Las Vegas (April 17, 2011) – Poker may be more about skill than chance. But Randy Huberty is on a lucky streak.
The 54-year-old recreational poker player from Kentucky won the most recent World Series of Poker Circuit event, held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Huberty collected first place prize money totaling $29,047. He was also presented with his first WSOP Circuit gold ring, the ultimate prize awarded to all tournament champions.
Huberty’s success at the poker table aside, he was far more fortunate in the bigger game of life. He recently received a liver transplant. Huberty has been getting positive medical reports since then, and now appears well on the road to making a full recovery and living a healthy life. No doubt, Huberty was far more thrilled to win that “all-in” battle which took place in an operating room. But a WSOP Circuit win at Caesars Palace isn’t too shabby, either.
Huberty works as a construction supervisor. However, he is now semi-retired. Huberty came to Las Vegas on vacation earlier this week with his wife. He decided to enter this tournament after seeing the WSOP Circuit was being played during his stay at Caesars Palace. A casual decision to spend a day at the tables and a few lucky breaks in the tournament led to achieving his first major tournament victory.
To make the victory even sweeter, Huberty won in style. He made a big comeback when playing heads-up against a tough opponent named Brian Hunt. Huberty was behind in chips at one point by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. But just when his wife Shelley entered the poker room to cheer on her favorite poker player, Huberty raked in a huge pot and seized the chip lead. Two hands later, it was all over, with Huberty hugging his wife in celebration of the victory.
Following his triumph, Huberty called his son Andrew on his cell phone, who is enrolled at the University of Kentucky. He said his son could not have been prouder of his dad. Indeed, winning this tournament was a very special personal moment for the Huberty Family, who all share a piece of the gold ring symbolizing victory, made all the more poignant overcoming far more serious personal challenges.
Alas, Randy Huberty is a champion – in more ways than one.
Huberty won the $500 (+60) buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament, classified at Event #2. This was the second of ten official gold ring events at Caesars Palace Las Vegas. The total prize pool amounted to $118,560. The top 27 finishers collected prize money. A full list of all players who cashed in EVENT 2 can be seen here.
Attendance for the first two events increased from last year. The field size of 247 players for Event #2 surpassed last year’s attendance figure (195 players) by 26 percent for the same event. Combined attendance for the first two events played at Caesars Palace is now at 695 players, which is up 18 percent over the first two tournaments played in 2010.
The tournament was played over two days. After most of the starting field was eliminated on Day One, 18 survivors returned for Day Two action. It took a few hours to play down to the final ten.
Final table play began on a Sunday afternoon in the top section of the Caesars Palace Poker Room. The finalists and their starting chip counts were as follows:
Seat 1: Neil Webber (Austin, TX) – 160,000 in chips
Seat 2: Randy Huberty (La Grange, KY) – 420,000 in chips
Seat 3: Akio Ishii (Tokyo, Japan) -- 434,000 in chips
Seat 4: Raju Jawalekar (Las Vegas, MV) – 159,000 in chips
Seat 5: Brian Hunt (Pearland, TX) – 445,000 in chips
Seat 6: Brandon Bowyer (Murrieta, CA) – 379,000 in chips
Seat 7: Bryce Daifuku (Las Vegas, NV) – 214,000 in chips
Seat 8: Richard Jackson (Key West, FL) – 409,000 in chips
Seat 9: Darren Michels (Henderson, NV) – 118,000 in chips
Seat 10: Barry Clapp (Calgary, AB Canada) – 238,000 in chips
Final table action began at 4 pm and ended at 10 pm. Players were eliminated in the following order.
Tenth Place: Bryce Daifuku lasted about a half hour before busting out. He is a 25-year-old poker pro from Las Vegas. Daifuku previously worked in biochemistry research before pursuing the game full time. His previous tournament cashes include a win at the North American Poker Tour stop in Los Angeles, last year. He also cashed twice in last year’s WSOP in Las Vegas.
Ninth Place: Darren Michels made his first WSOP Circuit final table appearance. In fact, this was the first time he had entered a WSOP-related event. Unfortunately, he busted out after taking a bad beat. Michels is a 44-year-old poker from nearby Henderson, NV.
