Sunday, March 13, 2011 5:15 PM Local Time
The WSOP Circuit Main Event in Atlantic City has come to a close, and after three hard fought days of poker Brian Ali has emerged as the champion, besting a field of 442 to earn the $139,284 first prize, the WSOP Circuit ring, and entry into May's WSOP Circuit Championship at Caesars in Las Vegas. Like the boxer with whom he shares a name, Ali was a dominating presence at the final table, scoring knockouts left and right in a wild and exciting finale.
The tone was set early on in just the second hand of the final table. Chip leader to start the day, Patrick Houchins opened with an early position raise and Ali three-bet from the big blind. Houchins called, and when Ali led the flop, Houchins raised. Ali called, then called another hefty turn bet on the before the river brought the . Ali announced he was all in, and Houchins called, showing for trip jacks. But Ali had for a backdoor flush, and had suddenly catapulted into a big chip lead with about 2.8 million.
Houchins kept battling though, doubling a couple of times while Joe Caffrey went out in ninth when his failed to catch up to John Andress' . Another Houchins double-up soon followed, this one especially dramatic. All in with versus Albert Winchester's , it took a river four to spare Houchins, pushing him back up to an average stack.
They moved to Level 28, the first hour of which saw a head-spinning six knockouts. And five of them were delivered by the aptly-named Ali.
Winchester, having been hurt by that hand versus Houchins, was soon all in with versus Ali's , and once again pocket fours proved unbeatable for Winchester, sending him out in eighth.
Ten minutes later Ali used another small pair -- -- to oust Jerry Van Strydonck, this time the chips going in on the flop. The board showed , giving Ali a set. Strydonck had hopes, though, with , but the turn and river bricked for him and they were down to six.
Ali continued to land more knockout blows, next felling Jeff Rowland in sixth. He and Ali bet all of the way to the river at which point the board showed four clubs. Ali then pushed, Rowland called saying he had the , but Ali had for the nut flush at Rowland was out in sixth.
Roland Israelashvili -- winner of this same event last year -- then lost most of his stack to Andress after running into Andress' pocket aces, with Houchins finishing off Israelashvili shortly thereafter in fifth.
Ellis Jeff Frazier had been nursing a short stack for most of play when he finally committed his chips with but ran into Ali's . The better hand prevailed, prompting most in attendance to work hard on their best boxing metaphors to remark on the fact that Ali had added Frazier to his growing list of knockout victims.
The carnage continued when Houchins and Ali both saw a flop come , Houchins jammed with , and Ali called with . Ali's hand held, and suddenly -- just three hours into the final table -- they were down to two.
Ali had better than a 2-to-1 chip advantage over Andress when heads-up play began, and after a half-hour of cautious play the stacks hadn't changed that much. Andress then scored a double up to draw even, and even enjoyed the advantage for a time before Ali snatched the lead back to set up the final hand, a bit of a cooler for Andress after a turn card gave him two pair while giving Ali a straight. One card later it was over… and for today, Brian Ali was The Greatest!
Congratulations to all the final tablists, and especially to Brian Ali, WSOP Circuit Atlantic City Main Event Champion! Thanks for following our coverage. Next stop San Diego!
Sunday, March 13, 2011 5:08 PM Local Time
Brian Ali limped in with the button and John Andress checked his option.
The flop fell and Andress checked to Ali who fired 80,000. Andress check-raised to 210,000 and Ali called.
The turn was the and Andress checked again. Ali fired 200,000, Andress moved all in and Ali snapped it off!
Ali turned the joint, but Andress could survive and double if the river was a king or a six. The was a big fat brick however and Andress was eliminated from the tournament.
The Doylestown, Pennsylvania native will take home $86,071 for his efforts, more than doubling his live tournament earnings.
Sunday, March 13, 2011 5:00 PM Local Time
John Andress raised to 100,000 from the button and Brian Ali reraised to 300,000. Andress called, and the flop came
. Ali checked, Andress bet 240,000, and Ali called. Both then checked the
The river was the
. Ali checked, Andress bet 500,000, and Ali thought just a moment before making the call. "You win," said Andress, waiting for Ali to show his
before he sent his cards dealerward.
Ali - 5.2 million
Andress - 3.6 million
Sunday, March 13, 2011 4:56 PM Local Time
John Andress still enjoyed a small lead when he opened with a raise to 125,000 from the small blind/button and Brian Ali called. Both checked the
flop. The turn brought the
and a bet of 200,000 from Ali which Andress called.
