Mark Fledderman wins 1st Prize worth $118,750 - WSOP Circuit Event #9
Aug 20, 2005  
by Jason Kirk  

Mark Fledderman 1st Prize in the No Limit Hold'em - Buy in $1,500 + $80 tournament at Grand Casino Tunica

Yesterday saw the biggest payout so far at the WSOP Circuit in Tunica, but today's first place prize for Event #9, $1500+70 No-Limit Hold'em, was even larger. $118,750 awaited the player who could outlast 254 other competitors. As the Main Event approaches the fields are growing smaller, but the level of competition has gone up. Today's final table lineup is a perfect example:


Justin Gaines of Boca Raton, FL, is a college student at the University of Arizona. In a year and a half of poker experience he's made final tables at the Palms Summer Series and the Seminole Casino in Hollywood, FL. He started the final table with $30,700 in chips.


Jessie Pulido is a professional poker player from Hollywood, FL. He's been playing poker for 4 years, and in that time he's made the final table of over 20 tournaments. In the last month he's won 5 tourneys, so he has a hot hand right now. He started final table play with $35,700 in chips.

Paul McKinney of Kingsport, TN, is a Hall of Fame player who holds the distinction of being the oldest player ever to win a bracelet at the WSOP. In more than seven decades he has placed in more tournaments than we have space to list; among the highlights were making the final table of the 1998 WSOP Main Event and winning this year's WSOP Senior Event. He started today's final table with $55,300 in chips.


Tom McGrath is a contractor from Miami, FL, who's been playing poker for 2 years. This is his second final table, the first being in a hi-lo split tournament here at the Grand last summer. He started the final table with $80,000 in chips.

Corey Bierria is a business owner and semi-professional poker player from Atlanta, GA. He's only been playing poker for one year, but he took 2nd at the New Orleans WSOP Circuit Main Event this year. He started the final table with $64,400 in chips.

Jack Ward is a professional poker player from Gulfport, MS, who's been playing for 15 years. He finished 92nd in this year's WSOP Main Event, and has made 4 final tables at WSOP Circuit events. He started the final table with $61,800 in chips.

Nate "Vice" Ross is a bar and restaurant owner from Philadelphia, PA. He placed 33rd in this year's WSOP $3000 NL tournament, and has been playing poker for 3 years. He began the final table with $75,000 in chips.

Mark Seif is a professional poker player from Incline Village, NV. He's been playing poker for 18 years, and this decade has been a real monster for him. Since 2002, he's won 2 WSOP bracelets (in back-to-back events this year), has bracelets from the Borgata and the World Poker Open, has won 2 Bellagio titles, and has won 3 Legends of Poker titles. He came to today's final table with $138,600 in chips.


Mark Fledderman is an investor from St. Louis, MO, who's been playing poker for 40 years. He's made the final tables at various events at the Horseshoe, Bellagio, and Orleans, including a 1st place finish in a $1000 event at the Horseshoe. He started final table play today with $60,800 in chips.

The first player to exit today was Hall of Famer Paul McKinney. The seven-decade veteran found himself on the short stack after trying to make a move or two early on, and pushed his chips in with ace-five of diamonds. The only player at the table with more WSOP bracelets than McKinney, Mark Seif, found ace-king of hearts and called the raise. Without any help from the board, McKinney left in 9th place with $7,420.

Jack Ward was next to go. He, too, found himself short-stacked when Corey Bierria moved all his chips in. Ward called with pocket sevens, and Bierria showed ace-king offsuit. A coin-flip win wasn't in the cards for Ward, as every street improved Bierria's hand until he had kings full of tens. Ward took 8th place and won $11,130.

Nate Ross had been waiting for an opportunity to make a move, and when he found king-queen offsuit on the button he made a good raise. Mark Seif found ace-jack offsuit in the big blind and moved Ross all-in. Seif hit two pair on the flop, leaving Ross with four outs in the form of a Broadway straight draw , but the turn and river were blanks and Ross found himself leaving in 7th place with $14,840.

