2010-2011 World Series of Poker Circuit
Horseshoe Council Bluffs
August 25-26
Ring Event # 6 (Event #17)
Six-Handed No Limit Hold’em
Buy-In: $500+$55
Number of Entries: 114
Total Prize Money: $53,370

Council Bluffs, IA—Drazen Ilich is a 31-year-old poker player who came to this country from Sarajevo, Bosnia 12 years ago. Originally working as a machinist, he began playing poker with friends, and four years ago decided he was good enough to play full time.  He won a prior Circuit ring last year, including a $1,000 No Limit event here that paid $32,825, and tonight added a second ring by winning the $500 Six-Handed No Limit Hold’em event that earned him $18,013, along with a diamond and gold trophy ring. He also has three final tables at the Horseshoe Poker Classic in 2008, including two wins, along with numerous online tournament wins. Hobbies are golf and tennis.
Normally a selective/aggressive player, Ilich said the six-handed format permitted him to turn up the heat and, because he was never short-stacked, he could gamble with less-than-premium hands. He said he also had a pretty good read on the final table players, and was able to pick his spots successfully. Ilich, who now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, divides his poker time between cash games and tournaments, preferring tournaments because of the bigger prize potential, and because they’re more fun. He also had high praise for the new tournament structure giving entrants a lot more play. His hobbies are golf and tennis.

This tournament had 114 players and a $53,370 prize pool. The final six began play at Level 17 with blinds of 2,000-4,000, 500 antes and 22:34 remaining at that level. With 356,000 chips, Jason McKelvey was the leader.

Here were the starting chip counts:


1. Joel Merwick 194,000
2. Jeff Fielder  119.000
3. Brett Schwertley 116,000 
4. Drew Woodke 239,500
5. Drazen Ilich  330,000
6. Jason McKelvey 356,000

Sixth Place: Jeff Fielder was first out. He went all in holding    , after a flop of       gave him a flush. However, Joel Merwick, holding pocket 7s, went after him with a set. A 9 turned, and then a river deuce filled Merwick, leaving Fiedler in sixth place, paying $2,685. Fielder, 33, is from Des Moines, Iowa where he owns a construction business. He began playing in home games and later the on Internet seven years ago. He had a deep run in the Main Event here in February, along with other cashes here and in Vegas, in total giving him four out of eight WSOP cashes. His hobby is traveling for music.

Fifth Place: Just as the next level ended, so did another player. Brett Schwertley looked at pocket 9s and raised, and then Drew Woodke re-raised him all in. “Wow!” Schwertley exclaimed as Woodke turned up pocket aces. A board of 4-3-Q-8-8 changed nothing and Schwertley went out fifth for $3,707. Schwertley, 27, is from Omaha. He learned to play seven or so years ago from his grandma.

Fourth Place: Several more levels of careful play went by without any more called all-ins. Then, with blinds of 6,000-12,000, Woodke was called after moving in with pocket kings, but he easily survived by flopping a set. A couple of hands later, another player finally was eliminated. The board showed      . Drazen Ilich, holding 7-6, was ahead with two pair, but an all-in Joel Merwick, holding    , had 15 outs with draws to a flush and open-end straight. Instead, a turn-card 7 filled Ilich, and Merwick checked out with $5,130 for fourth place. Merwick, 29, is a pro from Omaha playing for seven years. His biggest cashes were $39,000 for finishing 189th in the 2005 WSOP Main Event, and $37,000 for sixth in a New Orleans Circuit championship. His hobbies are “Sports, sports, sports.”

At the next break, the three remaining players weren’t that much apart. Ilich led with about 480,000, while Woodke and McKelvey were in the 400,000 range. Blinds were now 8,000-16,000 with 3,000 antes. Late in the level, McKelvey pushed in for 178,000, and got a call from Woodke. “I’ve got a decision to make,” Ilich said, finally deciding to “let you guys tangle.” McKelvey turned up    , way behind Woodke’s pocket kings. The flop came      , and then runner-runner hearts rescued and doubled-up Woodke with a flush.

Third Place: Returning from a dinner break to blinds of 10,000-20,000 and 3,000 antes, Ilich led with 840,000 chips to 340,000 for McKelvey and 200,000 for Woodke. Later, down to under 100,000, Woodke moved in from the small blind with    , getting called by Ilich with    . A flop of       gave Ilich top pair, while Woodke needed an ace or a spade, He got neither when an offsuit queen and 4 came. Woodke, cashing third for $7,107, is 28 and a real estate agent from Omaha who’s played for 10 years, learning online. He has four Circuit final tables.

Second Place: One hand later it was all over. Ilich pushed in with    , and McKelvey called with    . A flop of       paired Ilich’s deuce but gave McKelvey all kinds of outs: a spade for a flush, an 8 or king for a straight, or a queen or 10 for a better pair, making him a 69 percent favorite. But two bricks came off, and McKelvey settled for $9,896 for second. McKelvey, 26, is from Lincoln, Nebraska, and his occupation is working with adults with disabilities. He’s only been playing eight months, online and bar poker, and has a few online tournament cashes.