The river was the
. Ali bet 400,000 this time, and Andress raised to 1.5 million. Ali leaned forward, then said he was reraising. "Three million," he said, to which Andress immediately responded he was all in. Ali snap-called, flipping over
for the nut straight. Andress quickly showed his hand --
for the same straight!
"Aw, man!" grinned Ali. "You couldn't have a set there?" The pair chopped the pot, returning to their same stacks of about 4.75 million for Andress and 4.05 million for Ali.
Sunday, March 13, 2011 4:49 PM Local Time
John Andress opened with the button and Brian Ali three-bet to 400,000. Andress called.
The flop fell and Ali checked to Andress who slid out 260,000. Ali moved all in for effectively 2 million and, after a beat, Andress called.
There were 4.74 million chips in the middle, and if Ali could spike an ace, running fours or running straight cards he would win the tournament.
The dealer rapped the table and delivered the on the turn - no help to Ali.
"Ace!" someone shouted from the rail.
The river was not an ace, rather it was the and Andress shipped a monster double to take a small chip lead.
Andress - 4.77 million
Ali - 4 million
Sunday, March 13, 2011 4:38 PM Local Time
John Andress opened to 120,000 with the button and Brian Ali snap-called. Both players checked the
flop, but after the
turned Ali led for 200,000. Andress called.
Both players again checked after the
came on the river and Ali opened
for tens and nines. Andress mucked and Ali raked in the pot.
The very next hand Ali limped on the button and Andress checked. The two checked the
flop and after the
turned, Andress led for 80,000. Ali almost beat him in the pot.
The river was the
and Andress led for 200,000.
"Three hundred," Ali announced before Andress could complete his motion.
Ali was forced to raise to 400,000 because his original raise wasn't enough, and Andress made the call. Ali tabled
for a pair of tens, but Andress opened
for a winning pair of kings.
It's been back and forth thus far, and the stacks are still around 3 million for Andress and 5.7 million for Ali.
Sunday, March 13, 2011 4:28 PM Local Time
The first dozen hands of heads-up play have shown both John Andress and Brian Ali proceeding with caution. After that wild flurry of knockouts -- six in one hour! -- the mood has quickly become much less frantic as the two calmly take turns trading smallish pots.
A few hands have reached showdown, but none have seen any bets beyond the turn, and no pots have exceeded 500,000 as of yet.
Ali remains with a touch under 6 million to Andress' 2.9 million.
Sunday, March 13, 2011 4:20 PM Local Time
Here are the current chip counts:
Brian Ali - 5.8 million
John Andress - 2.95 million
Sunday, March 13, 2011 4:16 PM Local Time
After a series of small pots, John Andress had the button and opened to 85,000. Brian Ali called and the flop fell
. Both players checked and the turn brought the
. Ali checked, Andress fired 100,000 and Ali immediately announced, "Three hundred thousand."
Andress screwed his face up a little bit, but after a moment for deliberation threw in enough purple T10,000 chips to make the call.
The river was the
and both players checked. Ali shook his head, signifying he had nothing and Andress tabled
for ace-high. Ali mucked and Andress raked in the pot.
The players are now on a short, ten-minute break.
Sunday, March 13, 2011 4:04 PM Local Time
Brian Ali and John Andress are now heads up for the ring, a seat at the WSOP-C National Championship in May and a cool $139,284.
Here's how the stacks look:
Ali - 6 million
Andress - 2.8 million
Sunday, March 13, 2011 3:56 PM Local Time
Brian Ali limped in on the button, Patrick Houchins completed from the small blind and John Andress checked his option in the big blind making this a family pot.
The flop fell and Houchins instantly moved all in for 900,000 - about 7.5 times the pot. Andress' eyebrows raised sharply before he folded and Ali snapped it off!!!
"Wow," Houchins exclaimed.
The former chip leader needed a four to survive, but his tournament came to a close when the fell on the turn. Houchins was shaking hands as the hit the river and was off to the cashier to pick up $62,893.
Ali is rope-a-doping his the competition, that's an incredible five knockouts is this level alone.
Sunday, March 13, 2011 3:45 PM Local Time
Patrick Houchins folded from UTG, and John Andress looked over to Ellis Jeff Frazier in the small blind. Frazier opened his hands to show his stack -- about 420,000 -- and Andress folded. Frazier then checked his cards and said he was all in, and Brian Ali instantly called from the big blind.
Frazier winced as he saw his opponent's bigger ace. The flop worsened the situation considerably for Frazier, coming . The turn provided Frazier a fighting chance, but the river gave Ali yet another knockout.
