West Palm Beach, FL (Feb. 23) – Brent Carter has seen just about everything and done just about everything in tournament poker.
But what happened in the most recent World Series of Poker Circuit tournament held at the Palm Beach Kennel Club is most certainly a first.
Down to just two players with a WSOP Circuit title and gold ring at stake, Carter asked for the time clock to be stopped in order to take a desperately-needed restroom break.  Tournament rules normally do not allow for clock stoppage, since players are given breaks at intermittent levels.  Accordingly, Carter was informed the clock would not be stopped.
Unfortunately for Carter, he had no other option than to sit at the table like a scolded child and continue playing.  Since the betting limits were relatively high in proportion to his stack size and he was out-chipped by his opponent, Carter could ill afford to walk away and miss a few hands in order to run to the restroom.  
Instead, Carter decided that he had to play very fast or possibly risk creating a most unusual spectacle at the final table – one which might have required a pair of surgical gloves and a mop.
Carter rammed and jammed and bulldozed over his opponent the next few hands.  Moments later, he was declared the champion of the $345 H.O.R.S.E. competition (Event #5).  Carter collected $13,454 in prize money for first place.  He was also presented with his first WSOP Circuit gold ring, the coveted prize awarded to all winners in poker’s biggest and most prestigious national tournament series.  

Incredibly, this was the first WSOP Circuit title for the two-time WSOP gold bracelet winner who has earned nearly $3 million over the course of his long poker career.  He now has 16 major tournament wins.  Carter’s gold bracelets came in 1991 (Seven-Card Stud) and 1994 (Omaha High).

“Honestly, if I did not have to go to the restroom so bad, I would never have played those hands,” Carter said matter-of-factly, revealing the esoteric secrets to his poker success.  “Since they would not stop the clock, I had to do something or it could have been a real mess.”

No doubt, poker training sites and book publishers will soon be beating down a path to Brent Carter’s door in order to get him to reveal more of his closely guarded strategy secrets.

This was the fifth of ten gold ring events at this year’s inaugural WSOP Circuit Palm Beach series – meaning the midway point on the schedule has been reached.  The $345 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. tournament attracted a strong field totaling 173 entries.  The prize pool amounted to $50,343.  The top 18 finishers (two tables) collected prize money.

On the first day of play, the field size was reduced from 173 players down to eight survivors.  On the second day, players took their seats at the final table next to the grandstand overlooking the racetrack.  The seating order and starting chip counts were as follows:
SEAT 1:  Tuan Luu (Orlando, FL) – 250,000 in chips    
SEAT 2:  Ken Weiss (Palm Desert, CA) – 220,000 in chips
SEAT 3:  Morty Benowitz (Lake Worth, FL) – 298,000 in chips    
SEAT 4:  Mark Gallo (Atlantis, GA) – 125,000 in chips
SEAT 5:  Michael Palma (Orlando, FL) – 109,000 in chips   
SEAT 6:  Brent Carter (Oak Park, IL) – 270,000 in chips   
SEAT 7:  Adam Smith (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) – 163,000 in chips    
SEAT 8:  Jim Hagan (Brandon, FL) – 289,000 in chips      
Players were eliminated in the following order:

8th Place – Adam Smith, from nearby Palm Beach Gardens, went out first and collected $1,503 in prize money.  He is 27-years-old and works in sales.  This was the third WSOP Circuit tournament Smith has entered.  

7th Place – Mark Gallo went out next and collected $1,916 in prize money.  He owns a franchise of comic book stores.  Gallo has two previous WSOP cashes, as well as cashes at the Binion’s Summer Classic in Las Vegas.    

6th Place – About 90 minutes into play, Michael Palma ran out of chips and ended up in sixth place.  He is a 26-year-old poker pro.  Palma has several big cashes in online tournaments, including a major win in the Sunday Million.  Palma earned $2,483 for this effort.

5th Place – Ken Weiss was the fifth-place finisher.  He is a 41-year-old poker dealer from Palm Desert, CA.  Weiss has previously cashed in a tournament held at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.  This marked his first time to make the money in a WSOP-related event.  Weiss received $3,271.

4th Place – Jim Hagan, a restaurant owner from Brandon, FL went out in fourth place.  He’s entered more than two dozen WSOP Circuit events.  Hagan enjoyed previous cashes at Harrah’s Tunica, and elsewhere.  He earned $4,386 in prize money.

3rd Place – The crowd favorite was unquestionably good time loving Morty Benowitz, a 71-year-old investor living in Lake Worth, FL.  Benowitz started playing poker with his grandfather 65 years ago.  He conveyed that he never was able to beat his grandfather at the game, until he turned 98 years old.  When the younger Benowtiz finally managed to defeat his grandfather in a session of poker, the defeated elder was asked to sign a sworn statement confirming that his grandson had, in fact, finally beat the old master.  When Benowitz looked down at the piece of paper affirming his proud victory, it was discovered that the wise old grandfather had played a trick on everyone by signing a different name.

Benowitz’s carefree spirit was on full display at the final table.  He treated the occasion like a casual Wednesday night poker game and yelled out a number of funny comments when he caught helpful cards.  “The Benowitz Show” brought another tournament taking place at the same time to a near-standstill, with friends and hecklers yelling back words of both encouragement and derision at the fun-loving retiree.

After catching a miracle card on the river during one huge hand when he was all-in, Benowitz barked out, “So, who’s your daddy?”  That chestnut was followed by, “I’m taking no prisoners!”  Finally, he yelled, “Shoot the wounded!”  The rail was in near-hysterics and the huge room full of poker players howled in laughter.

But in the end it was Benowitz who was carried out on the proverbial stretcher.  He eventually busted out in third place and collected $5,984.  This was his first WSOP-related cash.

2nd Place – The runner up was Tuan Luu, who played a nearly perfect final table.  The Vietnamese-born chemist now living in Orlando, FL had previously cashed at a few tournaments in Las Vegas.  But this was his first time to make the money in a WSOP-related event.  He earned a nice consolation prize totaling $8,314.

Luu started heads-up play with a good chance to slay longtime tournament veteran Brent Carter.  He began play with nearly a 2 to 1 chip lead.  But Carter caught a flurry of good fortune at the perfect time and managed not only to seize the chip lead, but won the tournament in a relatively short amount of time.

With limits escalating, all it took was a few hands to put either player all-in.  Carter won virtually all of his chips in heads-up play on the Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split round.  He scooped one huge pot late, which was a major turning point.  Carter closed out the victory a few hands later when he made a club flush, showing ( ) ( )         ( ) versus Luu’s (   )         ( ).  With that, Carter was declared the champion.  He immediately darted away from the final table afterwards.

1st Place – The latest WSOP Circuit winner is Brent Carter.  He has played numerous WSOP Circuit events over the past six years.  Although he has numerous final table appearances and more than 20 Circuit cashes to date, this marked his first time to actually win a WSOP Circuit tournament.

Carter earned a well-deserved $13,454 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.

Carter joined four previous winners Reed Zhao (Event 1), James Giraldo (Event 2), “Tampa Bay Ray” El Cuedo (Event 3), and Chris Lyons (Event #4).  They are now leaders in the point race for the top player at this inaugural Palm Beach series.  The poker player who accumulates the most overall points receives a pre-paid entry into the $1 million 2010-2011 WSOP Circuit National Championship, to be held in May at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.

There are still five more gold ring events remaining on the WSOP Circuit schedule at the Palm Beach Kennel Club.  Poker tournaments run through March 1st.