Tony Lay wins 1st Prize worth  $115,175 - WSOP Circuit Event #3
Aug 14, 2005  
by Jason Kirk  

Tony Lay and Jack Effel at WSOPC Event #3

The third event of the WSOP Circuit here in Tunica kicked off at noon yesterday, with 383 players putting up $1,060 apiece for the chance to add their names to the list of gold ring winners alongside Ray Gasses and Campbell Davis. This no-limit hold'em event drew fewer players than Event #1, but at more than three times the buy-in that was to be expected. Play went on until 2:00 AM, progressing through twelve levels and leaving only 15 players standing. After 45 minutes of play this afternoon the final table was set. In order of their seating, here are the final table participants:

Tony Lay is a professional gambler from Dallas, TX, who has made 4 WPT and WSOP final tables in his 20 years of playing poker. His regular game is pot-limit Omaha, and he came to the final table with $70,600 in chips.

John Bitting is an auctioneer from Humble, TX, who's been playing poker for 4 years regularly. He's made final tables at the New Orleans WSOP Circuit and in Costa Rica. His main game is 5-10 pot limit, and he began the final table with $130,000 in chips.

Dennis G. Perry is a retired ironworker from Williamstown, KY. In his two years of poker he's played several final tables, including the Las Vegas WSOP Circuit at the Rio and this year's $3,000 No-Limit event at the WSOP. His main game is no-limit hold'em, and he began the day with $120,000 in chips.

Will Wetzel comes from Russellville, AR, where he owns a wholesale company. He's been playing poker for 4 years, and made the final table of the $300 No-Limit event at last year's Mid-America Classic. His main games are 5-10 no-limit hold'em and pot-limit Omaha. He began the day with $147,100 in chips.

Christos "Shug" Galanis lives in Birmingham, AL, where he is a painter. He's been playing for 3 years, and mostly plays 2-5 no-limit hold'em. He made the final table in his first casino tournament. He started the day with $32,000 in chips.

Larry Greenway is a wood bowl craftsman from Dahlonega, GA, who's been playing poker for 30 years. He will play any game, and this is his first tournament final table. He came into the final table with $60,000 in chips.

Darrell "Beer Man" Struck comes from Dallas, TX. He's been playing poker for three years, mostly no-limit hold'em. He made final tables in the $500 No-Limit Hold'em event at the 2005 World Poker Open and the $1,000 No Limit Hold'em event at the 2005 World Poker Challenge. He started the final table with $46,000 in chips.

Craig Mordock of New Orleans, LA, is a bankruptcy attorney who's been playing poker for a touch under 2 years. At the 2005 WSOP Circuit in his hometown he took 3rd place in the $500 No-Limit Hold'em event and cashed in the $1,000 No-Limit event. He regularly plays 5-10 no-limit hold'em and 10-20 limit hold'em. He began final table play with $120,000 in chips.


Juan "Johnny Boy" Vazquez is a plant manager from Brooklyn, NY. This is his first major tournament final table in 10 years of playing poker. His main game is 20-40 limit hold'em, and he brought $31,800 in chips to the final table.

Sam "Homeless" Bensinger comes from Miami Beach, FL, where he is a student. He's previously been the tournament leader board Player of the Month at PokerStars, and took 1st place in a $500 No-Limit Hold'em event at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. He's been playing poker for 5 years, and regularly plays 30-60 and 75-150 limit hold'em. He brought $21,000 in chips to the final table.

Juan "Johnny Boy" Vazquez came close to being knocked out when he moved all-in with Ace-two of spades and got called by Sam "Homeless" Bensinger, who was holding two jacks. The turn brought Vazquez a reprieve in the form of the Ace of clubs, doubling him up. He moved all-in on the next two hands and began building his stack up to compete with the rest of the table.

The first knock-out came a mere six minutes later, when Will Wetzel led out with a raise. Shug Galanis came over the top and got Wetzel to call. Wetzel cracked Shug's pocket Kings when he spiked an Ace on the river to pair his hand, sending Shug home in 10th place for a payday of $4,460. On the next hand, Tony Lay opened with a raise and Darrell "Beer Man" Struck came over the top. Lay called with Ace-King offsuit, dominating the Beer Man's Ace-Queen offsuit. The river King added insult to injury, and it was beer time for the Beer Man. He was obviously conflicted over his move after being knocked out, but the $7,430 in his pocket was enough to allow him to go over that hand again at the bar as many times as necessary.

