Big Day in the Big Easy

Day one began with a bang.  The first event of the 2009 Bayou Poker Challenge attracted a whopping 572 players, making it the largest turnout at Harrah’s New Orleans for a World Series of Poker Circuit tournament in more than two years.  In fact, the $300 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event was the sixth-largest tournament in New Orleans history, since Harrah’s began hosting major poker tournaments.  Event #2 was the second of two scheduled gold ring events which began on the first day.  The Omaha High-Low Split tournament started at 5 pm drew a more modest-sized field of 81 entries.

The tournament winner was Robert Campbell, a.k.a. “RBC.”  He is a 42-year-old professional poker player from Miami, FL.  Campbell is originally from California.

Campbell started the final table third in chips out of the nine survivors.  His main adversary was Victor Iemolo, another Floridian who ended up as the runner up.  Iemolo had the chip lead when play was three-handed, but Campbell enjoyed a late flurry of cards which propelled him to victory.

Campbell is a longtime veteran of tournament poker.  His first cash came back in 1993.  Since then, Campbell has cashed 27 times.  Most of Campbell’s finishes were in lower buy-in tournaments.  However, he has also previously cashed twice at the WSOP, both which occurred in Omaha High-Low Split events.  Campbell now has five wins on his tournament resume, including victories at The Orleans in Las Vegas and the California State Poker Championships in Los Angeles.  This was his first time to cash in New Orleans.

Campbell won first place prize money totaling $8,485.  He was also presented with a gold ring, the ultimate achievement for winning a WSOP Circuit event. 

The top nine finishers were as follows:

1st Place – Robert Campbell, a 42-year-old poker pro from Miami, FL won his fifth major tournament.  Incredibly, all of his wins have been in Omaha High-Low Tournaments.  This marked Campbell’s first WSOP Circuit victory.

2nd Place – Vittario “Victor” Iemolo was the runner up.  He is a 44-year-old poker player originally from New York who now lives in Sarasota, FL.  This was Iemolo’s third cash in a major tournament, which includes an in-the-money finish at the 2006 WSOP.

3rd Place – Thomas Witherspoon ended up in third place.  Three-handed play lasted for nearly two hours, with Witherspoon finishing as the third leg of the trifecta.  Witherspoon, a dentist from Baton Rouge, LA has several previous cashes, including three in-the-money finishes at WSOP Circuit events in Tunica.  He also made a final table at the Bayou Poker Challenge last year.  Witherspoon won a tournament at the Scotty Nguyen Poker Challenge in 2006.

4th Place – David Moyer, an attorney from the New Orleans suburbs, took fourth place.  He began play on day two as one of the larger stacks.  But Moyer went card dead late and ended up disbarred from the finale.  This marked Moyer’s third time to cash in a major tournament.  He cashed at the WSOP last year.  Moyer also finished in the money in the first ever Bayou Poker Challenge, held in 2004.  Moyer wanted to add that he is known as the official “Beer Commissioner.”  He can be seen online at:

5th Place – J.R. Hamilton was one of the final table’s most interesting players.  He is a clinical psychologist and doctoral student originally from Baton Rouge, LA now living in San Francisco.  Hamilton’s dissertation is on emotional processing, via facial and vocal responses.  Hamilton’s background in psychology and visual clues paid off nicely, as he made it all the way to a fifth-place finish in this tournament.  Hamilton previously cashed at poker events in California and some online tournaments.

6th Place – Janie Martinez, a former senior buyer from La Porte, TX who is now retired, finished in sixth place.  She started off with an average-sized stack but went out about two hours into the final table.  Martinez is married and has four children.  This was Martinez’ first time to cash in a poker tournmanet.

7th Place – Rusty Moss, a cash game pro from Huntsville, TX locked up seventh place.  Moss says he is in the midst of making a transition from playing exclusively in cash games and intends to play in more tournaments.  He previously finished in the money at the Oklahoma State Poker Championship.  This was Moss’ first time to cash in a WSOP Circuit event.

8th Place – Ian Crozier came in as the lowest stack and went out in eighth place.  He is a database specialist from Gretna, LA.  This marked Crozier’s first time to cash in a major tournament.

9th Place – Brad Millar survived day one and arrived at the final table with an average stack.  But he ended up as the first player to bust out, resulting in a ninth-place finish.  Millar is from Roseville, IL and works in sales.  This was Millar’s first recorded cash in a major tournament.