Gabriel Cook, a 32-year-old special education high school teacher from Terre Haute, Indiana plays only two or three tournaments a year and occasionally flies to Vegas for a shot at the World Series. This year he played one satellite, won a seat into the $5,000 main event, and won it after a very wild ride.
The first of 11 scheduled events for the 2009 WSOP Circuit at Caesars Atlantic City attracted 812 entries and generated nearly a quarter-million dollars in prize money for the winner, Brian Fitzpatrick, a 24-yearold poker pro from Fallston, MD who earns his living playing on the Internet. Fitzpatrick won $63,336 for first place, his biggest cash ever.
The $340 buy-in no-limit hold 'em tournament was played over two days, and the top 81 players collected prize money.
Jesse Hale, a 35-year-old professional skydiving instructor from Houston, Texas, and as upbeat a guy as you would ever hope to find, sang, joked, and talked his way into a win in the $5,150 championship event of the WSOP Circuit tour at Horseshoe Council Bluffs. A deal was made when the three finalists were pretty even, but his win was worth an official $113,020 along with the gold and diamond trophy ring and a buy-in to the WSOP $10,000 main event.
Kai Landry, who has no job, claims to have developed "no marketable skills" in his 37 years and spends much of his time playing poker, doesn't feel he deserves the title of pro.
Maybe not, but he played professionally enough during the six-hour final table to win the WSOP's circuit tour $5,150 championship event at Harrah's Casino Tunica. The victory was worth $183,974, a gold-and diamond trophy ring, and a $10,000 seat into this year WSOP championship event, plus $1,000 expense money.
The opening event of the WSOP Circuit tour at Harrah's Casino Tunica took on the aspects of a race in its final stages. It pitted Ronnie "Slugger" Sewell, owner of a steel fabrication business, who has 151 stock car wins to his credit, and Mark "Pegasus" Smith, who breeds race horses.
Poker gave Brent Roberts a chance to satisfy his love of traveling the world. He's played tournaments in places like Macau, Barcelona, the Bahamas, and Aruba. But it was right here that the 23-year-old from nearby Staten Island, New York made his biggest score when he won the $5,150 championship event of the WSOP Circuit tour at Harrah's Atlantic City. Victory brought him $280,040, a $10,000 buy-in to the 2009 WSOP main event, and the coveted gold-and-diamond trophy ring. He won by beating a strong table that contained several other pros.
The largest turnout in the five-year history of the World Series of Poker Circuit at Harvey's Lake Tahoe generated $1,418,132 in prize money spread over 13 tournaments. The annual attraction on the south shore of Lake Tahoe attracted 2,163 entries, surpassing last year's record of 2,128 entries.
Justin Wallace, 29, from Paducah, Kentucky won $45,934 plus a $5,150 seat into this tournament's main event by winning the opener of the WSOP Circuit at Harrahs Southern Indiana, a $300 no-limit hold 'em.
In this event, the first in the 2008-2009 Circuit tour, he took down first place by rapidly moving up with aggressive play in the final stages and had built a nearly 4-to-1 chip advantage when he got heads-up with Pat Peercy. Wallace said, "I do what the table lets me, and try to mix up my game."
John "Bono" Bonetti, one of poker's most colorful and memorable figures, passed away June 28 at the age of 80 at his home in Houston after a long battle with cancer.
Although Bonetti did not start playing until he was 55, an age when many players are over the hill, he piled up some 200 tournament cashes totaling more than $4 million over the next 20 years.
A hard-driving, competitive player, Bonetti won two bracelets in deuce-to-seven lowball and a third in pot-limit hold 'em, along with two third-place finishes in the WSOP championship event.
Elizabeth, IN -- Wilbur Futhey retired two years ago as a salesman supplying plush toys to carnivals. Tonight, playing in the WSOP Circuit championship event at Caesars Indiana, he must have felt like he was back in one of those carnivals, riding a roller coaster, as his chips went up and down over and over. He got lucky time and again when he was forced to go in with mediocre hands, but also had his share of bad beats along the way. The final hand was a case in point. He started with the best cards, Ac-Ks versus As-10c, a 72 percent favorite.