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Event #8 - WSOP Circuit No Limit Hold'em Final Day Results & Report

Rio Las Vegas Poker Tournament - WSOP Circuit Event

Event #8 - WSOP Circuit No Limit Hold'em
Final Day
Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino
3700 West Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV, 89103, US
Full Schedule
Doug Lee Oh Canada!Oh Canada! Doug Lee Becomes Second Canadian to Win World Series of Poker Circuit Championship
Most poker players don't have 'lucky' numbers. But if Doug Lee had a lucky number, it would definitely be TEN. Consider the...
Profile: Doug Lee
Date: March 23, 2005 Time: 2:00 PM

Buy-In: $10,000
Prizepool: $2,109,000
Entries: 222
Game Type: No Limit Hold'em

Place Country Name Prize
1 Canada Doug Lee $695,970
2 USA Jennifer Harman AKA "Jen" $383,840
3 USA Jean Robert Bellande $210,900
4 USA Gabriel Thaler $168,720
5 USA Grant Lang $116,540
6 USA Kevin Keller $105,450
7 USA Dennis Perry AKA "Ironman" $84,360
8 USA Phil Ivey $63,270
9 USA Tom Macey $42,180
10 USA Hieu Ma AKA "Tony" $29,525
11 USA Rene Angelil $29,525
12 USA Steve Kopp $29,525
13 USA TJ Cloutier $25,310
14 USA James Giordano $25,310
15 USA Allen Cunningham $25,310
16 USA Mike Epstein AKA "Magic" $21,090
17 USA Robert Wall $21,090
18 USA Tom Schneider $21,090

Tournament Report

Oh Canada!Oh Canada! Doug Lee Becomes Second Canadian to Win World Series of Poker Circuit Championship

Most poker players don't have 'lucky' numbers. But if Doug Lee had a lucky number, it would definitely be TEN. Consider the hand that took place on Day Two of the $10,000 buy-in championship event on the Rio Las Vegas' World Series of Poker Circuit.

Late in the night, with about 40 players still remaining in the tournament, Doug Lee found himself 'all in' and in a desperate situation. Lee had A-10 and all of his remaining chips were in the pot when the board contained a TEN. Top pair would normally be a pretty strong hand in hold'em, but this time, it wasn't. Lee's opponent had pocket Kings. Doug Lee stood up from his seat and was just about to walk away, broke and busted - a distant twenty spots from the prize money.
Then, a remarkable thing happened. On the river, Lee managed to catch a life-saving TEN, and not only survived but took a decent-sized stack into Day Three. Little did he know it at the time, but the lucky TEN would ultimately be worth $695,970 in prize money. Forty-eight hours later, the magical TENS would make an encore appearance.

The Rio All-Suites Casino-Resort hosted the third stop on the World Series of Poker Circuit. After two successful tournaments in Atlantic City and San Diego, the Rio Las Vegas became the center of the poker universe for a ten-day extravaganza. With the Rio's prize money added to the overall WSOP Circuit numbers, $10 million has now been won by poker players - with three tournaments still to go (Lake Tahoe starting in April, New Orleans starting in May, and the 35th annual World Series of Poker back at the Rio starting in June). The Rio's final event was taped for broadcast by ESPN, the leader in sports television.

The championship event attracted 222 entries. It took three days of play to eliminated 213 players. At the conclusion of Day Three, Rene Angelil from Las Vegas - the manager and husband of international singing superstar Celine Dion - was the last player to be eliminated, leaving only ten players for Day Four finale. The final table included three former WSOP gold bracelet winners - Phil Ivey (4 titles), Jennifer Harman (2 titles), and Tony Ma (2 titles). The seven remaining players were seeking their first WSOP win. The ten finalists returned to the Rio Convention Center on Wednesday, March 23rd and were eliminated as follows:

10th Place - Hieu 'Tony' Ma earned his way to the final table. He roller-coastered up and down in the chip count from near-elimination several times to flirting with the chip lead, during other periods. But Day Four was a disaster. Ma was never able to generate any momentum during his short stay in front on ESPN's cameras. On the 11th hand of finale, Ma moved in with his last 70K with A-J suited. He was steamrolled by Jean-Robert Bellande's A-K. Ma, Card Player magazine's 'Player of the Year' in 1999 went out at the 10th-place finisher, worth $29,525.

