The ninth event of the WSOP Circuit tour at Horseshoe Council Bluffs, $300 H.O.R.S.E., proved to be a simple operation for Bill "Doc" Short, a family physician from Abilene, Kansas. He had the chip lead all the way until the final table, then held onto it until the end, coasting to an easy victory. When he got heads-up with C.J. Mavroudis, his final opponent had come close to catching him in chips, and the two agreed to a deal without playing any hands. For his victory, Dr. Short won an official $9,243 and a handsome trophy.
Short has been playing poker for six years, but only has time to play a couple of tournaments a year. He likes all games, especially Omaha hi-lo, which he favors because of the action, and which is why H.O.R.S.E. suited him so well. He has a third-place finish in a Circuit event here last year, along with a WPT cash on a cruise. His style of play is selective-aggressive, and he found the players at the final table pretty solid.
Short came up here with some buddies from Kansas, and they haven't been doing badly either. One cashed second in the Omaha event yesterday, another took a third in the $1,500 event.
H.O.R.S.E., consisting of rounds of hold'em, Omaha hi-lo, razz, stud and stud eight-or-better, is generally considered to be the ultimate test of all-around poker skill and is becoming an increasingly popular tournament game. Eight players made it to the money in this event, and those finalists returned on day two, starting play in a hold'em round, with blinds of 1,000-2,000 and 2,000-4,000 limits, 24:30 left on the clock. Short led with 80,500 chips.
Here were the starting chip counts:
Seat 1. Shawn Marley 42,800
Seat 2. Brent Carter 23,100
Seat 3. Bill Short 80,500
Seat 4. Matt Harder 37,500
Seat 5. C.J. Mavroudis 27,100
Seat 6. Mike Lisanti 43,000
Seat 7. Charles Casavant III 71,900
Seat 8. Robert Cox 23,199
Sitting next to each other were C.T. Mavroudis and Mike Lisanti, friends who both live in Winnipeg, Canada and who came up here together.
Brent Carter was by far the best-known player at the final table. But he started lowest in chips and busted out first in an Omaha round after Mavroudis flopped a wheel. Eighth paid $835. Carter, 60, formerly a harness race driver, is from Oak Park, Illinois and has been playing professionally for 25 years. He has won over $3 million in tournaments, and his scores of cashes include 48 at the WSOP (with bracelets in Omaha and no-limit hold'em), along with 11 Omaha final tables. However, he is perhaps best known for putting a terrible beat on Barbara Enright -- many feel it's the worst in WSOP history -- in 1995 when she became the only woman to make the final table in the main event. With five players left, she moved in with pocket 8s. Carter called with 6-3 suited, flopped two pair and knocked her out. He finished third in that event, cashing for $302,750, his biggest payday ever.
At age 82, Robert Cox became the most senior player to make a final table here thus far. He went out seventh in a round of stud when he went all in on fourth street with a pair of 4s. He couldn't improve, and Shawn Marley, starting with (9-6)8-9, beat him after making two pair. Cox, from Omaha, is retired, started playing 10 years ago, and this first final table is his poker highlight. He is the proud father of four children, five grandchildren and three great-grandkids. Today he earned $1,139 for seventh.
A very big pot developed in the next hold'em hand. Marley had pocket kings and made kings-full when the board came A-8-8-K, but he was way behind Matt Harder, who had pocket aces and flopped aces full.
After a break, players returned to blinds of 1,500-3,000 and 3,000-6,000 limits. In an Omaha round, Marley went out sixth. He was all in with A-2-7-8 against A-4-J-Q held by Mavroudis. A board of K-Q-2-64 counterfeited Marley's low and paired his deuce, while giving Mavroudis a nut low and a pair of queens. Marley, 29, is from Council Bluffs He has a second in pot-limit Omaha in the Horseshoe Classic last year, along with a 15th in Omaha hi-lo yesterday.
The next player out departed in a stud eight-or-better round. Down to the cloth, Charles Casavant went all in holding (J-4)J. Mavroudis had (5-2)5, caught a third 5 on fourth street, and made his third knockout as Casavant went out with $1,848 for fifth. Casavant is 42, from Avilla, IN, and owns a True Value hardware store. He has multiple final tables and cashes and yesterday made the final table, finishing ninth in the $1,000 no-limit event.
Limits went to 4,000-8,000 and then to 6,000-12,000. Short still had the lead with about half of the 350,000 chips in play, while the two Canadian comrades were short-chipped. One of them went out in a round of stud. Lisanti had pocket 10s and a flush draw. He missed, lost to Short's queens and deuces, and he was gone, earning $2.405 for fourth place. Lisanti, 48, works in marketing. He's been playing about five years His highlight was making a TV table at the WSOP $2,000 no-limit event where he finished ninth, winning $50,705.
In the next round of stud hi-lo, the other Canadian survived. Mavroudis was against Short's kings and nines, and then outdrew him by pairing a 6 on the turn for aces-up. As play went on, Mavroudis took a couple of pots from Harder in hold'em and Omaha, leaving him short-chipped, then finally knocked him out in a razz round by edging him with an 8-6 to Harder's 8-7. Third paid $3,392. Harder, 23, is a business student at the University of Nebraska who started playing four years ago.
By now, Mavroudis had pulled fairly close to Short with roughly 165,000 chips to about 185,000 for Short, and play stopped while they talked deal at great length before finally coming to terms and ending this event.
Mavroudis picked up an official $4,987 for second. He is 36 and is employed as a tour operator. He's been playing 15 years and has a couple of cashes in Canadian events and another in the Jack Binion World Poker Open.