Durant, OK (January 21, 2012) — Event #10, $345 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo, is in the books at Choctaw Casino Resort. Huy Nguyen is poker’s most recent champion, and he’s no stranger to Choctaw or the WSOP Circuit spotlight.
Hailing from Norman, Oklahoma, Nguyen has spent many hours on the Choctaw felt. Last year, he won the $1,600 Main Event to get his first ring. Tonight, almost a year to the day later, Nguyen again displayed a masterful performance and went home with his third gold ring.
“It’s definitely exciting to win here at Choctaw because I feel like it’s one of my home casinos,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen won his first ring on January 22 of last year, beating 808 entrants on his way to a $233,000 payday. Ring number two came about two months later in a $555 No-Limit Hold’em event at Harrah’s St. Louis in which Nguyen beat 205 players to cash in on $25,241.
The two-day tournament at Choctaw wasn’t very turbo at all. The final table lasted almost five hours, and the heads-up match lasted better than two hours. With 4,070,000 chips in play, the blinds and antes reached as high as 20,000/60,000/120,000. When the dust cleared, hometown boy Nguyen had all the chips.
Through the help of his friends, Nguyen has been honing his skill for the past few years. The likes of Raja Kattamuri, La Sengphet, David Carter and Kyle Cartwright all came out and showed their support for the 26-year-old pro. They are good people to have on your side, as they account for 41 WSOP cashes and 10 gold rings.
“They’ve been my resources throughout the years to improve my game,” Nguyen said about his friends. “I feel especially lucky to have a lot of amazing legends railing me and also giving me advice.”
Turbo tournaments are defined by an accelerated blind structure. Instead of 30 and 40-minute levels, turbo tournaments raise the blinds every 20 and 30 minutes. This forces action and causes play to move faster than in standard tournaments. That theory held true, sheering the 407-person starting field down to the final nine players in about 11 hours, but from then on, things slowed.
The final table boasted two former Circuit Main Event champions. Both Nguyen and Travis Lutes have Main Event rings under their belt -- Nguyen’s last year at Choctaw and Lutes’ last year at IP Biloxi. Throw in the likes of Michael Sortino and you have tough test of poker in front of you.
The final table starting stacks were as follows:
Seat 1 HUY NGUYEN (Norman, OK) 948,000 in chips
Seat 2 CHRIS CONRY (Frisco, TX) 166,000 in chips
Seat 3 WILL CARRIO (Justin, TX) 93,000 in chips
Seat 4 KIRK HALBERT (Oklahoma City, OK) 591,000 in chips
Seat 5 AL THERIAC (Shreveport, LA) 574,000 in chips
Seat 6 MICHAEL SORTINO (Omaha, NE) 282,000 in chips
Seat 7 TRAVIS LUTES (Crawfordsville, IN) 374,000 in chips
Seat 8 KI PARK (Garland, TX) 685,000 in chips
Seat 9 TOD DEVILBISS (San Antonio, TX) 356,000 in chips
Ninth Place: Michael Sortino was the first player eliminated from the final table. He is a 51-year-old retiree from Omaha, Nebraska. Recording his tenth WSOP cash and appearing at his fifth Circuit final table, Sortino was one of the most experienced players at the final table. He earned $2,470.
Eighth Place: Chris Conrad finished in eighth place after he called off his remaining chips with . Nguyen made the call holding pocket sixes and we were off to the races. The flop brought the giving Nguyen a set. Conrad never caught up and was sent home with $3,092.
Conrad is 42 years old and self-employed. He lives in Frisco, Texas.
Seventh Place: Ki Park played his final pot of the night when he got all his chips in holding against the of Tod Devilbiss. Devilbiss caught an ace on the flop and Park never improved. At first, tournament staff announced a double up for Devilbiss, but a quick chip count revealed the players had the exact number of chips, a rare occurrence in poker. Park went packing with $3,925.
Park resides in Garland, Texas and is 41 years old.
Sixth Place: Wilfredo “Will” Carrion is a 34-year-old poker pro (formerly a social worker) from Justin, Texas. His poker ambition is to be an ambassador for the game and support his family. He is engaged and has three children.
Carrion began his final hand as a massive favorite, holding pocket nines against the of Nguyen. The flop came , pairing Nguyen’s four. The on the turn gave Nguyen trips and Carrion was suddenly drawing to one of the two remaining nines. It never came, and he exited the tournament in fifth place, earning $6,604.
Fifth Place: Travis Lutes went through a series of hands where he saw his stack diminish, then replenish, then diminish, then replenish again. When he moved all in and got two callers, it was looking like he just might make a run at ring number two, but his pocket threes were third best, and he left in fifth place earning $6,604.
Lutes won the $1,600 Main Event at IP Resort Casino and Spa last year for $95,293. He is 29 years old and lives in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
More information on Lutes' Main Event victory can be found HERE.
Fourth Place: Al Theriac got the majority of his chips in holding an open-ended straight draw against Nguyen. The turn and river came and went, and he never completed his straight, crippling his stack. He was eliminated in fourth place a few hands later. His finish awarded him $8,757 and his first Circuit cash.
He is a 73-year-old real estate investor from Shreveport, Louisiana.
Third Place: In true turbo fashion, Kirk Halbert was forced to get his stack in holding . Nguyen did what Nguyen does and eliminated another player, this time with . Halbert’s third place finish paid $11,794.
Halbert is married with four children. He is 32 years old.
Second Place: Tod Devilbriss and Nguyen started the heads-up battle pretty even in chips. A few hands in, Devilbriss had taken over the chip lead, but Nguyen was not fazed. He kept coming back at Devilbriss with raise after raise and eventually leaned on him until he fell over. With 4,070,000 chips in play, the blinds reached 20,000/60,000/120,000 and Nguyen was ready to end the match. He moved all in with and was slightly behind the of Devilbriss. A queen came on the turn and Nguyen’s third ring was so close he could taste it. The river brought no help to Devilbriss, and he finished runner up, earning $16,141.
When Devilbriss isn’t playing poker, he loves rooting on his Dallas Cowboys and San Antonio Spurs. He is 27 years old.
First Place: Huy Nguyen came to the final table as the chip leader.
“I definitely thought I was a favorite,” Nguyen said about his chances going into the final table. "But it’s a turbo tournament. The blinds go up pretty fast, so it could be anyone’s game.”
Nguyen’s extensive WSOP resume boasts two rings, four final tables and more than $380,000 in career earnings. He says his rings won at Choctaw are the most special because he considers it his home casino.
More information on his first Circuit victory can be found HERE.
He graduated from Oklahoma University with a dual degree finance and economics. After working for IBM for one year, he decided to play poker professionally. He has been playing for a living for a year and a half.
Nguyen is 26 years old.
This is the tenth of 12 scheduled ring events taking place at Choctaw Casino Resort. WSOP Circuit events continue through January 23. The Main Event will take place January 21. Winners of all ring events will receive a Circuit gold ring, first-place prize money and ranking points toward the $1,000,000 Circuit National Championship taking place in Las Vegas this spring. In addition, the winner of the Main Event will receive an automatic bid into the National Championship.
Choctaw Casino Resort is located in Durant, Oklahoma and received extensive renovations over the last few years, not the least of which is the addition of the 330-room Grand Tower. The resort now boasts more than 400 rooms and 110,000 square feet of gaming space.
Like all Choctaw Casinos, a portion of the proceeds from Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant go to fund healthcare, education and housing for Choctaw Tribal Members.
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