2005 WSOP Circuit $10,000 Championship at Tunica - Day Three Recap
Aug 24, 2005  
by Jason Kirk  

The final three tables of the Main Event at Grand Casino Tunica kicked off just after noon today. 27 players survived the first two days of action, with Johnny Clements of Panama City Beach, FL, holding the largest chip stack. His $209,800 was about three times as much as the average stack, and almost $30,000 more than the stack of his nearest competitor, Bryant King of Spokane, WA. Professional players Chip Jett, John Juanda, and Kathy Liebert were also still in the thick of the battle. The first nine players to go today would exit with no money at all for their troubles, so it was almost certain that the action would be tense and dramatic.

The initial seating assignments and chip stacks were as follows:

Table 61

1 - Gregg Merkow - $117,900
2 - Bryant King - $180,300
3 - Sonny Perry - $67,200
4 - “Biloxi” Brad Daigle - $37,000
5 - Cliff Pappas - $9,100
6 - Woody Van Stratum - $7,400
7 - James Van Alstyne - $56,600
8 - John Juanda - $119,000
9 - Mark Rose - $31,300


Table 67

1 - Kathy Liebert - $76,400
2 - Senthil Kumar - $17,600
3 - Jim Bugg - $30,600
4 - Jason Tate - $29,800
5 - Ron Mitchell - $131,100
6 - Bobby Law - $73,300
7 - Matt Smith - $58,000
8 - Darrell Struck - $54,100
9 - Brian Ahern - $60,400


Table 68

1 - Steve Rassi - $60,000
2 - Wayne Burgess - $11,100
3 - Scott Levy - $44,200
4 - Glyn Banks - $33,100
5 - Chip Jett - $69,600
6 - Johnny Clements - $209,800
7 - Ed Corrado - $78,500
8 - Jeff Wood - $104,300
9 - Mike Borovetz - $22,600

It didn't take long for the short stacks to get moving. James Van Stratum of Cookeville, TN, got his money in with ace-eight offsuit when his eight paired the board, but he ran into pocket tens and was out in 27th place within minutes of restarting today. Cliff Pappas, who started the day with the second shortest stack, moved in with aces and had them hold up when he was called by queen-ten of clubs. Mike Borovetz, Event #8 runner-up, doubled up over $50,000 with pocket queens when Scott Levy called his all-in with pocket jacks. And Wayne Burgess moved in for $11,000 with queen-eight suited and hit two pair to take another chunk out of Levy's stack. Levy went out in 26th place soon afterward when Chip Jett cracked his pocket kings with a monster seven-three offsuit.

The short stacks may have mostly survived in the early going, but the medium stacks didn't fare quite so well. Ed Corrado was crippled on a hand where he hit two pair on the flop but ran into Steve Rassi's Broadway straight. Then he moved in with king-seven offsuit, only to run into Jeff Wood's ace-eight offsuit and finish in 25th. "Biloxi" Brad Daigle started the day well, but ended up in 24th place when he suffered the worst beat of the day - Bryant King spiked a one-outer on the river with his slow-played pocket aces against Daigle's turned full house. "I can't control the cards," Daigle said afterward. "I just make my moves." He deserved a better finish considering how well he played.

The short stacks once again took a beating as the money approached. Wayne Burgess moved in with an ace-four offsuit, and found himself called by Jeff Wood's ten-seven offsuit. Wood had 14 outs twice on the flop, and hit a ten on the river to send Burgess home in 23rd place. Minutes later Mark Rose moved all-in with ace-king offsuit, and John Juanda called with ace-ten suited. A ten hit the flop and Rose was done for, finishing in 22nd place. WPT final table player Senthil Kumar took his pocket sixes and went with them, only to run into Kathy Liebert's pocket queens and her flopped set. He finished in 21st place. Jim Bugg made a move with ace-three offsuit and left in 20th place when Jason Tate called with king-six offsuit and paired his king on the flop.

Final 2 Tables:

With one player left to be eliminated, play went to hand-for-hand, and the real drama set in. Whoever lost at this point would get nothing for their efforts, no matter how well they had played for three days. James Van Alstyne was the first short stack to move all-in, drawing the crowd in to the table, but no one would call. Matt Smith moved in next, and also got no callers. Cliff Pappas repeated his move from earlier in the day, surviving an all-in with king-ten offsuit versus Gregg Merkow's pocket tens this time, and he doubled up to prolong hand-for-hand play. The closest any player came to elimination without actually leaving the tournament was when Matt Smith moved in with pocket kings and found himself called by Bobby Law with ace-ten offsuit. The flop came ace-high with two hearts, putting Law in the lead, but the turn brought Smith a flush draw when another heart hit the board. The crowd of spectators gathered around for the last card and exploded when the ace of hearts hit the board to save Smith's tournament life. In the end it was Cliff Pappas, survivor of three earlier all-ins, who became the bubble boy. Pappas moved in with ace-king offsuit and was called by Gregg Merkow's seven-six of diamonds. A six on the flop put Pappas out in 19th place. Hand-for-hand play lasted for over two nerve-wracking hours.

