Monday, March 25, 2019 8:28 PM Local Time
Phillip Pope - Winner of the Hard Rock Tulsa Main Event for $215,000
Phillip Pope outlasted a field of 533 players to take down the Tulsa Hard Rock Main Event, where he won his first World Series of Poker Circuit ring and the first-place prize of $215,000. On his journey to the top, Pope outlasted a star-studded final table that featured the likes of Kou Vang, Viet Vo, Jason White and one of the circuit's most accomplished players, Maurice Hawkins. While all eyes were on Hawkins as he sought out his record-tying 12th circuit ring and fifth Circuit Main Event title, it was Pope who walked away with the victory after three long days of play.
Pope came into the day second in chips, behind Hawkins by over a million chips. He would cruise in the middle of the pack for the first portion of the day while the two short stacks of the final six bowed out first. The first to fall would be Viet Vo. Vo won a Circuit title earlier in the year but he wasn't able to close it out here in Tulsa for another. In his final hand, Vo got it all in against Pope holding pocket sevens. Pope, though, was holding pocket eights and would hold on to send Vo to the rail in sixth place. Despite the knockout, Pope still sat in the middle of the pack.
The second to fall on the day would be Barbara Sargent. Sargent was short and managed to double multiple times throughout the day, but at the end of her run, she couldn't find much traction. In her final hand she moved all in with ace-jack and was called by Trey Brabham, who was in the big blind with ten-eight. The flop and turn rolled out safe for Sargent, but the river was a ten and that spelled the end of her run. Sargent bowed out in fifth place, taking home $54,140 for her biggest World Series of Poker Cash ever.
Play reached a standstill with the final four, who battled it out nearly even-stacked for quite some time. It was during this time that Pope won a massive double-up to move into the chip lead. He would not relinquish it from there. Pope got it in with middle pair and a flush draw while Kou Vang was holding middle set, but the river brought a flush for Pope and he would take down the pot and move into the chip lead, putting Vang on the shortest stack.
A while after that, and after a couple double-ups for Vang, Trey Brabham would fall in fourth place. In his final hand, Vang moved all in under the gun with pocket eights; Brabham was in the big blind with pocket tens and called. The flop brought an eight, though, and that would be the end for Brabham, as he never caught up and was sent to the rail.
Vang, Hawkins and Pope all fought valiantly for the title, with none of the three players showing signs of backing down, but Pope would take a monster pot off Hawkins which put Hawkins on the shortest stack. In the hand, Pope made trip queens and was able to take three large bets out of Hawkins stack. Hawkins just had two pair and was left with a stack less than four big blinds after calling on the river.
One hand later, Hawkins bowed out with top pair, getting it all in on the flop. Vang was holding an overpair to the board, though, and Hawkins would never catch up. His quest for his 12th circuit ring would be cut short and he settled for the $97,110 third-place prize.
Pope came into heads-up play with a staggering chip lead after quietly taking down multiple pots without showdown, picking his spots well and taking the majority of pots once he assumed the chip lead. Once action kicked off heads-up, it didn't last too long. In the final hand, Pope flopped top pair and a straight draw, while Kou Vang flopped a flush draw and inferior straight draw. The turn gave Pope trips and he held on through a blank river to take down the pot and earn his victory in the event.
The $215,000 first-place prize is Pope's biggest World Series of Poker cash ever and with it, he also takes down his first WSOPC ring and a seat in the Global Casino Championship. This win comes after going without a cash in his first nine circuit main events.
"I can't believe I'm here," he said, while holding the ring and waiting for his huge payday. "I was really low [on bankroll], but I decided to give it another shot." Pope played this one steady, and he blamed himself for having played too aggressively in his previously unsuccessful Circuit main efforts.
That said, he was happy to be squared off against Vang for the win. Vang was by far the most aggressive player at the final table, yet Pope wasn't fazed. "Yesterday and today, I got to play with him a whole bunch. I think I had a pretty good read on how he played." Pope was by far the most successful of all the final-table players at playing back against Vang's frequent raises and re-raises, and it played a key role in his win.
