George Abdallah wins 1st Prize worth  $66,695 - WSOP Circuit Event #5
Aug 16, 2005  
by Jason Kirk  

George Abdallah wins 1st Prize for WSOP Circuit Event #5 at Grand Casino Tunica

The $500+50 Pot Limit Omaha with Rebuys tournament had the smallest field yet at the WSOP Circuit here in Tunica, with a mere 134 players. That meant that any player who wanted to make the money had to reach the final table - only 9 players would split up the $185,270 prize pool. Experience reigned supreme in the event, with over 190 years of poker play among the top nine. In order of seating, the players are:

Dave Decker of New Orleans, LA, is an automotive sales manager who's been playing for 2 years. His main game is 20-40 Hold'em, and all of his previous final table experience comes from playing at Party Poker. He brought $24,000 in chips with him today.

Charles T. Goldhammer comes from Naples, FL, and is in real estate. He's been playing poker for 10 years and mostly enjoys no-limit hold'em. He started the day with $51,500 in chips.

Frank Kassela lives in Germantown, TN, and is the president of Mid American Specialties of Memphis, TN. He plays the tournament circuit, where he has enjoyed great success this year: he's made 4 final tables at the WSOP, World Poker Open, and Bellagio 5-Diamond Classic. That's an impressive resume for someone who's only been playing poker for 5 years. Frank brought $53,500 in chips to the table.

Elmer Thomas comes from Vernon, AL, where he works in trucking. He's been playing poker for over 40 years, and specializes in pot-limit games. He started today's play with $89,500 in chips.

Jim Payton of Camby, IN, is self-employed and has been playing poker for the last 25 years. In that time he's made three final tables at the WSOP. He came to the final table with $25,500 in chips.

Jack Huff is a retired educator from Athens, GA. In his 40 years of poker experience he's never made a major tournament final table. He began the day with $11,000 in chips.

Charles Edwards comes from Lynchburg, TN, home Jack Daniels Distillery. He remodels homes for a living and has been playing poker for 10 years. His main game is no-limit hold'em but he finished third in the Pot-Limit Omaha event at the 2004 Mid-America Poker Classic. He brought $53,500 in chips to the final table.

George Abdallah is a restaurant owner from Houston, TX, who plays high-stakes pot-limit Omaha and has made multiple final tables at the World Poker Open in limit hold'em, pot-limit hold'em, and pot-limit Omaha. He began the final table with $52,000 in chips.


Gene Bauerlein is an engineer from St. Petersburg, FL, who's been playing poker for over 60 years. He plays mostly Omaha and hold'em, and this is his first major final table. He began the day as the short stack with $10,500 in chips.

The final table began slowly, with all the players feeling each other out and nobody looking for too big a fight. This continued for over an hour before Jim Payton moved all in with two aces, a jack and a two. He was called by Charles Edwards, who held the other two aces with a queen and a six. The flop gave Edwards the nut straight, and the turn and the river gave Payton no help. He took home $5,560 for 9th place.

On the very next hand a huge pot developed when the flop came jack-high with two hearts. Gene Bauerlein moved all-in, Dave Decker called him, and after a minute of thought Charles Edwards did the same. Edwards and Bauerlein both had a pair of aces with small side cards, while Decker had two hearts for the flush draw. The river paired the board and gave Edwards and Bauerlein a split pot, and without a third heart Decker was eliminated in 8th place. His finish was good for $7,410.

George Abdallah began a reign of terror at the table after an hour and 45 minutes of play. Charles Goldhammer moved all in holding two aces with a jack and a deuce on the ten-high flop. Abdallah called with King-Jack-nine-six, giving him a pair of nines. The turn king gave Abdallah two pair, and when the river bricked Goldhammer was out in 7th place for a $9,265 payday.

Forty minutes later Abdallah claimed his next victim, Charles Edwards. On the turn Edwards moved his money in with draws to the flush and the straight, but Abdallah called and was ahead with a pair of jacks. The river card brought no club, and Edwards went home with $11,115 for finishing in 6th.

The other killer at the table was Frank Kassela, whose year in tournaments has been simply stellar. Three and a half hours into the final table he made a preflop raise and Elmer Thomas called to see the flop, which came jack-high with two hearts. Thomas moved all-in with a pair of eights and a draw to the flush, and Kassela called him down with a pair of kings and no draws. The last two cards gave Thomas no help and he was sent packing in 5th place, good enough to earn him $12,970.

Kassela stacked up again twenty minutes later when he caught Ace-king-jack-nine and called Jack Huff's preflop all-in raise. Huff turned over seven-five-four-three with a couple of diamonds. Kassela looked at his opponent's cards and said, "I won't win this one. Not again cards like that." It certainly looked like Kassela was using psychic power when the flop gave Huff two pair, sevens over fours, but Kassela filled a gutshot draw on the turn with one of the only cards that could save him, the eight of clubs. Huff's two pair weren't good enough to win, leaving him in 4th place with $14,820.

Three-handed at the Final Table of WSOP Circuit Event #5

Three-handed play was dominated by George Abdallah, who used his stack effectively to shut his opponents out of the big pots. While Kassela and Bauerlein were able to pick up blinds here and there, the only significant pots they were able to take were against each other. This continued for an hour and a half, until Bauerlein bet out on a rainbow flop of eight-five-four. Abdallah moved him all-in, and Bauerlein called. He showed two pair, eights over fives, but Abdallah had flopped the nut straight. Bauerlein was unable to fill up on the turn or river, and he finished in 3rd place for $20,380.

Abdallah held a nearly five-to-one chip advantage when heads-up play began. To make thing worse for Kassela, he caught five straight nine-high hands and was unable to play against Abdallah's raises. With one exception - flopping the nut flush when he was all-in preflop - all of Kassela's hands were outclassed by his opponent. Within fifteen minutes, Abdallah had Kassela against the wall. Kassela moved in with king-queen-ten-four , but Abdallah woke up with two queens and six-four side cards. No draws or kings came for Frank Kassela, and he took 2nd place for $37,055.

George Abdallah's victory, worth $66,695, marks the third straight WSOP Circuit event here in Tunica won by a Texan, though Houston's gold ring count still trails that of Dallas. The final table of Event #6, which kicks off tomorrow afternoon, will be a chance for the victory list to widen to other locales. Perhaps it will even be a local player - there are plenty of them here at the Circuit who have had great showings so far, and they are definitely capable of taking home a gold ring. Be sure to check in tomorrow for the results of the next event.

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