9th Place - Ten minutes later, the next player was eliminated. Tom Macey, a bankruptcy attorney from Chicago got to empathize with his clients when he busted out with A-K. Macey re-raised 'all in' with his last 80K with big-slick, but it was Bellande again who came down with a sledgehammer. Bellande had pocket Sevens and the middle-pair held up to drag the 200K pot. Macey, who now earns about half of his income from playing poker on the side, added $42,180 to his bankroll.

8th Place - Phil Ivey was clearly one of the crowd favorites. But the four-time gold bracelet winner failed to deliver a much-anticipated 'Ivey-like' performance. Getting low on chips, Ivey made the wrong move at the wrong time, hoping to steal. From the bottom, he moved in with 9-5, and was called by (you guessed it) Mr. Bellande. Ivey knew instantly he had made the wrong play. Bellande flipped over A-10 which held up. Phil Ivey, the former Atlantic City prodigy who has become one of the biggest names in poker, received $63,270 for 8th place.

7th Place - Big bad Bellande now had a decisive chip lead, about 2 to 1 over everyone else at the table. The shortest-stack coming into the finale was Kentuckian Dennis Perry. His two hour stay at the table turned out to be bittersweet. He managed to move up three spots on the money ladder, worth an extra 60 grand, but didn't sooth the disappointment of going out next. Perry moved his last 35K into the pot with A-4 suited which was dominated by Gabriel Thaler's A-K. Perry missed catching his final lifeline, a Four, and the retired ironworker melted down as the 7th place finisher - worth $84,360.

6th Place - Kevin Keller came in with a medium-sized stack. The 31-year-old owner of 'Spa Reflection' - a hair, nails, and day spa - was finally cleaned out when he made his final stand with K-6 and made a pair of Sixes, ultimately losing to Gabriel Thaler with A-J when an Ace fell on the river. Keller, cheered on by his wife in the front row, smiled, waved, and walked away $105,450 richer.

5th Place - The final table had to be a disappointment for Grant Lang. The chip leader coming into Day Four enjoyed some clear advantages at the start, but was never able to use his stack size or position to pose a serious threat for the championship. It didn't help that Jean-Robert Bellande won several key early pots and built up enough chips to cover Lang, effectively handcuffing his aggressiveness. Lang was gradually blinded and anted down to under 100K and lost a four-way pot on his final hand of the night. Jennifer Harman won the hand with trip Deuces. Lang, a.k.a. 'G-Money' had predicted a victory, but had to settle for 5th place and $126,540.

A crowd pleaser of a hand took place when play was down to four handed. After a flop of J-10-8, Jennifer Harman (with K-J) made a large bet. Jean-Robert Bellande came over the top with an 'all in' raise, holding 9-8, which was good for bottom pair with an inside-straight draw. After two minutes of careful deliberation, Harman holding a very vulnerable top pair, called and was 'all in.' Two blanks fell on the turn and river, and Harman survived possible elimination. The standing room-only crowd roared its approval.

Things were soon to go from bad to worse for Bellande. The chip lead changed for the second time at the final table when Doug Lee took a 650,000 pot away from Bellande, with top two pair. Heading into the fifth hour of play at the final table, Lee was the first player to hit the 1,000,000 mark. Meanwhile, Harman had 500K to Bellande's 400K and Thaler's 220K.

An amazing hand took place when Thaler managed to double up with 9-9 against Doug Lee's A-6. Thaler flopped top set (trip 9s), but Lee caught two running cards which made a full-house. When the cheering stopped and the smoke cleared, Thaler had a full house (9s full of 6s) topping Lee's smaller full house (6s full of Aces). The big pot rocketed Thaler into a virtual three-way tie for second place with about 450K in chips. Lee still enjoyed better than a 3 to 2 chip lead versus his rivals. But then just three hands later, Harman dragged a few small pots and the chip lead was Harman's for the first time. The crowd packed inside the Rio's convention facility was in a frenzy.

4th Place - This was a night when emotions ran high. The chip lead swung back to Bellande when a confrontation broke out with Gabriel Thaler taking much the worst of it. Blinds were 6K-12K and Thaler initially raised with A-K. Bellande moved over the top for 310K more, enough to put Thaler 'all in.' Bellande had K-K and was thrilled to see Thaler call. Thaler needed an Ace badly, but when the case King rained down on the turn, that ended the 31-year-old poker pro's dreams of capturing his first WSOP victory. 31-year-old Gabriel Thaler, who started off in northern California playing $3-6 hold'em and $100 freezeouts in his apartment with friends (Antonio 'The Magician' Esfandiari, among them), ended up as the 4th place finisher. He collected $168,720.

