What Defines Us
Las Vegas, NV – We are defined in life by who we are, what we stand for, and what we accomplish.  A few years ago, Robert Koerber may have been defined in a way that was less than flattering.  He admittedly did some bad things, he says.  But now, he has changed his life completely, and in many ways has won a victory far more important than anything that can possibly be accomplished at a poker table.

“Where I come from, I was doing other things for money and I got into trouble,” Koerber said moments after winning his first major poker tournament victory.  “I lost my freedom, and I thought for me, this (poker) was my second chance.  I prayed to the lord all the time to really try and make it….Now, I want to make it the legal way, without ever having to look over my shoulder.  This victory was my first step.  It means a lot to me.”

Koerber, on his path to personal redemption and well past the stage of fighting personal demons, became the latest WSOP Circuit winner after conquering a tough field of 311 players in the latest event held at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.  Koerber managed to overcome the odds against him at several stages of the tournament, including a formidable final table lineup of rivals and a decisive chip disadvantage at one point.

“Things went great for me here,” Koerber said.  I was picking up aces when people had kings.  Kings when people had queens.  I was running really good.  Then, once when I had kings and someone had aces, I hit my set.  I could not ask for better.  Things just ran good for me the whole way.”

The 29-year-old from Waterbury, CT has only been playing live poker tournaments for about six months.  In fact, prior to this win, Koerber had only one other cash -- at the Hustler Casino in Los Angeles earlier this year.  Koerber mentioned a few poker books had helped him to improve his tournament skills, including strategy books by Dan Harrington, Doyle Brunson, and Gus Hansen.

“I think it’s easier to play live than online,” Koerber said.  “When I was playing online, all I had to go by was betting patterns….but when I got to live play it just seemed easier to put the tells and the reads together.”

The $200 (+30) buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament was played over two consecutive days during April 18th and 19th.  The tournament attracted a field of 311 players.  The top 36 finishers divided a prize pool totaling $60,334.  Among those who cashed was Cesar Flores (28th), a teacher from McAllen, TX who was the runner up in the tournament held two days ago.  

Final Table play began on a Monday afternoon.  There was only one prior WSOP Circuit gold ring winner among the final nine – two-time winner Mike Souza, who began play as the chip leader.  In fact, Souza had everyone at the table covered by more than 2 to 1, except for Dan Zogman, who was about 150,000 in chips behind.  Robert Koerber started play in sixth place.  When Final Table play began at 2:00 pm, the nine finalists and their starting chip counts were as follows:




Chip Count


Michael Souza

San Diego, CA



Jeff Gould

Lithia, NJ



Mike Ashar

Vermilion, OH



Robert Koerber

Waterbury, CT



Alexander Kardomateas

Alpharetta, GA



Gordon Mummey

Las Vegas, NV



Murray Kieth




Ken James

Las Vegas, NV



Dan Zogman

McHenry, IL



Play lasted seven hours and ended at 9:00 pm.

Players were eliminated in the following order:

Ninth Place:  Ken James Takes Ninth Place
Ken James, a retiree from Las Vegas, busted out about 30 minutes into the finale.  He lost most of his stack on a bad beat holding pocket queens and was eliminated a short time later.  James, who has cashed in two WSOP events and more than two dozen other major tournaments, added $1,358 to his poker bankroll for ninth place.   

Eighth Place:  Alexander Kardomateas Finishes Eighth  

Alexander Kardomateas, a recreational poker player from Alpharetta, GA was eliminated in eighth place.  He was short-stacked late in the tournament which left him at a disadvantage.  Nevertheless, he collected $1,810 in prize money for a nice effort.

Seventh Place:  Murray Kieth Ends Up Seventh

Murray Kieth, a farmer from Lubbuck, TX, had a tough time at the final table.  He arrived on Day Two with an average-sized stack, but took a few beats and had to settle for seventh place, which paid $2,263.  
Sixth Place:  Gordon Mummey Takes Sixth Place  
Gordon Mummey, who works in sales and lives in Las Vegas, went out in sixth place.  He had cashed previously in a number of smaller local tournaments.  But this was his first time to finish in-the-money in a WSOP-related tournament.  Mummey received 2,866.

Fifth Place:  Mike Ashar Finishes Fifth  
Mike Ashar from Vermilion, OH, made his second final table appearance at this year’s Caesars series, this time ending up as the fifth-place finisher.  He took ninth place a few days ago.  This marked Ashar’s ninth time to cash in a WSOP Circuit event, and was his fourth time to make it to a final table.  Fifth place paid $3,620.

Fourth Place:  Jeff Gould Takes Fourth
Jeff Gould, a business owner from Lithia, NJ, ended up as the fourth-place finisher.  He came close to victory once before, finishing as the runner up last year in a WSOP Circuit event held at Harrah’s Tunica.  This time, Gould ended up in fourth place, which paid $4,525.

Third Place:  Michael Souza Ends Up Third
Michael Souza had a decent-sized stack until very late into the tournament when he lost a few big hands and finally lost a race against Dan Zogman.  On his final hand, Souza’s A8 lost to pocket 4s.  Souza, who was going for a third WSOP Circuit gold ring following a victory last month at Harrah’s Rincon, was forced to accept a third place finish, which paid $5,581.  However, Souza, a poker pro from San Diego, continues to be a player to watch the rest of this Circuit season.

Second Place:  Dan Zogman is the Runner Up

Dan Zogman has been ripping up tournaments in the Midwest the past few years.  He won an event on the Heartland Poker Tour, and also finished second on one of their championship events.  The insurance salesman from McHenry, IL was also designated as the Heartland Poker Tour’s “Player of the Year” in 2009.  Zogman hoped to bring some of his good fortune to the WSOP Circuit, but came up just one place short of victory.

Zogman had his final opponent down to one card at one point in heads-up play.  But Robert Koerber ended up making a straight on the river, which foreshadowed the destruction that was soon to come for Zogman.  A few minutes later, Zogman lost most of his chips with pocket 5s against Koerber’s pocket 6s.  Then, a short time later, Zogman suffered his final beat of the night when Koeber raked in the last pot of the night with a full house.

The last hand came when Koerber was dealt   .  Zogman was dealt   .  After the turn, Zogman was all-in with top pair.  The final board showed      , which meant Koerber’s full house (jacks full of aces) bested Zogman’s trip aces.  Dan Zogman accepted the mixed blessing of a second-place payout totaling $8,899.

NOTE:  An interesting note was that Zogman’s wife Mary Jo Belcore-Zogman also cashed in this tournament.  She finished 34th.

A few big hands of heads-up play including the final hand of the tournament can be seen here:  http://www.twitvid.com/KTA7X

First Place:  Huge Victory for Robert Koerber
Robert Koerber started playing in live poker tournaments about six months ago.  He previously played mostly online.  Koerber had one previous cash, at a tournament held in Los Angeles.  But this was by far his best poker achievement to date, which paid $14,481 plus the coveted WSOP Circuit gold ring.

An interview with Robert Koerber at tableside moments after his win can be seen here:  http://www.twitvid.com/DYFS0