Eighth Place: Neil Webber, a 49-year-old software engineer from Austin, TX finished in eighth place. He has enjoyed a number of previous cashes in major tournaments, including quite a few in-the-money finishes in the Venetian Deep Stack series.
Seventh Place: The seventh-place finisher was Raju Jawalekar, from Las Vegas, NV. He is a Indian-born software developer. Jawalekar created and developed an iphone application called “PokerCruncher,” which is an advanced poker odds calculator.
Sixth Place: Richard Jackson, a retiree from Key West, FL was the sixth-place finisher. He has cashed in a few other tournaments, including the Wynn Classic. Jackson was one of the early chip leaders, but went card dead at the worst time of the tournament and ended up with the mixed blessing of a middle of the pack finish.
Fifth Place: Barry Clapp finished in fifth place. He is an attorney from Calgary, Alberta (Canada) who specializes in employment law. Clapp could applaud his fine effort in this tournament. He has now cashed nearly a dozen times in various tournaments played in Las Vegas the past year. Clapp also previously cashed in the Canadian Poker Championship, a few years ago.
Fourth Place: Akio Ishii, who is visiting the U.S. from Japan, ended up as the fourth-place finisher. Had he won this tournament, he would have become only the second Japanese citizen in history to win a WSOP-related tournament. The first Japanese winner was Jaeik Cho, who earned his victory a few months ago at Caesars Atlantic City. Ishii is a 64-year-old businessman who cashed twice at the WSOP, both times occurring in the Seniors Championship.
Third Place: Brandon Bowyer went from having a lot of chips to the rail within a relatively short time frame. He had a big stack, but lost nearly half of his chips when he ran into pocket aces. A short time later Bowyer moved all-in on a semi-bluff with a huge draw, but missed. Bowyer can be proud of the fact he has played in four WSOP Circuit events and has cashed in two of them. His fine effort in this tournament was good for $12,967 in prize money.
Second Place: Brian Hunt finished as the runner up. The last ten minutes of the tournament were a nightmare for the 37-year-old pest control specialist from Pearland, TX. He appeared on his way to a victory. However, Hunt missed to big draws late and had to settle for a consolation prize amounting to $17,948.
Note: Hunt works for his own company, “Hunt’s Pest Control.” He asked for a special plug in the official tournament report. Anyone with serious bug problems in the Houston area would be well advised to call upon Mr. Hunt.
When heads-up play began, the bug butcher enjoyed nearly a 3 to 1 chip advantage. The two finalists battled for only a short time. The first big hit took place when Hunt moved all-in on a straight draw, but missed. He lost to a pair of sevens. The final hand was dealt a short time later. The cards were played as follows:
All the chips went in on after the flop. Both players flopped top pair, but Huberty held the better kicker. Hunt bet out 70,000 in chips. Huberty re-raised all-in, which was called. Huberty had his opponent covered by about a 2 to 1 margin. The turn and river failed to improve Hunt’s hand. Huberty won the final pot of the tournament with a pair of aces, plus a jack kicker.
First Place: Randy Huberty became the latest WSOP Circuit champion. He received $29,047 for first place. Huberty earned his first major tournament victory and first WSOP Circuit gold ring. Huberty’s best previous showing was third place in a tournament played in Louisville, KY called the “Poor Boy Classic.” After his impressive win here in Las Vegas, one presumes Huberty will be ineligible to enter that same event next year.
Huberty joins yesterday’s winner Giuseppe Biancoviso atop of the leaderboard as early point leaders in the Best-All Around race for the Caesars Palace series. The player who accumulates the most overall points in the ten gold ring tournaments receives a pre-paid entry into the $1 million 2010-2011 WSOP Circuit National Championship, to be held at Caesars Palace Las Vegas, next month. At least two players from Caesars Palace will qualify for the WSOP gold bracelet event.
There are eight more gold ring events remaining. The WSOP Circuit at Caesars Palace continues through April 30th. This year’s schedule includes ten gold ring events, along with multiple second-chance tournaments, single table and mega satellites, plus cash games going around the clock inside the Caesars Poker Room. A FULL SCHEDULE can be seen here.