Andrew Kloc Wins First WSOP Circuit Gold Ring

Aspiring Poker Professional Now Has 30 Major Cashes in Just Three Years

New Orleans, LA – The fifth annual Bayou Poker Challenge continued today at the Harrahs New Orleans Casino and Resort.  The second event on the schedule, a $500 (+50) no-limit hold’em tournament, attracted 344 entries, creating a prize pool totaling $166,840.

The winner was Andrew Kloc, from Naugatuck, CT.  The 36-year-old former social worker’s transition to becoming a full-time poker pro was made much easier by collecting first place prize money in this event, which amounted to $51,840.  Kloc also won $117,000 at a tournament in Foxwoods held earlier this year.  Prior to this win, Kloc’s best WSOP-related finish was second place at a Caesars Indiana tournament in 2007.  With his first WSOP Circuit victory here in New Orleans, Kloc now has 30 cashes in major poker tournaments, since his first in-the-money finish three years ago.

The tournament was played over two days.  After 334 players were eliminated on day one, the final ten players began play with Fatolla “Fati” Shahen in the chip lead with 128,500 in his stack.  Dr. James Blakely was a close behind with 114,000.  All the remaining players had less than 100,000 in chips.  Andrew Kloc resumed play in third chips position.  The precise starting chip counts were as follows:

Seat 1: Andrew Kloc  95,500 
Seat 2:   Jozef Pikula  77,500
Seat 3:   Shaun Higgins  38,500
Seat 4:  Tim Debenport  31,500
Seat 5:   Paul Luna  59,500
Seat 6:   Richard Estep  56,000
Seat 7:   Homer Salinas  41,500
Seat 8:            Teddy Trosclair 51,500   
Seat 9:             Fati Shahen    128,500
Seat 10:          Dr. James Blakely 114,000

Opening blinds were 2,000-4,000 with 500 antes. 

10th Place – The final table was an absolute nightmare for Dallas physician, James Blakely.  He had high hopes of winning his first major based on his initial chip position.  But after losing a few early pots, Dr. Blakely was left low on chips.  He ended up losing to a full house on his final hand.  Dr. Blakely, who also participated in the WSOP Seniors Championship last year, ended up with $2,002 for tenth place.

9th Place – An hour into the finale, blinds increased to 3,000-6,000 with a 500 ante.  Tim Debenport was getting low on chips and moved all-in with K-J.  He caught a flush draw but missed, losing to a pair of aces.  That meant Debenport was out in ninth place.  The automotive management consultant from Baton Rouge, LA drove off with $3,337 in prize money.  Note:  This was Debenport’s sixth WSOP-related cash.  He finished 71st in the 2007 WSOP main event.

8th Place – A few hands later, poker dealer Paul “Metro” Luna took a hit when his A-9 lost to Richard Estep’s A-10.  That doubled up Estep to 100,000 and left Luna on life support with only a few chips remaining.  But he managed to survive just a bit longer as Homer Salinas was the next player eliminated.  On hand 51, Salinas was dealt 10-4 in the blind and moved all-in with bottom pair after the flop came 8-7-4.  Shaun Higgins called with A-8.  The top pair with top kicker held up, which meant Salinas was gone.  Homer Salinas, a college student from La Toya, TX received $5,005 for eighth place. 

7th Place – Paul Luna went out on the next hand.  Luna has won various tournaments in the past, but this was his first WSOP Circuit cash.  Seventh place paid $6,674. 

6th Place – When play was six-handed, Andrew Kloc (171,000) had a slim chip lead over Fati Shahen (163,000).  Richard Estep was the lowest stack (37,000).  About two hours into the final table, Estep made a bold move when he pushed all-in with J-10 pre-flop.  But Teddy Trosclair called and showed A-J.  Estep was dominated.  Trosclair caught an ace, which resulted in Estep’s elimination.  The accounting manager from Lake Charles, LA received $8,342 for sixth place.  Note:  Estep once won a $60,000 bad beat jackpot.

5th Place – This was Shaun Higgins first-ever WSOP Circuit event.  He performed admirably, making it all the way to fifth place.  Higgins went out when his K-2 lost to Jozef Pikula’s K-7.  Higgins (with top pair) moved all-in after a king flopped, but Pikula called with his king and had the better kicker.  Pikula ended up making two pair on the hand, which knocked out Higgins.  The industrial engineer from Houston seized $10,010 from the prize pool.

4th Place – Next, one of the biggest hands of the tournament took place when the two big stacks went to war.  Fati Shahen was dealt A-8 suited.  Andrew Kloc was dealt J-9.  After the flop came J-9-7, Shahen moved all-in with his last 113,000 on a straight and flush draw.  Kloc called the raise with top two pair.  An eight on the turn gave Shahen some additional outs.  But an inconsequential king fell on the river, ending Shahen’s hopes of victory.  Fatolla “Fati” Shahen, who was born in Iran and now lives in Houston, received $11,679 for fourth place.  This was only the second WSOP Circuit event Shahen had played.

3rd Place – The previous hand was undoubtedly the most important of the three and a half hour finale.  Shahen’s elimination meant Andrew Kloc had the chip lead when play became three-handed.  A short time later, Fati Pikula made the wrong move at the wrong time when he put all of his chips at risk with second pair.  Holding Q-J, Pikula moved all-in with the board showing K-J-3.  Andrew Kloc called instantly and tabled A-K, good for top pair.  Pikula failed to improve, resulting in a third place finish.  The Slovakian-born business owner, now living in Atlanta collected a payout of $13,347.  Note:  This was Pikula’s second WSOP Circuit cash.  He finished in eighth place at a tournament held earlier this year at the Tunica Grand.

2nd Place – Andrew Kloc enjoyed a decisive chip advantage over Teddy Trosclair when heads-up play began.  It took only four hands to determine the winner.  To Trosclair’s credit, he moved all-in with the best hand -- which is all any poker player can hope for.  Hand number 99 of the final table gave Troslair A-7 suited against Kloc’s K-8.  On the turn, Trosclair was in great shape with a pair of sevens, as the board showed Q-7-5-10.  But a king rained down on the river, giving Kloc a pair of kings and the final pot of the night.  The runner up was Teddy Trosclair, a general contractor from Thibedaux, LA.  He earned $26,694 in prize money.

1st Place – Andrew Kloc is a professional poker player.  He is a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, where he earned his degree in psychology.  He was laid off from his job as a social worker at a state agency a few years ago.  Since then, he had been traveling around the country competing in poker tournaments.  With this victory in New Orleans, Kloc now has nearly $300,000 in tournament earnings since his first major cash in February 2005.  This was also his seventh time to cash on the WSOP Circuit.  Based on recent results, poker fans can expect to see a lot more of Andrew Kloc in the future.

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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