This Win’s for You, John Hughes -- R.I.P.
University of Nevada Student Matt Hughes Dedicates WSOP Circuit Gold Ring Victory to His Late Grandfather
Stateline, NV – Sometimes poker tournaments have storybook finishes. This was one such occasion.
A day before the most recent World Series of Poker Circuit event was being played at Harveys Lake Tahoe, Matthew Hughes lost his grandfather – John Hughes, from Lincoln, CA. The two were very close.
Desperately in need of a distraction from the grief of losing a loved one, Hughes decided to drive up to Lake Tahoe from his home in Reno. He entered the $500 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which is the sixth of ten WSOP Circuit Events being held at Harveys Lake Tahoe.
Hughes not only found some measure of comfort in his spirited two-day performance, he managed to win first place. Hughes collected $16,730 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. Fittingly, Hughes dedicated the victory and the gold ring to his grandfather.
Hughes is a 23-year-old college student attending the University of Nevada – Reno. He is majoring in finance. Hughes is a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He also deals poker at the Grand Sierra Casino and Resort in Reno.
With his victory, Hughes joined five previous winners as leaders in the overall 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 in Las Vegas.
This was the fourth No-Limit Hold’em gold ring event of the Harveys Lake Tahoe series. However, this was a six-handed tournament, which tends to accelerate betting action. Since blinds rush around the table much more quickly, players usually play more hands. Furthermore, hands that might be marginal at a full nine-handed table increase in value in six-handed games, since fewer hands are dealt out at the table.
Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em games first appeared at various online poker sites. Now, at some sites there are more Six-Handed tables than full ring games. Due to their popularity, the WSOP first introduced Six-Handed tournaments at the 2005 series. They have been a fixture at the WSOP ever since and have been played around the world at many other live tournaments, as well.
This $555 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em tournament began on a Wednesday at noon and ended on Thursday night. The tournament attracted a respectable midweek field size totaling 119 entrants.
The first day opened with 119 players playing down to seven survivors, which took about 13 hours. The final table began at 2 pm, with Matthew Hughes holding the most chips. Greg Haubner was his closest threat, while the remaining players were all behind by a greater than 3 to 1 margin. Three players were desperately low on chips.
The final table began seven-handed, instead of six. This was due to the unfathomable alternative of tables being unbalanced (3 at one table and 4 at another), which would be a significance advantage to players at the fuller table. Hence, in Six-Handed tournaments, the final table usually begins with one extra player.
The finale included at least two players of special note. Woody Moore was coming off his victory in the Main Event at Southern Indiana last month. Jim Pechac, who has numerous tournament cashes over the past 13 years also made the finale.
When the seven finalists took their seats, the seating order and chip counts were as follows:
SEAT 1: Matthew Hughes – 574,000 in chips
SEAT 2: Bryan Schultz (Chicago, IL) – 123,000 in chips
SEAT 3: Jason Thornhill (Houston, TX) – 46,000 in chips
SEAT 4: “Woody” Moore (Las Vegas, NV) – 168,000 in chips
SEAT 5: Greg Haubner (El Dorado Hills, CA) – 440,000 in chips
SEAT 6: Yousri Ali (Chicago, IL) – 18,000 in chips
SEAT 7: Jim Pechac (Phoenix, AZ) – 37,000 in chips
Players were eliminated in the following order:
7th Place –Yousri Ali, a.k.a. “Chicago Ali” came to the final table lowest in chips. He doubled up once, but the busted out a few hands later. Ali’s final hand was Q-J suited, which lost to K-8 after a king came on board. Ali has numerous cashes in WSOP Circuit events around the country and many final tables. His best showing was a second-place finish last year at Harrah’s Rincon near San Diego. Ali, a 54-year-old businessman from Chicago, received a payout totaling $2,301.
6th Place – Robert “Jason” Thornhill was another short-stacked player. He survived about a half hour, but went out when he was forced to make his final stand with Q-3 which lost to K-5. Both players flopped a pair, but in the end Thornhill’s pair of queens were no match for the pair of kings. Thornhill, a 28-year-old poker pro from Houston, TX, accepted $2,991 for sixth place. This marked his fifth time to make a final table appearance at a major tournament.
5th Place – Charles “Woody” Moore suffered some misfortune on his final hand. He ended up making two pair, which lost to a higher two pair. That put Moore out in fifth place with $7,363 in prize money. Moore won the championship at the WSOP Circuit Main Event in Southern Indiana, held in October. He is already guaranteed a seat in the national championship. The retiree from Las Vegas has now appeared at 19 final tables overall this year alone at various tournaments around the country.
4th Place – Jim Pechac is a familiar face on the tournament trail. The Phoenix-based semi-pro has been playing tournament poker for more than a decade. Pechac has numerous final table appearances and cashes on his resume dating back to 1997. He finished second in a WSOP event to Daniel Negreanu in 2003 and third in an Omaha High-Low event in 2008. Pechac was lowest on chips throughout his stay at this final table. He was eliminated holding A-4 which lost to Q-2 after the board came Q-95-2-7, which made two pair for his opponent. Pechac’s share of the prize pool came to $5,348.
3rd Place – Bryan Schultz, a 24-year-old student at Illinois State University, was expelled from the final table after about two hours into play. He was short-stacked against two Goliaths, and moved all-in with K-5 hoping to steal a round of blinds. His raise was called by A-2. The board came J-4-2-A-Q, making two pair for the big stack and nothing for Schultz. Therefore, he ended up with third place and $7,363 in prize money.
2nd Place – Greg Haubner, who works as a distributor and lives in El Dorado Hills, CA, finished as the runner up. He had the chip lead during much of the finale, but lost his edge when play went to heads-up. The father of four received a very respectable consolation prize amounting to $10,341.
When heads up play began, the chip counts were close to even, although Greg Haubner enjoyed a slight advantage. But Hughes gradually chipped away at his opponent and seized the chip lead. The last hand was dealt after about an hour of heads-up play. Hughes was dealt . Haubner was dealt Td 9d. The flop made things interesting for everyone watching. The first three cards were . Haubner had an inside straight draw. The on the turn gave Haubner four more outs. Needing a K, 10, 9, or a 6 – Huabner bricked on the final card as the fell on the river. Matt Hughes was declared the champion, with Haubner taking second place.
1st Place – Matthew Hughes, a 23-year-old college student and poker dealer won his first WSOP Circuit gold ring. He collected $16,730 in prize money.
Matthew Hughes joined the following players as WSOP Circuit gold ring winners so far at Harveys Lake Tahoe:
Phillip Hui (Event #1 champion -- NLHE)
Manh Tran (Event #2 champion -- NLHE)
James Sparks (Event #3 champion – Omaha High-Low Split)
Devin Jackson (Event #4 champion – H.O.R.S.E.)
Cyle Curtis (Event #5 champion – NLHE)
The Main Event No-Limit Hold’em Championship starts this coming Sunday, November 20th. The buy-in is $1,600. Single-table and mega-satellites are running regularly inside the Harveys Lake Tahoe Poker Room.
With the conclusion of the sixth gold ring event at Harveys, a total of 1,366 players have participated in this year's WSOP Circuit here in Lake Tahoe. That means each event has attracted an average of 228 players. With a busy weekend expected coming up, this figure will likely increase.
The impressive attendance figures at Harveys Lake Tahoe are 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-Resort and Spa in Biloxi also produced impressive numbers.
Harveys Lake Tahoe 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 cost $39 on 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 HARVEYS 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.