Vinnie Vinh wins 1st prize worth $437,760 in the WSOP Circuit at Caesars Indiana
2005 Jason Kirk  

Vinnie Vinh wins 1st prize worth $437,760 in the WSOP Circuit at Caesars Indiana

Three days of play in the $10,000 Main Event at the Caesars Indiana World Series of Poker Circuit stop eliminated 119 players from contention, leaving only 9 to battle with each other for the entire prize pool.

In order of starting chip position, the players in the money were:

In seat 4, Vinnie Vinh of Houston, TX. Vinh started the day with $308,200 in chips. Vinh eliminated several players on Day Three to build a big stack, playing an highly aggressive game and utilizing position to make the most of every pot he played.
In seat 2, Samuel “Slade” Whitt of Lima, OH. Whitt began the day with $201,400. Like Vinh, he left a trail of knockouts on the way to the final table and was in good position to make his way to 1st place.
In seat 5, unheralded pro Bill Edler of Las Vegas, NV. The unassuming Edler came to the final table with $142,700 in chips after making an impressive comeback from being one of the shortest stacks in the tournament on Day Two.
In seat 7, Doug Carli of Alliance, OH. Carli brought $137,400 to the table after Day Three, and was looking for a rematch of his heads-up battle with Men "The Master" Nguyen at the Harrah's Las Vegas WSOP Circuit last month.
In seat 3, Men “The Master” Nguyen of Bell Gardens, CA. Three-time Card Player Magazine Player of the Year and fan favorite Nguyen started the day with $127,100 in chips. He pounded Coronas and picked his spots wisely on the way to the final table.
In seat 8, John Smith of La Habra Heights, CA. Smith quietly built a large stack over the course of the first three days but lost a few critical pots just before the final table. He started the day with $115,100 in chips.
In seat 9, Marlowe Rowe of Bardstown, KY. Rowe was a knockout artist on Day Three, taking out several players to build his stack to $95,100 chips.
In seat 6, Ron Hargrove of Georgetown, KY. Hargrove, a local player from just across the Ohio River, started the day with an even $80,000.
In seat 1, Clinton Keown of Evansville, IN. Keown, another local player - and former minor league baseball player - came to the final table with $72,200 in chips.
* Pictures - Courtesy of Larry Kang from BluffMagazine

The first 14 minutes of the final table were played with blinds at 1500/3000 with a 400 ante, and only three hands transpired in that time. The first was between chip leader Vinnie Vinh and Bill Edler. The action was folded around to Vinh in the small blind and he raised to $13,000. After some though Edler re-raised Vinh to $76,600. Vinh went into the tank for almost 5 minutes before folding. (Edler later said he held 4-4.) The second hand had no flop, but on the third Doug Carli and Men the Master tangled for the first of many times during the day, splitting the pot when both players rivered a 9-high straight.

On the second level blinds rose to 2000/4000 with a 500 ante. The first casualty of the day came 33 minutes in, when Clint Keown called Marlowe Rowe's preflop raise and flopped top pair with A-Q on a Q-9-3 board. Rowe led out at the pot for $25,000 and Keown came over the top for his last $21,000. Rowe called immediately and turned over A-A. Keown took home $36,480 for his performance. After another 46 minutes John Smith moved in when he flopped the open-ended straight draw holding 7-6 of hearts. Unfortunately for him he ran into the Vinnie Vinh Express - Vinh's A-K of clubs flopped top pair, which held up and sent Smith home in 8th place with $48,640.

When the table got down to 7 players, the dynamic shifted dramatically. In three hours not a single player was eliminated. Vinnie Vinh took several hits to his stack in this time, including when Men the Master's Q-J cracked Vinh's K-K. He began 7-handed play with $340,000 in chips but found himself with a mere $110,000 at the dinner break. Men turned his fortunes around drastically as well, going from $70,000 to $175,000. Sam "Slade" Whitt made the biggest gain, starting 7-handed play with $145,000 and finding himself with the chip lead at $259,000 at the dinner break.

The players returned from their break to start play with blinds at 3000/6000 with a 1000 ante. For nearly 40 minutes the players saw few flops, preferring to dodge each other's preflop raises or check down multiway pots. It wasn't until an hour into the level, when Marlowe Rowe and "Slade" Whitt ended up heads-up in the blinds on a rainbow flop of Q-T-T, that the fireworks were finally launched. Rowe checked, Whitt led out for $15,000, Rowe moved his short-stack in, and Whitt quickly called. Both men held a ten, but Whitt's king kicker had Rowe's 3 dominated. Rowe received no help and left the table in 7th place, earning $60,800. On the very next hand Bill Edler moved all-in preflop with A-5 of spades and was called by Vinnie Vinh, who held 9-9. Edler received no help from the board an he took home $72,960 for a fine 6th place finish.

Less than 20 minutes later it was Doug Carli who moved all-in on an 8-7-2 flop with two clubs. Vinnie Vinh held 5-2 of clubs for the flush draw and bottom pair, and he called. Carli was ahead until a club on the river completed Vinh's flush, and he left the tournament in 5th place with $85,120. Carli was card-dead for most of the day and played quite well considering the situations he found himself in. After maintaining a slow pace all the day the final table had finally built up some momentum - and that momentum was maintained on the next hand when "Slade" Whitt made an all-in preflop move with K-8. Like so many others before him, Whitt ran into the Vinnie Vinh Express - Vinh's A-K had him dominated and the board brought Whitt no help. He finished in 4th place and earned $97,280 for his performance.

Just three hands into three-handed play, local player Ron Hargrove moved all-in with top pair, top kicker when the board read Q-9-7. The chip leader, Vinnie Vinh, called immediately with his Q-9 and stayed ahead to knock Hargrove out in 3rd place with $133,760. After a short break, it appeared that the tournament would end with a bang as Men the Master got his chips in the middle on a flop with two hearts and was called by Vinh. Men held T-7 of hearts and Vinh was the favorite with 6-6, but the queen of hearts hit the river to even things back out. And then a long battle of the two players taking small pots began. Very few significant hands were shown down over the next two hours, and with their massive stacks neither was forced to make any unusual moves. Vinh slowly whittled away at Men's stack, until a flop came that almost guaranteed a showdown. Men moved all-in with A-9 of hearts on an 8-7-7 flop with two hearts, and Vinh called him with J-J. It was a repeat of their first heads-up hand, only with a different result: Vinh's pair held and Men was eliminated. For his 2nd place finish Men won $243,200, and Vinh took home $437,760, a WSOP Circuit ring, and an entry into the 2006 WSOP Tournament of Champions.


Four days into the tournament, and 127 eliminated players after the first hand was dealt, a champion was crowned. Vinnie Vinh joined Gregg Merkow and Men "the Master" Nguyen as this season's $10,000 buy-in WSOP Circuit winners. The next stop on the tour will begin in another week and a half, this time at Paris/Bally's in Las Vegas.

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