Circulation Salesman Steve Kats, Playing Only His 2nd Tournament, Wins Event 20
Council Bluffs, IA—Steve Kats, a circulation salesman for the Omaha World Herald, scored his first tournament cash by winning the 20th event of the WSOP Circuit tour at Horseshoe Council Bluffs, $300 No Limit Hold’em.
The win brought him $26,683 and a diamond-and-gold trophy ring. He came to the final table with a good chip and held it throughout, although Danny Parde came close to catching up during their heads-up match that lasted nearly an hour.
Kats, 27, is from Omaha and has been playing 10 years, mainly in home games and online. He played one tournament here last year, but only got to 90th place. He said he never got pocket aces throughout the tournament and had only half average until about four tables were left when he began moving up.
This event drew 329 players and the prize pool was $95,739. Play kicked off with blinds of 8,000-16,000 and 2,000 antes, 23 minutes on the clock. With 483,000 chips, Kats had a sizeable lead.

Here were the starting chip counts:
Seat    Name     Chip Count
1    Michael Dreiger    174,000       
2    Duane Gerleman    130,000       
3    Danny Parde    204,000       
4    Dave Muller    32,000       
5    Jason Fennell    78,000       
6    Scott Pape    326,000       
7    Mark Fink    330,000       
8    Mitchell Ricknell    162,000       
9    Steve Kats    483,000    

9th place: On the first hand, Lowest-chipped Dave Muller pushed in his last 30,000 with A-6, called by Scott Pape with 6-4  A board of 9-7-5-2 gave Pape a double belly-buster straight draw (either an 8 or a trey), but he settled for a paired 4 to leave Muller ninth, worth  $1,915. Muller, 46, is an eye surgeon from Cedar Rapids, IA. He’s had several Heartland Poker Tour cashes, and this is his first final table.

8th place: It didn’t take long to lose another player. We had a classic match-up: pocket queens for an all-in Jason Fennell,     for Kats. A board of         gave Kats 15 ways to knock Fennell out, with a club, an ace, or a king. A jack of clubs rivered, and Kats’ flush gave Fennell, a 27-year-old army sergeant from Chicago, his discharge to eighth place, which paid $2,782.

7th place: With blinds of 10,000-20,000, Mitchell Ricknell found himself all in and in bad shape with A-10 against Kats’ A-Q. A board of 7-10-J-5-3 left both players with 10s, and Kats’ ace kicker was the decider as Ricknell took home $3,838. Ricknell, 49, from Pittsburg, Kansas, is self-employed. He won the Masters of Oklahoma tournament twice and played in a WSOP Main Event.

6th place: For the fourth time a player would go all in, and for the fourth time fail to get out. The victim this time was Duane Gerleman, ahead with A-Q against Mark Fink’s K-J. The flop was 10-3-2, and then Fink caught a fourth-street king to outrun Gerleman and leave him in sixth place, paying $4,787. This was the third final table in this tournament series for Gerleman, a 54-year-old farmer from Ridgeway, Iowa.  His other cashes include a 23rd out of 2,240 entrants in the WSOP Seniors event two years ago.

Blinds jumped twice, to 12,000-24,000, before we had another all-in. This time it was Danny Parde, who had A-8 to Pape’s pocket kings. For the first time we had a survival when Parde paired his ace on the flop.

5th place: Scott Pape went out with pocket 10s when Kats flopped an ace to his A-6. Pape, 54, is a maintenance technician from Omaha who’s played weekly tournaments here for the last four years. He took out $5,774 for fifth.

4th place: Soon after, Michael Dreiger, 59, a programmer from Omaha, checked out fourth for $6,702 when his A-9 could not overtake Kats’ A-K. Last year he finished seventh in a similar event here.

3rd place: This event got heads-up when Mark Fink went out on a bad beat. He had A-J against Parde’s A-3. Both players were nearly even chips, but Parde just had his opponent covered. The board came K-3-7-9-5, and Parde’s paired trey knocked Fink out in third place, which paid $7,659. Fink is 30, from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and works in his family electrical contracting business. He has four Circuit and two WSOP cashes.

2nd place: The final match lasted just under an hour. Kats started with the lead, but Parde was never far behind as the chips went back and forth. With blinds now at 20,000-40,000 and 5,000 antes, the killer hand came down. The flop showed 8-7-3, and all the chips went in the middle. Parde, with    , was in the lead with a paired 8, while Kats, with    , had two overcards and an inside straight draw. A 9 turned to give Kats a straight, and Parde, drawing dead, was suddenly down to 80,000 chips. Parde was all in on the next hand with     against Kats’    . A board of 4-2-8-Q-J didn’t make any difference, and Kats had his first big cash.

Parde, 33, a U.S. Postal Service mailman from Lincoln, Nebraska, was making his second Circuit final table. His second-place finish paid him $15,318. He also has a couple of cashes in the Poker Classic events here. –Max Shapiro