Golf Pro Phillip Hui Aces Opener at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe
First WSOP Circuit Event in High Sierras Draws 407 Entrants – 17 Percent Increase over Last Year
Stateline, NV – The winner of the opening World Series of Poker Circuit event held at Harveys Lake Tahoe was Phillip Hui, from San Antonio, TX.
Hui is a 22-year-old golf pro. He played golf in college, while attending the University of Texas at San Antonio. Starting last spring, Hui played in half of the golf tournaments on the Adams Golf Pro Tour Series. He passed the first stage of qualifying for the PGA, but just missed making the tour this past year. Hui, who describes his two passions as golf (first) and poker (second) hopes to make another run at the PGA tour next year.
Hui collected $25,494 in prize money. He was also presented with the gold ring, which is the ultimate token of achievement given for winning a WSOP Circuit event. This was his first WSOP-related tournament victory following two previous cashes in Circuits events.
With his victory, Hui became the early leader in the point race for the top player at this year’s Harveys Lake Tahoe series. The poker player who accumulates the most overall points receives a freeroll entry into the $1 million 2010-2011 WSOP Circuit National Championship, to be held next May.
This $345 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament began on a Friday and ended late on Saturday night. The tournament attracted 407 entrants, which was up significantly from last year’s number, at 348 players.
The first day opened with 407 players playing down to 29 survivors. The final table finally began at 6 pm during a busy weekend at the Nevada-California border resort. Phillip Hui held a decisive chip lead and never lost his advantage. When the ten finalists took their seats, the seating order and chip counts were as follows:
SEAT 1: Andrew Barber (Sacramento, CA) – 691,000
SEAT 2: Ted White (San Jose, CA) – 241,000
SEAT 3: Bryan Shank (Citrus Heights, CA) – 358,000
SEAT 4: Phillip Hui (San Antonio, TX) – 1,157,000
SEAT 5: Ismael Silva (Oakland, CA) – 120,000
SEAT 6: Merle Avila (Sebastopol, CA) – 231,000
SEAT 7: Russell Cooper (Healdsburg, CA) – 136,000
SEAT 8: Tim O’Brien (San Francisco, CA) – 597,000
SEAT 9: Nick Coukos (Richmond Hill, Ontario – Canada) – 333,000
SEAT 10: Soarabh Gupta (San Francisco, CA) – 226,000
Players were eliminated in the following order:
10th Place – The short-stacked Ismael Silva was eliminated quickly. The auto painter from Oakland, CA was airbrushed off the final table after he moved all-in with A-Q, when ended up losing to pocket kings.
9th Place – Russell Cooper, a 51-year-old real estate broker from Healdsburg, CA was the second lowest in chips when final table play began. He moved all-in about 20 minutes into play holding K-4, after catching a four on the flop. But Cooper ended up losing to pocket jacks. Cooper, who has traveled extensively and plays poker regularly, collected $2,410 in prize money.
8th Place – Ted White, from San Jose, CA suffered a tough blow on what turned out to be his final hand. He ended up making his flush, which lost to a full house. White pushed all-in with A-6 suited diamonds. He was up against pocket jacks. The final board showed J-8-7-8-3, with three diamonds. The flush was to no avail. White, who works as a meat cutter, was butchered in eighth place, which paid $3,017.
7th Place – Bryan Shank was eliminated in a three-way pot. Shank was dealt A-2 offsuit and faced two hands -- K-Q suited and pocket threes. The flop essentially killed Shank’s chance of making a comeback as Nick Coukos flopped a set of threes. The final board ended up giving Coukos a full house, which tripled him up and put Shank out on the rail in seventh place. Shank, an insurance agent from Citrus Heights, CA collected a nice poker commission amounting to $3,831.
6th Place – Soarabh Gupta went bust on a hand that pretty much masqueraded as poker’s equivalent of getting run over by a roaring freight train. Gupta moved all-in holding A-6. The flop initially looked good for Gupta, as A-J-J came on board, giving him aces up. Trouble was -- Phillip Hui had been dealt J-J and made quad jacks. Gupta, from San Francisco, CA staggered away from the final table in sixth place, worth $4,932 in prize money.
5th Place – About three hours into play, former WSOP Circuit gold ring winner Nick Coukos was eliminated in fifth place. Coukos made things interesting for awhile, especially after he tripled up and had about 700,000 in chips at one point. But Coukos ran card dead late and ended up collecting $6,444 in prize money. Coukos, who won his gold ring at Caesars Palace Las Vegas last year, previously worked as a horse racetrack executive.
4th Place – Merle Avila, an architect from Sebastopol, CA was the fourth-place finisher. He lost a few big hands late and then finally went out when he was forced to play a weak hand which did not improve. Avila, who finished sixth in this same event back in 2008, added another impressive finish to his tournament resume. He earned $8,546 in prize money.
3rd Place – Andrew Barber was the third-place finisher. The poker pro from Sacramento, CA busted out with 10-9, which was bested by A-K. An ace flopped, which took away Barber’s last chip. The former engineer could certainly be proud of his finish, which paid $11,510.
2nd Place – Tim O’Brien, a 32-year-old poker pro was the runner up. He made a strong late run and was a serious threat to Phillip Hui after he managed to double up at one point. But O’Brien was never able to gain the chip lead and eventually went out with $15,752 in prize money.
