atlantic city, Nj – The World Series of Poker Circuit Events Eastern Regional Championship came to a conclusion early just after midnight Thursday with Chris Bell taking away the $358,295 first-place prize and the coveted diamond-encrust WSOP Circuit Regional Championship gold ring.
Chris Bell is a former real estate developer from Raleigh, NC and holds a business degree from North Carolina State.
Bell won the $5,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low Event #46 of the 2010 World Series of Poker. Minutes after his WSOP win back in June, Bell admitted in an interview that he had nearly exhausted his bankroll after an extended bad run and as a father of two daughters, was forced to consider the reality that poker might no longer be able to sustain him and his family.
Poker pro and good friend, Erick Lindgren, was confident enough in Bell to back him financially so that he could make one more go at the game he loves.
In addition to Lindgren’s monetary backing, it was “E-Dog’s” moral support that gave Bell the spark he needed to make a comeback.
And come back he did. Six months after his breakout win at the World Series of Poker, he again was able to enjoy the sweet smell of victory, this time, far from the desert valley of Las Vegas, in its sister gaming town to the east, Atlantic City.
The second of four, nationally televised, $10,000 buy-in, No-Limit Hold’em Regional Events scheduled for the 2010/2011 WSOP Circuit season, the Eastern Regional Championship was held over four consecutive days in the Ballroom at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City. The Ballroom has been the venue for the WSOP Circuit Events since 2005, when Harrah’s Resort hosted the inaugural tournament series.
Bell played one of the best games of his career, slowly climbing up the leader board to end day two as the chip leader. He stayed near the top of the chip counts the rest of the way, and ultimately defeated 2009 WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Atlantic City Main Event champion, Chris Klodnicki heads up to earn the title of WSOP Circuit Eastern Regional Champion.
136 players competed in the event, generating a total prize pool of $1,279,624.
While attendance did not exceed expectations, much can be said for the elite class of poker talent that did travel to Atlantic City to compete in the last major tournament of 2010.
Among those who competed in the prolific event were 2010 WSOP Main Event runner-up John Racener, Andy Bloch, Barry Shulman, Amnon Filippi, Chad Brown, Kathy Liebert, TJ Cloutier, Dwyte Pilgrim and David Baker.
At the end of day one, WSOP bracelet winner Vanessa Selbst had far and away a commanding chip lead over the remaining 92 day one survivors with over 37,000 chips separating her from her nearest opponent, Isaac Baron.
Day two however, was unkind to Selbst, who after a rollercoaster afternoon, saw her premature exit from the tournament after losing a monster pot to Klodnicki. At the end of day two, 27 players remained.
The money bubble burst on day three, which ended after the eliminations of Beth Shak in 11th place ($26,232) and this year’s WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Atlantic City Main Event Champion, Matt Waxman in 10th ($26,232).
With the elimination of Waxman, the final table stage was set:
Seat 1: Chris Bell - 706,000
Chris Bell is a former real estate investor from Raleigh, NC. He graduated from North Carolina State University in 1994 with a degree in business and is married with twin daughters. This past summer, Bell won event #46, the $5,000 Omaha hi-lo event at the 2010 World Series of Poker. He has over $750,000 in WSOP earnings and over $2.5 million in overall tournament earnings.
Seat 2: Micah Raskin – 594,000
Micah Raskin is the president of both a direct marketing company and a software company. Raskin holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Baruch College. Originally from New York City, he currently lives in Old Westbury, NY.
Seat 3: Ketan Pandya – 377,000
Pandya is a project manager from Piscataway, NJ who holds a dual degree in computer and electrical engineering from Rutgers University. The 32-year-old was born in New Delhi, India. He is married with three children and describes himself as a loving husband and caring father who is ready for the poker world. His hobbies are poker and babysitting.
Seat 4: Nicholas Mitchell – 332,000
Nicholas Mitchell is a 22-year old poker player from Costa Mesa, CA. This past summer, at the 2010 WSOP, Mitchell made the final table of event #3, $1,000 no-limit hold’em, finishing in 5th place.
Seat 5: Todd Terry – 307,000
Todd Terry is a former criminal defense attorney from Hoboken, NJ. Terry is a graduate of Harvard University with a JD from NYU law school. He gave up his law career a few years ago to pursue poker full time and in 2007, placed second in event #10 of that year’s WSOP. Terry currently has over 30 lifetime cashes and $1.5 milion in career tournament earnings.
Seat 6 – Andy Frankenberger – 230,000
Andy Frankenberger is a former equity derivatives trader from New York, NY where he worked on wall street for 14 years, most of them for JP Morgan. He holds dual degrees in Economics and Russian from Duke University. This year alone, Frankenberger has racked up over one million in tournament earnings. His hobbies include running, tennis and playing the piano.
Seat 7 – Jason Burt – 579,000
Jason Burt is a professional poker player from Marina Del Ray, CA. He holds a bachelors in mechanical engineering from the California Institute of Technology. He has a few cashes to his credit, but hopes to make today his breakthrough performance. His hobbies are Rugby, the outdoors and the nightlife.
Seat 8- Chris Klodnicki – 759,000
The chip leader headed to the final table, Chris Klodnicki is from Philadelphia, PA originally from Camden, NJ. In 2007, the Lehigh University graduate placed second in the Razz event at the 2008 World Series of Poker. He has gone on to earn over $1.5 million in lifetime tournament earnings. He is the 2009 Harrah’s Resort AC WSOP Circuit Main Event Champion.
