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Event #4 - WSOP Circuit No Limit Hold'em Results & Report

Harrah’s Atlantic City Poker Tournament - WSOP Circuit Event

Event #4 - WSOP Circuit No Limit Hold'em
Caesars Atlantic City
2100 Pacific Avenue
Atlantic City, NJ, 08401, US
Full Schedule
Bob Willis High Octane Bob Willis Spikes Miracle Card on River, and Wins First Major Poker Tournament Professional motorcycle racer tries poker for a change of pace, and zooms off with $76,500
Atlantic City, NJ (March 9, 2007) – It takes some luck to win poker tournaments. Sure, skill is critical (and at least in...
Profile: Bob Willis
Date: March 8, 2007 Time: 12:00 PM

Buy-In: $500 + $40
Prizepool: $255,000
Entries: 510
Game Type: No Limit Hold'em

Place Country Name Prize
1 USA Bob Willis $76,500
2 USA David Santitoro $41,055
3 USA Derek Buonano $20,400
4 USA Mike O'Dea $17,850
5 USA Gary Crow $15,300
6 USA John Hurley AKA "JJ" $12,750
7 USA Joseph Priolo $10,200
8 USA Marc Freund $7,650
9 USA Shawn Nguyen $5,100
10 USA James Mann $2,805
11 USA Mark Marsteller $2,805
12 USA John Connolly $2,805
13 USA Brendan Buckley $2,295
14 USA David K Scherer $2,295
15 USA Leonard Eidson AKA "LB" $2,295
16 USA Richard Aquino $1,785
17 USA Charles Norris AKA "chuck" $1,785
18 USA John Hoang $1,785
19 USA Owen Miuccio $1,275
20 Lou Barretts $1,275
21 Z Pokrywa $1,275
22 Richard Gaiti $1,275
23 USA Aaron Plaisted $1,275
24 USA Harley Hensley $1,275
25 USA Larry Goldstein $1,275
26 Morrison Wheeler $1,275
27 USA James Mihkovich $1,275
28 USA Chin Nguyen $1,020
29 USA Donald McGurrin $1,020
30 Chad Westgate $1,020
31 USA Anthony Costa AKA "Primo" $1,020
32 USA Neil Tran $1,020
33 USA Ken Smith $1,020
34 USA Stephen Smith AKA "Stephen" $1,020
35 USA Gregg Fishberg AKA "Fish" $1,020
36 Elroy Yarouch $1,020
37 USA Robert Polunas $765
38 USA John Lester $765
39 Justin Shaffer $765
40 Thomas Dellipaoli $765
41 USA Bruce Secor $765
42 USA Dale Goldberg $765
43 USA Michael Matrone AKA "TwoTone" $765
44 USA Brian Nichols $765
45 USA Lenny Weissman $765

Tournament Report

High Octane

Bob Willis Spikes Miracle Card on River, and Wins First Major Poker Tournament

Professional motorcycle racer tries poker for a change of pace, and zooms off with $76,500

Atlantic City, NJ (March 9, 2007) – It takes some luck to win poker tournaments. Sure, skill is critical (and at least in the long run, far more important). But without a bit of luck at key moments of a tournament, winning is analogous to racing with cheap, low-grade gasoline in the tank. High octane fuel is what fires up powerful engines and in a metaphorical sense, creates new poker champions. Bob Willis, a 41-year-old professional motorcycle racer was on the receiving end of three twists of good fortune – refueling with high-octane gas, if you will -- at the final table, which propelled him across the finish line for a first-place showing. Willis topped a tough field and won his first major poker tournament with a combination of well-disciplined play and three big hands which gave him victory.

The $500 buy-in no-limit hold'em tournament at Caesars Atlantic City attracted 510 players. This was the fourth event of the World Series of Poker Circuit series at Caesars. After 501 players were eliminated over the first 12 hours during day one, nine survivors returned to play the final table on day two. Based on starting chip counts, it was the most balanced of any final table played thus far at Caesars. Derek Buonano (with 463,000) started off with a razor-thin chip lead over David Santitoro (with 461,000). Mike O'Dea was close behind in third place (413,000) with the remaining six players all below 380,000 in chips. Bob Willis was fifth. Seating positions and chip counts began as follows:

