Atlantic City, NJ (March 4, 2011) – There are two types of “running good.”  There is the running good which intermittently blesses every poker player.  Then, there is the running good which delivered Peter Ippolito’s first major career tournament victory.

Ippolito made an absolute mockery of the competition in the latest World Series of Poker Circuit tournament, held at Caesars Atlantic City.  He demolished a highly-competitive field of 254 players en route to a $30,181 first-place cash prize.  Following his victory -- which increasingly seemed like a foregone conclusion as the field size gradually decreased in number -- Ippolito was presented with his first WSOP Circuit gold ring, the coveted symbol of victory awarded to all winners in poker’s biggest and most prestigious national tournament series. 

During the later stages of the tournament, Ippolito won virtually every confrontation in which he was involved.  It didn’t matter if he was the favorite or the dog when the chips moved in.  His wish list of cards magically hit the board, time and time again.  Perhaps no hand illustrated Ippolito’s good fortune more than a critical hand which took place right before the final table started.  Ippolito was dealt A-K (clubs).  He was all-in against an opponent holding A-K (spades).  The vast majority of situations split the pot.  But Ippolito caught three clubs and seized the chip lead.  That fortuitous sense of impeccable timing fashioned a poker player who was essentially unbeatable.

This is not to say that Ippolito was simply lucky.  To the contrary, he is a very strong player who clearly deserved the win.  If anything is learned or reinforced from this tournament, it’s that a good poker player running good is very tough to beat. 


The 12-day poker festival on the Jersey Shore continued with a $570 buy in No-Limit Hold’em tournament, classified as Event >.  The total prize pool amounted to $123,190.  The top 27 finishers collected prize money.  A list of all players who cashed can be seen HERE.

The tournament was played over two days.  After most of the field was eliminated short of a payout on Day One, the following session included just 24 survivors.  It took another three hours to play down to the final table of ten players.

Final table play began on a Friday evening inside the Palladium Ballroon, located on the second floor at Caesars Atlantic City.  The ten finalists and their starting chip counts were as follows:

Seat 1    Brian Adragna    256,000 in chips
Seat 2    Dimitrios Sotiropoulos    556,000 in chips
Seat 3    Mike T. Coleman    145,000 in chips
Seat 4    Peter Ippolito    726,000 in chips
Seat 5    Andrew Caldarelli    180,000 in chips
Seat 6    Greg Joslyn    191,000 in chips
Seat 7    Eric Grosberger    156,000 in chips
Seat 8    Leonardo0 Palermo    202,000 in chips
Seat 9    Esfandiar Daka    446,000 in chips
Seat 10    Todor Blaevski    191,000 in chips

The final table began at 4:30 pm and ended at 8:30 pm.  Clocking in at only four hours, this was one of the shorter finales held at Caesars in recent memory.  Players were eliminated in the following order.

Tenth Place:  Just a few hands into play, Greg Joslyn ran into a cooler.  He was dealt J-J and immediately moved all-in.  His raise was called instantly by an opponent who tabled Q-Q.  The dominant queens held up, busting the jacks and bouncing Josyln to the rail.  He received the mixed blessing of an early exit, with a $2,243 payout.  With a cash here at Caesars, Josyln – who is a self-described “poker wannabe” from Middletown, NY -- is now very much in the running for one of the at-large spots in the national points rankings for the season-ending championship.  This marks his third time this season to make the top ten in a WSOP Circuit event.

Ninth Place:  Every tournament announcer’s worst nightmare was eliminated next.  Dimitrios Sotiropoulos arrived at the final table ranked second in chips.  But his 20-minute stay was a disaster.  Sotiropoulos lost each of the pots he entered and went busto with Q-J against A-5, after an ace flopped.  The chief financial officer from Edgewater, NJ got a little sugar from the prize pool and was paid $2,761.  Nevertheless, Soriropoulos had to believe he should have finished higher given his starting stack when play began.  
Eighth Place:  A half hour later, Eric Grosberger picked up an ill-timed pocket pair, and ultimately exited in eighth place.  He was low on chips and shoved pre-flop with pocket sixes.  The raise was snap called by a player with pocket aces.  Adding insult to injury, an ace flopped, which kicked Grosberger over to the curb.  The field technician from Levittown, NY who is a highly-successful online poker player, earned $3,453. 

