The third event of the WSOP Circuit tour at Horseshoe Council Bluffs turned into a friendly slugfest between professional player Scott Kahoun and student/bartender Matthew McCartney. They kept taking chips from each other all throughout the final table and even more when they finally got heads-up, exchanging the lead times beyond counting and providing excitement galore for a crowd of spectators.

In the end, McCartney took down the $300 no-limit event, winning $32,741 and a gold-and- diamond trophy ring, but it could have gone either way at any time. In any event, both finalists, who had been tangling since there were 13 players left, said they had a lot of fun and complimented each other's play. 

McCartney, 23, is from Urbandale, Iowa and has played poker for five years. He had been a poker supervisor at the Riverside Casino for two years before returning to school as a business major while working as a bartender at night. This is only his second live tournament, and his preferred game is pot-limit Omaha because it offers more action and is "way more entertaining." He described his style as "tight-aggressive, not too crazy," and he felt that his style matched that of Kahoun's, who gambled a lot.

This event attracted 360 entrants who made a prize pool of $104,760. Day two started with McCartney in front with 442,000 chips.

Here were the starting chip counts:

Seat 1  Brett Schwartley         214,000.
Seat 2 Thomas Hoffman         84,000
Seat 3  Scott Kahoun              161,000           .  
Seat 4  Matthew McCartney   442,000                      
Seat 5  Chad Wiedenhoeft     356,000                                  
Seat 6  Lyle Bryan                  227,000          
Seat 7  Lee Bun                      215,000
Seat 8  Charles Donnelly        100,000          
Seat 9  Aaron Newmann         364,000

Final-table play started with blinds of 6,000-12,000 and 2,000 antes, 14 minutes left.  First out was Charles "Chuck" Donnelly, who pushed in for 86,000 with Kc-Qc and got picked off by Lee "Sticky" Bun, who called with pocket queens. After the board came 3-7-6-J-8, Donnelly left with $2,095 for ninth place. Donnelly, 62, lives in St. Louis and is newly retired from the office furniture business. He came here with his "best buddy," Jacob Manley, who finished third in yesterday's event. This is Donnelly's first time in a "real" tournament.

A couple of hands later, Brett Schwertley picked the wrong time to move in with A-2. He was called by Scott Kahoun, a 93 percent favorite with pocket aces. No miracles and Schwertley finished eighth, worth $3,143. Kahoun now had the chip lead. Schwertley, 25, is from Omaha and listed his occupation as "professionally unemployed poker." He's been playing six years and this past August won a Legends of Poker tournament at the Bicycle Casino near Los Angeles.

Blinds went to 10,000-20,000 with 3,000 antes. On the first hand, McCartney opened for 55,000, Chad Wiedenhoeft re-raised to 200,000, and Bun went all in for 39,000 more as McCartney folded. Bun this time had the pocket aces. He beat Schwertley's pocket queens and came close to taking the lead.

Lyle "Ray the Razor" Bryan went out seventh. He held K-6, and when the flop came 4-K-5, he moved in. His hand wasn't much good against Wiedenhoeft's A-K, and he cashed for $4,190. Bryan, 61, is from Avoca, Iowa and retired. He's played from age 10 and over the years learned the game playing in small bar games. Poker isn't Bryan's only game. He also played in the PGA Seniors tour for two years and is a top pool player in the APA as well.

Wiedenhoeft was next out, He raised with K-10 and Tom Hoffman put him in with K-Q. The board came A-6-2-J-A, and Wiedenhoeft took out $5,238  for sixth. Wiedenhoeft, 27, is in the heating business and lives in Whitewater, Wisconsin. He's  been playing for five years and this is his second Circuit cash.

Diamond flush draws played a role in the next two knockouts. The first time, the flop brought 9d-4d-5d. Bun, with Kd-9s, had top pair and a big flush draw, but Aaron Newman, with 7d-6d, had the flush. He bet, Lee raised, and Newman put him in. Bun couldn't catch a diamond and cashed fifth for $6,286. Bun, 24, is a poker dealer from Sioux Falls, South Dakota who's been playing poker "too long to remember." He played in this same event last year, finishing 22nd. He wrote on his bio sheet that he didn't care to mention any other achievements because he didn't want the IRS to know. OK, Sticky, we won't mention your $150,000 cash-game win the day before.

The second time, Tom Hoffman was all in with K-7 on a flop of 4c-Kd-Jd. Holding 10d-6d, Kahoun was looking for a flush, and hit it when a Qd turned, For fourth place, Hoffman earned $7,333, Hoffman, 47, is a tool maker from Denton, Nebraska who's been playing about 25 years. He collected $14,520 for winning a Circuit event here in 2007.

Players took a short break, returning to blinds of 15,000-30,000 with 4,000 blinds. Kahoun now had the lead with about 1.3 million, but didn't hold it long as his wild ride began. McCartney doubled through against him twice, leaving him very short chipped. Then Kahoun recovered by doubling through twice against McCartney and later did the same against Newmann. "Look out," he warned. Finally, holding A-10 against McCartney's pocket 6s, he made 10s full and regained the lead with about 90,000.

The tournament got heads-up when McCartney, with pocket 6s, opened for 100,000 and Newmann moved in with A-9. McCartney won with a set on a board of J-K-7-6-2, as Newmann cashed third for $8,381.Newmann, 23, is from Bellevue, Nebraska, and was a mover until he moved to poker and became a pro. He's been playing four years and enjoys teaching friends how to play and watching them progress.

McCartney and Kahoun were now virtually dead even in chips, as a see-saw contest got underway. First McCartney began pulling ahead, eventually taking a 3-1 lead. Then Kahoun doubled through and took the lead again when he raised a quarter-million on a flop of A-4-7 and McCartney mucked. On the last hand of the level, McCartney moved in on a board of 5c-10d-Js-6c holding A-J. With Qc-9c, Kahoun had draws to a flush and straight. "Fourteen outs, gotta call," he said. He missed and now McCartney had a small lead.

After a break, action resumed with blinds of 10,000-20,000 and 500 antes. On and on and on it went. McCartney pulled ahead, eventually building a 3-1 lead. Kahoun moved in front when he slow-played a full house on the turn, getting McCartney to bet a quarter-million on the river and folding when Scott moved in. Back-and-forth it went until the final hand when McCartney moved in with pocket treys and Kahoun called with Q-J. A flop of 9-10-2 gave Kahoun an open-ended straight draw, but he missed and finally went down for the count.

Kahoun, pocketing $16,762 for second, is a poker pro from LaGrange Park, Illinois, who has been playing "forever." This is his third Circuit final table in the past five months. His wish is to someday be interviewed by Mike Sexton. Sorry, Scott. Had you won, you'd have had to settle for.