Spence Barber wins 1st Prize worth $40,965 - WSOP Circuit Event #7
Aug 18, 2005  
by Jason Kirk  

Spence Barber wins 1st Prize in the Pot Limit Hold'em - Buy in $500 + $50 tournament at Grand Casino Tunica

Pot-limit hold'em, considered by many players to be the tournament game requiring the most skill, made its World Series of Poker Circuit debut yesterday at Grand Casino Tunica with a field of 234 players. By 2 AM the field had been culled to the final nine players, who reported back this afternoon to play the tournament out. In order of seating, here is your final table lineup:


Spence Barber is a retiree from Covington, GA, who's been playing poker for 25 years. In that time he's made the final table of the Southern Classic twice. He started the day with $30,000 in chips.


Matt Smith is a professional poker player from Tallahassee, FL, who specializes in large-buy-in online tournaments. He's been playing poker for a mere three years, and in that time has managed to take 5th in a Bellagio $1000 tournament and 2nd place in this year's WSOP Event #45. He brought $48,000 in chips to the table.

Mike Cordell is a semi-pro poker player from Little Rock, AR, who's been playing poker for 15 years. He placed 14th at the World Poker Open main event in 2002, 10th in the same event this year, and 4th in this year's Ultimate Poker Challenge $1500 buy-in event. He began the day with $82,000 in chips.

Damon "The Mexican" Ramirez comes from Dallas, TX, and is a professional poker player. In his 15 years of experience he's taken down 13th place at the 2003 Foxwoods main event and 2nd in the 2003 Foxwoods HOSE event. He started the final table with $15,000 in chips.

John Roveto comes from Atlanta, GA, where he plays golf. He took third place in the 2004 WPT Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship and also placed 3rd at the Ultimate Poker Challenge $3000 event. He started the day with $23,000 in chips.

Len Ashby is a recent college graduate from Louisville, KY, who's been playing poker for 6 years. He's appeared at several $500 and $1000 tournament final tables at Caesars Indiana, and began play today with $72,000 in chips.

Brian Taylor of Macon, GA, is a part-time bus driver who made the final table of a 7-card stud tournament at the 2004 World Poker Open. He's been playing poker for 4 years, and started today with $80,000 in chips.

Dora Evans is a housewife from Florida who has been playing poker for 3 years. She is the first woman to make a final table at the WSOP Circuit in Tunica. This is her first major final table, and she started the day with $21,000 in chips.


Tom White comes from Pegram, TN, and has been playing poker for several years. He's only played in two live tournaments, and this is his first final table. He started the final table with $28,000 in chips.

The final table began slowly, with the first ten hands all being folded around to the first raiser. The short stacks weren't eager to get involved with bad cards, and the big stacks weren't eager to tangle with their marginal hands. But after that slow start, things picked up quickly. John Roveto, the player at the table with the most big tournament exposure, was one of the short stacks when he made a pot-sized raise. Len Ashby re-raised him all-in - the first re-raise at the final table - and the pot odds forced John to call off the rest of his chips. Roveto's timing couldn't have been worse, as his pocket tens were a huge underdog to Ashby's pocket kings. John Roveto couldn't catch one of his two outs, and he finished in 9th place for a $2,490 payday.

The Final Table of WSOP Circuit Tunica Event #7

Five minutes later the first woman to make a final table at this event, Dora Evans, moved her short stack all-in into a multiway pot with four other players. Len made a raise on the flop, the other two players folded, and he showed K5o for two pair. That beat Evans' pocket eights, and sent her home in 8th place with $3,840.

On the very next hand Damon "The Mexican” Ramirez moved all-in, and chip leader Mike Cordell called. Ramirez's pocket tens were a favorite against Cordell's king-jack of clubs until the flop came ace-king-queen, pairing Cordell and giving him a gutshot straight draw that could only be filled by Ramirez's two outs. The turn brought Ramirez a flush draw but the river was a third ten, giving Ramirez the set he didn't want to make. Ramirez took down 7th place and $5,120.

Four short hands later, Tom White made a pot-sized raise and Spence Barber moved all-in. White called off the remainder of his chips with ace-seven of diamonds, and found himself behind to Barber's pocket jacks. The board gave White no assistance and sent him home in 6th place with $6,400.

The unfortunate recipient of the worst beat of the final table was Matt Smith. On the button Smith raised the size of the pot, and Mike Cordell re-raised from the small blind. Smith moved all-in with pocket aces and Cordell called with ace-queen offsuit. The flop brought Cordell a gutshot straight draw, which was filled up on the river when a ten hit the board. Smith saw every poker player's dream - having all his chips in with aces - turn into a nightmare. His 5th place finish was worth $7,680.

Four-Handed at the Final Table of WSOP Circuit Tunica Event #7

With five players gone from the table in just over an hour, it looked like the tournament might finish up quickly. However, all the remaining players began to slow down and settled into a pattern of allowing the button to steal with impunity. For over an hour and a half this was the rule, and the chip stacks fluctuated very little. Finally, Mike Cordell called Spence Barber's raise from the big blind and saw a flop. An ace, a king, and a four hit the board, and Barber led out for the size of the pot. After thinking the situation over, Cordell moved his chips in and Barber called. Barber had flopped top pair with ace-seven, and Cordell had flopped middle pair with king-ten. A queen on the river gave Cordell outs to a straight, but the river was no help and he finished in 3rd place with $8,965.

Three-handed play didn't last long. After eight minutes, Spence Barber made a pot-sized raise, and Brian Taylor moved his short stack in. He held ace-nine against Barber's queen-jack, making him a favorite, but two jacks on the flop and turn left Taylor drawing dead. He finished in 3rd place for $11,525.

Heads-Up at the Final Table of WSOP Circuit Tunica Event #7

Len Ashby made several great plays while heads-up, including an all-in check-raise on a ten-four-deuce flop that brought him nearly even with Spence Barber. But he made a crucial mistake on a jack-jack-eight flop, re-raising Barber after he had led out the size of the pot. Barber held jack-ten, and moved all-in. Ashby was crippled when he folded his hand, and it was only a matter of time before he moved all-in with the worst hand and Barber sent him packing. Ashby's 2nd place finish netted him $22,535, while Barber won $40,965 and the gold ring for taking down top prize.

Spence Barber and Johnny Grooms at the Grand Casino Tunica during the WSOP Circuit Event #7

Spence Barber finally broke the string of tournaments won by Texans. Damon Ramirez was the Lone Star State's only hope, and his early exit guaranteed a new location would be represented on the winners list. The first place payout may have been smaller than most, but the champion's title and gold ring will make nice additions to Barber's other accomplishments. Tomorrow's final table will be the completion of today's $1000+60 No-Limit Hold'em event, and as always Blind Bet will have the recap for you.

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