Big Hand for a Little Lady

Saturday afternoon at Caesars Palace spawned a jam-packed poker room.  The World Series of Poker Circuit included the ninth, tenth, and eleventh of 22 gold ring events on this year’s schedule.  The $500 buy-in two-day tournament (Event #9) attracted 225 entries, generating $109,125 in prize money.  The top 27 finishers collected payouts.  Event #10 also began and will conclude on Sunday.  Event #11, a “Double Stack Turbo No-Limit Hold’em” tournament, also played to conclusion on this day.  The newly-conceived “Double-Stack” event was so popular with players that an alternates list had to be taken.  Every poker table at Caesars was filled.

The newest poker tournament champion is Suzanne Carrillo.  She is a professional poker player from El Paso, TX.  This marked Carrillo’s second tournament victory.  She won an event at the Bellagio recently.  She also cashed in two of the first three WSOP events she ever played back in 2005.  Carrillo came to the final table as the chip leader.  She lost her advantage late in the tournament but managed to come back and win in an exciting finish.  Carrillo became the first female champion to win an open event in the four-year WSOP Circuit series at Caesars Palace.  The previous three years, all of the winners were males, except for the special ladies-only tournament.

The top nine finishers were as follows:

9th Place – Finalists battled for 40 minutes before the first elimination.  That came when Ricky Green became the first unfortunate victim of fate.  Green’s bust out was a surprise considering he was one of the larger stacks when play began at nine handed.  But a series of beats sentenced the Austin attorney to ninth place.  His settlement amounted to $2,728.  This marked Green’s first time to cash on the WSOP Circuit.  He finished in-the-money in a WSOP event in 2006.

8th Place – David James went out next when he missed a straight draw.  He lost to trip jacks on his final hand, which resulted in an eighth-place finish.  James, who works in sales and lives in Gilbert, AZ collected a commission totaling $3,547.  This was James’ second time to cash in a WSOP Circuit tournament.

7th Place – Next, Brain Burney was short-stacked and pushed all-in with Q-J.  He was called and missed the board completely, losing to a pair.  Burney, a father of three and pharmacist from Branson, MO was prescribed $4,365 in prize money.  This marked Burney’s best tournament finish since the final table at the Winstar World Classic, held last year.

6th Place – Than Nguyen was low on chips and took a tough beat after he moved all-in with pocket nines.  Suzanne Carrillo, the chip leader, was on fire and called the raise with 7-4 (in the blind).  Carrillo ended up making 7s full of 4s which added to her stack advantage.  Meanwhile, the poker pro from Orange County was forced to settle for sixth place, which paid $5,456.  Nguyen took tenth place at the Caesars Palace WSOP Circuit Main Event last year.

5th Place – After Anders Taylor lost half his stack on a big hand against Christian Toboc, he lost the remaining half against the same adversary.  Toboc knocked out Taylor with pocket aces.  Taylor, a 24-year-old poker player from Gainesville, GA took $6,820 for fifth place. 

4th Place – Toboc continued to roll as he was on the favorable end of another big hand when Wayne Harvey moved all-in with pocket tens.  Toboc woke up with pocket aces (again) and scalped Harvey with the better hand.  With the windfall, Toboc drew close to even with the chip leader, while Harvey ended up in fourth place.  The construction worker from Georgia nailed down $8,457.  Harvey was the only finalist to have previously won a WSOP Circuit gold ring.  He won his prize in a Limit Hold’em tournament in Tunica back in 2006.

3rd Place – Tam Nguyen got involved in two races with Suzanne Carrillo.  He won the first, but lost the second, which killed his chances of victory.  Nguyen went out holding pocket eights against Carrillo’s A-Q.  Two queens came on board, which allowed Carrillo to regain the chip lead.  Nguyen, a poker dealer from Oregon, raked in a prize worth $10,367.

2nd Place – When heads-up play began, Carrillo enjoyed about a 3 to 2 chip advantage over Toboc.  The two finalists agreed to a financial deal, the terms of which were not disclosed.  Carrillo was declared the tournament winner, with Toboc accepting an official second-place finish.  Toboc, a former insurance salesman who now lives outside of Stuttgart (Germany) and plays poker mostly in Europe, received $16,369.

1st Place – In the classic 1966 film, “Big Hand for a Little Lady,” Joanne Woodward plays the role of a beginning poker player to perfection.  She scoops a monster-sized pot and wins the respect of her adversaries.  Suzanne Carrillo by contrast, can hardly be called a neophyte.  But she does share some similarities with her movie protégé as she managed to earn a great deal of respect with the victory.  Carrillo collected first-place prize money totaling $28,464 and her first WSOP Circuit gold ring.

With ten events now completed at Caesars Palace, the tournament has attracted more than 2,000 total entries and has awarded in excess of $1.5 million in total prize money.  Still to come are 12 more gold ring events which continue through April 30th.