Oliver’s Twist

New Orleans, LA – The tenth event on the 2008 Bayou Poker Challenge schedule concluded today, as Lance Oliver won the $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em competition.  The tournament was hosted by the Harrahs New Orleans Casino and Hotel.  First place paid $68,909.  Oliver was also presented with the coveted gold ring, which is presented to all World Series of Poker Circuit winners here in New Orleans.

Oliver defeated 221 players who competed in the two-day tournament.  He is a 40-year-old aspiring poker pro who currently owns three small businesses.  Oliver lives in Rsoeville, California.  He recently decided to play poker for a living because, as he says – “that’s where the money is right now.” 

Oliver’s path to glory had several obstacles.  For the second straight day, a female player started play at the final table as the chip leader.  Following Daphne Turner’s victory in the $500 buy-in No-Limit tournament held yesterday, Claudia Crawford hoped to become only the second female to win an open event at the Bayou Poker Challenge in its five-year history.  She started off with 93,400 in her stack.  James Henson was close behind with 83,900.  The exact starting chip counts were as follows:

Seat 1:  Claudia Crawford  Long Beach, MS 93,400 
Seat 2:  Brian Leung   Houston, TX  72,700 
Seat 3:  Lance Oliver   Roseville, CA  60,300 
Seat 4:  Luis Coriano   Virginia Beach, VA 15,700
Seat 5:  George Bronstein  Tampa, FL  43,800 
Seat 6:  Ronald Nixon   Irving, TX  34,600 
Seat 7:  James Arruebarrena  New Orleans, LA 47,300 
Seat 8:  Chris Highers   Mufreesboro, TN 67,000
Seat 9:  James Henson   Lake Jackson, TX 83,900
Seat 10: Derek Feldman  Cocoa, FL  36,500
Opening blinds were 800-1,600 with 200 antes. 

Quick Exit for Feldman
10th Place – Claudia Crawford lost her chip lead a few hands into play, when James Henson won a few modest-sized pots.  Then Derek Feldman went out first when his pocket tens ran into James Arruebarrena’s pocket aces.  The bullets held up, leaving Feldman as the tenth-place finisher.  The hospital manager from Cocoa, Florida collected $2,584.  Note:  Feldman played in the 2006 WSOP main event.  He finished 331st (out of 8,772 entries) and won $34,658.

Set Over Set, Nixon Impeached
9th Place – On hand number 25, Ronald Nixon moved all-in with pocket eights.  Brian Leung called instantly with pocket aces.  Wham!  Both players flopped a set as the board showed A-8-x.  Nixon failed to catch the case eight and was forced to settle for ninth place.  The 64-year-old retiree from Irving, Texas was paid $4,307 in prize money.  Note:  This was Nixon’s sixth cash in a major tournament and first in-the-money finish at a WSOP Circuit event.  Another interesting bit of trivia is that Nixon won the first Putt-Putt (golf) series that was ever televised back in 1960.

No Female Champ Today
8th Place – Claudia Crawford had a tough hour at the final table.  She ran card dead at the worst possible time and failed to win a hand of any significance.  Low on chips, she moved all-in with 10-8 on her final hand, which lost to chip leader James Henson’s A-8.  Neither player made a pair, so the ace-high played, knocking Crawford out in eighth place.  The former model and bartender who now specializes in high-limit cash games (Pot-Limit Omaha mostly) scooped $6,460 from the prize pool.  Note:  Crawford has only entered five tournaments.  She has cashed three times and won once.

Mortgage Broker Goes Bankrupt
7th Place – Players battled for another hour before the next bust out.  That came when Luis Coriano pushed all-in with his last 40,000 holding K-Q.  He lost to James Arruebarrena’s A-J.  Coriano, who works as a reverse mortgage broker in Virginia Beach, VA, accept a settlement totaling $8,614.  Note:  This was Coriano’s first time to cash at a major poker tournament.

Highers Doesn’t Go Any Higher
6th Place – Lance Oliver took over the chip lead about two hours into play.  Then, Chris Highers crashed when he lost his final hand to two pair.  The bail bondsman from Murfreesboro, TN bailed out of the final in sixth place, posting $10,767 in winnings for his effort.  Note:  This was Highers’ first time to cash in a WSOP Circuit event.

Bad Beat Story Coming
5th Place – James Arruebarrena was eliminated next when he took a bad beat.  He had A-Q on his final hand and flopped a queen for top pair.  Lance Oliver had K-10.  Arruebarrena looked to be in great shape to double up when the turn showed Q-5-3-6.  But a king on the river gave Oliver the pot with a pair of kings, and busted the recent L.S.U. who lives here in New Orleans.  Arruebarrena is about to start law school at Loyola.  $12,920 in prize money will help with his tuition.  Note:  This was Arruebarrena’s first WSOP-related cash.  He took eighth place at a tournament held recently in Misssissippi.

Leung Gone
4th Place – George Bronstein finally caught a hand and doubled up, meaning the chips were somewhat evenly distributed at the final table.  About four hours into the finale, Brian Leong tried to make a move with K-10.  He had two overcards after the flop came 8-6-6.  But Lance Oliver called with 9-9.  Leong failed to connect with a pair, which meant a fourth-place finish.  The auto wholesaler from Houston drive away with $15,074.  Note:  This was Leung’s first time to cash in a WSOP-related event.

Orthodontist Drilled
3rd Place – James Henson had been the chip leader much of the way.  But the orthodontist from Lake Jackson, Texa lost a few modest-sized pots and was left short when he moved all-in with J-10 on his final hand.  Lance Oliver had A-3 and made a pair of threes on the key hand.  Henson was forced to accept a third place payout totaling $19,981.  Note:  This was Henson’s eighth cash in a major tournament.  He has now cashed three consecutive years at the Bayou Poker Challenge.  His best finish was 3rd place in an event at the 2006 WSOP in Las Vegas.  

By George, Second Place
2nd Place – When heads-up play began, Oliver enjoyed more than a 4 to 1 chip lead over George Bronstein – 460,000 to 93,000.  The final hand of the tournament resulted in Oliver making a pair of jacks, winning the top prize.  George Bronstein, who admitted he failed to catch many cards at the final table, was satisfied to accept second place.  The poker pro from Tampa, Florida received $37,900 as the runner up.  Note:  Bronstein won a WSOP Circuit event at the Tunica Grand in 2006.  This was his ninth overall cash.  He also took fourth place in the Pot-Limit Omaha competition at the 2006 WSOP in Las Vegas.

And the Winner is………
1st Place – Lance Oliver has no record of prior tournament cashes.  The 40-year-old resident of Roseville, California is a successful businessman who has decided there is money to be made playing tournaments and cash games.  So, far his decision has proven to be wise.  It remains to be seen if Oliver has what it takes to stay in the game or end up as one of the many players who dream of fame and glory, but who ultimately fall short.  

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