Seat 9 – Seth Fischer – 217,000
Seth Fischer is a poker pro from Berkley, CA originally from Palm Harbor, FL. The Emory University grad finished second in the $2,500 buy-in six handed event of the 2008 World Series of Poker. Fischer describes himself as a nice young son of a rabbi and his hobbies as sports, religion, and music.
The “AMP Energy Meter” (note that AMP Energy drinks are the official sponsor of the WSOP Circuits) recorded 226 total hands being played at the final table, which took 9 hours and 45 minutes. Players were eliminated in the following order:
9th Place – Seth Fischer ($32,362)
Harrah’s Resort poker director, John Arthur introduced the final nine as each took the Amp Energy final table arena Wednesday. After the final table introductions, cards went in the air shortly before 12:30 pm. The day’s starting blinds at 3,000/6,000 left the short stack, Fischer with 40 orbits. That, coupled with the elevated skill level of the final nine resulted in play through four, 75-minute levels before the first elimination of the day.
The first four levels were a stark contrast to the level that followed. With blinds and antes at 8,000/16,000/2,000, there would be four casualties before the end of the round. The first to go was Fischer. Early, Fischer was able to chip up and then double through the chip leader, Klodnicki. Later in the day, however, he stumbled after losing a critical pot to Raskin and was never able to recover. In his final hand, he re-raised Burt all-in for just over 140,000 with . Burt called, holding pocket jacks. Unable to catch up to his opponent on the king-high board, Fischer saw his exit from the final table stage.
8th Place – Nick Mitchell ($40,538)
Mitchell was able to crawl up the leader board in the early stages of final table play, but after reaching an apex of just under 550,000, he experienced a slow and steady decent down to zero. In his final hand, holding , Mitchell moved his last chips in the middle on a board. Raskin instantly called, having flopped two pair with his suited 10-2. Raskin stacked the remainder of Mitchell’s chips while he was headed off to give his bust-out interview.
7th Place – Jason Burt ($51,607)
Burt doubled up a number of short stacks throughout the day which ultimately took their toll on his own pile of chips. After moving all-in with for his remaining 225,000 and getting a call from Klodnicki, Bell moved all-in over the top with queens for just more than 600,000 total. Klodnicki laid his hand down, and after a seven-high board, Burt’s tournament run was over.
6h Place – Andy Frankenberger ($51,607)
After calling a 50k re-raise from Klodnicki’s big blind, Frankenberger from the small moved all-in on a flop holding . Klodnicki made the fast call with a dominating . A king on the turn and nine river sealed Frankenberger’s fate and he was sent on his way.
5th Place – Todd Terry ($87,808)
Down to his last 125k, Terry moved all-in from the button with , prompting Klodnicki to isolate him with a raise holding . Terry fell farther behind after Klodnicki spiked an ace on the flop, where he stayed through the river.
4th Place – Micah Raskin ($117,457)
Klodnicki continued his assault on his remaining foes, this time turning his sights on Micah Raskin, who moved all-in for 396,000 with . Klodnicki was anticipating a coin flip and made the call. The ace-high board offered no help to Raskin and his tournament run was over.
3rd Place – Ketan Pandya ($159,851)
The elimination of Raskin put Klodnicki to over 2 million in chips with Bell not far behind. The shortstack, Ketan Pandya, survived as long as he could sandwiched between the two chip titans.
Pandya was able to endure an all-in to double up, but after the blinds moved up to the 12,000/24,000 level however he ran out of gas after running his pocket tens all-in into Bell’s pocket queens.
Speaking of running out of gas, in an interesting side note, Pandya almost did not make it to Harrah’s Resort in time to register for day one of the Regional Championship. His reason: running out of gas on his way to the tournament! After a frantic call to tournament director John Arthur confirmed that he had just enough time to make before registration ended, Pandya made some last minute arrangements to arrive on time to play in the event.
2ND Place – Chris Klodnicki ($221,452)
With the two remaining players about even in chips, heads up play was expected to go on for at least a couple of hours, especially as evidenced by the two’s thoughtful play in the early stages of the final table. However, Klodnicki turned up the aggression a bit, which pushed a number of pots his way, but ultimately got the best of him on a flop of [3h after which Klodnicki fired out 225,000 holding .
After a few minutes, Bell announced that he was all-in. With top pair and an open straight draw, Klodnicki made the call. Bell tabled pocket threes for the flopped set, which held through the turn and river. At first, it was unclear whether Bell had Klodnicki covered, but after doing some chip inventory, it was determined that Bell did indeed have more chips and was declared the champion.
Bell’s Eastern Regional Championship victory put him over the million dollar mark in career WSOP earnings. He now has over $2.8 million overall career tournament earnings.
The win capped off what has been a successful 2010/2011 WSOP Circuit series at Harrah’s Resort. In one of the unsavory months of the year to hold a poker tournament, event #1 at Harrah’s drew 1,250 players, a record for the Resort casino. Despite treacherous icy and snowy weather coming from all directions of Atlantic City, the players came in, keeping turnout steady through the 11 ring event series.
The final table of the Regional Championship will be televised on VERSUS Network, marking the first time in three years that a WSOP Circuit Championship will appear on national television. Coverage of this and the other three Regional Championship events will air in mid-2011. The next WSOP Circuit stop will take place at Choctaw Casino Resort, located in Durant, OK, one hour north of Dallas, TX. The ten ring-event series will begin January 6 and end on January 25, 2011
The next Nationally Televised Regional Championship is set to take place at Harrah’s Rincon. The tournament runs March 10-March 30. The $10,000 buy-in Reg