The fifth of six gold ring events was completed today at Harrah’s New Orleans. The $500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament attracted a more modest field than the previous events, as 128 players entered the two-day competition which started on Mother’s Day.
The tournament winner was Jess Jackson, from Carthage, NC. He is a 71-year-old retiree, who plays poker recreationally. Before retiring, Jackson spent nearly 30 years working in politics. He managed several political campaigns and was a close advisor to a former North Carolina Democratic congressman.
Jackson started the final table with an average-sized stack. He acquired chips gradually and seized the chip lead late in the day. Jackson won the final table battle, which was completed in about four hours. The runner up was Joe Pepe, from Slidell, LA. The top two players reportedly reached a financial settlement when heads-up and agreed to play for the ring.
This marked Jackson’s first major tournament victory. He came close to victory a few times in the past. At the WSOP Circuit event at the Showboat in Atlantic City back in 2006, Jackson finished second, which paid $22,615. He has cashed two other times on the WSOP Circuit as well, both taking place at the Tunica Grand (now Harrah’s Tunica) in Mississippi.
Officially, Jackson won first place prize money totaling $20,115. He was also presented with a gold ring, the ultimate achievement for winning a WSOP Circuit event. The top nine finishers at the final table were as follows:
1st Place – Jess Jackson, a 71-year-old former political advisor is the latest WSOP Circuit champion. This marked his first major tournament victory.
2nd Place – Joe Pepe, a 49-year-old automobile finance consultant from suburban New Orleans was the runner up. A brave cancer survivor originally from Brooklyn, NY, Pepe has previously cashed at Harrah’s New Orleans. However, this marked his highest tournament finish ever.
3rd Place – The motion made by D.D. Wininger, an attorney from Birmingham, AL to remain at the final table was denied, resulting in a third-place finish. Wininger, who took fourth place at a WSOP Circuit event in Tunica back in 2006, collected $6,208 in prize money.
4th Place – John L. Sullivan, from Brunswick, OH fell short in his quest for a second gold ring victory. Sullivan, who won a WSOP Circuit event in 2006 at Caesars Indiana, went out in fourth place in this event. The electrician and semi-pro poker player is the proud father of 10 children, and seven grandchildren.
5th Place – Chris Chevalier finished in fifth place. The 23-year-old FedEx supervisor plays poker part time. This was his first recorded tournament cash, and hopefully the start of many more final table appearances yet to come.
6th Place – Bobby Toye, a student from New Orleans, took sixth place. Last year, Toye won a WSOP Circuit gold ring here in New Orleans, with a victory in the Seven-Card Stud competition. In his spare time, Toye is a fiction writer. But he could not script his own victory in this event.
7th Place – Elias Hourani achieved his highest tournament finish ever, with his seventh-place showing in this event. The structural engineer from Houston had previously cashed seven times in various majors, with in-the-money finishes at a WSOP Circuit event in Tunica and the WSOP in Las Vegas.
8th Place – Daniel Jimenez, from Kerrville, TX was eliminated about an hour into final table play. He ended up as the eighth-place finisher. This marked the first time Jimenez has cashed in a major poker tournament.
9th Place – It was a short second day for poker pro Matt “Cub” Culberson, who is one of New Orleans’ top ranked players. Culberson, the winner of a WSOP Circuit gold ring earlier this year at Horseshoe Council Bluffs (Iowa), took ninth place. He now has 26 cashes and six wins on his tournament resume, including three victories achieved within the past year.
Notable Players Who Finished In-the-Money – Longtime poker veteran Chuck Thompson, from Santa Cruz, CA finished in 17th place. Thompson first cashed back in 1984. He has 10 WSOP in-the-money finishes. Thompson also finished sixth in the WSOP Main Event in 1995, the year won by Dan Harrington.