Jeff Tims Wins $58 Grand at Harrahs New Orleans

Final Table Also Includes Former Bayou Poker Challenge Champion, Lou Esposito

New Orleans, LA – The twelfth of fifteen events on the 2008 Bayou Poker Challenge schedule concluded today, as Jeff Tims won the $500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em competition.  The tournament was hosted by the Harrahs New Orleans Casino and Hotel.  First place paid $58,491.  Tims was also presented with a gold ring, awarded to all World Series of Poker Circuit winners here in New Orleans.

In an odd twist, the two players who ended up playing heads-up at the final table for the championship both happened to be from the same home game in Houston.  Jeff Tims and Gabriel Andrade routinely sit in the same and play No-Limit Hold’em in a private game in their hometown.  In the end, it was the 25-year-old poker pro who prevailed.

One of the largest fields of this year’s Bayou series turned out as the tournament attracted 402 entries.  After 392 players were eliminated on day one, the final ten players began play with Gabriel Andrade holding a decisive chip lead with 166,900 in his stack.  Bill Johnson had 128,800.  The remaining eight players each had less than 100,000 in chips.  The final ten players also included former Bayou Poker Challenge champion, Lou Esposito.  The exact starting chip counts were as follows:

Seat 1:  Lou Esposito   69,000  
Seat 2:  Jeff Tims   63,400 
Seat 3:  Bill Neal                              81,000 
Seat 4:  Bill Johnson   128,800
Seat 5:  J.L. “The Hut” Murtagh 72,000 
Seat 6:  Mark R. Garner  91,800 
Seat 7:  Lance Campione  56,800  
Seat 8:  Gabriel Andrade  166,900
Seat 9:  Ben Mintz   23,900
Seat 10: David M. Ciener  53,200 
Opening blinds were 1,500-3,000 with 400 antes.  Play was wild during the initial stages of the final tournament.  There were a number of bad beats where the worst all-in hand won the pot.  In fact, more than two dozen all-in confrontations took place in the first two-and-a-half hours.  Yet, only two players were eliminated in that period. 

10th Place – Mark R. Garner went out first.  Although he began with a decent stack, Garner took a few beats and was never able to recover.  He ended up busting out with pocket sixes which got crushed by pocket eights.  Garner, a retired pipe fitter from St. Amant, Louisiana collected $2,145 for tenth place.  Note: Garner won a WSOP Circuit gold ring at the 2008 Tunica Open, at the Tunica Grand in Mississippi.  He won $34,000 for first place.

9th Place – Lance A. Campione was eliminated next.  The claims manager from Hattiesburg, Mississippi went all-in with a dominated hand, A-8 against A-10.  The stronger hand held up, knocking out Campione.  He accepted a ninth-place payout totaling $3,899.  Note:  Campione has now cashed three times at major tournaments.  This was his first-ever WSOP Circuit in-the-money finish.  Campione also wanted to note that he owes his success and happiness to his wife and three children. 

8th Place – On the 54th hand of play, David Ciener was all-in with A-Q against Bill Neal’s J-J.  The big pocket pair held up as Ciener failed to make a pair.  The restaurant and bar owner from Daytona Beach, Florida was paid $5,849 for eighth place.  Note:  Ciener has cashed previously at poker tournaments in Mississippi.  However, this was his first time to cash as the Bayou Poker Challenge.

7th Place – Ben Mintz was knocked out after his J-10 flopped a pair for of tens.  J.L. Murtagh had A-6 and spiked on ace on the river, which dragged the 60,000 pot.  Mintz collected $7,799 for seventh place.  Note:  This was Mintz’s fourth WSOP Circuit cash.  ‘All three of his previous in-the-money finishes were at the Tunica Grand.

6th Place – About a dozen hands after J.L. “The Hut” Murtagh busted a player, he himself was eliminated.  On his final hand of the tournament, Murtagh had 10-9 and moved all-in after the flop came J-7-5.  He was on a draw, but missed.  Lou Esposito called the bet with pocket eights, which survived as the best hand.  That pot gave Esposito the chip lead for the first time.  Meanwhile, “The Hut” burned in sixth place, which paid $9,749.  Note:  This was Murtagh’s first time to cash in a WSOP Circuit event.

5th Place – Next, Bill Johnson took a bad beat when his A-K lost to Gabriel Andrade’s K-J.  Johnson was all-in and in a great spot to double up.  But Andrade caught a jack on the flop, which busted Johnson.  The retiree from Ohio collected a payout of $11,698 for fifth place.  Note:  Johnson now has nearly $140,000 in major tournament winnings, including two wins.  He now has nine WSOP Circuit cashes.  He says his personal motto is, “Love some, trust few, and paddle my own canoe.”  

4th Place – Johnson’s tough beat moments earlier foreshadowed a brutal beat that was about to be taken by Lou Esposito.  “The Big Easy” (with A-A) called an all-in bet by Bill Neal, with A-10.  The final board showed Q-9-5-J-K, giving Neal a straight.  Unfortunately, the 100,000 newly founds chips in his stack did not last long.  A few hands later Neal was dealt 3-3 on what turned out to be his final hand of the night.  Gabriel Andrade has his opponent covered with A-10.  An ace of the flop put Neal behind, and he failed to improve.  That gave Neal, a retired human resources manager from Mufreesboro, Tennessee fourth place.  He earned a very respectable $13,648.  Note:  This was Neal’s second time to cash on the WSOP Circuit, and was his best tournament finish ever.
3rd Place – Lou Esposito’s misery continued.  He lost a huge pot and the chip lead to Jeff Tims when he had his opponent covered and all-in, while holding two pair.  Tims had one pair, but then spiked a higher second pair on the river to drag the huge pot.  It was just one of perhaps 15-20 “beats” at this table.  “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Esposito complained.

Esposito would not like what he would see next.  He busted out on his final hand holding pocket sixes, which lost to Gabriel Andrade’s Q-2.  Andrade made trips on the big hand (deuces), which eliminated the former WSOP Circuit champion.  Lou “The Big Easy” Esposito, who got his name from winning the Bayou Poker Challenge last year, collected a less than satisfying $15,598 for third place.  Note:  Esposito now has nearly $900,000 in career tournament winnings.  This was his fourth time to cash in New Orleans at the WSOP Circuit.  He also cashed three times at the Circuit events held as Caesars Atlantic City   Esposito won the 2007 Bayou Poker Challenge main event. 
2nd Place – When heads-up play began, Andrade enjoyed a 5 to 3 chip lead over Tims – 510,000 to about 300,000.  On just the second hand of on the duel, the chip positions were reversed when Tims caught two-pair on the river, which bested Andrade’s higher middle pair.  That flip-flopped their chip positions, with Tims ahead more than 2 to 1.

Unquestionably, Andrade and Tims’ familiarity with each other from previous private games created a longer heads-up duel than was expected.  The two finalists played nearly an hour before the conclusion.  Four hours into the finale, the last hand of the tournament was dealt when Tims had 8-7 against Andrade’s 6-3.  After the turn showed 8-6-2-3, Andrade was all-in with second pair and a straight draw.  Tims had his rival covered with top pair (eights).  A deuce on the river sealed Andrade’s fate – second place.  The former civil engineer from Houston received $31,390.  Note:  This was Andrade’s fourth time to cash at Harrahs New Orleans.  He had previously taken 24th, 26th, and 36th place.  This was his biggest cash ever.

1st Place – Jeff Tims has now appeared at four major poker tournament final tables.  The small business owner who also play poker for income won his biggest tournament, to date.  He also gets “bragging rights” in the Houston home game.

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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