Mark Fledderman started the day in the middle of the pack, but he was able to begin stacking up when he got into a heads-up pot in the blinds with Jessie Pulido. Fledderman checked in the dark and the flop came jack-ten-deuce. Pulido checked behind to see the turn card, which was the five of clubs. Fledderman moved all-in and Pulido called right away - Fledderman showed ace-jack for top pair, top kicker, and Pulido turned over king-queen offsuit for an open-ended straight draw with one card left to come. The river eight was no help to Pulido, who finished 6th for an $18,550 payday.

Justin Gaines, the youngest player at the table, was aggressive from the beginning. He picked up pots with opportunistic all-in moves and was generally smart about looking for good double-up opportunities. It looked like he was going to be able to take another pot away when he came over the top of Corey Bierria's under-the-gun raise, until Tom McGrath smooth-called in the big blind. Bierria folded and McGrath turned over pocket aces - one of three hands Gaines didn't want to see his pocket jacks run into. An ace on the flop left Gaines drawing extremely thin, needing the two remaining jacks to win the hand. The turn killed his chances, and the jack on the river was salt in his wound. Gaines played admirably and took home $22,260 for his 5th place finish.

Mark Seif played a very aggressive game from the start of the final table, and on several occasions managed to get his opponents to call big bets with a worse hand. Unfortunately, those worse hands put a big dent in his stack when they drew out on him. When play was four-handed Seif found himself sitting on the shortest stack, and he ramped up the aggression even more. When he moved all-in with pocket sixes, Corey Bierria called with ace-queen offsuit. The flop came jack-nine-four, leaving Seif ahead. The river was a second jack, and Bierria suddenly had more outs. The river nine counterfeited Seif's pair and put Bierria's ace into play as the kicker to the two pair on the board. Seif, the two-time WSOP bracelet winner, finished in 4th place with $25,970.

Three-Handed at the Final Table of WSOP Circuit Tunica Event #9

Three-handed play went on for nearly an hour, with all three remaining players finding opportunities to win big pots. Tom McGrath, who had played very few hands in the early stages of the final table, suddenly moved into high gear. He picked up several big pots by making outstanding calls with king-high hands when Mark Fledderman and Corey Bierria made big bets at him. He had two crucial pots taken away from him, though, which left him shorter than his two opponents. He finally exited the tournament when he called Corey Bierria's all-in bet with king-ten of diamonds while Bierria held ace-ten of spades. The river ten gave them both a pair, but Bierria's kicker played. McGrath took home $33,390 for his 3rd place performance.

For twenty minutes Corey Bierria and Mark Fledderman battled heads-up, with Fledderman getting the best of most of the hands when he would move all-in. He seemed to have a solid read on Bierria no matter what move the Atlanta resident made. On the final heads-up hand it was Bierria who made the great read, when he moved all-in with bottom pair on a flop of ace-queen-four with two spades. Fledderman called with nine-seven of spades, and his flush draw came in on the river to send Bierria home in 2nd place again, this time for a prize of $65,300. Fledderman won $118,750 and the gold championship ring.

Mark Fledderman and Johnny Grooms  at Grand Casino Tunica during the WSOP Circuit Event #9

Only two events remain before the Main Event - Event #10, the $2000+80 No-Limit Hold'em which began today, and Event #11, the Women's $200+30 No-Limit Hold'em. There will also be a $1000+60 Mega Satellite on Sunday for entry into the Main Event. With three events occurring tomorrow the poker room will be filled with players and spectators dividing their attention. Once Monday comes around, however, every poker player in Tunica will be focused on the Grand, where several hundred players will be playing for entry into the Tournament of Champions next year in Las Vegas. Many big-name professional players have begun to show up now, and with the big tournament so close the atmosphere here is definitely changing. Check back tomorrow for full coverage of the last day before the Main Event.

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