Council Bluffs, IA (April 2, 2012)—The action continued at Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, IA with the conclusion of Event 2. The $350 No-Limit Hold’em Re-Entry tournament drew an astonishing 585 players making it the largest poker tournament ever held in the Omaha area.

When the smoke cleared, Stephen Kats was the only player remaining. He earned almost $36,000 for the performance.

The win marked the second Circuit victory of Kats’ young career, his first coming at this very venue in 2010.

“I’m happy I won,” Kats said. “It was a long session with a lot of grinding.”

When the final table was reached after 10 hours of play on Day 2 Kats found himself with 40 percent of the chips in play. He couldn’t keep the lead, and at one point he even possessed one of the smaller stacks at the table. Eventually, he gained traction and closed the door on victory number two.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Kats said about his roller coaster final table. “It’s all about thinking positive in this game.”

Kats is a 29-year-old professional poker player from Omaha, NE. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2005 with a degree in business management. Before becoming a pro, he held a part time job and played cash games on the side. It wasn’t long before he realized he could make more money playing poker and he ditched the nine-to-five for the felt.

This is Kats’ 18th career Circuit cash and sixth final table. It also marks his largest score on the tour. To get it, he had to play his way through tough competition that included all-time Circuit win leader Mark “Pegasus” Smith.

Through only two tournaments, Smith is already becoming a familiar face in Council Bluffs. He followed up a seventh place finish in Event 1 with a deep run in Event 2. His elimination was grimacing, getting the remainder of his stack in with    versus the    of his opponent. “I’m way behind,” his opponent said before making the call for most of his chips pre flop. The flop came    , giving Smith a pair and the nut flush draw and giving his opponent an open-ended straight draw. A jack came on the turn and Smith improved his hand while snatching outs from his opponent who was drawing dead to only three sixes. Sure enough, the non-diamond six on the river completed the straight and Smith was sent packing, pocketing $2,669 and carding his 31st career cash.

The unofficial final table of 10 was decided shortly after. 

 Seat 1  Charles "Doc" Hanson  Sioux Falls, SD  200,000
 Seat 2  Bruce Schlichting  Rockford, IL   403,000
 Seat 3  Tim Nimitz  Caldwell, KS  190,000
 Seat 4  Ed Marick  Salina, KS  267,000
 Seat 5  L.M. Snelgrove  Lenexa, KS  55,000
 Seat 6  Mark Fink  Sioux Falls, SD  428,000
 Seat 7  Bret Humphus  Boerne, TX  1,406,000
 Seat 8  Brandon Fish  Kearney, NE  487,000
 Seat 9  Stephen Kats  Omaha, NE  2,221,000
 Seat 10  Phil Stelzer  Columbia, MO  202,000

Tenth Place: Lynn Snelgrove bubbled a final table of a WSOP Circuit No-Limit Hold’em event in Council Bluffs three years ago. Looking to improve on that finish, he once again put himself into position to contend, but came up short. He finished tenth and earned $2,669. He is a 64-year-old retiree from Lenexa, KS. 

Ninth Place: Edward Marick is a 39-year-old from Salina, KS. This was his first WSOP cash and he earned $3,316.

Eighth Place: Making his fourth WSOP cash was Charles “Doc” Hanson. Hanson is a 50-year-old senior sales executive and semi-professional poker player from Sioux Falls, SD. He is a former member of the ARMY and he says he loves to help and be generous toward others. He earned $4,174 for eighth place.

Seventh Place: This marked Bruce Schlichting’s second WSOP cash. He is a 60-year-old from Rockford, IL. He owned a construction company for 42 years before he began playing poker a little more than a year ago. He says he has had nothing but bad luck since. Seventh place awarded $5,325.

Sixth Place: Carding two fourth-place finishes, Phil Stelzer was the Casino Champion at Harrah’s St. Louis this year. This was his third WSOPC cash and third final table. He is 70 years old and married with five children. He resides in Columbia, MO. Sixth place sent him packing with $6,886.

Fifth Place: Five out of Mark Fink’s seven career WSOP cashes have come in Council Bluffs. His best coming when he finished third in a $345 No-Limit Hold’em event in 2010. He is 32 years old, resides in Sioux Falls, SD and works for his family business. The $9,028 payday marked the largest cash of his WSOP career.

Fourth Place: Brandon Fish earned $11,998 for his fourth place finish. It’s difficult to tell from his name, but Brandon isn’t really a fish at all. He’s actually quite accomplished, this final table marking the second of his career and fourth WSOP cash of 2011. He says despite the amount of time he spends in poker rooms, he actually really enjoys the outdoors. He is a 26-year-old professional poker player from Kearney, NE.

Third Place: Making his first WSOP cash was Tim Nimitz. Nimitz is a 52-year-old poker pro who picked up the game after he was laid off from his job working on aircrafts. He resides in Caldwell, KS and earned $16,169

Second Place: Brett “Big Sexy” Humphus is a 41-year-old paramedic from Boerne, TX. He is a proud veteran, father and husband to his Lil’ Red. This was his first WSOP cash. He came to the final table second in chips and finished that way. He earned $22,112 after a truly remarkable performance.

First Place: Kats is a 29-year-old professional poker player from Omaha, NE. His first Circuit ring came at this very venue in 2010 when he beat out 329 players in a $345 No-Limit Hold’em tournament. He has amassed 17 more WSOP cashes, including five final tables, since then. The $35,745 mark his largest WSOP score and was undoubtedly worth the 17-hour Day 2.

WSOP Circuit events continue at Horseshoe Council Bluffs through April 10. The Main Event will take place April 7.

About Horseshoe Council Bluffs: Horseshoe Council Bluffs, located only a few miles from Omaha, NE, is Iowa’s largest casino. It opened in March 2006 after receiving an $86 million renovation and expansion. The property now features roughly 100,000 square feet of gaming space and boasts the title of Iowa’s only land-based, full-service casino. In addition to the most popular tables and slots, Horseshoe Casino features live greyhound racing and simulcast thoroughbred racing, giving it the broadest array of wagering options in the region. This is the sixth year the property has hosted a World Series of Poker Circuit event.

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