It’s intimidating enough to sit down at the final table of a major poker tournament and play for what amounts to thousands of dollars in prize money. But when the player is making his first-ever final table appearance in a World Series of Poker-related event, the pressure is even more so. Complicate matters by giving the player the lowest stack at the table and the task ahead might seem daunting, if not impossible.
But Adam Hannula wasn’t intimidated. He didn’t feel pressure. He wasn’t even concerned by having the fewest chips of any of the final nine players. Hannula simply played his best game, made wise strategic decisions, and then outlasted and ultimately pulled off the biggest upset of any player at this year’s WSOP Circuit series at Harrah’s Rincon. Hannula, a 26-year-old business owner booked a win worth $14,185. He was also presented with a gold ring, the ultimate prize given out on the WSOP Circuit.
The $300 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament won by Hannula attracted 195 entries, generating $56,754 in prize money. The top 18 players collected payouts. In an interesting anomaly, three of the top ten finishers were from Omaha, Nebraska. All had come to Rincon separately, yet managed to take three of the top money spots. All the action took place over a two-day period inside the Rincon Pavilion Showroom.
After 186 players were eliminated on the first day, nine survivors took their seats at the final table. David Kruger, visiting Rincon from his home in Missouri, started day two with the chip lead. The top nine finishers were:
9th Place – Just a few hands into action, Michael Hook busted out when he made top pair, but ended up losing to trip jacks. Hook was dealt Q-8. He moved all-in after the turn showed Q-J-2-J. But Nick Manganaro had J-8, good for three jacks – which scooped the sizable early pot. Hook, who works as a police sergeant in El Cajon, CA, was playing in his first WSOP event ever. He collected $1,702 for ninth place, a nice start to his poker tournament career.
8th Place – Three hands later, Stacy Kimbrel became the next tourney casualty when he moved his short-stack in with A-5 suited against Thomas Hover’s A-Q suited. Kimbrel’s hand was dominated from the start and failed to improve, which meant an eighth-place finish for the poker dealer from Omaha, NE. Kimbrel received a payout totaling $2,270.
7th Place – Five minutes later, Thao “Scratch” Thiem was scratched-off the final table faster than a losing lottery ticket when he lost two consecutive pots. First, Thiem lost much of his stack to Hannula. Then, he busted out holding K-4 against David Kruger’s K-Q when the higher hole cards played and scooped the pot. Thiem, who has made 12 final tables at various tournaments over the past year and has over $100,000 in prize money earnings, added $2,837 to his poker bankroll.
6th Place – David Kruger suffered a miserable hour at the final table. The early chip leader never seemed able to generate the momentum needed to close out victory. First, Kruger got trapped for most of his chips when he tried to steal a pot, which was snapped called by Yasha Terlissi -- who just so happened to be sitting on the stone-cold nuts. Terlissi had A-Q of diamonds and could hardly contain his delight when three diamonds flopped. Joy turned to ecstasy when Kruger moved all-in hoping to steal the pot. Terlissi feasted on Kruger’s aggression like a starving wolf, which left the early chip leader with the lowest stack. He went out a few hands later. Kruger, who has made four previous WSOP Circuit final tables including a second-place finish earlier this year at Council Bluffs (Iowa), earned $3,405 for sixth place.
5th Place – Thomas Hover came to the final table with the most experience of any player. He seized the chip lead early but lost a heartbreaking race holding Q-Q against A-K (an ace flopped) which very likely ruined his chances for victory. Hover then went out holding A-5 against Hannula’s A-K. Hover, who has 30 cashes in major tournaments (all since 2006), including eight in-the-money finishes in WSOP-related events collected $3,972 for fifth place.
4th Place – Play tightened up considerably when play became four-handed. In fact, the quartet battled for an hour before the next elimination. That came when Yasha Terlissi moved all-win with A-Q suited and was called by Hannula, holding pocket nines. The middle pair held up, which knocked Terlissi out in fourth place. The project manager from Toronto, Ontario received $4,767.
3rd Place – Steven Monheim went out in third place when he moved all-in with K-Q against Hannula’s A-Q. Monheim’s hand was dominated and he failed to improve, which ended the tournament for the 24-year-old poker player. Monheim, from Pittsburgh, PA, received $5,675 in prize money.
2nd Place – When heads-up play began, Hannula enjoyed a 3 to 2 chip advantage over Manganaro. The players battled for about a dozen hands during which Manganaro seized the chip lead. Then, the most decisive hand of the tournament took place when Hannula got all his money in with pocket nines, against Manganaro’s pocket queens. It couldn’t get much better than that for Manganaro, holding a dominant overpair. But a nine on the flop was a dramatic reversal of fortune for both players. Hannula caught his magic card (good for trip nines), which left Manganaro low on chips.
The final hand of the tournament was even more brutal for Manganaro. He moved all-in with pocket jacks. Hannula called the raise and tabled Q-10. As though he could do no wrong in the finale, the final board showed K-10-8-7-A, giving Hannula a straight. The event was over and while Hannula received applause and congratulations from well-wishers, Manganaro walked the death plank to a disappointing second-place finish. The 27-year-old poker pro from America’s heartland in Omaha, NE received $9,079.
1st Place – The tournament winner was Adam Hannula, who lives in San Diego. He has previously cashed in a few small tournaments in the area. But this marked his biggest payday ever and his first victory. Hannula is a graduate on the University of San Diego, where he played both college football and basketball. In fact, he says he loves sports. While his alma mater continues to enjoyed mixed success on the court and the gridiron, Hannula ultimately won his own championship – playing poker.
With seven events now completed at Harrah’s Rincon, the tournament has now attracted more than 3,393 entries and has awarded in excess of 765,745 in total prize money. Still to come are six more events and three nightly daily double tournaments which begin at 4 pm. The WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s Rincon continues through April 1st.