Tuesday, March 22, 2016 4:38 PM Local Time
Stephen Dees Wins Event #6 ($20,303)
Stephen Dees is the champion of Event #6 at Harrah’s, defeating a field of 282 entries in the $365 Monster Stack event to win his first gold ring. In addition to the jewelry, Dees collected the top prize of $20,303 and 50 points toward the race for seats in the WSOP Global Casino Championship.
“I’m so stoked right now,” Dees said, beaming with a broad smile in the moments after his win. “I’m trying to contain my elation, but I’m just stoked right now. I’m spoiled and I’m humbled, and I’m just trying not to take it for granted. I wanted this so badly.”
The champ is a 28-year-old professional poker player from Ohio, though he now makes his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. He’s been playing poker since college, but he only recently started down the path of pursuing it professionally. Late last year, Dees gave up his career in import-export logistics to focus on the game full time.
“I felt like I had the game to transition into a professional player,” he said. “But it’s always scary when you make it your only source of income. So I just dedicated myself to the game. I started to study up, started to hone in on the craft and find out where the holes in my game were.”
Whatever he's doing, it's working so far. Still in the dawn of his poker career, Dees has already scored a breakthrough victory, his first five-figure score, and the gold ring that so many covet.
“I feel like that’s a big load off my back,” he said as he reflected on the result. “Whatever I do, I strive to be the best. Poker is one of those things I put in that category. But it’s a long road with all the great players in today’s game. To win a ring is a battle.”
Dees entered the final table with a commanding chip lead and an edge of nearly 2:1 over his nearest challenger, and he took that same lead into the heads-up match against Alexander Queen. The latter had come close to winning Circuit gold in the past in the very same building, finishing as the runner-up in a $1,000 event at Harrah’s in 2009. “It was an extremely tough field,” Dees acknowledged. “Alex is a great player. When I sat down at the final table, he was the one player I was hoping would get knocked out quickly.” Queen wasn’t knocked out quickly, however, even taking control of the chip lead at one point during the duel with Dees.
The two men were very close in chips when the last hand of the match began with Queen raising from the button. Dees defended his big blind with queen-four and flopped trips on the king-four-four board. He led out, then barreled through the turn six and river deuce. His river bet was about a pot-sized all in for 2,050,000 chips, and Queen spent a long while in the tank before calling and seeing the bad news. It was initially tough to tell who had more chips, so Dees paced around the table nervously as the stacks were counted down. Queen had the exact same count as it turned out, and he was thusly eliminated as the runner-up once again.
“Queen-four?!” Dees scoffed in jest as he posed for the winner’s photos. “Is that the hand I have to take photos with? I wanted it to be something pretty.”