The final hand of the tournament was dealt when Hui had about a 2 to 1 advantage over O’Brien. Hui was dealt 9h 9s against O’Brien’s 6h 5h. On the turn, the board showed 8d 8c 7d 6s. That gave both players a straight draw. But Hui enjoyed a big advantage with the bigger pair (nines). O’Brien needed to catch a 4 or 6, but missed when the Jd tumbled down on the river.
1st Place – Phillip Hui was thrilled with his first major live tournament victory. He plays regularly online and has won tournaments at various sites. But this was his best cash in a live tournament. Hui collected $25,494, the WSOP Circuit gold ring, and the early point lead at Harveys Lake Tahoe.
The impressive opening number at Harveys Lake Tahoe is consistent with big turnouts at all WSOP Circuit stops, so far. All four WSOP Circuit events have experienced increases in both attendance and prize money. Numbers were up significantly at Council Bluffs, Hammond (Chicago), and Southern Indiana. A new addition to this year’s schedule held at the IP Casino-Reort and Spa in Biloxi also produced impressive numbers.
Several inches of snow on the ground and a winter wonderland atmosphere outdoors could not freeze the enthusiasm of hundreds of poker players who showed up this weekend at Harveys Lake Tahoe. The casino-resort is located on the south shore of crystal blue Lake Tahoe, beneath a wall of snow-capped mountains, making for one of the most astounding views of any poker destination in the world.
Northern Nevada has a rich poker history. Few may remember that the WSOP had its origins, not in Las Vegas, but rather in Northern Nevada. The first WSOP-style tournament was played in Reno at the Holiday Casino in 1969. That first gathering of poker players was called the "Second Annual Gambling Fraternity Convention," and was won by Crandell Addington, later a Poker Hall of Fame inductee. Poker patriarch Benny Binion was so impressed with the concept that he held the first WSOP the following year at Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas, in 1970.
Now some 41 years later, poker remains alive and well in the Reno-Lake Tahoe area. In addition to the ten scheduled gold ring events on this year’s schedule, there are nightly No-Limit Hold'em tournaments and plenty of mega-satellites. Cash games are going on inside the poker room around the clock.
Poker players can still come and join the action. Hotel reservations can be made by calling 1-800-HARRAHS. Ask for a special tournament player’s rate under the code: "WSOP1" Special hotel rates are $39 weekdays and $69 for Friday nights. Saturday nights are based on availability. Hotel reservations can also be made online at http://www.harveystahoe.com.
This year, all players on the WSOP Circuit can accumulate points which are used to qualify towards the WSOP Circuit National Championship tournament, to be held in May 2011 in Las Vegas. The $1 million freeroll tournament will be nationally televised and will be open to only 100 qualifiers. For the first time ever, a WSOP gold bracelet will be presented to the winner.
The 2010-2011 World Series of Poker Circuit schedule – which includes all upcoming tour stops and dates -- can be viewed here.
ABOUT THE WSOP
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the largest, richest and most prestigious gaming event in the world awarding millions of dollars in prize money and the prestigious gold bracelet, globally recognized as the sport's top prize. Featuring a comprehensive slate of tournaments in every major poker variation, the WSOP is poker's longest running tournament in the world, dating back to 1970. In 2010, the event attracted 72,966 entrants from 117 different countries to the Rio in Las Vegas and awarded over $187 million in prize money. In addition, the WSOP has formed groundbreaking alliances in broadcasting, digital media and corporate sponsorships, while successfully expanding the brand internationally with the advent in 2007 of the World Series of Poker Europe. The WSOP Circuit Tour is entering its seventh season in 2010-11, and will feature 12 stops throughout the U.S., plus for the first ever, a stop in South Africa. For more information on the World Series of Poker, please visit www.WSOP.com.
ABOUT HARRAH’S ENTERTAINMENT, INC.
Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. is the world's largest provider of branded casino entertainment. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada, more than 70 years ago, Harrah's has grown through development of new properties, expansions and acquisitions, and now owns or manages casinos on four continents. The Company's properties operate primarily under the Harrah's®, Caesars® and Horseshoe® brand names; Harrah's also owns the London Clubs International family of casinos and the World Series of Poker®. Harrah's Entertainment is focused on building loyalty and value with its customers through a unique combination of great service, excellent products, unsurpassed distribution, operational excellence and technology leadership. For more information, please visit www.harrahs.com.
ABOUT HARVEY’S LAKE TAHOE RESORT & CASINO
Harveys Resort & Casino is the largest resort casino property at Lake Tahoe. A wide variety of resort features include: 740 rooms and suites; nearly 75,000 square feet of casino space; five great restaurants including the stunning 19 Kitchen • Bar (overlooking beautiful Lake Tahoe), Hard Rock Cafe, Sammy Hagar’s famous Cabo Wabo Cantina and the elegant Sage Room Steakhouse (est. 1947); a full-service health club and pool; elaborate convention center services; Harveys Cabaret theatre (home of the Improv Comedy Club); race and sportsbook; poker room; wedding chapel; and family arcade. Harveys also presents the celebrated Lake Tahoe Summer Concert Series, which features superstar artists including Elton John, Eagles, Bob Dylan, Kenny Chesney and many more. In 2010, Harveys Resort & Casino was awarded 35 Casino Player Magazine Best of Gaming Awards including: Best Steakhouse (Sage Room); Best Headliners; Best Video and Reel Slots; Best Race/Sportsbook; Best Poker Room and Best Poker Tournaments. For more information and reservations, please visit: www.HarveysTahoe.com.