Thursday, October 20, 2016 6:02 PM Local Time
Florida pro rides his instincts, premonitions to a fifth-career Circuit victory
Hammond, Indiana (October 20, 2016) — John Holley is the champion of Event #6 at Horseshoe Hammond, defeating a field of 232 players to win the $580 Six-Max event. The victory is Holley’s fifth on the WSOP Circuit, putting him in elite company as one of only 14 players with at least five rings. He also collected the top prize of $31,318 and 50 points in the race for seats in the season-ending Global Casino Championship.
Holley is a 55-year-old professional poker player from Destin, Florida. He used to fish competitively, but he took on poker as his full-time profession several years ago after finding some good success in tournaments. After this victory, only nine players have won more rings on the WSOP Circuit than Holley.
There was a lot of history and premonition in play for Holley at the final table of this event. The first evidence of that came with five players remaining, when Holley was absent from the table for the first 15 minutes following a break. Cody Brinn had been using a green crystal as his card protector, and it had jogged Holley’s memory about his own good luck charm. The last time he won a ring, he’d given much of the credit to “Rocky” — a small, nondescript rock that protected his cards for the duration of that event. He had found the special stone several years prior on the shores of Lake Texoma in the deep south.
Holley decided he needed to go find Rocky again on this day, so he took the long walk to his car during the break. “I had sort of retired him,” he said when he returned. “I hardly ever use him anymore. I’m out there digging through my car trying to find him, and I actually could only find a piece of him.” Rocky lost a big chunk of himself somewhere along the way, and Holley finally returned to the table with his new, smaller protector that he aptly named “Chip”.
A couple hours later, Holley and Brinn were heads-up for the ring, with Holley holding a significant chip lead. In the decisive hand, Holley opened the button with a raise, and Brinn three-bet shoved for about 25 big blinds. Holley only had ten-eight offsuit, but he paused for a long while to consider, hinting at a premonition. He walked through his and long and unusual decision-making process in the postgame conversation:
It began several years ago, when Holley saw a movie in which the protagonist was a poker playing fisherman, just like Holley himself. “He’d make his money fishing, and then they’d cheat him out of the poker game,” he started the story. “It was a crooked game. They had the dealer working for them and everything. The hand he won with was ten-eight offsuit. Somehow, they talked the dealer into not cheating for that hand, so they actually had to play it out. And he won with ten-eight offsuit. It was just weird, and I felt like something was speaking to me about that hand.”
A short while later, Holley was heads-up for what was his third ring at the time, and he won the final hand and the tournament with that exact hand — ten-eight offsuit.
When Brinn shoved on him this time, Holley had the familiar hand once again, this time with the suits reversed. “I’m sitting there going through this in my head,” he said. “How can I not call with ten-eight offsuit? I felt like I was told to play it.”
Holley listened to his instincts and called off a significant chunk of his own stack to put Brinn at risk. Brinn tabled pocket fives, racing for his tournament life against the ten-eight. “It was pretty sick that it was a flip spot,” Holley laughed. There was a ten right in the window, and the board ran out in Holley’s favor to seal the victory.
The champ elaborated further on how he uses his intuition to assist his decisions at the poker table. “People talk about feel players and math players,” he said. “And I think everything in the world is based about math. The whole universe. But there’s something about being receptive to positive energy that people disregard a lot of times.”
Holly is a particularly spiritual person, and he believes firmly in some form of higher energy that he can’t quite explain. Whatever it is, it’s working for him so far. “It doesn’t really matter what you pray to, as long as you believe,” he said. “I win or lose with a smile on my face, and I’m happy about that.”
Wednesday, October 19, 2016 8:05 PM Local Time
John Holley (pictured above) has just put the finishing touches on the fifth Circuit victory of his career, defeating Cody Brinn in the heads-up match to win Event #6.
On the final hand, Brinn takes his stand on a three-bet shove for about 25 big blinds with pocket fives. Holley calls to put him at risk with , citing a premonition that will be explained further in the story to follow. There's a ten right in the window, and the board runs out in Holley's favor to seal the victory.
This win was worth more than $31,000 for the pro from Destin, earning him a spot among the Circuit's elite list of five-time winners.
Brinn (below) falls just short of what would have been a third Circuit victory, settling instead for the runner-up prize of $19,351.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016 7:27 PM Local Time
Greg Jennings (pictured) has just been eliminated in third place, setting up a heads-up battle between two players who already have some WSOP Circuit jewelry in their trophy cases. John Holley, a four-time winner, takes a big lead into the battle against two-timer Cody Brinn.
