Fifth Annual Bayou Poker Challenge Kicks-Off in Style
Las Vegas, NV – The fifth annual Bayou Poker Challenge began today at the Harrahs New Orleans Casino and Resort. This is the final tour stop of the 2007-2008 World Series of Poker Circuit season. World-famous chef and restaurateur Paul Pruhomme (K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen), who plays regularly inside the Harrahs poker room, served himself up as the tournament’s honorary emcee. Pruhomme was introduced by Harrahs General Manager Jim Hoskins, who welcomed the large crowd of players and spectators packed inside the Harrahs Theatre.
The tournament attracted players from all over the South, and many other states. New Orleans has become a popular destination for many poker players every May, particularly those with a taste for great food, entertainment, and Louisiana’s alluring cultural attractions. The poker action, located just steps from New Orleans’ famous French Quarter, regularly boasts a full house.
The first event of 15 on this year’s Bayou schedule, a $500 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament, started with 336 entries. The prize pool amounted to $162,960. After 326 players were eliminated on day one, the final ten players continued play on day two. Texan Matthew Stulting enjoyed an impressive chip lead, with 141,000 in his stack. Local poker celebrity Matt “Cub” Culberson was in second place with 104,000. Ryan Welch, from Tennessee was close behind with 103,500. All the remaining players had less than 100,000 in chips (eventual winner Del Walker started in seventh place). The exact starting chip counts were as follows:
Seat 1: Matthew Stulting 141,000
Seat 2: Ryan Welch 103,500
Seat 3: Del Walker 44,000
Seat 4: Matt “Cub” Culberson 104,000
Seat 5: “Trip” Ludwig 57,500
Seat 6: Robbie Betancourt 26,000
Seat 7: David Bailey 40,500
Seat 8: John White 47,000
Seat 9: Jason Fontenot 19,500
Seat 10: Bryce Kammeyer 98,500
Opening blinds were 2,000-4,000 with 500 antes.
10th Place – Just five hands into play, Jason Fontenot found A-K and moved all-in with his last 18,000. Ryan Welch had plenty of chips with which to make the call, and showed A-8. It appeared Fontenot might double up early, but an eight on the turn gave Welch a pair, the pot, and served as the final table’s first bad beat. Jason Fontenot, a physical education teacher from Prairieville, LA collected $1,956.
9th Place – Two hands later, another player was eliminated when David Bailey called an all-in raise with A-Q. His opponent, Del Walker had K-K. The flop gave Bailey some hope as he caught a queen. But two successive blanks on the turn and river sealed his fate – which came to a ninth-place finish. David Bailey, an air conditioning technician took home a very cool $3,259.
8th Place – The 16th hand of play resulted in a chip-lead change. Cub Culberson increased his stack to over 150,000 at the expense of “Trip” Ludwig. Culberson had A-Q, which dominated Ludwig’s A-J. Neither player made a pair, so the high cards played. Culberson’s big stack easily covered his opponent. That meant Trip Ludwig busted out in eighth place. The business owner from Metairie, LA received $4,889.
7th Place – Blinds increased to 3,000-6,000 with a 500 ante. Robbie Betancourt was getting low on chips and tried to make a move with K-7. John White called the 20,000 raise with A-9. Pairs were hard to come by for both players, so White’s ace played. Betancourt ended up settling for seventh place. The teacher and coach from Humble, TX was paid $6,518.
6th Place – There were two players sitting at the final table celebrating birthdays. One was John White, from Houston. His hopes of opening up a $50,000 birthday present (first place money) were crushed when he lost a big hand against Mathew Stulting. On the turn of the fateful hand, the board showed A-K-10-8. White pushed all-in with his A-10 (two pair). Stulting was absolutely thrilled to call, and showed Q-J -- good for a straight. White failed to improve, which ended his tournament life. The IT Director from Houston collected $8,148. Happy 44th birthday to Mr. White. Note: White finished 10th and 11th place in this same tournament the last two year’s at Harrahs New Orleans.
