New Orleans, LA (December 11, 2009) – Six-Handed poker is different from a conventional game, usually played with nine players. Since blinds come around much faster and there are fewer opponents at the table, players with experience in short-handed situations tend to do well.

Indeed, Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em accentuates short-handed abilities. Because there are only six players (or less, as some competitors bust out), the game tends to be more aggressive. The format generally requires players to play hole cards out of the standard range of starting-hands. For instance, a hand that might be an automatic fold situation at a full table may be playable (or even become a raising hand) in a Six-Handed game. It also makes post-flop skill paramount to victory.

Six-handed poker made its debut at various online poker sites. In fact, at some of the larger poker sites, there are now more Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha cash games spread than regular nine-handed tables. However, Six-Handed games are almost never played in a live format, except at some major tournaments. Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em made its World Series of Poker debut in 2005, and has since been offered a total of eight times (through 2009).

This year for the first time ever, the Bayou Poker Challenge included a Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em tournament. The nice mid-week turnout of 123 entrants ensures that the game is likely to continue being part of the schedule in the future. This was the second event (out of 15 schedule) of the Bayou series. The $300 (+40) buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament was played at Harrah’s New Orleans and generated a total prize pool of $35,788.

The winner was Ali Jafari, from Houston, TX. He is a 26-year-old real estate investor who also plays poker seriously for part-time income. Jafari has numerous tournament cashes. But this marked his first official victory in a major tournament, after coming close to winning several times. Jafari was officially paid $11,274, although he agreed to a deal when the final table became three-handed.

The tournament’s top 12 finishers (final two tables) each collected prize money. One of those who cashed was William "Monkey" Souther (Biloxi, MS), who finished in eighth place and who has now cashed in each of the first two tournaments – the only player who is 2 for 2 so far. The top six players finished in the following order:

6th Place – Michael Hallen, 23-year-old day trader from Houston, TX bartered his way to a sixth-place finish. It took nearly two hours for the first player to bust out, and that finally came when Hallen suffered a horrible beat. On his final hand, he was dealt A-K which was all-in against a thoroughly-dominated A-Q. A king flopped, all but giving him the chance to double up. But a ten and jack in succession gave Lip Nguyen a straight (ten to the ace) which brought gasps of disbelief from the remaining players and spectators. Hallen staggered away in disappointment, accepting a payout totaling $1,521.

5th Place – John Cofhlin, a 45-year-old self-employed businessman from Ft. Pierce, FL, finished in fifth place. Cofhlin was low on chips about mid-way into play at the final table and called a large raise holding A-7. He failed to improve and ended up losing to pocket threes. Cofhlin, who is married and has three daughters, collected a payout amounting to $2,058.

4th Place – Jess Brooks, a 59-year-old concrete contractor from Pasadena, TX, cemented fourth place. Brooks looked to be in a very good position to make a deeper run, but ran into problems late. On his final hand of the tournament, he was dealt pocket tens. Brooks moved all-in and was called by Bo Gray, holding the A-Q of hearts. The flop pretty much settled Brook’s fate as three hearts came, giving Gray a flush. Brooks failed to improve and ended up with $3,042 in prize money.

3rd Place – Thomas "Bo" Gray, a 26-year-old professional poker player from New Orleans, LA, finished in third place. He agreed to a deal with Ali Jafari and Lip Nguyen to divide the remaining prize money. Gray is a cash game pro. He has numerous cashes and final table appearances on his resume. His payout for third place amounted to $4,474.

2nd Place – Lip Nguyen, from Baton Rouge, LA, was the runner up. Nguyen held the chip lead during one point at the final table. After the top three finishers were very close even in chips, a deal was made which ended the tournament – and Nguyen took second by virtue of his chip count. Nguyen, who was born in Vietnam, officially collected $6,979.
1st Place – Ali Jafari, a 26-year-old real estate broker from Houston, TX was the tournament winner. He officially collected $11,274. This was his 15th time to cash in a major tournament for his career, and marked his seventh final table appearance. His impressive finishes so far this year in 2009 include cashes at the WSOP in Las Vegas and WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s New Orleans: 2009 Bayou Poker Challenge – December, 2009