For the next half hour the table settled into a pattern of preflop raises taking down the blinds and antes. A lot of this action came from the short stacks looking to double up. The first of those short stacks to get called was Sam "Homeless" Bensinger, when he moved in with Ace-eight offsuit and was called by Craig Mordock's dominating Ace-King. Craig paired the flop and hit trips on the turn to send Bensinger out in 8th place with $11,145.

After 47 minutes of play, Dennis Perry finally played his first hand, taking down the blinds and an antes with a preflop raise. John Bitting may have believed Perry was bluffing on the next hand when he raised again, because Bitting came over the top. Perry called without hesitation and showed he had the best of it with pocket tens. Bitting needed help for his King-Jack of hearts but didn't get it, and when the stacks were counted down it turned out Perry had Bitting covered by $500 in chips. The auctioneer from Humble, TX, took home $14,860 for his 7th place finish.

Larry Greenway picked a strong hand to move an hour and a half into the final table, but his King-Queen offsuit was an underdog to Johnny Boy's Ace-eight offsuit. A Jack on the flop and ten on the turn gave Larry hope in the form of an open-ended draw, but the river was a brick and he had to settle for 6th place and $18,575. Not a bad result for his first final table.

Five Players remaining at the final table - WSOPC Event #3

After a break the blinds and antes increased, and the remaining five players tightened up like Fort Knox. After 45 minutes of preflop raises taking down pots, two players finally found hands good enough to get their money in. The tightest player at the table, Dennis Perry, made a solid preflop raise in early position and Johnny Boy Vazquez came over the top. Perry called and showed Ace-Queen of diamonds, and Vazquez held pocket Jacks. An Ace and Queen on the flop reduced Vazquez's chances to win to the two remaining Jacks in the deck, and the Queen on the river sealed the deal. Johnny Boy won $22,290 for finishing in 5th place.

Another coin flip took out the 4th place finisher 20 minutes later. Craig Mordock came in for a big raise in early position, and Tony Lay moved all-in behind him. Mordock called and showed Ace-King offsuit, leaving him six outs to beat Lay's pocket Queens. The board gave Mordock two pairs with an ace kicker but he couldn't beat Lay's starting hand. 4th place was good for $26,005 in Mordock's pocket.

The final three players - Lay, Wetzel, and Perry - played cautiously, with very few hands going past the flop. Over 45 minutes passed before the next coin flip situation. Tony Lay raise on the button with two Jacks, and Dennis Perry came over the top with his Ace-King of hearts. A Jack came on the flop to give Lay trips, but a four of hearts materialized to give Perry outs. A river brick made the trip Jacks a winner, stacking Lay up going into heads-up play and giving Perry $29,720 for his third place finish. With his tight, aggressive play, it probably won't be too long before we see Perry at another final table.

Wetzel was at a roughly $150,000 chip disadvantage to Lay when heads-up play began, but he mixed up his aggressive play and took several large pots over the next half-hour to close the gap. Finally, after thirty-five minutes of heads-up play, Tony Lay made a $25,000 raise. Will Wetzel raised him another $75,000, and Lay moved all-in. Though he was covered, Wetzel called the raise and got all his chips in the middle. Lay showed pocket nines, putting him ahead of Wetzel's Ace-three offsuit. Wetzel paired his three on the flop, giving him five outs to crack Lay's hand, but without any help on the last two cards he lost the hand and finished in 2nd place. That was good for a $59,440 payday. Lay won the gold ring and $115,175 for an impressive performance.

The level of play in today's tournament was noticeably higher than that of the first event. With very few exceptions, all of the players made excellent decisions at almost every point of play. This was no doubt due to the higher level of final table experience represented - not only in numbers, but in terms of the events where the players reached those final tables. It wouldn't be much of a surprise to see one of these men reach another final table before the WSOP Circuit leaves Tunica for the year. They will all have plenty more chances, as we still have a week and a half's worth of tournaments left to complete. Those players who like games that start with "hold" and end with "em" will get the chance to branch out tomorrow when the Pot Limit Omaha with rebuys event starts up. It should be another interesting day here at the Grand, so be sure to check in tomorrow for a full recap.

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