Turning Up the A.C.

If any player has paid his dues on the tournament trail, it is Ronnie Kevin.  The 46-year-old poker pro from Mays Landing, NJ cashed for the first time ten years ago at the United States Poker Championship in Atlantic City. Since then, the former limo driver has finished in-the-money 35 times at major events, and has won victories at the 2005 Trump Classic and the 2006 World Poker Finals.

Kevin (real name:  Souvanh Vilayvanh) won the latest World Series of Poker Circuit event held at Caesars Atlantic City.  It was the sixth of 11 scheduled events.  The $500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament attracted 329 entries, which generated $164,500 in prize money.  The top 36 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.

Most of the field was eliminated on day one.  When final table play began on day two, college student Lior Rennert enjoyed a sizable chip advantage over his rivals.  However, Rennert did not last long.  He busted out less than an hour into play.  During much of the three-hour finale, Ronnie Kevin and Hermen Correia, who would come in second, dominated play and enjoyed chip advantages.  When play became three-handed, the survivors agreed to a deal, although the tournament was played to a conclusion which determined the winner of the coveted top prize, the WSOP Circuit gold ring.  Players were eliminated in the following order:

10th Place – Montreal’s Pierre Martel was the first player to exit.  The President of the Gestion Poker Tour and owner of Royal Poker magazine went out unceremoniously in tenth place when he was desperately low on chips and tried to steal a round of blinds and antes with Q-10.  Ronnie Kevin called the raise with pocket fives.  The small pair held up, which meant Martel was out.  Martel, who brought along 45 players from Quebec to play in this WSOP Circuit event, ended up with $1,974 in prize money.

9th Place – The next key hand resulted in the elimination of two players.  Dennis Levi was dealt K-J.  Lior Rennert was dealt A-Q.  Hermen Correia was dealt the K-Q of spades.  After the flop showed Q-10-5 with two spades, two players were all in.  Correia’s bigger stack had both of his opponents covered and when a third spade hit on the river, he scooped a monster-sized pot, became the chip leader, and knocked out two dangerous players.  As the player lowest in chips when he was eliminated, Dennis Levi took ninth place.  Levi, who has made final tables at the World Poker Tour, U.S. Poker Championships, and the Wynn Classic, received $3,290 for ninth place.

8th Place – Lior Rennert began the final table with high hopes.  But the early chip leader suffered a miserable 45 minutes of misfortune.  He lost the chip lead early and then busted out, although he did have the best hand when all of his chips were committed.  The Israeli-born college student who is attending Penn State University, earned $4,935 for eighth place. 

7th Place – Next, Dick Bunting took a horrible beat and went out in seventh place.  He was dealt K-9 and was all-in against Ronnie Kevin’s Q-J.  Neither player had a pair after the turn, which meant Bunting’s king was the high card.  But a jack on the river gave Kevin a pair, and bunting was sacrificed.  Bunting, the 49-year-old owner of a moving company in Williamsburg, VA, collected $6,580.

6th Place – Larry Goldstein tangled with Terry “T-Bone” Davis a few hands during which the rivals exchanged chips.  But “T-Bone” won the hand that mattered most when he had A-K to Goldstein’s A-Q and had his opponent covered.  “T-Bone” caught a king on the turn which left Goldstein drawing dead to a sixth-place finish.  Goldstein, one of the top fantasy football minds in the world (he was one of the marketing director of fantasy sports at The Sporting News before turning to poker as a full-time profession) collected $8,225 in prize money.  Goldstein has several other major cashes, including at the WSOP in Las Vegas.

5th Place – A few minutes later, John Alfera was low on chips and moved all-in with J-10 after the flop showed K-10-8.  He had second pair.  But Ronnie Kevin had K-Q, which was good for top pair.  Kevin’s kings held up.  As the fifth-place finisher, Alfera, a financial advisor from Pittsburgh, added $9,870 to his investment portfolio.

4th Place – Doug Cressi was the shortest stack of the final four players.  He moved all-in on what turned out to be his final hand with Q-10.  Herman Correia called with the A-4 of clubs.  Cressi flopped an inside straight draw as K-9-5 appeared.  But running clubs gave Correia the nut flush, which eliminated Cressi.  The former electrician-turned-poker pro received a payout totaling $11,515.

3rd Place – When play became three-handed, the remaining players agreed to a financial settlement.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed.  The tournament continued and Terry C. Davis, a.k.a. “T-Bone” took third place.  The plumber from South Carolina received an official payout of $13,160.

2nd Place – The runner up was Hermen Carreia.  The construction supervisor from Long Branch, NJ had an interesting two days while this tournament was being played.  When the tournament was not being played, Carreia was at his job, which involved building new siding for homes.  He later admitted he had not slept in two days. Despite the lack of rest, Carreia managed to play some great poker and accepted second place, amounting to $26,320 in prize money.

1st Place – The winner was Ronnie Kevin.  His official payout amounted to $50,995.  Kevin was also presented with a gold ring, which is awarded to all WSOP Circuit champions at this year’s Caesars series.  Kevin has enjoyed success at previous Circuit events.  He cashed at Harrah’s Atlantic City, Caesars Indiana, and the WSOP in Las Vegas.

With six events completed at Caesars, the tournament has now crossed the midway point.  Still to come are the ladies championship, the Turbo No-Limit competition, and the Main Event.  The WSOP Circuit continues through March 14th.