Down goes Frazier in 4th place, while Ali's stack remains the greatest by far. He floating like a butterfly, way above the others with more than 4.2 million.
Sunday, March 13, 2011 3:38 PM Local Time
Roland Israelavshili open-shoved his last 200,000 or so from the cutoff and Patrick Houchins snapped it off from the big blind.
"Fifty-fifty," Israelavshili said with a smile.
Israelavshili flopped a pair when the dealer fanned , but he was still well behind. Neither the on the turn nor the on the river improved his hand, and he was eliminated in 5th place for $35,213.
"First last year and fifth this year," he said to WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla. "Not too bad."
We couldn't have said it better ourselves, Roland.
Sunday, March 13, 2011 3:31 PM Local Time
John Andress opened with a raise to 100,000 from the cutoff, and it folded over to Roland Israelavshili in the small blind who made it 300,000 to go. Brian Ali folded from the BB, then Andress studied for about a half-minute before announcing he was all in. "Call," said Israelashvili tabling
then nodding with a shrug as he saw Andress'
The flop came
, and when the
turn appeared Israelashvili noted it was over, as no river card could help him. That one took Andress up to 2.1 million while knocking the defending champ down to just 170,000.
Sunday, March 13, 2011 3:28 PM Local Time
We'll set aside the boxing metaphors for this small double-up, as hard as that might be.
Short-stacked Ellis Frazier was just all in for 340,000 from the cutoff, and mega-ginormous-stacked Brian Ali called from the big blind. Frazier had
flop added a bit of a sweat, but Frazier was able to fade both the turn
to double to 710,000. Ali still has the big lead with 3.85 million.
Sunday, March 13, 2011 3:18 PM Local Time
Brian Ali raised preflop and was called by Jeff Rowland in the big blind. The flop fell down and Rowland quickly led for 90,000. Ali immediately called.
The turn was the and Rowland again led - this time for 110,000. Ali called.
The river was the and Rowland slowed down, checking to Ali who immediately moved all in. Rowland went deep into the tank and after a minute or two he called!
"I have the ten of clubs," Rowland announced.
Ali slammed on the felt and was shipped a massive pot. Rowland mutter a few choice words under his breath and storm away from the final table area.
Sunday, March 13, 2011 3:09 PM Local Time
It folded around to Brian Ali who -- as the chip leader has done frequently -- just limped in from the cutoff. John Andress called from the SB and Jerry "DontBluffMePLZZ" Van Strydonck checked in the BB.
The flop came all spades -- -- and the blinds both checked. "It's on me?" asked Ali, who then bet 80,000. Andress folded, Strydonck pushed his stack of about 500,000 in the middle, and Ali quickly called.
A set of fives for Ali and top pair and a flush draw for Strydonck. The improved Ali to a full house, but Strydonck still had a few outs for a better boat. But the river was the , and Strydonck hits the rail in seventh.
Ali increases his big lead and now sits with about 3.5 million.
Sunday, March 13, 2011 2:59 PM Local Time
Brian Ali limped in from middle position and the action folded to Jeff Rowland who completed from the small blind. Albert "vtlaxer09" Winchester squeezed all in for just over 300,000 from the big blind and Ali quickly called. Rowland got out of the way and we were off to the races.
The board ran and Winchester was eliminated from the tournament. He rapped the table with a smile and wished the remaining players good luck before heading to the cashier to collect $16,486 for his efforts.
Sunday, March 13, 2011 2:54 PM Local Time
Back from the break, John Andress offered the table gum and got a taker in Patrick Houchins.
"That gum will probably make you drowsy," said Roland Israelashvili from across the table with a wide grin just before raising to 120,000 from the cutoff. He got one caller in Houchins chewing in the small blind.
Both players checked down the
river. "I don't see how I can win," said Israelashvili, turning over
. "Ah, that's how!" he added, seeing Houchins'
One gets the feeling if the gum-chewers do get sleepy, Israelashvili's table talk will help keep them alert.
Sunday, March 13, 2011 2:35 PM Local Time
After that action-filled, 75-minute level, players are now taking 10 minutes to regroup. Here are how the stacks will look when they return:
Brian Ali -- 2.75 million
Roland Israelashvili -- 1.2 million
John Andress -- 1.1 million
Patrick Houchins -- 1.05 million
Jeff Rowland -- 850,000
Jerry Van Strydonck -- 595,000
Ellis Frazier -- 500,000
Joe Caffrey -- 330,000