Elizabeth, IN (October 11, 2011)—Things at Horseshoe Southern Indiana ended pretty much the way they started. Mark “Pegasus” Smith came to the final table of the Main Event second in chips and was so close to his sixth Circuit ring he could taste it.
Standing in his way were chip leader, Aaron Massey, ESPN.com poker columnist and poker pro, Bernard Lee and two-time ring winner, Robert Castoire. After a seesaw of a final table that yielded what seemed like nine different chip leaders at one point or another, Castoire came out victorious.
At 56-years-old, Castoire is a ship’s officer with a healthy poker resume. This was his twelfth Circuit cash, ninth final table and third victory. Castoire’s prior Circuit win came at the hands of Pegasus as Castoire beat him heads-up at Choctaw. The two have played five final tables together, and Pegasus has outlasted Castoire three times. But not this time.
170 players returned for Day 2. After almost 15 hours of betting, raising and folding, only 10 players remained. Massey began Day 3 as the chip leader, but those honors eventually went to Pegasus. With five players remaining it seemed as if he would waltz into his sixth victory. That is, until he got into what would be the defining pot of the final table with Castoire.
Pegasus moved all-in on the turn and Castoire tanked before calling. Pegasus flipped over two pair and Castoire showed an open-ended straight draw. Everyone surrounding the table knew it was only a matter of time before Pegasus was the winner. Then the dealer turned over the river card and it completed Castoire’s straight. Pegasus was eliminated in fifth place and it seemed the stars were aligning for Castoire. (More on this hand below).
In order to win, Castoire had to be all-in five or six times heads-up against 28-year-old Jacob Bazeley. While the majority of the time his money got in behind, he hit miracle card after miracle card, until finally regaining the chip lead and closing the door Bazeley’s hopes for a Main Event victory.
Castoire was awarded more than $107,000, the coveted gold ring and a seat in the $1 Million National Championship. With his fifth place finish, Pegasus surpassed the 115 Circuit point mark and locked up the Casino Championship and will join Castoire in Las Vegas.
The rest of the players at the final table stacked up like this:
Seat 1 David J. Hengen 696,000
Seat 2 Aaaron Massey 1,070,000
Seat 3 Donovan Darland 561,000
Seat 4 Robert Castoire 788,000
Seat 5 Mark “Pegasus” Smith 877,000
Seat 6 Khang Luu 209,000
Seat 7 Bernard Lee 664,000
Seat 8 Thang Nguyen 119,000
Seat 9 Sameer Al-Dbhany 433,000
Seat 10 Jacob Bazeley 844,000
Khang Luu hails from Louisville, Kentucky. He made a name for himself with this breakthrough performance, carding his first in-the-money finish on the WSOP Circuit.
He was eliminated in tenth place when his could not beat the of Darland all-in pre-flop. He earned $8,002.
Sameer Al-Dbhany is a 40-year-old Lab Tech. He lives in Frankfort, Kentucky with his wife and two children. This was his fourth Circuit final table and tenth cash.
He left the tournament when his Ace King never caught up to the pocket 9s of Massey. He earned $9,878 for his ninth place finish.
Between the WSOP and WSOPC, ESPN.com poker columnist, Bernard Lee has amassed six final tables and sixteen cashes. He received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from Harvard University. He has also written the Sunday poker column for the Boston Herald since September 2005.
He pocketed $12,378 for his eighth place finish.
Interview With Lee:
What does a player with a resume like yours take away from a finish like this? You played great, but didn’t get that ring we know you wanted. – “Well it’s just another stage in your career. It’s nice to get another final table, obviously. But we play this game for one thing, and it’s a title … Unfortunately you don’t really care about spots two through 10. When you’re in this situation there’s only spot you want … I was trying to go for the win. I wasn’t trying to get seventh or sixth or move up the money ladder … It’s another day in the life of a professional poker player. Unfortunately it wasn’t the best day possible, but I got through 300+ plus people and you can’t be upset about that.”
David J. Hengen is an attorney from Omaha, Nebraska. He is 38-years-old and he and his wife have one son, Luke.
