The 14th of twenty scheduled gold ring events was completed at Harrah’s New Orleans. The $300 buy-in Pot Limit Omaha High/Low tournament was the first of its kind held in New Orleans. The new event, which has become a popular online game, attracted a strong field of 114 entries for the two-day competition.
The tournament winner was Keith Ezykowich, from Gulfport, MS. He is a professional poker player who started playing full-time last October. Prior to playing for a living, Ezykowich worked as an executive at the Palace Casino in Biloxi, MS, which was closed permanently after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. In fact, Ezykowich was hit hard by the disaster. He, his wife, and their three children suffered terrible losses from the storm. But today was a cause for celebration for the 39-year-old pro, who is originally from Brooklyn, NY.
Ezykowich started the final table with an average-sized stack. But he gradually moved to the front of the pack and took the chip lead when the final hand was dealt. Ezykowich had A-2-5-7 and made a straight when the final board showed 9-8-8-Q-6.
This marked Ezykowich’s first major tournament victory. He previously made it to the final table of a Seven-Card Stud event here two years ago. Ezykowich won first place prize money totaling $8,791. He was also presented with a gold ring, the ultimate achievement for winning a WSOP Circuit event. The top ten in-the-money finishers were as follows:
1st Place – Keith Ezykowich, a 39-year-old poker pro from Gulfport, MS picked up his first major win. He bounced back from suffering tremendous loss in Hurricane Katrina four years ago. Prior to turning pro Ezykowich worked in the casino industry the previous 15 years, including a stint as the Poker Room Manager at the Palace Casino in Biloxi.
2nd Place – The runner up was Anthony Bertuccio, from Coral Springs, FL. He is a 22-year-old student who has cashed in online tournaments, but never in a live event until today.
3rd Place – Anthony Douglas, from Chester, SC finished in third palce. He is a 39-year-old computer programmer, who has three sons and coaches football and baseball in his free time. This marked Douglas’ first time to cash.
4th Place – Alton Torregano, a student from New Orleans, cashed for the first time in a major tournament. He took fourth place.
5th Place – Mitchell Smith, a poker pro from Cape Coral, FL ended up as the fifth-place finisher. Smith now has a dozen cashes on his tournament resume, including an in-the-money finish in last year’s WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas.
6th Place – Longtime tournament veteran Brent Carter, from Oak Park, IL went out in sixth place. Carter is a two-time WSOP gold bracelet winner. He also has 48 cashes in WSOP play, including 11 Omaha-related final tables, the most of any player in history. Carter, who has begun playing regularly on the WSOP Circuit seems a favorite to become the first gold ring/gold bracelet winner, but he will have a wait a bit longer after coming close setting the milestone in this tournament.
7th Place – Michael Scherer, a self-described grinder from Shelby, MS finishes seventh. This was his first time to cash in a live major event.
8th Place – Thomas “Cotton” Elliott got picked, and ended up finishing in eighth place. Elliott, a former vet who is now a gold pro in Carrollton, GA now has three WSOP Circuit cashes, after two previous in-the-money finishes at Harrah’s Tunica.
9th Place – Goeff Bouvier made it to the final table, but was the first player to be eliminated. The writer from San Diego, who published an award-winning book on poetry and starts teaching at UC-Berkeley in the fall, took ninth place in this event. This was his second time to cash as this year’s series, after taking tenth place in Event #10.
10th Place – Don Harris, an attorney from Cedar Park, TX cashed for the second time at this year’s series. He took tenth place.