Carter Goes the Distance
Overcoming a more than 3-1 chip disadvantage when he got heads-up, Michael Carter, a small-town lawyer from Milan, Tennessee, captured the 11th event of the WSOP Circuit tour at Harrah's Casino Tunica, $500 no-limit hold'em. His win was worth an official $50,439. However, when the tournament got down to five, the remaining players made a chip-count deal, with the winner receiving an additional $5,000 plus the diamond-and-gold trophy ring. At that point Sean McMahon, who would be Carter's final opponent, had the most chips and thus actually took home the most money.

Carter, who practices largely family law, is 39 and has been playing 10 years. He has a prior win in a $500 Gold Strike Summer Classic event that paid $43,014. His style, he said, is "getting lucky." He divides his poker time between tournaments and live action. He prefers $10-$20 limit, but since limit is very hard to find now, he plays $2-$5 no-limit. He was in good shape throughout the tournament, chipping up steadily, and only all in once before the money. He rated his final few opponents as pretty solid, and McMahon especially tough.

Day-two action began with 10 players at the final table. Blinds were 1,500-3,000 with 400 antes, 40 minutes on the clock. In front with 766,000 chips was Michael Sabbia, just ahead of Carter's 750,000. An immediate deal was proposed by Sabbia, but it didn't go over. 

Here were the starting chip counts:

Seat 1. Dean Bobel                 585,000
Seat 2. Steve Weigel               401,000
Seat 3. Sean McMahon           334,000          
Seat 4. Tom Wright                 713,000          
Seat 5. Phillip Wells                331,000                      
Seat 6. Allen Kessler               387,000          
Seat 7. Michael Sabbia            766,000
Seat 8. Michael Carter            750,000          
Seat 9. Danny Nelson             186,000
Seat 10.Rob Manley               209,000

Halfway through the level, Rob "Texbigslick" Manley, in the small blind, moved in for  57,000 with Kd-7d and went out 10th when he couldn't catch Phillip "Philly" Wells' K-9. Manley, 49, is a financial analyst from Ft. Worth, Texas playing five years. This is his poker highlight.

As the level drew to a close, Allen "Chainsaw" Kessler was chain-sawed by a bad beat. He moved in for about 200,000 with A-K and was called by McMahon with K-Q. A flop of Q-6-2 gave McMahon the lead, and two baby cards didn't help Kessler, who went out ninth. Kessler, who calls both Philadelphia and Vegas home, is in Internet marketing. He has over a million dollars in cashes, including two WPT and two WSOP final tables. His numerous pay-outs include two six-figure amounts: $136,452 for an eighth at the WPT championship event at the Foxwoods Poker Classic, and $132,110 for a second in a $2,500 Omaha hi-lo WSOP event. He's been playing "a long time."

Blinds went to 2,000-4,000.and 500 antes. Three players now went out in rapid order. First to go was Dean Bobel, who moved in with A-7 and fell to McMahon's pocket 9s after the board came 10-5-3-3-2. Bobel, finishing eighth, has been playing for three years, is 43 and from Woodstock, Georgia. He's cashed two times at the New Orleans Circuits.

Next out was Tom "Tommy T" Wright. In the big blind, he risked his last 105,000 with 8-7. Carter easily beat him with A-10 when the board showed 7-3-A-6-6. Wright is 44, from Waco, Texas, self-employed and has played four years.

And then Wells went out. After McMahon moved in, Wells also pushed in. He turned up K-J, and looked at McMahon's pocket aces. He couldn't come close to catching up when the board came 2-4-6-10-7, and exited sixth. Wells is 30 and from Corydon, Indiana. He was a chef before turning pro and has played six years.

The five finalists now engaged in another lengthy discussion deal, finally agreeing to the chip-count arrangement. They resumed play and two more players went out very quickly. Sabbia moved in for about 400,000 with A-K and McMahon looked him up with two 6s. Nothing changed on a board of Q-9-3-J-J, and Sabbia finished fifth. Sabbia, 50, is a trader from Oakland Park, Illinois who's been playing 30 years.

Steve Weigel, next all in, had 6-5 and an open-end straight draw when the flop came 8-3-7. He missed when a king and 10 came, giving McMahon, who held 10-8, two pair. Weigel is a 48-year-old business owner from Woodland, Alabama. He's had 20 years of poker experience and his three prior Circuit cashes include a final table at Caesars Indiana. McMahon by now was well in front.

This event got heads-up after blinds went to 3,000-6,000 with 500 antes. Danny "Nitro" Nelson, holding Q-9, was all in when a flop of J-10-J gave him an open-ender. He missed, losing to McMahon's pocket 8s and went out third. Nelson, 53, lives in Batesville, Arkansas and is a Pro-Sportsman drag racer. This is his 19th year playing poker.

Two-handed, McMahon had about 3.2 million chips to under a million for Carter. In early play, Carter doubled through and began closing the gap when his pocket 9s beat McMahon's pocket treys. He took the lead a dozen hands later when McMahon bet 500,000 into an 800,000 pot with a board of 9-7-Q-K, and then folded when Carter came over the top all in. On the final hand, the flop came 3-2-7. McMahon, getting low, moved in with A-J. Carter, holding J-7, called with top pair, winning when a deuce turned and a three rivered.

McMahon, settling for second, is a 33-year-old poker player from Tacoma, Washington playing for 15 years. His various cashes include a 14th in Omaha hi-lo at the WSOP in 2001.