TUNICA, MS. – As early as the Civil War, poker has been wildly popular among American soldiers. Even president Ulysses S. Grant was a known poker player with historians partly attributing his strategic prowess as a Union General to his skill on the felt.  

Today, as it was then, time served in the military is when many servicemen become indoctrinated into the game.

The winner of the $345 buy-in, Omaha 8 hi-lo ring event #3 at Harrah’s Tunica, Jessie Bryant is no exception.

Bryant, who in 2003, fought in Operation Iraqi freedom as a member of the US Army Reserve, says that before joining the Army, he had never even been to a casino.   

Bryant says that he learned poker while serving in Iraq and confirms that it is as popular with the troops today as it was among Union and Confederate soldiers 150 years ago.

“It’s huge out there,” said Bryant. “It’s one of the best pastimes because it’s a lot of fun and you don’t need electricity or much else. It’s not about the money but just to pass the time.”

Indeed, poker is widely popular among American troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world with countless poker leagues and home games serving as a bright point in an otherwise stressful and trying workday or workweek.

Bryant said that the dollar tournaments that he played in during his service in Iraq as a member of a bomb squad were the foundation of his poker playing skills and along with his faith, helped see him through those challenging times.

They also helped see him through the field of 155 Omaha 8 players who competed in the two-day event, all the way to the final table.




Chip Count

Jessie Bryant

Conway, AR



Casey Hayes

Chicago, IL



Chris Logue

Azle, TX



Lindell Price

Memphis, TN



Claudangelo Beaudouin

South Ozone Park, NY



Kyle Milam

Little Rock, AR



David Whitis

Nashville, TN



Mark Pharo

Birmingham, AL



Jay Pettlon

St. Louis, MO



Kenneth McLendon

Tillatoba, MS





Tenth Place

The ten returning players began day-two just after 2:00 pm with blinds at 4.000/8,000 and 8,000-16,000 limits.

There was little significant action until the 5,000/10,000 level when Bryant, Chris Logue and Claudangelo Beaudouin saw a flop of    . Bryant bet out, Logue called and Beaudouin moved all-in for 3,000 more. Bryant and Lougue called to see a   turn.

Bryant led the betting through the   river, taking the pot with Q-Q-J-6 and sending Beaudouin to the rail in tenth place. Beaudouin, who final tabled the Omaha 8 ring event at Harrah’s Atlantic City in December, again fell short in his bid for the ring, but pocketed $844.

Ninth Place                 

Jay Pettlon, David Whitis and Logue saw a flop of     after which Whitis moved all-in. The other two players called and the turn came  . Logue bet his opponent off his hand to take the side pot. The river was the  , giving Logue a pair of queens. Whitis mucked, yielding the pot and ending his tournament run. The 35-year-old Nashville, TN resident collected $1,042 for nint

Eighth Place

With blinds now at the 6,000-12,000 level, Kenneth McLendon was the next to go after getting scooped all-in by Pettlon, who made a flush along with the nut low. McLendon is a 42-year-old sod farmer from Tillatoba, MS. Eighth place paid $1,306.

Seventh Place

Shortly after being quartered in a massive pot by Mark Pharo, 36-year-old Lindell Price of Memphjis, TN was eliminated by Casey Hayes, who made two pair, kings and jacks on a J-8-K-J-2 board. Price mucked his hand and headed to the payout table to collect seventh place prize money, worth $1,665.

Sixth Place

Logue opened for 24,000, getting calls from Hayes and Milam, who was all-in. The two live players checked a     flop and   turn before Hayes fired out 24,000 after the river  .

Logue called and the two split the pot, leaving Milam out in the cold. Milam, a 33-year-old car salesman turned poker pro from Little Rock, AR., earned $2,157 for sixth.

Fifth Place

A few hands after the blinds increased to 8,000/15,000, Hayes was all-in preflop for 47,000 with     . Logue made the call, tabling     . Hayes missed his wheel draw after the board played out 4-K-A-10-A and his tournament run was over.  Hayes is a 29-year-old financial advisor from Chicago, IL. He took home $2,842 for fifth.


Fourth Place

To say Pharo had an up and down final table is an understatement, the day saw him a few times near the top of the pack, down to only a couple of blinds and back up again. He ended on a downswing after Logue scooped him all-in while also taking over 120,000 off of Bryant’s stack with a 2-3-6-5-7 low and king high flush. Pharo, a 41-year-old real estate agent from Birmingham, AL collected $3,811 for his two-day effort.


Third Place

Pettlon was the third place finisher. He was eliminated on a pre-flop all-in with      vs. Bryant’s      after the board was dealt 6-K-7-5-J. The 42-year-old self-employed resident of St. Louis, MO pocketed $5,200 for third.


Second Place

Heads up play began at 6pm with blinds at 15,000/30,000 and Bryant with a small lead over Logue. Bryant managed to run Logue down to 15,000 which he was able to build back up to 150,000 after doubling in a few successive all-ins and.


The final hand of the night saw Logue open for 60,000 and Bryant make the call before a     flop. Bryant bet out 30,000 and Logue was all-in for 60,000 total. With      in the hole vs. Bryant’s     , Logue was left needing a king, ten or queen to survive, neither of which came on the deuce turn and jack river.


For his runner-up finish, Logue took home $7,223.


Bryant’s victory was worth $11,687 in prize money along with the WSOP Circuit Event ring and 50 points toward the Harrah’s Tunica casino championship, tying him with previous ring event winners, Brad Clay and William Wellman.


“I feel great,” Bryant said after the win. “I wish there were some more money in the prize pool, but it’s great to get the ring.”

“A little of both,” said Bryant, now a real estate investor, when asked if he would be investing more of his newfound winnings in property or in the felt.

“I do have some land I’m trying to work on right now though and a lot of other ideas in my head, so this will help.”

Still to come are 40 events and 7 ring events. See the complete Harrah’s Tunica Circuit schedule and previous results here.  The WSOP Circuit at Tunica runs through February 15th. You can find the complete 2010/2011 WSOP CIRCUIT SCHEDULE here.