Michael Vardeman Wins 42 Grand at Harrahs New Orleans

New Orleans, LA – The eighth event on the 2008 Bayou Poker Challenge schedule concluded today, as Michael Vardeman won the $500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em competition.  The tournament was hosted by the Harrahs New Orleans Casino and Hotel.  Mr. Vardeman collected first-place prize money totaling $42,214.  Vardeman was also presented with a gold ring, awarded to all World Series of Poker Circuit winners here in New Orleans.

Vardeman is a 52-year-old retiree from Laneville, Texas.  He worked many years for the local telephone company.  Vardeman also served proudly in Vietnam with the U.S. Army forced during 1968-69.  He was with the 173rd Airborne. 

Following his recent retirement in East Texas, Vardeman began looking for a way to fill his free time.  So, he found poker.  Vardeman only recently started to play in major tournaments.  However, he has participated in many smaller daily tournaments at casinos throughout the South.  This was his biggest poker cash ever.

The tournament attracted a large field of 272 entries.  After 262 players were eliminated on day one, the ten finalists resumed play on day two with Steve Constantino in the chip lead with 90,000.  Four players were within striking distance (including the eventual winner, Vardeman), with about 65,000 in chips.  The remaining five players were further behind.  The precise starting chip counts were as follows:

Seat 1:  Marc Truong  32,400 
Seat 2:  Gaven Arza  62,800 
Seat 3:  Mike Vardeman 69,400     
Seat 4:  Ward Sudderth 69,300 
Seat 5:  Jared Brintz  36,300 
Seat 6:  Glenn Hyde  18,400 
Seat 7:  Paul Vo  47,700 
Seat 8:  Steve Klein  55,000 
Seat 9:  Jason Becher  63,600
Seat 10: Steve Constantino 90,100 
Opening blinds were 1,000-2,000 with 300 antes.  The chip lead changed several times within the first hour of play. 

10th Place – Ten hands into the final table, Glenn Hyde moved all-in with pocket sixes against Jason Becher’s pocket nines.  The higher pair held up, eliminating Hyde.  The 52-year-old former musician, who now plays poker for a living, collected $1,583 for tenth place.  Note:  This was Hyde’s third time to cash at this year’s Bayou Poker Challenge.  He has made two final tables, finishing third in Event #3.

Blinds increased to 1,500-3,000 with a 400 ante.  Over the next half hour, Michael Vardeman seized the chip lead.  He was up to 160,000 a one point, but lost a big hand to Jared Brintz (deuces losing to pocket nines), which evened out the chips somewhat.  A few minutes later, Jason Becher became the chip leader.  The topsy-turvy turn of events foreshadowed the wild final table that was to come.

On hand number 26, Paul Vo tripled up.  On hand number 32, Marc Truong did one even better – he quadrupled up.  Both players were short-stacked when they enjoyed their good fortune, but the big pots still served to make the finale a wide open contest.

9th Place – Steve Constantino was not so fortunate.  The early chip leader suffered a brutal 90-minute run and finally busted-out with top-pair (tens) losing to pocket queens.  The businessman from Port Orange, FL was forced to accept a disappointing ninth-place finish.  He received $2,628 in prize money.

8th Place – Quoc “Marc” Truong was short on chips and moved all-in with a weak hand hoping to steal a round of blinds and antes.  Unfortunately, he bold move was will-timed as Steve Klein found A-K and ended up scooping the 30,000 pot.  Truong ended up as the eighth-place finisher, which paid $3,958.  Note:  Truong finished in the money twice in the 2007 Bayou Poker Challenge.  His best showing was third place.

7th Place – Michael Vardeman regained the chip lead.  Then, very short-stacked Gaven Arza moved all-in with his last 9,000 in chips with Q-J suited.  Jason Becher called with A-4.  Neither player made a pair, which put the 21-year-old student from Atlanta out in seventh-place.  Arza, who proudly proclaimed he is half-Cuban and half-Dominican, was paid $5,272 in cash.  Note:  This was Arza’s first time to play in a WSOP-related event.

6th Place – Ward Sudderth lasted more than two hours at the final table before busting out in sixth place.  His final hand was A-7 which was crushed by Paul Vo’s pocket aces.  The 71-year-old former medical doctor who now loves to fish and play poker collected $6,596.  Note:  Proving that it is never too late to start making money on the WSOP Circuit, this was Sudderth’s first time to cash in a major poker tournament.

5th Place – Steve Klein took a terrible beat on his last hand of the tournament when he moved all-in with K-J of diamonds, which lost to Jared Brintz’s J-9.  Holding the dominated hand did not matter as a nine on the flop (9-6-5) put Brintz in the lead.  Klein still had a big draw as two diamonds flopped.  But the mirage of victory exaporated when two blanks fell on the turn and river.  Steve Klein, who recently graduated from Auburn, collected a very respectable for fifth place $7,915.  Note:  This was Klein’s first time to play poker in a live tournament.

4th Place – Next, Paul Vo busted Jared Brintz.  Vo had his adversary covered and held Q-2 to a board showing K-J-9-2 on the turn.  Brintz was in the lead when his last chips went into the pot with J-10, good for a pair of jacks.  However, another deuce fell on the river, giving Vo trip twos.  Jared Brintz accepted the fourth-place payout of $9,234.  Note:  Previously, Brintz took fourth place in the 2006 Aruba Classic championship, winning $136,000.
3rd Place – What the poker gods give, can also be taken away.  Vo found this out the hard way.  Down to three-handed, Vardeman still had the chip lead with about 220,000 to Vo’s 150,000 and Becher’s 145,000.  Then, Vo took a bad beat and ended up as the third-place finisher.  The management supervisor from Austin, TX raised all-in with K-9 after the flop came 9-7-3, good for top pair.  Vardeman made the call with bottom pair (6-3).  But a three on the turn gave Vardeman trip threes, which scooped the 300,000 pot.  Vo grabbed $11,873 of the prize pool.  Note:  This was Vo’s first time to cash in a poker tournament.  Nice score. 
2nd Place – When heads-up play began, Vardeman enjoyed a 5 to 2 chip lead – with 388,000 to Becher’s 156,000.  It did not take long for the final hand of the tournament to be dealt.  Just a few hands into play, Becher moved all-in with A-9.  Vardeman called with pocket fours.  The small pair held up as the final board showed 10-2-2-6-J.  Vardeman was the winner.  Becher was forced to settle for second place.  The Floridian received $23,218 in prize money.  Note:  This was the second time Becher had finished as the runner up in a WSOP Circuit event.  He came in second at a tournament held at Caesars Las Vegas last year.  This was his fourth WSOP-related career cash.

1st Place – Michael Vardeman was talked into coming to the 2008 Bayou Poker Challenge by a friend.  He had never played in a WSOP Circuit before.  Odds are, this won’t be his last.

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