Stateline, NV—Jody Shadbolt got married here two years ago and he returned to celebrate his wedding anniversary as well as the birthday yesterday of his wife Ann. It turned out to be a triple celebration because today he ended up winning the sixth event of the WSOP Circuit tour at Harveys Lake Tahoe, $300 no-limit hold’em. First place paid him $16,790, enough to buy plenty of anniversary and birthday presents.

Shadbolt is a 41-year-old roofing contractor from Versailles, Kentucky who plays mainly at Horseshoe Southern Indiana. Today he arrived at the final table as chip leader and was never far from the lead after that.

A total of 192 players turned out for this event, making a prize pool of $55,872.

The final table started at level 17 with blinds of 2,500-5,000 and 500 antes, 23:43 left on the clock. Shadbolt was in front with 293,000 chips. Near the other end, second-lowest in chips, was David “Dragon Luck” Leonard, but he quickly doubled up against Steven Gibbs. He had A-6 versus Gibbs’ A-K and hit a 6 on the river. To leave Gibbs very short.

9th place: Immediately after, there was three-way action with two players, Gibbs and Lance Oliver, all in. Oliver’s pocket kings held up and he tripled up as Gibbs, holding K-J, finished ninth for $1,173.

Gibbs is a Vietnam vet who spent 35 years in the army serving as a helicopter flight instructor and instrument flight examiner. His numerous citations include 32 combat air medals. He later was a water-dropping pilot fighting forest fires, was a volunteer pilot for the Placer County Sheriff’s Department transporting prisoners, and currently is an international airline pilot. He started playing poker 45 years ago in home games and began playing tournaments a few years ago with a number of final tables.

8th place: Just a beat later, it was Robert Conlon who was all in with Ah-Jh, a big dog against Shadbolt’s pocket aces. A board of A-10-3-10-9 gave Shadbolt aces-full, and Conlon checked out eighth, paying $1,620. Conlon, 25, is an amateur golfer from Livermore, California who plans to turn pro next year. He’s played poker four years, has many cashes at Livermore Casino, and this is his first stab at a Circuit event.

7th place: Action continued fast. Next to go all in was Mike Fisk. Holding As-Ks, he was just a slight underdog against Matt Weber’s pocket 6s – until a 6 flopped. “My first set of the day,” Weber said. It held up, and Fisk, cashing out seventh, collected $2,179.  Fisk, originally from Seoul, Korea, is now a resident of Provo, Utah, and works in finance. He learned poker three years ago playing online. His poker highlights: “Sucking out a lot.”

6th place:  Blinds became 3,000-6,000. “Dragon Luck” Leonard ran out of luck in this round. He was all in with A-6 against Ed “Special Ed” Yang’s A-J and went out when the board came J-9-4-8.8. For sixth, he got $2,738. Leonard, 40, originally from Seoul, Korea, now lives in Gahanna, Ohio, where he is a contractor. He’s played for 16 years and came in second in an earlier event here, and also has a second in a $5,000 main event.
5th place: After a break, play resumed with blinds of 4,000-8,000  Oliver lost a big pot to Kien “Kim” Thich when his A-5 was beaten by her A-J. He now had just a couple of chips left, and on the next hand, he had to post them from the big blind. He made nothing and they bled off. Oliver is a 41-year-old pro from Roseville, California playing four years.

4th place: Making his second final table appearance in this series, Yang went all in with Kc-6c. He made his flush when the board came Ac-8c-8d-Ks-Qc, but he was already drawing dead on fourth street after Thich, holding K-8, had made 8s-full. Fourth was worth $4,693.

Yang, 65, comes from Shanghai, China and now lives in Livermore, California. A man of many accomplishments, he is a retired school teacher, currently a part-time poker room tournament director, a chess tournament director AND, a large animal (elephant) intern trainer at the Oakland Zoo. He also finds time for poker, which he learned from his dad at age 6, playing seriously seven years. Among Yang’s many cashes are a 77th out of 2,707 entrants at this year’s WSOP Seniors event and a $500 Circuit win here last year.

3rd place: On the next hand, it was Thich who was all in with A-4, a big underdog to Shadbolt’s Ac-6c. Thich couldn’t hit anything while Shadbolt paired his six when the board showed Q-6-9-J-J. Third paid $6,761. Thich comes from Vietnam and now lives in Sacramento, California. She’s been playing five years.

2nd place: Heads-up, Shadbolt had roughly 850,000 chips to about 300,000 for Matthew Weber. On the final hand, the flop came 10-9-7 and Shadbolt moved in. It looked like a good flop for Weber, whose 10-8 gave him top pair and an open-ended straight draw, and he called. He saw he was behind when Shadbolt turned up K-10, and way behind when a king turned.  He was now dead to a 6 or jack for a straight, but a river queen ended his hopes, and he settled for $9,833 for second.

Weber, 21, is a restaurant server from Sacramento. He began playing online three years ago and also likes volleyball and video games.

1st place: Shadbolt describes himself as a solid player who likes to trap a lot. He plays both cash games and tournaments, going back and forth between $2-$5 cash games and tourneys, always hold’em. He’s played 10 years, is self-taught, and his hobby is motorcycle riding. –Max Shapiro