73-Year-Old Lee Patitz Wins Circuit Opener
Council Bluffs, IA—Lee Patitz, a 73-year-old control room operator at an electrical generating plant from Hastings, Nebraska, generated a win in the opening event of the WSOP Circuit tour at Horseshoe Council Bluffs, $300 No Limit Hold’em.

Victory brought him $27,332 and a handsome gold-and-diamond trophy ring. Patitz likes to come to town once a month to play a tournament, and at last year’s Circuit here made three final tables and won another $300 No Limit event. 

“Fun, fun and more fun,” is how he describes his poker activities.

Patitz says he plays erratically, changing his style a lot to keep players from figuring him out. At this final table he said he played “semi-conservatively, waiting until the hot shots got out.” 

Most of his poker is devoted to tournaments, since he also sits in a lot of non-money events back in Hastings. Now, with a sizeable bankroll, he plans to stay and play here for the remainder of the Circuit events.

This sixth stop on the 2009-2010 Circuit tour will be offering something for everyone. There are 24 tournaments scheduled over the 13 days, with the 4 p.m. events offering a whole palette of games from which to choose, including Limit Hold’em, Limit Omaha Hi-Lo,  H.O.R.S.E.,  Pot Limit Omaha and PLO Hi-Lo.  And the large majority of buy-ins for all events will be an affordable $300. 

To accommodate the action, the number of tables this year has been increased to 53. Also, a Hilton Inn Hotel has been opened adjacent to the casino, along with the Country Inn & Suites across the street. 

This opening event drew 303 players with a prize pool of $88,173. Eleven finalists returned on Day Two. When we got to the final nine, Patitz had the chip lead with 290,000. Blinds at this point were 4,000-8,000 with 19 minutes left on the clock.

Here were the starting chip counts:



Chip Count


Thomas Applegate



Joe Shanks



Shaun Barnett



Eric Grave



Chadd Johnson



Lee Patitz



Kevin Parmely



Wesley Gronhovd



Chuck Tabor


It took a very, very long time to lose our first player after several all-in escapes. The most spectacular to that point came nearly 90 minutes into the final table when Thomas Applegate moved in for 140,000 with pocket 4s and was called by Wesley Gronhovd with pocket jacks.
“I never flopped a set of 4s,” Applegate said, ceding defeat…and then proceeded to flop a set of 4s.

A few hands later, another big draw-out when Joe Shanks, all in with    , made a flush on the river to out-draw Patitz’    . Unbelievably, the same play then came down when Chadd Johnson, all in with 10-9 offsuit, hit a spade flush on the river to crack Gronhovd’s pocket aces. And the parade continued when Shaun Barnett, all in with pocket 8s, doubled up by making quads!

About two hours had gone by when the nine players returned from break. By now, blinds had increased to 8,000-16,000 with 2,000 antes. On the first hand of the new level, another clever method of survival was devised by Chuck Tabor. All in with 6-5 offsuit, he was nearly dead to Shanks’ pocket nines when the board showed J-A-J-K. And then a river ace allowed both players play the board for a split. Another hand and yet another survival when Gronhovd won with ace-high.

9th place: It appeared we had still another survival when Johnson, all in with pocket kings against Shanks’ A-Q., flopped a set on a board of K-10-6.  But then a  jack turned to give Shanks a straight, as Johnson, suffering a really bad beat, cashed ninth for $1,763. Johnson, 24, is from Kansas City, Missouri, and was a student before turning pro. His biggest poker cash was online, winning $42,000.

8th place: Soon after, we had two all ins. Tabor moved in under the gun with     and Patitz, just covering him, called with A-K. Patitz filled when the board came 5-6-A-6-A and Tabor took home $3,645 for eighth. Tabor, 44, is a bar owner from Kansas City, Kansas. He won the Oklahoma State Championship in 2007, has four cashes in the WSOP Main Event, and has a 22nd-place finish in an online Sunday event.

7th place: Soon after, another player left when Gronhovd’s pocket 6s couldn’t catch Applegate’s pocket 10s after the board came J-J-4-Q-A. Gronhovd is a 53-year-old farmer from Nekoma, North Dakota.

6th place: We had a coin-flip match-up when Eric Grave was all in with pocket treys, up against Patitz’ A-K. Big slick did the trick when the board came A-J-6-5-4 and Grave went out sixth for $4,409. Grave is a sales manager from Tea, South Dakota. He also had a final table in last year’s Circuit here.

5th place: Shanks went out next. He had the best hand with top pair when the flop came 10-6-8 and raised all in with J-10 after Applegate bet his 9-6. But then a 6 turned to give Applegate winning trips. Shanks got $5,290 for fifth. He is 29, from Bellevue, Nebraska, was in tech support and sales, and now is unemployed.  This is his first WSOP Circuit event. “First time is a charm,” he wrote on his bio sheet. 

4th place: With blinds at 12,000-24,000 and 3,000 antes, Kevin Parmely went out holding A-7. He was up against Barnett, who had K-10 and made a runner-runner straight when the board came 6-2-9-Q-J. Parmely,who gave his occupation as a “trapper scraper jack of all trades, master of none,” is from Huron, South Dakota.

3rd place: Players returned from break to blinds of 15,000-30,000 and antes of 5,000. Applegate quickly found himself down to one chip when his K-10 was beaten by Barnett’s A-5, and he lost the chip on the next deal.  He had A-10 against A-5 for Barnett and a mere 5-2 for Lee. The board was checked down, and when it came A-A-3-4-Q, Patitz had a wheel.

Applegate is a 42-year-old pro from Dallas who previously had been a bartender. His poker highlight is finishing in the top 11 in every WSOP event he has played.

2nd place: Patitz enjoyed better than a 3-1 lead over his final opponent, and the match only lasted one hand. Patitz pushed in with A-9, Barnett called with A-5, Patitz’ kicker was the decider when the board came K-2-J-4-Q, and Barnett, a 36-year-old truck driver from Lacona, Iowa, settled for $14,108 for second place.  –Max Shapiro