Stateline, NV—Frankie O’Dell, is a 38-year-old pro from Denver, Colorado whose numerous cashes in his 17-year career include two WSOP bracelets in Omaha. Visiting a friend’s ranch outside Reno, he decided to visit Harveys Lake Tahoe for the first time and soak up the scenery. He couldn’t resist playing in the fifth event, $300 limit Omaha hi-lo, and had a very easy time of it.
He started fast in the tournament, came to the final table with the lead, and was never headed until the tournament ended in a three-way deal. While O’Dell plays all games and has cashes and wins in every type of event, he prefers Omaha and H.O.R.S.E. because he finds it much less stressful than no-limit.
“In no-limit, you go all in before the flop, then have to wait for five cards, and listen to guys running around screaming, ‘I got beat by a one-outer.’” His friend summed it up: “Frankie was born to play Omaha.”
The official payout for first place was $9,337. Event 5 had 107 players and a $31,070 prize pool.
Three tables were still left on day one. The final table started the next day at 6:30 p.m. with blinds of 2,500-5,000, limits 5,000-10,000 and 32 minutes left at that level. O’Dell led with 50,000 chips.
In early action, two players went all in – and all out. It was a three-way pot. Kirk Loberman was all in with A-K-10-7 and Richard Lathem had all his chips committed with A-2-8-K. O’Dell had them both covered holding A-A-J-6. Loberman missed his straight possibilities and Lathem missed his low draw when the board came 3-4-J-Q-Q, as O’Dell’s pocket aces finished them both off.
9th place: Having the least chips, Loberman ended ninth, paying $652. Loberman is 40, from San Diego and is employed in the brokerage industry. He’s played 25 years, learning from his father, and has several other Omaha/8 cashes. He also enjoys sports.
8th place: For eighth, Lathem took home $901. Lathem, 46, is a real estate investor from South Lake Tahoe, California who’s played for three years, starting in home games. His hobby is hiking.
Just as the round ended, we almost lost another player. Donna Heard was all in, up against O’Dell and Scott Dixon. With Dixon betting all the way and O’Dell calling, it looked like it was all over for Heard. Instead, after the board came 8c-Jd-Kd-3d-6s, Heard turned up A-2 and diamonds for a nut-nut hand to triple up.
7h place: Blinds were now 3,000-6,000 and limits 6,000-12,000. The almost-vanquished became the victor on the next hand. This time it was William “Computer Bill” Bertram who was all in with A-4-5-7. The board came K-J-6-5-4. Heard, with a premium hand of A-2-3-4, took both ends with a nut low and 6-high straight as Bertram went out seventh, paying $1,212, Bertram is a 72-year-old physicist from Reno. He’s played 15 years and has had several prior cashes. His other hobbies are golf and wine.
6th place: Limits went to 8,000-16,000. Next out was Glenn Uchibori. He missed a straight draw while O’Dell, holding A-10-6-2, took the pot by pairing his deuce. Uchibori, 47, is a lifelong resident of Honolulu, Hawaii. He has three dozen or so tournament cashes, the largest coming when he cashed 28th at a World Poker Tour championship event. He also won an Omaha hi-lo event at the Pot of Gold tournament in Reno, NV
By now, O’Dell owned almost exactly half the 642,000 chips in play. As play went on, Brendon Thomson was all in, but got a chop when both he and Jack Larson showed wheels. All five players were still around when limits went to 12,000-24,000, though three players were very short-chipped.
5th place: Heard was the first short-chipped player to depart. She was all in from the big blind for 6,000 holding 3-3-4-9. O’Dell had A-Q-10-6 and won with a full house when the board showed 6-10-5-J-10. Heard, 54, is from Trumann, Arkansas where she is self-employed. She learned poker five years ago from her husband and has a win and a second in Magnolia State events.
4th place: Next short stack to disappear was held by Thomson. He had 2-4-5-7 and was called by Larson and O’Dell. Larson had 6-9-J-Q and the board came J-2-8-5-7 to give him a 9-high straight. Thomson, 26, is from Sacramento, California and taught himself poker seven years ago.
And that ended the play as a three-way deal was agreed to.
3rd place: Scott Dixon got an official $3,759 for third. Dixon is a 40-year-old financial consultant from Fresno, California who began playing poker five years ago in “drunken home games.” His poker highlight is getting knocked out by Freddy Deeb at a WSOP event.
2nd place: Jack Larson’s official payout for second was $5,468. Larson, 75, is originally from Texas but has lived in Golden, Colorado since 1939. He retired after 29 years as a high school teacher. He began playing poker with his family when he was six. He won Omaha hi-lo events at Legends of Poker at the Bicycle Casino, the 4-Queens Classic, the Desert Classic in Palm Springs, and also won an Omaha high event at Ocean’s 11.
1st place: O’Dell had by far the most poker achievements at this final table. He has nearly $2 million in tournament cashes. Some of his biggest payouts include $776,385 for winning the $10,000 championship event at the Bicycle Casino’s Legends of Poker; $240,000 for winning a $2,000 Omaha/8 event at the WSOP; and $133,000 for winning another WSOP Omaha/8 tournament. He learned poker from his father at the age of 12. His dad would invite a friend in, put money on the table, and let the two play heads-up for it. O’Dell has been playing professionally since he was 21. —Max Shapiro