John Holley - 2,185,000 (91 bb)
Cody Brinn - 600,000 (25 bb)
Blinds are 12,000/24,000 with a 4,000 ante in the current level, putting nearly 120 total big blinds in play.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016 6:22 PM Local Time
Level 24 is complete, and the final three players are on a short break. John Holley has continued his Day 2 dominance, opening up a big lead over his fellow finalists.
John Holley - 1,529,000 (76 bb)
Greg Jennings - 823,000 (41 bb)
Cody Brinn - 453,000 (23 bb)
Blinds will be 10,000/20,000 with a 3,000 ante when action resumes, putting the average stack just north of 45 big blinds.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016 3:34 PM Local Time
Three players have been eliminated so far on Day 2, and the seven who remain are now seated around the final table. Four-time ring winner John Holley has worked his way to the top of the counts in the 90 minutes since play began, with start-of-day chip leader and two-time winner Cody Brinn hot on his heels. Here's the final table lineup:
Seat 1: Greg Jennings - 525,000 (53 bb)
Seat 2: Cody Brinn - 535,000 (54 bb)
Seat 3: Dominik French - 106,000 (11 bb)
Seat 4: Paul Fisher - 260,000 (26 bb)
Seat 5: Liz Tedder - 483,000 (48 bb)
Seat 6: Bryan Skeens - 335,000 (34 bb)
Seat 7: John Holley - 588,000 (59 bb)
There are just a couple minutes left in the current level, after which blinds will move to 5,000/10,000 with a 1,000 ante. That puts the average stack at just under 40 big blinds.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016 2:00 PM Local Time
The final 10 players are back in their chairs, and Day 2 is under way.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016 2:00 AM Local Time
Wednesday, October 19, 2016 12:35 AM Local Time
Eighteen levels have come and gone, and the clock has run out on Day 1. The starting field of 232 player has been dashed all the way to 10, and the survivors will return tomorrow to play for the ring.
Four-time ring winner John Holley is among those still in contention, ending the day third in chips. Cody Brinn is a two-time winner in his own right, though, and he's the man atop the overnight leaderboard with more than 100 big blinds at the Day 2 starting level.
Everyone left is guaranteed to earn at least $2,564 tomorrow. Blinds will be 3,000/6,000 with a 1,000 ante when cards go in the air, putting the average stack just north of 45 big blinds. Play resumes at 2:00 PM and will continue until a winner is determined.
The series' sixth gold ring and a top prize of $31,318 are reserved for the eventual champion.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016 10:58 PM Local Time
The Event #6 field is shrinking quickly. The bubble burst during the last level, and the field has since been further whittled down to just 17 players. Everyone left is now guaranteed to earn at least $1,394.
Play is scheduled to continue tonight until the end of Level 18, which is just about an hour from now.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016 5:13 PM Local Time
Registration is closed for Event #6, and the numbers are in. This $580 six-max officially drew a field of 232 entries, generating a prizepool worth $116,000. That money will be shared by the final 24 players, with a min cash worth $1,041. The payouts escalate from there, all the way to a top prize of $31,318 in addition to the ring that awaits the winner.
The full breakdown of the payouts can be found in the "Prizepool" tab above.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016 4:12 PM Local Time
Level 8 is ticking toward its conclusion, and the field has grown to 225 entries and counting. There is a break following this level, after which registration will be closed for this event.
Players who have been eliminated can take advantage of the strong side event schedule this evening. This event's little sibling, the $300 Six-Max Turbo, begins at 5:00 PM with a Main Event seat added to the prizepool.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016 2:09 PM Local Time
Level 4 is complete, and the field is on their first 15-minute break of the day. The board shows 186 entries so far, with late registration available until the start of Level 9, or about 4:30 this afternoon.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016 11:47 AM Local Time
Today is six-max day at Horseshoe Hammond. The lone ring event on the docket is a short-handed $580 event, and there's a $300 turbo version running at 5:00 PM, spread in the same format.
Last season, Indianapolis pro Bradley Rhodes broke through for his first win on the Circuit, outlasting a field of 213 entries to collect the top prize of $28,758 in this event. A similar turnout is expected this time around.
Here are the vitals:
- Players begin with 12,000 chips
- Levels 1-12 are 30 minutes apiece
- Levels 13-21 are 40 minutes apiece
- Late registration is available until the start of Level 9
- There is a dinner break after Level 12
- Day 1 concludes at the end of Level 18
- View the structure sheet
Cards go in the air at noon.