The story of Frank Calo’s first live poker tournament victory began at home on his personal computer.  By his estimation, Calo plays about 750 poker tournaments online each month.  Many of those tournaments are smaller events, including sit-n-gos.  But the inestimable variety of poker situations Calo has faced on his computer screen has paid off handsomely, to the tune of a first-place cash prize totaling $96,100 and a World Series of Poker Circuit gold ring.

The seventh of 11 scheduled events at the World Series of Poker Circuit concluded today at Caesars Atlantic City.  This was unquestionably the most interesting final table played so far of any of the preliminary events.  The finale had great drama, interesting personalities, and lots of exciting poker action which lasted nearly eight hours – the longest of any tournament at Caesars to date.

The winner Frank Calo is a 21-year-old college student.  He is currently attending Syracuse University, in New York.  Calo admits that he has taken a semester off from school.  But he plans to return to his studies soon.  Before he’s back in the classroom, one expects to see Calo in other poker tournaments, and perhaps making final tables.

The $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament attracted 310 entries, which generated $310,000 in prize money – the most of any event held so far.  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.

Attendance was boosted significantly by the participation of many players visiting from Canada, particularly Quebec.  Forty-five members of the Gestion Poker Tour entered this event and three finished in-the-money.  One player, Benoit Robichaud made it all the way to the final table where arrived second in chips.  He ended up finishing in second place.  Every year, the Gestion Poker Tour selects up to four major tournament destinations for its members – with Caesars Atlantic City on this year’s schedule.

When final table play began on day two, Calo enjoyed a slight chip advantage over Robichaud -- with the remaining eight players all within striking distance.  It seemed any player’s tournament to win, especially since two of the players were former WSOP Circuit champions -- Chris Reslock and Rick Rossetti.  But in the end, it was Calo and Robichaud battling for the gold ring.  Players were eliminated in the following order:

 

10th Place – A few hands into play, Benoit Robichaud seized the chip lead on a key hand where he moved all-in, but was not called.  Half an hour later, he busted Dwight Eley in tenth place.  On the hand Robichaud was dealt pocket queens against Eley’s pocket jacks.  The higher pair held up, which meant Eley was eliminated as the shorter stack.  Eley, who is a semi-professional bowler and owns a sporting goods shop in North Carolina, collected $3,720 in prize money.

9th Place – Rick Rossetti took a tough beat when he was all-in with pocket tens against Theodore Ely’s A-7.  Just when it appeared Rossetti would double up, an ace on the river gave Ely a higher pair and busted out Rossetti in ninth place.  Rossetti, who won the $5,000 buy-in WSOP Circuit championship held at Harrah’s Atlantic City in 2006 and now had more than $600,000 in lifetime tournament winnings, added $6,200 to his poker bankroll.

8th Place – No doubt the worst beat of any tournament held thus far at Caesars took place about 90 minutes into the action when Al Hoffman moved all-win with pocket kings and was called by Frank Calo, holding A-J.  The flop came K-5-2, all but ending Calo’s chances of scooping the 400,000 pot.  But just as it seemed all hope was gone, a 4 on the turn opened the door for Calo, who suddenly had four outs to make a straight.  Kaboom!  A 3 fell on the river, completing an ace-to-five straight for Calo.  Hoffman, who had flopped top set (kings), stated that he had never suffered a worse beat – a sentiment completely understood by most of the crowd who watched in shock.  Hoffman, a general manager who has made a final table on the World Poker Tour, received $9,300 for eighth place.

7th Place – Jeff Papola was low on chips and tried to steal a round of blinds and antes with an all-in pre-flop raise.  Bob Lauria called the raise with pocket fives.  The small pair ended up making a full house, which eliminated Papola in seventh place.  The student and poker player from New York City now has over $1.2 million in tournament winnings, including a third-place finish in the Aruba Poker Classic championship event.  Papola received a payout totaling $12,400.

6th Place – One of the biggest hands of the tournament took place in a three-way pot between Bob Lauria, Jon Iacovelli, and Chris Reslock.  Lauria was all-in with A-2, but got called by Iacovelli with A-K and Reslock with 8-8.  The flop came with an eight, giving Reslock a set of eights.  The big hand held up, which put Lauria out in sixth place.  Lauria was one of only two players at this year’s Caesar’s series to make two final table appearances (Chris Reslock was the other).  He took fourth place in Event #5.  This time, Lauria’s share of the prize pool amounted to $15,500.

5th Place – The three-way pot which eliminated Lauria left Jon Iacovelli desperately low on chips.  A few hands after losing most of his stack, he doubled up twice and was back in contention.  Tournament veteran Chris Reslock was not so lucky.  Striving for his fourth WSOP Circuit gold ring in just five years, Reslock’s chances were undercut by Benoit Robichaud.  Reslock moved all-in with pocket fives, which turned out to be the wrong move at the wrong time, since Robichaud woke up with pocket aces.  The rockets held up and blasted Reslock off the final table in fifth place.  Reslock, who won a WSOP gold bracelet two years ago, received $18,600 in what amounted to his second final table appearance at this year’s Ceasars series.

4th Place – Iacovelli went out next when he moved all-in holding pocket sevens, which lost to a pair of nines.  The 26-year-old furniture delivery man from Philadelphia took home $21,700 in prize money.  Iacovelli wanted to point out that he became a proud uncle yesterday and wanted to dedicate his finish to the family’s newest member. “Michael Dino Oacovelli.”

3rd Place – A few hands later, Theodore Ely went bust when he was all-win with A-J versus Frank Calo’s A-Q.  A queen on the turn left Ely drawing dead.  The 30-year-old poker player from Brooklyn, NY settled for third place, which paid $24,800.

2nd Place – When heads-up play began, Frank Calo enjoyed about a 2 to 1 chip lead over Benoit Robichaud.  The rivals battled for about a dozen hands before Robichaud took the chip lead with a set, versus Calo’s two pair.  But Calo fought his way back and gradually regained the chip lead.  The final hand of the tournament came when Calo flopped a straight and Robichaud missed a flush draw, resulting in the 21-year-old taking the top prize.  As the runner up, Beroit Robichaud received a whopping $49,600 in prize money.  The amount won was certainly impressive considering that Robichaud invested exactly two dollars to play in this event.  He won a series of satellite events via the Gestion Poker Tour to gain his entry into this tournament.

1st Place – Frank Calo is pursuing a degree in information technology at Syracuse.  The 21-year-old student certainly has a bright future ahead.  He says he plans to play in more tournaments, but will continue to concentrate on online poker.

With seven events now completed at Caesars, the tournament has now attracted more than 4,000 entries and has awarded in excess of $1.7 million in total prize money.  Still to come are the ladies championship, the Turbo No-Limit Hold’em competition, and the Main Event.  The WSOP Circuit at Caesars continues through March 14th.