Ready for Take Off

Jeffrey Wiemers, who works for the Norfolk, Nebraska Airport Authority, managing the private and charter plane sector, had a high-altitude flight in the seventh event of the WSOP Circuit tour at Horseshoe Council Bluffs, $300 no-limit Omaha high-low. He arrived as chip leader, knocked out the first three players and ended up with a fairly easy $10,088 win. Wiemers, 44, is from Battle Creek, Nebraska. He's been "dabbling" in poker for 20 years, more seriously the last six, and prefers tournaments because once a player goes broke "he's gone gone.". He's won a few small tournaments, but this is by far his biggest win.

Wiemers plays all games, but prefers Omaha. He likes it so much that he signed up for the H.O.R.S.E. tournament going on simultaneously with the Omaha/8 final table here and rushed to play as soon as he was photographed and interviewed. Ironically, he was knocked out during the Omaha round in that event.

With a lot of chips tonight, he found it easy to push out the small stacks, and said that was a key to his win. He plans to play more tournaments now, providing his wife doesn't object, and after this win he said he doesn't think that she will..

Second-day final-table play started with blinds of 800-1,600 and limits of  1,600-3,200, 14 minutes remaining.

Here were the starting chip counts:

Seat 1. Robert Sprouse           13,100
Seat 2. Ed Conradt                 36,600
Seat 3.  Lonnie Price               36,600
Seat 4. John Sozio                   5,800  
Seat 5. Patty Merksick            19,400                        
Seat 6. Steve Moy                   38,500
Seat 7. Jeff Wiemers               59,800
Seat 8. Brett Michalsky          2,600              
Seat 9. Mike Meng                 22,900

Brett "Butters" Michalsky started very low-chipped with only 2,600 and quickly went out, losing to Wiemers with a busted low in three-way action. Ninth paid $623. Michalsky, 24, is a recent college graduate who lives in Sioux City, Iowa.  He's been playing three years and this is his first final table.

Limits were now 2,000-4,000.  Ed Conradt went out at this level when he paired his jack but lost to Wiemer's two pair. Eighth paid $9,340. Conradt, 56, lives in Lincoln, Nebraska and is a government state auditor. He's played five years and has a second in a Vegas tournament

John Sazio finished seventh, which paid $1,245. He went all in with all big cards in a multi-way pot, only to see all small cards hit the board. Sozio, born in Italy, now lives in York, Nebraska. He's been playing poker "too long,." and Omaha/8 is his favorite game.

Patty Merksick, the only woman at this final table went out sixth. She flopped a set and filled on the turn, only to lose to a bigger filly. Sixth paid $1,557. Merksick 41, lives in Council Bluffs where she is a human resources assistant and is married with three children. She's been playing five years, learning Omaha from "the best Omaha player in the Midwest" -- her husband. This is her first final table.

Steve Moy was down to his last chip when he went all in from the big blind with A-3-5-8. He missed his low when the board Q-10-J-3-6, losing to Robert Sprouse who had Q-J-10-3-6 and paired his 10.  Moy 31, lives in Omaha and owns a concrete company. This is a first final table. He wrote that his fiancé, Crystal Boyer, is here to bring him good luck and informed him he would win. Well, fifth is better than nothing. It paid $6,383.

Lonnie Price went out fourth when he ran into Sprouse's quads. Price, 58, is a farmer from Ainsworth, Nebraska who's been playing about 40 years. Fourth paid $2,491.

This tournament got down to two after Mike "Ðinger" Meng ran into Sprouse's set of aces and collected $3,114 for third. Meng is a 39-year-old craps dealer from Independence, Missouri. His poker highlights were being in Costa Rica and watching his best friend Scott make a final table and win $72,000, as well as playing against Kathy Liebert and Erik Seidel in a WSOP event. He  just had a baby boy six weeks ago.

Blinds had now reached 5,000-10,000 with 10,000-20,000 limits. Wiemers had a good lead but lost a lot of chips when Sprouse, holding Q-8-4-2, made a straight. But that's as far as Sprouse got. On the final hand, Wiemers raised with a high hand, K-Q-10-8 double-suited and Sprouse called all in with 9-9-K-3. The board came Q-7-4-2-6, and Wiemer's paired queen was enough to end the contest.

Sprouse, paid $5,293 for second, is 38, comes from Germany and now lives in Abilene Kansas where he is a restaurant owner. He's been playing five years and this is his first final table.