After a break, the players returned to try and move up the pay schedule. James Van Alstyne was the first to go, in 18th place, when he moved in with a medium pair and was called by Ron Mitchell with ace-nine offsuit. Ron hit an ace on the flop and that was all she wrote. Van Alstyne was visibly upset, even though he had made the most of his short stack for a long stretch of the tournament. Matt Smith went out in 17th with $17,365 when his ace-queen couldn't win a race against Sonny Perry's pocket eights. An hour later Chip Jett moved all-in with middle pair on a nine-high flop but ran into Bobby Law's pocket queens and finished in 16th place with $17,365. Ron Mitchell was solidly ahead of Kathy Liebert with pocket sevens to her ace-four offsuit, until an ace spiked on the river to send him packing in 15th place with $20,835.

Play slowed down for the next hour, and John Juanda found himself unable to run over his table the way he had throughout the earlier stages of the tournament. Bobby Law discovered how to re-raise the professional and put enough pressure on him to steal several pots. Gregg Merkow doubled through Juanda when his ace-six offsuit paired the turn against Juanda's queen-seven suited. Mike Borovetz pulled a smooth stop-and-go play, moving all-in from early position on the flop in a multi-way pot with Juanda and Jeff Wood. Then it was Wood's turn to pick on the pro, when he hit a set of eights on the flop against Juanda and took down a big pot. If Juanda wants to win the tournament, he's going to have to find a way to keep these lesser-known players from making moves on him.

On consecutive hands before the dinner break, two players were eliminated. Jason Tate had his kings cracked by Steve Rassi's ace-jack of hearts when Rassi hit runner-runner to a gutshot straight, which got back the chips Rassi had lost earlier when Tate cracked his aces with ace-eight. Tate finished in 14th place with $20,835. Mike Borovetz went out almost simultaneously when his aces were cracked by Johnny Clements' flopped set of eights. Borovetz had made a smaller-than-normal raise before the flop, and Clements got great value on his call. Borovetz's finish was less than indicative of the level of play he demonstrated throughout the Circuit, and chances are you'll see him again throughout the rest of the season's Circuit events.

Thirty minutes after play resumed, Bryant King made a standard raise from early position and Kathy Liebert came over the top for the rest of her chips. King called with his pocket sevens and Liebert showed ace-queen. Liebert caught a lot of outs on the flop and turn, with opportunities to hit a straight, flush, pair, or higher kicker for two pair, but she couldn't catch any of them and went out in 12th place with $24,310. Liebert was upset with King's call, but the table had seen her take other players out with more than a few marginal hands - hands like ace-four, king-five, and queen-eight - and King had her covered by so many chips that he could afford to make the call and have his hand cracked.

Glyn Banks has been nursing a short stack for some time, picking up smaller pots here and there to keep ahead of the blinds and antes, but whenever he would make a play at the pot one of the other players would cut him off and force him to fold his hand. He finally made a stand with king-queen offsuit, only to run into ace-ten. Banks got no help from the board and finished in 11th place with $24,310. The final player to exit was Brian Ahern, who had been the shortest stack at the table for well over an hour and a half. Ahern moved in with ace-king offsuit, and was called by big stack Bryant King's queen-jack. A queen spiked the river and Ahern exited in 10th place with $24,310.

The final table lineup for tomorrow looks like this:

1 Jeff Wood - $122,500
2 John Juanda - $158,000
3 Bobby Law - $360,500
4 Johnny Clements - $315,500
5 Sonny Perry - $70,500
6 Darrell Struck - $61,000
7 Greg Merkow - $133,000
8 Bryant King - $376,500
9 Steve Rassi - $194,000

Going on pure reputation, Juanda has to be considered one of the serious contenders, but he'll have to switch gears and adjust to the way the tables have been playing him. Bryant King, who took 21st in this year's WSOP Main Event, has been running all over his opponents and is looking as strong as anyone can be in this sort of event. Johnny Clements has been a solid force for three straight days, Bobby Law seems to have Juanda's number, and Jeff Wood might just be the dark horse in the field after playing nearly flawless poker for the bulk of the day before making a few late mistakes. It's a final table worthy of the WSOP name, and it kicks off at 2 PM tomorrow.

More Pictures from Day 3.

Glyn Banks Kathy Liebert Mike Borovetz Jason Tate Ron Mitchell Matt Smith

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