As for what comes next after his big day in Tulsa, Pope wasn't quite sure. The 43-year-old father of two is an an amatuer (but dedicated) player, when he can time off from operating his own small trucking company. He's been playing at occasional Circuit stops in the region for about six years. "I really love the competition," he said.
The big score will also help Pope with another effort close to his heart. He's a long-time recovering drug addict who in recent years has dedicated time and resources to help other recovering addicts, and the big payday will allow him more freedom in how he chooses to help those in need.
Monday, March 25, 2019 7:50 PM Local Time
Kou Vang opens on he button with a raise to 450,000. Phillip Pope calls in the big blind.
The flop is and Pope checks. Vang puts out a bet of 250,000. Pope then raises, making it 650,000. Vang thinks for a bit then jams all in for 4,430,000. Pope drops into the tank. After about a minute, he calls.
Vang has a flush draw and an over while Pope has top pair and a straight draw. The comes on the turn, taking away some of Vang's outs. The river is the and that seals it for Pope. With trip sixes he takes down the pot and win the Main Event. For his victory he'll take home $215,000.
Vang will walk away with $132,920 for his runner-up finish.
A full recap of today's action will be posted later on in the day.
Monday, March 25, 2019 7:32 PM Local Time
Monday, March 25, 2019 7:31 PM Local Time
Kou Vang opens to 330,000, Phillip Pope calls in the big blind.
The flop is and Pope checks. Vang puts out a bet of 260,000 and Pope calls.
On the turn, Pope checks again. Vang bets 540,000 this time. Pope calls again.
Both players check on the river and Pope shows his but Vang is holding and that earns him the pot.
Vang lost the first few pots in heads up play, dropping to nearly four million, but jumps back up to around six million after taking down this pot.
Kou Vang - 6,035,000 (38 bb)
Phillip Pope - 9,955,000 (62 bb)
Monday, March 25, 2019 7:17 PM Local Time
Play now resumes with 12 minutes left in level 32.
Monday, March 25, 2019 6:42 PM Local Time
Players are now on a 30-minute dinner break.
Monday, March 25, 2019 6:41 PM Local Time
Phillip Pope - 9,755,000 (61 bb)
Kou Vang - 6,235,000 (39 bb)
Monday, March 25, 2019 6:40 PM Local Time
Kou Vang limps from the button, Maurice Hawkins completes from the big blind, and Phillip Pope checks. The flop is , and Hawkins immediately moves all in. Pope folds, but Vang snap-calls and turns up , well ahead of Hawkins' . The turn and river are no help and Hawkins heads to the cashier's desk for a third-place payout. Hawkins also finishes as this series' overall Casino Champion.
Kou Vang - 6,235,000 (39 bb)
Maurice Hawkins - Eliminated
Monday, March 25, 2019 6:39 PM Local Time
A big pot between Phillip Pope and Maurice Hawkins leaves Hawkins with less than four big blinds. Pope opens from the button for 375,000, Kou Vang folds the small blind and Hawkins calls from the big blind.
The flop is . Hawkins checks, Pope bets 475,000, and Hawkins calls. The turn is the , and this time Hawkins leads out for 175,000; Pope makes it 500,000 and Hawkins calls again.
The river is the . Hawkins checks, Pope bets another 500,000, and Hawkins quickly calls. Pope shows for trip queens, while Hawkins' is no good.
Phillip Pope - 9,800,000 (61 bb)
Maurice Hawkins - 555,000 (3 bb)
Monday, March 25, 2019 6:33 PM Local Time
Kou Vang opens on the button with a raise to 330,0000. Next to act in the small blind Maurice Hawkins three-bets to 955,000. Action folds back to Vang who calls.
The flop is and both players check to see the turn. There, Hawkins leads for 500,000. Vang thinks for a bit, then he calls.
On the river, Hawkins decides to check. Vang puts out a bet of 1,300,000. Hawkins thinks for about a minute, then releases, allowing Vang to take down the big pot.
Kou Vang - 5,300,000 (33 bb)
Maurice Hawkins - 2,450,000 (15 bb)
Monday, March 25, 2019 6:18 PM Local Time
Action folds to the blind where Phillip Pope makes it 380,000. Kou Vang calls in the big blind.
