Playing for just fun and a ring after an even-money chop, Joe Rechtfertig and Clint Landman nevertheless battled it out for two hours with the chip lead going back and forth. Finally the key hand came down when Rechtfertig spiked a third 6 on the river to gain a huge chip advantage, and soon after claimed victory in event 15 of the WSOP Circuit at Horseshoe Council Bluffs, $500 no-limit hold'em. This was the final event before the championship tomorrow. Victory for Rechtfertig was worth an official $34,146 along with the keepsake ring.
Rechtfertig, 30, is from Newton, Iowa, and is employed as an area supervisor for nine restaurant franchisees. He is married with one daughter and another child on the way. He's been playing only three years and enters just a couple of live tournaments a year. He had a cash in the Latin American Poker Tour in Costa Rica last May, and three years ago won a satellite into the WSOP main event, but did not get in the money. Heads-up tonight, he noticed that Landman liked to limp and then come over the top when he raised, so he played him very selectively, going in with only strong hands.
After two players went out at the same time on day one, the next day's final table began with 4,000-8,000 blinds and 1,000 antes, 43:43 left. Rechtfertig had the lead with 299,000 chips.

Here were the starting chip counts:

Seat 1. Dave Word  266,000
Seat 2. Mark Mueller  104,000
Seat 3. Joe Rechtfertig 299,000
Seat 4. Paul White  214,000 
Seat 5. Eric Grave  156,000    
Seat 6. Jim Scheibler  64,000
Seat 7. Isaah Wright   167,000
Seat 8. Clint Landman 278,000 
Seat 9. Chad Hancock   192,000

Ninth Place, $2,134. Jim Scheibler, lowest in chips with 64,000, was first out in early action. He was all in with pocket treys and lost to Clint Landman's A-10 after a 10 flopped. Scheibler is a 68-year-old farmer from Bennington, Kansas who's been playing seven years. This is his first Circuit. He's married with two daughters.
Eighth Place, $3,201. For the second time in a row, a player went out by being outdrawn when a 10 flopped to pair his opponent. This time it was Mark Mueller who took the beat. He was all in with Ac-8c against Eric Grave, who held 10-7. The flop was 8-5-10, and that was all that Grave needed after a 4 and 9 came. Mueller, 53, owns a foundation repair company in Columbia, Missouri. He has been playing five years and is mostly a cash game player. He is married with three children.
The level ended, and blinds moved up to 6,000-12,000 with 2,000 antes.  
Seventh Place, $4,268. Tens seem to be working overtime here, as they proceeded to knock out the third player in a row. After Eric Grave moved in with pocket 9s, Joe Rechtfertig called with pocket 10s. They held up and did the job after the board came 4-Q-3-5-J. Grave, 31, lives in Tea, South Dakota where he's a sales manager for a building construction company. He's mostly a cash game player, and this is his first Circuit try.
Sixth Place, $18,779.  The knockout requirements increased. This time kings did the job. After Rechtfertig pushed in with the cowboys, Paul White decided to call with A-6. The board changed nothing, and four were gone. White, 48, is a real estate investor from Kansas City, Missouri. He has cashes at the Scotty Nguyen Poker Challenge and the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza. He is married with a son and daughter.
Fifth Place, $9,603. Isaah Wright finished fifth. Holding Qh-Jh, he bet into a board of Q-5-7 and Rechtfertig moved in. After some thought, Wright called for his last chips and saw Rechtfertig turn up pocket 5s for a set. After a 10 and deuce came, Wright checked out. He is 24, from Iowa City, Iowa, and works in Internet advertising while being a part-time student as well. He's played four years and has a few final tales in second chance events.
After a break, players returned, playing with blinds of 10,000-20,000 and 3,000 antes. By now, Rechtfertig had a very big lead with about 1 million chips, followed by Dave Word, 231,000; Landman, 183,000; and Chad Hancock, 112,000.
Fourth Place, $7,469. Soon after, a spectacular, made-for-television hand came down, similar to the stunning hand that opened yesterday's event. First, Hancock moved in. Then Word moved in, and then both Rechtfertig and Landman called. The flop came A-7-3. Rechtfertig moved in and Landman folded. The cards were turned up. Rechtfertig and Hancock both had A-9 while Word had Q-J. Word appeared ready to be carved up by his two opponents, each of whom had paired his ace. Instead, a 10 turned and then a river king gave Word a runner-runner Broadway straight, just as happened yesterday when William Burdick's runner-runner  straight outran pocket aces and a set of kings. Word's straight tripled him up while Hancock departed in fourth spot. Hancock, 34, is an investment manager from Peoria, Illinois who's played poker five years. He has two $100,000 online wins along with a cash in a $2,000 WSOP event in 2007. 
Third Place, $6,402. About 45 minutes of cautious play went by, and everyone was left when level 18 brought blinds of 15,000-30,000 and 4,000 antes. Finally, with five minutes left in the level, a surprising development. Word moved in with just 8-2, the second-worst starting hand in hold'em, and was called by Landman with A-K. Word's nickname is "The Suck-Out King," but he couldn't suck out this time as Landman  blew him out of the water when a board of 9-Q-K-J-10 gave him a straight. "It's the only junk cards I've played all night," Word lamented. "He just called, so I figured I could get away with it." Word, 48, is from Pierre, South Dakota where he owns a construction company. In 30 years of play, this is his first time playing a Circuit. He is married with two sons.
Landman, aided by his lucky "Incredible Hulk" card cover, had now pulled into a virtual dead-even tie with Rechtfertig, and the two agreed to chop and play for the ring. Two hands later they took a break, preparing to play with blinds of 20,000-40,000 and 5,000 antes. After 30 minutes of play, the two were still very close to even. Then Rechtfertig pulled way ahead until the final hand when Landman flopped a straight, doubled up and closed the gap once again.
Blinds were now 30,000-60,000. Landman pulled ahead, and then came the big hand. The flop was K-10-6. Landman had 10d-8d to Rechtfertig's 6-5. He was in the lead and would have won the event had not a river 6 given Rechtfertig trips and a big lead again.
Second Place, $5,335. Right after that the final hand came down. Landman was all in with K-9 against Rechtfertig's A-Q and went out in second place after the board came 8-3-7-7-2. Landman is a 39-year-old accounting executive from Birmingham, Alabama who's been playing five years. He has three cashes, including a fifth at a Circuit event at Tunica this year.