"If I'd known it would be this much fun I'd have gotten old a long time ago," Leroy "Lee" Patitz cracked after winning the 10th event of the WSOP Circuit tour at Horseshoe Council Bluffs, $300 no-limit hold'em. After a back-and forth battle with his final opponent, William "Big Willy" Searle, the 72-year-old power plant operator from Hastings, Nebraska, took home $22,065 along with his keepsake trophy ring.
Patitz says he's as far away from being a pro as you could ever hope to find. Until this series, he never had any Circuit cashes, but he already has three here, including a sixth in the $1,000 event ring He's been playing poker 30 years, but casino tournaments only three. His experience comes mainly from fun no-cash bar games, and later from "getting beat up by \pros" in tournaments. His strength, he says, comes from playing "so dumb that nobody can figure me out. I just play off the top of my head." In this event he said he had a couple of scrapes, but mostly was in good shape throughout.
This event drew 237 players and the prize pool was $68,967. Day two play began at level 13 with blinds of 3,000-6,000 with 500 antes, 18:16 minutes remaining. Leading with 271,000 chips was Searle.
Here were the starting chip counts:
Seat 1. Michael Dreiger 115,000
Seat 2. William Searle 271,500
Seat 3. Chad Wiedenhoeft 86,500
Seat 4. Leroy Patitz 225,000
Seat 5. William Drumm III 270,000
Seat 6. Aaron Loftin 60,000
Seat 7. Jerry Kuhl 201,000
Seat 8. Randy Belmont 49,000
Seat 9. Arnold Rogel 167,000
The only all-in confrontation at this level resulted in a split pot when both players turned up A-2. Blinds were now 4,000-8,000 with 1,000 antes. Randy Belmont went out early in this level when he moved in with A-2d and found himself up against Aaron Loftin's A-Q. The board came 4-5-J-A-8, and he cashed for $1,379. Belmont, 48, is a bar manager from Omaha who's been playing 10 years and until this final table had "nothing worth mentioning."
The third all-in and call produced a second instance of duplicate hands, this time A-10. Amazingly, a couple of hands later brought the fourth all-in-call and another similar holding, this time Q-10. What a bunch of copycats!
At last, two different hands. Michael "Doc" Dreiger raised with pocket kings and Arnold Rogel moved in with A-10. A board of 9-5-6-2-7 didn't help Rogel much, and he cashed eighth for $2,069. Rogel, 23, is in sales and lives in Bellevue, Nebraska, This is his fifth year of poker and only his first tournament.
Loftin got short-chipped when an all-in Chad Wiedenhoeft hit a 10 to his A-10 to outrun Loftin's A-Q, but as play went on Loftin managed to go all in and double up twice.
After a break, play continued with blinds of 6,000-12,000 and 2,000 antes. Dreiger was all in in a three-way pot, but survived. A hand later, however, he was all in again, holding A-8. He was up against Patitz, with pocket 4s. The pair held up when the board came 9-7-5-3-2, and Dreiger, finishing seventh, took out $2,759. Dreiger is 56 and a programmer from Omaha who's had a few small live cashes. He is married with two children.
Wiedenhoeft finished sixth after he went all in with A-5 on a flop of 9-9-7. He was pretty much dead because William Drumm III, holding 10-9, had trips. Wiedenhoeft couldn't play catch-up after a 6 and jack came and ended up sixth, which paid $3,448. Wiedenhoeft, 27, is a heat treater from Whitewater, Wisconsin making his second final table in this series. He earlier finished sixth in a $400 no-limit event.
Action continued at a fast pace as Jerry Kuhl quickly followed Wiedenhoeft out. In a monster pot, he was all in with K-Q against Searle's A-Q. All small cards hit the board, and Kuhl took out $4,138 for fifth. Kuhl, 33 is from Bennington, Nebraska and is a construction project manager. This is his first Circuit try. He has a five-year-old daughter with another child on the way.
Not long after, Loftin moved in with A-7 and got a call from Patitz with Ah-2h.. When the board showed 5-9-9-3, Patitz called for the board to pair, hoping for a split. He wasn't aiming high enough. Instead, a 4 hit the turn, giving him a wheel and he knocked Loftin out in fourth place, which paid $4,328. Loftin, 30, is a 30-year-old safety manage from Omaha who's been playing four years. His poker highlight was winning a satellite to play in the Doyle Brunson Five Diamond Classic last year. He went on to tie for last!
Drumm ended up third He was all in with pocket jacks. Patitz had K-6 and flopped two kings. Drumm is 26 and is a truck driver from De Pere, Wisconsin. He's been playing five yeas and has a win in a $500 no-limit Circuit event here in 2007 along with a fourth in the 2007 Spring Heartland Tour.
Heads-up, after a number of hands, Patitz had built a big lead, but then Searle took the lead in a turnaround hand when he was all in with A-J and turned an ace to outrun Patitz's pocket jacks. Then Patitz moved in front again when he had pocket aces and made a flush when four clubs came. On the final hand he had A-9 to Searle's A-7, and the win was his when Searle couldn't catch.
For second, Searle took home $12,138. Searle 25, from Colorado Springs, Colorado, is an Army veteran with two long tours of duty in Iraq who currently works as an office manager for Loomis, a security guard company.. He's been playing seven years and this is his second Circuit try and first cash.