3rd Place - Bellande turned into a madman when play became three-handed. He had quieted down considerably for a while when his chips were vanishing, but then re-gained the chip lead and was up over 1,000,000 in chips, which brought out a redux of verbal taunts. At this stage, Harman was grinded down to less than 300K and it appeared she might be next to hit the rail. But Bellande might as well have been standing at a railroad crossing tied to the tracks with a roaring freight train rumbling straight for his forehead. Bellande was dealt 6-4 and raised 'all in' with his last 310K when the board showed A-4-3-2 on the turn. But as it turned out, Doug Lee was driving the locomotive with a Five in his hand for a made straight. A blank on the river sealed Bellande's fate. About Bellande's verbal jousting, Doug Lee later said, 'I think players like Bellande make things interesting. They spice up the final table.' The crowd may not have favored or even liked Bellande, but he sure did make it interesting to watch. Jean-Robert Bellande was finally muzzled with third-place prize money of $210,900.

The heads-up duel between Doug Lee and Jennifer Harman began with the clever Canadian holding a 3 to 1 chip advantage -- 1,694,000 to 527,000. Lee won seven consecutive pots, and it looked like the 'Canadian Super Bomber' was outplaying the far more experienced Harman.

Then for a moment, the poker world turned on it axis. It all started off so badly for Harman. She raised 50K and Lee moved 'all in.' Tired of his ceaseless raising, Harman reluctantly called with a less than stellar hand. The audience was horrified to see the players show their hole cards: Q-9 for Lee versus Harman's Q-7. Harman was in serious trouble. For Harman, the cheering crowd was nothing short of a 'home field advantage.' Doug Lee must have felt like Michael Moore at the Republican National Convention.

The flop came J-4-2 and it looked like the night was over. Then, the poker Gods woke up and dealt a gift to Harman. The crowd shouted over and over, 'SEVEN!' 'SEVEN!' 'SEVEN!' -- making it appear to anyone who was strolling by there was a craps game going on inside the ballroom. Indeed, God did play 'dice with the universe.' Kaboom! A SEVEN fell. The room exploded with cheers.

That magical catch gave Harman nearly 700K and she was back in the running,
But what cometh' can also be taken away.

On Hand 149 there was 320K in the pot before the flop. Harman moved 'all in' with Q-Q after the flop came K-10-2. Doug Lee thought for a few moments and called, holding 10-9 which was good for second pair. The crowd was delighted to see this, as this time Harman had a clear advantage. A harmless three came on the turn and suddenly, Jennifer Harman was one card away from seizing a 2 to 1 chip advantage.

But remember, Doug Lee and his lucky number. TEN.

Everyone was standing, five ESPN cameras were rolling, and the room was dead silent when the faint flick of a final card brought both agony and ecstasy.

It was - a TEN.
Doug Lee was visibly shaking when the final card was dealt. Even Harman, a gutsy veteran of many poker wars could not hide her emotions as the final card was dealt. It was great theatre. Great drama. Great poker. Lee jumped into the arms of his small bad of supporters and the stunned crowd now realizing they had witnessed one of the most exciting poker matched of all time finally came around and gave Doug Lee a much deserved cheer and round of applause. The audience knew that both players had given everything pf themselves there was to give on this night, and the spectators finally acknowledged that with several ovations for both players.

Jennifer Harman, the grizzled poker pro with the schoolgirl looks and charming smile, was the runner up. The two-time gold bracelet winner received $383,840 for second place.

Doug Lee, a 35-year-old real estate investor from Calgary, Alberta won his first major tournament in the United States. He joins Nghi Van Tran, from North York, Ontario (winner of the Atlnatic City championship in January) as World Series of Poker Circuit winners from the Great White North.

Lee was humble abut his accomplishment, noting well before the final table started that playing in this tournament was his fondest poker memory so far, because it gave him 'a chance to play with so many top pros.' If that was Lee's fondest moment beforehand, one can only imagine how $695,970 in prize money and a gold ring might solidify the memory.

One thing is for certain - TEN was certainly a lucky number for Doug Lee.

Report by Nolan Dalla - World Series of Poker Media Director World Series of Poker Tournament Director - John Grooms World Series of Poker Circuit Director - Ken Lambert

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