2010-2011 World Series of Poker Circuit
Horseshoe Council Bluffs
August 23-24
Ring Event #4 (Event #11)
Buy-In: $300+$45
Number of Entries: 75
Total Prize Money: $31,825

Council Bluffs, IA—Kevin Marcus is a 25-year-old accounting student from  Massapequa, New York whose normal style of play is tight. But two situations presented itself in today’s H.O.R.S.E. tournament, the fourth ring event of the WSOP Circuit tour at Horseshoe Council Bluffs, that allowed him to bully his way to victory, earning $6,885 and a diamond-encrusted gold trophy ring.

   The first came the night before, with nine players left, one away from the final table. Playing a hand against Betty Davidson, he had her down to 2,000 on the river and was pretty sure he had her beat with two pair. But he just checked. Was he playing partners with her? No, not exactly. There were two other short stacks at the table, he was the chip leader, and he knew they were trying to make the final table and he could bully them and steal blinds and antes if play were to continue. He did just that, and was able to considerably build his stacks.

   At the final table, he went down a lot in early action. Then with six players left and sensing that two short stacks were trying to move up another notch or two, he began pushing them around, picking up 20,000 or 30,000 chips six or seven times in a row, and moved up from 300,000 to 450,000 chips, After that he was unstoppable. “It only works when you’re a big stack,” he explained.
   Marcus began playing poker 13 years ago with friends. He prefers tournaments, but ends up playing mostly cash games because of the underground clubs in New York. He has one prior small cash in Atlantic City. Asked for any final thoughts, he exclaimed “Let’s go, Islanders!” cheering on his favorite New York hockey team.

   This event drew 75 players with a $31,825 prize pool. Play commenced in a Razz round at Level 16 with five hands left and 20:34 on the clock. Antes were 2,000, the bring-in 4,000, blinds 5,000-10,000, and limits 10,000-20,000. Marcus was now well in front with 246,000 chips, nearly 2-1/2 times as much as anyone else. And Davidson (at least due in part to Marcus’ strategy) became the first lady to grace a final table in any of the noon or 4 p.m. events thus far.

Here were the starting chip counts:

1. Jimmy Blevins 102,000
2. Alan Cutler  103,000
3. Brian Schwartz 52,000
4. Michael Altman 106,000
5. Betty Davidson 22,000
6. Kevin Marcus 246,000
7. Daniel Thomas 29,000
8. Duster Ellis  91,000

   Eighth Place: The next round was stud, and we lost our first player when Daniel Thomas, starting second-lowest in chips, missed his gut-shot straight draw. He lost to Jimmy Blevins’ aces and cashed for $809. Thomas, 33, is a professional poker player and entrepreneur from Lincoln, Nebraska who was an advertising manager before turning pro. His biggest cash was $82,000 for finishing sixth in a WSOP No Limit event this year. Thomas, who only plays No Limit tournaments live, decided to enter his first H.O.R.S.E. event because of the national WSOP Circuit points race and because he made a few friendly side bets with other players.
   Seventh Place: One more player went out in this round. On sixth street, Dustin Ellis was in the lead with a pair of eights. An all-in Michael Altman, holding A-2-K-7-9-3 with four diamonds, needed an ace, a king, a 9 or a diamond to overtake him. Instead, he caught a brick while Ellis made an overkill gut-shot straight. Seventh was worth $936.
Altman, 43, is an attorney from McQueen, Wisconsin who’s played six years. He has a final table at this event in 2008 and another at a Hammond Circuit. He is the “proud father” of two boys.

   Sixth Place: In this same stud round, Davidson, starting with (Q-10) 2, was left with a single chip after having to post the low-card bring-in, and had no choice but to play. She ended up with a pair of queens, losing to Brian Schwartz’s trip aces, leaving with $1,138 for sixth. Davidson, retired, is from St. Charles, Missouri, learning to play two years ago by reading books.

   Fifth Place: Another player went out in a hold’em round. Blevins was all in on fourth street holding J-10. With a board of        , he was in bad shape, with a pair of jacks and an inside straight draw against Alan Cutler, who had     for kings and a flush draw. A river   gave Cutler his flush, and Blevins cashed fifth for $1,455. Blevins is 55, from Oakland, Nebraska and works as a technician. His nickname is “Rebuy.” He taught himself poker 17 years ago. He has two cashes in the WSOP Main Event, along with numerous cashes in smaller tournaments. Blevins spent three years in the army and is married with two children and three grandchildren.

   Fourth Place: Two players went out in the next Hold’em round. Finishing fourth for $1,963 was Brian Schwartz. He had A-5 versus Cutler’s     and went out when a board of K-2-4-7-4 paired Cutler’s 7. Schwartz, 30, is from Chicago where he runs a sports memorabilia business which he started while in college. He’s played six years and has three small cashes at WSOP events and another Circuit final table.

   Third Place: On the next hand, Duster Ellis had to post his last chips in the small blind with an anemic 8-3 against Cutler, holding 10-8 in the big blind. A board of A-J-6-Q-5 didn’t do much for either player, and Cutler’s 10-high was enough to leave Ellis in third place, paying $2,804. Ellis, whose name is “Husker Hustler,” is a 21-year-old pro from Gretna, Nebraska, who “grew up playing poker” and has been a pro for four years. His recent cashes include one in the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza and a ninth out of 1,484 at the Hustler Casino’s Grand Slam of Poker.

   Second Place: The two remaining players went on break, returning for their final match-up, with Marcus holding a 425,000 to 325,000 chip advantage over Cutler. Play started in an Omaha round and ended during Stud high play. On the final hand, Cutler, reading his opponent as weak, raised all in on fifth street holding (4-7) Q-5-7, and was surprised when Marcus, showing 5-3-A, turned up 5-3 for two pair. Marcus didn’t improve when a king and six were dealt to him, but neither did Cutler when he got a 10 on sixth street and a 6 on the river. For second, Cutler, 52, whose nickname is “Chgocut,” picked up $4,260. He is a CPA from Vernon Hills, Illinois who learned poker as a kid in home games and has been playing professional-level tournaments since 2006. Cutler has a WPT win at the Bellagio in $1,500 No Limit, a $225,000 final table cash in $2,000 No Limit at the WSOP, and a H.O.S.E. title at the Majestic Star in Indiana. The father of four children, he also likes golf and movies.