $5,857.

    Mink is from Knoxville, Tennessee where he works for an oilfield service company. He’s an ex-rodeo bull rider who now likes to play billiards for recreation. He is married with two children, and earned $5,857 for sixth.

    As the horse race for the lead continued, Hodges now moved into a virtual tie with Johnson with roughly 145,000 each. But Hodges hit a brick wall after that. On hand 50, the two leaders tangled. With about 60,000 in the pot, Johnson bet 40,000 into a board of 10-10-9, and after much thought Hodges gave it up.

    Two hands later, Hodges was on the button with 10-9 when the flop came 9c-7d-6c. Hodges bet 20,000 and Griffin moved him in. With 8c-5h, Griffin had flopped a straight, and improved even more when two running clubs gave him a flush. As Hodges finished Fifth, Griffin moved into the lead with about 240,00.

    Hodges, 38, is an IT contractor from Guntessville, Alabama who has three children. He’s played about four years, has no tournament record, but says he’s won lots in cash games. Fifth paid him $7,024.

    Blinds now increased to 3,000-6,000 with the same 500 antes. Seven hands later, Dion “Five Cents” Plump moved in for 40,000 with K-Q, losing to Griffin’s ace-high when all rags came.

    Plump, 25, is from Birmingham, Alabama, where he teaches and coaches baseball at a high school. He’s been playing four years, learning at frat games, and has entered five Circuit events. This is his poker highlight, but his life highlight was the birth of his son Dillon in June. Fourth paid $8,200.

    Soon after, Drobushevich, the only pro to make a final table so far, went out when he moved in with A-8 and got nailed by Johnson’s two queens.

    Drobushevich, 33, is from Molina, Illinois. A poker dealer/supervisor before turning pro, he’s been playing for 15 years, learning by playing and dealing. He earned $10,543 tonight.

    Heads-up, Griffith enjoyed a modest lead with about 280,000 to 220,000 for Johnson. Play started out relatively cautiously, with Griffith slowly increasing his lead. Then he dragged in a pot of 100,000-plus, with just queen-high, won a couple more, and when the level ended, had 423,000 chips to 78,000 for Johnson.

    Play resumed with 4,000-8,000 blinds, 1,000 antes. It lasted two more hands Johnson opened for 20,000 with K-J, Griffin raised 40,000 with Q-8, and Johnson moved in. The board came A-6-2-8-2, and the paired 8 ended play.

    Johnson collected $20,617 for second place. A computer systems administrator, he is 37, from Madison, Alabama, and is married with no children. Johnson has played poker just two years and is self-taught.