Goonin It Up
Internet Poker Pro from Minneapolis Overcomes John Gerasimov
 in See-Saw Heads-Up Match of Bad Beats

Another Big Turnout Shows at WSOP Circuit Event at Caesars Atlantic City

Every poker player suffers bad beats. What differentiates the great players from those who are merely good is the ability to recover from them. Other then learning advanced skills, perhaps the single greatest attribute of a winning poker player is maintaining emotional self-control and always playing your absolute best game, even when the cards are not cooperating.
Late in the most recent World Series of Poker Circuit tournament played at Caesars Atlantic City, Dan Goonin took a bad beat. After losing most of his chips on the key hand, it appeared he would probably finish as the runner up.  But instead, Goonin continued to focus on victory, patiently waited for the right opportunities, and gradually wore his opponent down and regained the chip lead, eventually conquering his final foe, and ultimately winning his first major live tournament after several years spent tooling his game on the Internet.
In fact, soon after Goonin was dealt a bad beat, he somehow managed returned the favor – with interest piled on for pain and suffering.  Goonin found himself all-in at the final stage of the tournament and needed to catch a miracle three-outer to survive.  He managed to do just that -- and then proceeded to go on to victory, seemingly immune to the financial and emotional roller coaster of it all. 
The $300 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament attracted 619 entries, which generated $185,700 in total prize money.  The top 63 players collected payouts.  All of the action took place over a two-day period inside the Palladium Ballroom, only steps away from the famous Atlantic City boardwalk.
When final table play began on day two, John Gerasimov enjoyed a sizable chip advantage over the final ten players.  He had a quarter of the total chips in play.  Eventual winner Dan Goonin was ranked third in chips.  During the four-hour finale, Gerasimov was the chip leader perhaps 80 percent of the time.  However, Goonin made the late charge and took first place.  Players were eliminated in the following order:

