Aces from Ozark

Until he got into the money in the fourth event of the WSOP Circuit tour at Harrah's Casino Tunica, Reginald Roberts hadn't seen pocket aces all day. After that, he looked at pocket rockets six times, once using them to knock out two players at the final table. And that, he said, was a major factor in his winning this $500 no-limit event which brought him an official $56,860 and a coveted diamond-and-gold trophy ring. (Earlier, the five finalists had made a deal.)

Roberts, 35, is a lighting business owner from Ozark, Missouri who's been playing 20 years. He has a number of final tables and cashes, including a small one at a WSOP event, but this is by far his biggest payday. Roberts said his aim was to be play very selectively until he got into the money, and then open up a little, occasionally getting aggressive in position. Even so, he was only in "bad" one time, and then got lucky by making a flush on the river. Roberts divides his time between tournaments and $2-$5 and $5-$10 no-limit cash games.

This event drew 469 players who built a $227,465 prize pool. The field included 15 players who won satellites in the Lake Poker Tour staged by radio station MIX 92.7 at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri this past fall. The station's director of programming, Mike Clayton, also came along to do live interview broadcasting.

Day one ended with 10 players left, and they returned to blinds of 15,000-30,000 with 4,000 antes and a full 40 minutes on the clock. In front with 1.1 million chips was Chad "Dirt" Wiedenhoeft.

Here were the starting chip counts:

Seat 1. Ryan Enis                   372,000
Seat 2. Clint Landman             663,000          
Seat 3. Reginald Roberts        399,000
Seat 4. Brian Roberts              427,000
Seat 5. Clifft Sykes                 303,000
Seat 6. Jimmy Collier              276m000
Seat 7. Scott Carroll                481,000
Seat 8. Chad Wiedenhoeft     1,118,000
Seat 9 .Nicholas Rosenberger 216,000
Seat 10. Mike Pressley            484,000  

On the third hand, two players were knocked out. Holding K-4, Nicholas Rossenberger moved in for about 200,000 under the gun. He got called by Roberts, holding aces, and then by Ryan Enis, with pocket 8s. The board came 4-7-7-10-J, and the aces prevailed. With the fewest chips, Rossenberger finished 10th, while Enis. who had around 370,000 and was covered by Roberts, finished ninth.

Rosenberger is 28, from Orlando, Florida, is in Internet marketing, and is part of a poker family. He and his two brothers made a final table at the Bellagio, and one of them also made a final table at the first event here. Enis, 31, is an investment manager from Tupelo, Mississippi who's been playing six years.

A few hands later, a flop of 10d-Qs-2d gave Brian Roberts queens and deuces and he moved in. Clifft Sykes had a flush draw with 7d-4d. He called with his last chips, missed and finished eighth. Sykes, 49, is a self-employed contractor from Jackson, Tennessee, who's been playing five years and has a couple of small cashes in Circuit events here.

As play went on, Mike "No Fold" Pressley doubled through Clint Landman by catching a third 9 on the river to outrun Landman's pocket kings. Then, on the last hand at this level, Jimmy Collier went out seventh. He moved in with K-J and got a call from Scott Carroll with As-7s. Carroll won easily after the board came 10-10-9-A-2. Collier, 35, from Evans, Georgia, is married with four kids and owns a waste disposal company. He's been playing 2-1/2 years and won two Gold Strike Sunday events and two at the Taj Mahal.

Players took a break and after a chip color-up, play resumed with blinds of 20,000-40,000 and 500 antes. Halfway into the round, Clifft Sykes won a million-dollar pot from Wiedenhoeft with pocket kings when Wiedenhoeft missed a flush draw.

The round went by with everyone still left as blinds moved up to 30,000-60,000. Twenty minutes later, Pressley moved in with Ah-9h and got a call from Carroll with A-Q. A flop of Qh-Qc-6h gave Carroll trips and Pressley a flush draw. He called for a heart, but instead another 6 filled Carroll, and Pressley went out sixth. He is 33, a manager from Nashville, Tennessee, has been playing six years, and this is his best finish.

The five remaining players now made a deal, and action resumed. On the first deal, Clint Landman pushed in when a flop of 5-10-2 gave him a pair of deuces. He was way behind Carroll, who flopped a set of 5s and, for good measure, made quads on the turn. Landman, 39, is an accounting vp from Birmingham, Alabama, who's been playing five years.

Brian Roberts was left with 125,000 when his A-10 lost to Wiedenhoeft's A-Q. On the next hand he was in the big blind with 6-3, and when a flop of 10-A-3 paired him, he moved in for his last 70,000. Carroll called with 10-9, and when a 10 turned to give him trips, Roberts was finished, exiting fourth. Roberts is 40 and is a factory manager from Ridgeville, Indiana. He won a $300 Circuit event at Caesars Indiana (now Horseshoe Southern Indiana) last year, and also has a second in a $500 tournament there. 

With blinds at 40,000-80,000, Wiedenhoeft, who had had fallen behind, doubled through and regained the lead when his pocket 5s beat Carroll's pocket treys. Play dragged on as players several times went all in and won. Meanwhile, Roberts had taken over the lead. Blinds moved up to 60,000-120,000 with 1,000 antes, and we finally lost another player. This time it was Wiedenhoeft, all in with K-5 against Carroll's K-6. They both made bottom pair on a flop of J-6-5, with the higher pair holding up when two treys came off. Wiedenhoeft, 26, is a structural engineer from Whitewater, Wisconsin who has played poker five years and had a WSOP cash in 2006. He also noted on his bio sheet that he has a cat named Anaheim and reminded everyone to spay and neuter their pets.

Heads-up, Roberts had about 3.5 million chips to  1.2 million for Carroll. Blinds went to 80,000-160,000 with 2,000 antes after one deal, and a hand later it was all over. Carroll opened for 500,000 with Ad-Qh and Roberts put him in with Ah-Kd. A board of 2-7-7-9-8 changed nothing, and Roberts' king kicker did the job.

Carroll is 44 and a machinist from Pekin, Illinois. He has two wins in 7 p.m. events here and once won his way into a $10,000 WSOP event, He also played in a Bay 101 bounty tournament where he collected $5,000 for knocking out Mike "The Mouth" Matusow.