The 2009 Bayou Poker Challenge has now crossed the midway point.  The 11th of twenty scheduled gold ring events was completed today at Harrah’s New Orleans.  The $300 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament attracted a strong field of 323 entries for the two-day competition.

The tournament winner was Chris Tipper.  He is a 23-year-old graduate of Marshall University and currently lives in Huntington, WV.  Tipper started the final table as one of the biggest stacks and dominated play during the five-hour finale.

The final hand of the tournament came when runner up Johnny Stephenson tried to make a move by pushing all-in with K-6 but was called down by Tipper, holding A-2.  Neither player made a pair, which meant Tipper’s ace-high played and scooped the last pot of the tournament.

This marked Tipper’s first major live tournament victory.  He has previously cashed for big money in online tournaments.  This was his second recorded cash, after a fourth-place finish at the Wynn Classic in Las Vegas two months ago.

Tipper won first place prize money totaling $22,558.  He was also presented with a gold ring, the ultimate achievement for winning a WSOP Circuit event.

The top ten finishers were as follows:         

1st Place – Chris Tipper won his first live poker tournament, after enjoying some success in online play.  He is a graduate of Marshall University, where he played on the golf team while in college.  Tipper won a decisive victory as he was the force to be reckoned with at the final table.  One expects to see greater things from Tipper in the months and years ahead.

2nd Place – Johnny Stephenson, from Atlanta, was the runner up.  This was his first time to cash in a major poker tournament, which made his payout totaling $13,863 all the more impressive.  Stephenson is a retired art teacher.  He is also a professional artistic photographer.

3rd Place – Michael Huckman was the third-place finisher.  He is a police officer from Spring, TX.  This marked his first time to cash in a major poker tournament.

4th Place – Paula Halata came close to becoming the third female to win a gold ring in the five-year history of WSOP Circuits in New Orleans.  She was also en route to coming the first female multi-gold ring winner, since she won an open event at Harrah’s Tunica in January.  However, she went card dead late on day two and ended up in fourth place.  Halata, a lab technician from Houston, now has four cashes and three final table appearances on her tournament resume – all within the past year.

5th Place – If anyone has a high-pressure job, it is Quentin Stephens.  He works in a nuclear power plant.  The 32-year-old test engineer finished fifth place in this event, his first time to cash in a major tournament.

6th Place – Bobby “Spider” Henderson took sixth place.  He is a retired electrician from Metairie, LA.  This was Spider’s first WSOP Circuit final table appearance.  However, he previously cashed two times at the WSOP in Las Vegas.

7th Place – Ken Hall, from Cabot, AR was the seventh-place finisher.  He works in sales.  Prior to making this final table, Hall had cashed four times at local events in his area and won one tournament.  Hall, a proud veteran who served in the U.S. Army, is married and has four children.

8th Place –  Joseph “Sly” Sylvester has been making a smooth transition from backgammon to poker.  Sylvester, who is 47 years-old and from St. Louis, is a top-ranked backgammon player, having won numerous honors – including 3 team championships, 1 national title, and an astounding 22 state championship events.  He did not go quite so far at this final table, but did end up with an eighth-place finish.  This was Sly’s tenth time to cash in a major poker tournament.

9th Place – Donald R. Veloz, Jr. made it to the final table, but he was the first to be eliminated.  He is a 25-year-old poker dealer from Katy, TX.  This was his third time to cash on the WSOP Circuit, and second final table appearance.

 

Notable Players Who Finished In-the-Money – John L. Sullivan cashed for the second time at this year’s Bayou series, taking 25th place.  Sullivan won a gold ring at Caesars Indiana back in 2006.  Brian Belle finished in 31st place.  He won his first gold ring earlier this week in Event #6.