10th Place – A few hands into play, a huge hand took place when short-stacked Mark Polis was dealt A-Q.  He moved all-in.  Chip leader John Gerasimov flat called with A-10.  Then, George Mieczkowski woke up in the big blind with A-K and re-raised all-in.  Gerasimov reluctantly called the extra 100,000.  Mieczkowski was clearly in the best spot with the dominant hand and he appeared ready to nearly triple up.  However a ten flopped (matching Gerasimov’s A-10), crushing Mieczkowski.  A queen on the river blocked what might have been a double elimination, and Polis took the main pot with top pair (queens).  Gerasimov dragged the side pot (with tens).  And poor George Mieczkowsski, from northern New Jersey had to settle for a tenth-lace payout totaling $2,042.
9th Place – Gerasimov enjoyed more good fortune a few hands later when he moved all-in with A-Q and was called by Taylor B. Williams (with A-9) after the flop came A-7-6.  Two blanks on the turn and river gave Gerasimov top pair with best kicker and another 150,000 in chips.  Meanwhile, Williams went out in ninth place.  The 22-year-old student from North Carolina collected $3,714.
8th Place – Charles Kerstetter took a tough beat when he moved all-in with 10-10.  He was primed to double up after the flop came J-J-6.  But an ace on the turn and another ace on the river gave Dan Goonin (holding A-9) a full house.  Kerstetter, an engineer from Williamsport, PA received a payout totaling $5,571.
7th Place – Mark Polis was down to about 200,000 in chips and tried to make a move with K-Q.  He raised all-in, but Gerasimov insta-called and tabled pocket aces.  Polis was nearly drawing dead from the start and ended up losing to trip aces.  This marked Polis’ third time to cash in a WSOP Circuit event and was his second final table appearance.  The 42-year-old assets manager from Deptford, NJ earned $7,428 for seventh place.
6th Place – Gerasimov had factored in the elimination of three of the first four bust-outs.  Next, it was Bob Lauria’s turn to play the role of dragon.  Wayne Hassell was down to 180,000 in chips and moved all-in with Q-J suited, hoping to steal a round of blinds and antes.  Bob Lauria had around 200,000 left and also moved all-in with pocket sixes.  Big-stacked Gerasimov called and showed A-Q.  On the turn, the board showed 10-5-4-2.  Lauria still had the best hand with a pair of sixes.  Then, a 3 came on the river which temporarily confused Gerasimov, who announced “I have a straight!”  Lauria, excited at the prospect of tripling up shouted back, “Yeah, and I have a higher straight!”  Indeed, Lauria’s 6 played and scooped the monster-sized pot.  That put a crack in Gerasimov’s chip castle and knocked Wayne Hassell out in sixth place.  The North Carolina poker player received $9,285 in prize money.
5th Place – A short time later, Dzianis Satsukevich moved all-in pre-flop with pocket fives.  Kevin Crumlish, who had played somewhat conservatively up to that point, went into the tank for a full three minutes.  He finally called and tabled A-Q.  In a classic race (a pair versus two overcards), Crumlish caught a queen on the flop and won the hand with two pair.  Satsukevich, who was born in Belarus and now owns an air-duct cleaning service, collected $11,142 for fifth place.
4th Place – After the four survivors agreed to a deal (terms were not disclosed), a big three-way showdown took place between Bob Lauria, Dan Goonin, and John Gerasimov.   Lauria hoped to triple up.  Be he missed everything and busted out in fourth place, paying $12,999.  Lauria, a poker pro from Connecticut, now has twenty cashes at major tournaments, all since 2005.  He took third place in the Seven-Card Stud High-Low championship last year at the WSOP in Las Vegas.  He has also cashed twice in the WSOP Main Event.
3rd Place – Next, Kevin Crumlish took a horrible beat and busted out in third place.  He moved all-in with the dominant hand, pocket jacks versus Dan Goonin’s pocket tens.  Then -- kaboom!  A ten flopped.  Crumlish went from massive favorite to monster dog.  Crumlish failed to catch a jack and ended up with an official payout of $14,856.  Previously, Crumlish came in second place in a WSOP Circuit event at Harrah’s Atlantic City. 
2nd Place – When heads-up play began, Goonin enjoyed a slight chip advantage.  Then, both players each took bad beats which shifted the chips back and forth.  First, Gerasimov faced an excruciating call on the turn, and ended up catching a break on the river to drag the biggest pot of the two-day event.  Gerasimov had J-9 and was staring down at a board showing A-Q-J-3, with three diamonds.  Gerasimov had a pair and the nine of diamonds.  Groonin was holding A-2 and had top pair, with no flush draw.  Gerasimov was hoping for a diamond.  Instead, he caught a nine and made two pair – jacks and nines. 
A few hands later, Gerasimov was just one card away from winning the tournament, holding A-Q over Goonin’s A-J.  But then a jack flopped, killing the early celebration.  What a huge break catching the jack turned out to be.  In fact, the A-J over A-Q miracle changed everything.
Goonin won the tournament twenty minutes later holding 7-6 offsuit, which faded Gerasimov’s heart draw.  Gonnin had flopped middle pair (with sevens) and called his opponent’s all-in semi-bluff after the flop.  Two hearts on board gave Gerasimov a flush draw.  But the last two cards were black, which eliminated Gerasimov and ended the tournament.  The runner up was John Gerasimov, a 35-year-old banker from Astoria (Queens), NY.  His official payout amounted to $26,926.  He only started playing poker last year, so this was quite an impressive showing.
1st Place – Goonin is a 24-year-old poker pro from Minneapolis, MN.  He plays poker mostly online.  In fact, this marked his first time ever to cash in a live poker tournament.  The former soccer-coach-turned poker player collected and official payout amounting to $83,955.  Goonin was also presented with the coveted gold ring, which is awarded to all WSOP Circuit champions at this year’s Caesars series.
With five events now completed at Caesars Atlantic City, the WSOP Circuit series has nearly reached its midway point.  Tournaments continue through March 14th.  The three-day championship event will begin on March 12th.