He was eliminated in seventh place when he was short stacked and got it in versus . Neither player paired their hole cards and Hengen pocketed $15,744 for his finish.
Thang Nguyen was born in Vietnam. At 31-years-old, he works as an engineer out of McLean, Virginia. Sixth place was good for $20,325.
Mark “Pegasus” Smith came up short of his sixth Circuit victory. On a board of , Smith pushed his remaining chips in the pot. After some thinking, Castoire called and showed . Smith tabled and was in position to double up with his two pair against Castoire’s open-ended straight draw. When the dealer flipped over the a collective sigh echoed through the room. The card completed Castoire’s straight and Smith was eliminated in fifth place earning $26,651.
This was Smith’s 16th WSOP Circuit final table. Between the WSOP and the Circuit he has now recorded 26 cashes.
Interview with Mark:
What’s going through your head after losing like that following three tough days of play? – “I’m playing super right now. You try to avoid getting that unlucky. I flopped two pair… All I can do is it get it in with the best and hope for the best. I played four tournaments. Made three final tables, got a first, a third and a fifth, the fifth coming in the Main Event. I couldn’t be happier.”
Talk about sharing the final table with Robert Castoire. You two have now played five final tables together. – “I’ve beaten him I think three of the times and that’s the second time he’s beaten me. If I had to give my chips to anybody I’d just as soon give them to him.”
Donovan Darland is a 25-year-old professional poker player from Stafford, Virginia. This was his first WSOPC cash and first final table. When he isn’t playing cards he enjoys frisbee golf. His parents have passed away, but he says they remain in the hearts of he and his sister, Jaime.
Darland undoubtedly made mom and dad proud with his amazing performance in the Main Event. He earned $35,500.
Aaron Massey began the day as the chip leader. When play got down to three handed, Massey’s chip advantage had gone out the window and stacks were basically even. He went on to exit the tournament in third place.
This was Massey’s third Circuit final table and fifth cash. He will be looking for revenge as he heads to his hometown, Chicago, and gets back on the horse at Horseshoe Hammond.
He was awarded $48,060 for his finish.
Jacob Bazely played strong all day. At one time he was about 10-to-1 on Castoire heads-up. Castoire won a few all-ins in a row, and it was anybody’s game again. With the players about even in stacks and the board laying Castoire moved all-in and Bazely instantly called tabling for two pair. It was obvious Castoire did not want a call as he sheepishly turned over . The fell on the turn giving Castoire a straight Bazeley would never catch up to.
Bazeley earned $66,172 for his efforts.
Robert Castoire is a 56-year-old ship’s officer. He earned $107,023 for his first place finish. This was his eighth WSOPC final table and largest cash of his life. He says he plans to take his wife on a trip to Europe and buy himself a new car.
How does it feel? – “I’m still shocked. A half hour ago I wasn’t expecting to be here. I was just looking to go out with a little bit of dignity. – It was bloody, it was brutal, it was cruel, but I got lucky. I was the last one.”
You and Mark have a lot of history. Was it kind of bitter sweet when you hit your straight to knock him out? – “Yeah, it was. I wasn’t all that happy about it. To knock him out under those circumstances, that kind of hand. It’s has to be nice, it has to be clean I have to get my money in good and I’ll feel alright with it. It’s not like Mark hasn’t sucked out on me many times, too.”
You and Mark have shared many final tables. Do you have a friendly competition going? – “I can’t really say it’s a competition. Mark’s got five rings. There’s just no competition there. But you play the cards that you’re dealt. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes you suck out.”
What’s better, the ring or the money? – “You want to know the truth?” – Yeah – “The ring. I’m at a point in my life where while $100,000 is a really really nice piece of change, it doesn’t change my life. As corny as it sounds, the jewelry is more important than the money.”
Where does this win take your poker career now? – “I’m going to Hammond. But this doesn’t really change anything. I was going to Hammond anyway. It’s a little bit of validation and validation to poker players is important. You need to know that you can win.”
Each final table throughout the 2011/2012 Circuit tour will be streamed live at WSOP.com
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