5th Place – By virtue of White’s elimination, Matthew Stulting regained the chip lead. Meanwhile, Bryce Kammeyer needed something to happen. Down to about 40,000 he moved all-in with A-5. Cub Culberson called and showed Q-10. The flop was a heartbreaker for Kammeyer as J-10-9 not only gave Culberson a pair, but also a straight draw. Kammeyer failed to improve and had to settle for fifth place. The Nay pilot from Pensacola, FL was paid $9,778. Note: Kammeyer is a helicopter pilot. He participated in more than 100 rooftop rescues in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
4th Place – Down to four players, play tightened up considerably. Twenty more hands passed before Matthew Stulting found himself outchipped by Cub Culberson. On what turned out to be his final hand of the night, Stulting re-raised all-in with A-10. Culberson called and showed 9-9. The flop gave Stulting some extra outs as K-J-7 (all clubs) meant he had two overcards, a straight draw, and a flush draw (with the ace of clubs). Unfortunately, Stulting missed everything. Culberson’s pocket nines survived and the tournament was down to three players. Matthew Stulting, an insurance agent from The Woodlands, TX accepted a cash settlement of $11,407 for fourth place.
3rd Place – Just a few hands later, Ryan Welch went out when his 6-6 lost to Del Walker’s A-8. Walker caught an eight on the flop and the pair held up. The pot gave Walker the chip lead and eliminated Welch in third place. The salesman-turned-poker-pro from Nashville, TN was paid $13,037 in prize money.
2nd Place – When heads-up play began, Del Walker enjoyed a 402,000 to 282,000 chip advantage over Cub Culberson. Both finalists had a sort of home field advantage, as the two players were locals who regularly frequent the Harrahs New Orleans Poker Room. With blinds at 6,000-12,000 and a 2,000 ante, the last two competitors could afford to wait for the right opportunity before making a move. The duel lasted 26 uneventful hands before the final exciting conclusion.
On the last hand of the tournament, Culberson was dealt Q-5. Walker was dealt 9-9. The flop came Q-4-2. Culberson moved his remaining 150,000 into the pot and Walker called immediately. At that moment, it appeared Walker had made a big mistake and Culberson would double up and seize a commanding chip lead. But a nine on the turn stunned the crowd and essentially crushed Culberson’s hopes of winning his first WSOP Circuit gold bracelet after coming so close a number of times. Walker ended up making trip nines on the hand, and Culberson was left drawing dead.
As the runner up, Matt “Cub” Culberson received $26,074. He had finished in second and fourth place at previous WSOP Circuit events held in New Orleans. At least for now, victory is elusive. But Culberson’s time will come eventually.
1st Place – It’s rare to witness a winner apologize after a victory. But that’s exactly what Del Walker did, when asked to explain his feelings after winning his first major poker tournament. “I was really kind of embarrassed to draw out on a pro like that,” Walker said afterward. “I really felt bad for Cub. I was very lucky to catch that nine (which won the tournament).”
Walker is a 58-year-old orthopedic surgeon from nearby Houma, LA. He is a graduate of Louisiana State University. In fact, Walker played college football as a tailback for the LSU Tigers and went on to practice medicine after graduating in 1971.
“I don’t get a chance to play in many poker tournaments,” Walker confided. “So for me, this win is really special.”
Walker’s final pot amounted to $50,518. He was also presented with the coveted WSOP Circuit gold ring, awarded to every champion at this year’s series of tournaments being held at Harrahs New Orleans.
For more information, please contact:
Nolan Dalla -- WSOP Media Director at (702) 358-4642
Or visit our official website: www.worldseriesofpoker.com
Harrah’s New Orleans Poker Room Manager – Rick Korte
Bayou Poker Challenge Tournament Director – Raymond Gasser
Jeffrey Pollack – Commissioner, WSOP
Ty Stewart – Director, Sponsorship and Licensing, WSOP
Craig Abrahams – Director, Broadcasting and New Media, WSOP
Seth Palansky – Director of Communications, WSOP