The flop is and Pope leads for 375,000. Vang calls to see the turn.
On the turn, Pope bets again, making it 600,000. Vang then raises, making it 1,600,000. Pope only thinks for a few seconds before moving all in with the covering stack. Vang takes one last peek at his hand then lets it go into the muck, so Pope takes down another pot pushing him further into the chip lead.
Phillip Pope - 9,375,000 (59 bb)
Kou Vang - 2,850,000 (18 bb)
Monday, March 25, 2019 6:05 PM Local Time
In the small blind Kou Vang calls and Maurice Hawkins raises to 475,000 from the big blind. Vang then calls and it's on to a flop.
The flop is and both players check to see the on the turn. There, Vang checks. Hawkins bets 400,000 and Vang calls.
On the river, both players check. Hawkins shows his but it's no good as Vang is holding for a better two pair, so he takes down the pot.
Kou Vang - 5,500,000 (34 bb)
Maurice Hawkins - 3,200,000 (20 bb)
Monday, March 25, 2019 5:52 PM Local Time
Monday, March 25, 2019 5:51 PM Local Time
Under the gun, Kou Vang moves all in for a bit over two million. Action folds to the big blind where Trey Brabham calls all in for right around two million as well, putting himself at risk with the slightly shorter stack.
"HOLD!" Brabham shouts again at the top of his lungs.
The flop comes down and Brabham lets out a bellow, screaming "Fuck!" which echos through the tournament area. The eight on the flop gives Vang the leading set and leaving Brabham drawing to just two outs or running straight cards.
The turn is the and that takes away the running outs from Brabham and the on the river seals the deal. With that, Brabham exits the tournament but not before letting out another profane scream that carries across the convention area.
Kou Vang - 4,400,000 (36 bb)
Trey Brabham - Eliminated
Monday, March 25, 2019 5:39 PM Local Time
Kou Vang limps in the small blind and Maurice Hawkins checks in the big blind.
The flop is and Vang leads for 160,000. Hawkins calls.
On the turn, both players check to see the river. There, Vang leads for 700,000. Hawkins thinks briefly, then folds.
"I didn't have anything bro," Hawkins says. "I don't know why you bet 700 when you could've checked.
Maurice Hawkins - 4,850,000 (40 bb)
Kou Vang - 2,780,000 (23 bb)
Monday, March 25, 2019 5:25 PM Local Time
Trey Brabham opens from the cutoff for 255,000 and Phillip Pope calls from the big blind. The flop is , and both players check.
The turn is the , Pope checks, Brabham bets 300,000, and Pope calls.
The river is the . This time Pope leads out for 500,000, and Brabhan quickly calls. Pope shows and the queen plays as Brabham has .
Phillip Pope - 5,800,000 (48 bb)
Trey Brabham - 2,200,000 (18 bb)
Monday, March 25, 2019 5:15 PM Local Time
On the button, Kou Vang raises, making it 250,000. Phillip Pope is in the big blind and he three-bets, making it 620,000. Vang calls to see the flop.
The flop comes and Pope decides to lead out, making it 800,000. Vang takes a couple moments of pause before finally releasing.
Vang has been on a roll as of late, taking down several pots on the flop and preflop without showdowns, but Pope takes this one off Vang, slowing down his hot streak a bit.
Phillip Pope - 4,700,000 (39 bb)
Kou Vang - 3,400,000 (28 bb)
Monday, March 25, 2019 5:00 PM Local Time
Trey Brabham limps in from the small blind and Kou Vang checks his option in the big blind.
The flop comes down and Brabham checks. Vang puts out a bet of 140,000. Brabham calls.
The turn is the and both players check to see the . There, Brabham leads for 300,000. Vang then raises, making it 720,000. Brabham wastes no time calling. Vang shows his for the second nut flush and Brabham shows down his for the third nut flush and he's forced to send over the pot.
Kou Vang - 3,300,000 (28 bb)
Trey Brabham - 4,975,000 (41 bb)
Monday, March 25, 2019 4:48 PM Local Time
Monday, March 25, 2019 4:32 PM Local Time
Players are now on a 15-minute break.