Seventh Place:  Leonardo Palermo busted out about two hours into play.  He took a tough beat when his A-T was topped by K-9.  The board came A-9-3-K-5, giving Palermo top pair, but making two pair for the K-9.  Palermo, a futures trader from Toms River, NJ would love to have traded his future for a higher finish in this tournament.  Instead, he collected $4,385 for seventh place.  Palermo has a very impressive record in live tournaments.  In the 16 total major events he has entered, he has made five final tables.

Sixth Place:  Mike T. Coleman arrived in the final ten with the shortest stack size.  He managed to move four spots up the money ladder, but finally went out about three hours into play.  Coleman’s hand of doom came when he was dealt A-5 suited and moved all-in after flopping a pair of fives.  He got a call from the giant stack, who showed two overcards (A-8).  An eight on the turn torched Coleman’s comeback dream.  He earned $5,660 in prize money.  Coleman is a 23-year-old graduate of Rider University, now living in Hillsborough, NJ.

Fifth Place:  Moments later, Esfandiar Dara was eliminated in fifth place.  He pushed all-in pre-flop with A-4 suited and ran into A-K.  Neither player improved, which meant Dara ended up with $7,428.  Dara is a 71-year-old retiree originally from Iran, who previously managed a restaurant.  He finished 178th out of more than 7,000 players in the 2007 WSOP Main Event.

Fourth Place:  Todor Blaevski, who was born in Macedonia and now lives in Wayne, NJ ended up as the fourth-place finisher.  Blaevski ran low on chips late and moved all-in holding A-3.  Up against super-stacked Ippolito, Blaevski watched in disappointment as his opponent’s K-8 matched a king on the flop.  That put the 55-year-old poker player out with $9,915.

Third Place:  Andrew Caldarelli was Ippolito’s next unfortunate victim.  Like the previous bust-out, Caldarelli hled the best hand when all his chips moved to center table – which is all one can ask in tournament poker.  Caldrelli’s Q-Q confronted Ippolito’s A-7.  Just when it appeared that Ippolito might take his first serious blow of the tournament, an ace hit the river, magically making a higher pair.  The ugly/beautiful ace was the nearly final and fateful exclamation point on Ippolito’s coronation as a poker champion.  Meanwhile, Caldarelli was forced to settle for $13,473 on prize money.

Second Place:  The runner up was Brian Adragna, who is a 35-year-old doorman at a luxury hotel.  He was rather rudely shown the exit himself only moments after playing down to the final two spots.  Nevertheless, Adragna did collect a nice gratuity from the prize pool amounting to $18,648.

In what can only be tagged in the “It’s a Small World” category, the heads-up confrontation featured a remarkable coincidence.  Both players were from the same small town located on Long Island (East Meadow, NY).  In fact, they both graduated from the same high school (in different years).  Although Adragna and Ippolito reside in the same small town with less than 30,000 residents and share a passion for poker, they did know each other.

At least for the time being, Adragna will be known as the second best poker player from East Meadow.  When the final duel began, Ippolito enjoyed such a huge chip lead that his victory was all but official.  A few minutes after the stare down began, the tournament was over and Ippolito was crowned the champion.

First Place:  Peter Ippolito is a 25-year-old professional poker player.  He has previously played in many WSOP Circuit events.  But this was his biggest cash, to date.  First place paid $30,181.  Oddly enough, Ippolito does not consider No-Limit Hold’em to be his best poker game.  He says his dream is to win a WSOP gold bracelet in Omaha High-Low Split.

Ippolito joined previous event winner Thung “Patrick” Lu (Event <) in the top spot for best all-around player.  They are co-leaders in the point race for the top player at the Atlantic City 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 in May at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.

There are still eight more gold ring events remaining.  The WSOP Circuit at Caesars Atlantic City continues through March 13th.  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.