J.R. Shoots Back!

Last year, Caesars Atlantic City was the first World Series of Poker Circuit event ever to offer what is called “Turbo No-Limit Hold’em.”  The concept proved so popular with poker players that two such events were included on this year’s schedule.

Turbo No-Limit Hold’em involves a normally-structured poker tournament, but with shorter rounds.  In the turbo format, each round lasts only twenty minutes (instead of up to an hour for the most recent conventional tournament).  Players are also given less time to act on their hands.  If the clock is called on a player facing a decision, he/she is only given 30 seconds, instead of a full minute.  The tournament is particularly attractive to players who cannot invest more than a day (or many hours) in one tournament, since the start to finish is completed within a single day.

The $200 buy-in one-day turbo tournament attracted 525 entries, which generated $105,000 in prize money – minus the ($10,300) entry fees for the top two finishers in this event, who will play in tomorrow’s championship event.  The top 54 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.

The top five finishers were:


5th Place – Jim Governa, a 63-year-old municipal worker from Richboro, PA.  He has cashed previously in other WSOP-related events.  The married father of two, with two grandchildren collected $5,682 for fifth place.

4th Place – Brigante Per Sempre, a 34-year-old restaurant owner from New York City.  Fourth place paid $6,629.

3rd Place – Chris Biondino, a 24-year-old student and poker player from Baldwin, NJ.  He finished in sixth place in a WSOP Circuit event at Caesars three years ago.  He plays mostly online and watched his friend Brian Fitzpatrick with the first event at this year’s Ceasars series.  Biondino received $7,576 for third place.

2nd Place – When heads-up play began, J.R. Reyes enjoyed about a 2 to 1 chip lead over Andrew “the Vulture” Sleefe.  The rivals battled for about a dozen hands when the final confrontation took place.  Sleefe was dealt A-Q and moved all-in.  Reyes called with A-K.  A queen flopped, putting Sleefe temporarily in the lead.  But a king fell on the river, giving Reyes a pair of kings.  He dragged the final pot of the night and was declared the winner.  The runner up was Andrew “the Vulture” Sleefe.  He is a 22-year-old student from Massapequa, NY.  Second place paid $14,489.  Sleefe also received a buy-in to main event, valued at $5,150.

1st Place –  The winner of the first Turbo No-Limit Hold’em tournament at Caesars (Event #8) was J.R. Reyes from Fort Washington, MD.  He is a 24-year-old valet parker, who works at Tysons Corner, in Virginia.  His official first-prize payout amounted to $27,463.  He also received a buy-in into the $5,000 championship event, which starts tomorrow.  Reyes was also presented with the coveted gold ring, which is awarded to all WSOP Circuit champions at this year’s Caesars series.

Incredibly, Reyes was down to just three chips (3,000) at one point at the final table.  That paltry sum amounted to less than one percent of the chips in play.  But Reyes doubled up several times and managed to pull off a dramatic comeback en route to his first tournament win ever.

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 competition, and the Main Event.  The WSOP Circuit at Caesars continues through March 14th.