Seat 1:	David Santitoro		461,000
Seat 2:	Shawn Nguyen		211,000
Seat 3:	Gary Crow		170,000
Seat 4:	Bob Willis		255,000
Seat 5:	Mike O'Dea		413,000
Seat 6:	J.J. Hurley		380,000
Seat 7:	Derek Buonano		463,000
Seat 8:	Marc Freund		170,000
Seat 9:	Joseph Priolo		43,000
 
Blinds began at 8,000-16,000 with a 1,000 ante. The shortest stack belonged to Joseph Priolo. But he quickly doubled up twice within ten minutes and rocketed up to 200,000 in chips. Shawn Nguyen was not as fortunate. On his fateful yet final hand, Mr. Nguyen called an all-in raise by Derek Buonano. Both players' cards were turned up and Mr. Nguyen had A-K versus Mr. Buonano's 9-9. An ace flopped, but so did a nine – giving Mr. Buonano's a set. The big hand held up and put the first player out on the rail. Shawn Nguyen, a 23-year-old poker pro from Sunrise, FL collected $5,100 in prize money.

And that's when Bob Willis got his first high-octane boost. One of the most exciting hands took place in a three-way pot, which resulted in the elimination of two players. Marc "Leggy" Freund was low on chips and tried to steal holding Q-9. The player to his immediate left, Joseph Priolo was dealt 3-3 and moved over the top and all-in. This delighted Bob Willis sitting across the table who looked down and saw A-A. With a 500,000 pot at stake, the aces were still in the lead after the flop. But a three on the turn gave Mr. Priolo a set. The hand was far from over. Three spades on board also gave Mr. Willis extra outs with a flush draw. Then, day became night. A fourth spade rained down on the river, cracking Mr. Priolo's set and eliminating another player in the process.

Eighth place went to Marc "Leggy" Freund. He is a 50-year old salesman from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. He received $7,650 in prize money. Right behind him in the payout line was Joseph Priolo from New York City. He earned a well-deserved $10,200 for seventh place.

Down to six players, Bob Willis and David Santitoro shared the chip lead. Then, J.J. Hurley busted out when he tried to bluff with two big overcards after the flop. It was a case of bad timing, as his opponent (the venerable Mr. Willis) had a six in his hand flopped two more sixes – good for a set. That pretty much erased Mr. Hurley's chances of staging a comeback. The builder and developer from Wayne, PA picked up $12,750 for sixth place. This was the second time Mr. Hurley has made it to a WSOP Circuit final table. He also appeared last year at the event in Harrah's Atlantic City.

Gary Crow is another player accustomed to sitting at final tables. His previous appearances included Harrah's Atlantic City and Harrah's New Orleans, both held last year. This, the third time did not prove to be a charm however, as Mr. Crow flew away when his A-6 was bested by David Santitoro's K-Q. The final board showed 6-4-2-K-4, giving Mr, Santitoro a higher two-pair. A real estate investor from Georgia, Gary Crow feathered his nest with $15,300 for fifth place.

Mike O'Dea hoped to win his first poker tournament. Instead, he was forced to settle for fourth place. Mr. O'Dea ran card dead late in the tournament, losing two critical big pots which left him low on chips. He finally moved all-in holding A-7 and was crunched by Bob Willis, with 7-7. A life-saving ace remained buried in the deck, also burying Mr. O'Dea's dreams of victory. The Costco Wholesale Manager cashed out for $17,850.

Then, came the second injection of lucky fuel. It started off so innocently. Derek Buonano was dealt K-3 of hearts. Bob Willis started with 5-5. All the chips went in after the flop came J-5-2, with two hearts. Mr. Willis had flopped a set of fives. But Mr. Buonano had a heart flush draw. The turn card was red. It was a heart. Wham! The room erupted and the two players swapped emotions, going from ecstasy to horror with the simple flick of a dealer's wrist. There was more pain and joy to follow. Mr. Willis desperately needed the board to pair and that is precisely what happened when a deuce was revealed, giving the chip leader a full-house. Derek Buonano did everything in this tournament but win, and collected $20,400 for third place. Most interesting is the fact that Mr. Buonano is a military veteran who just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq. He earned a Bronze Star for his service. His efforts both there and here are to be saluted.

When heads-up play began, Bob Willis enjoyed slightly better than a 2 to 1 chip advantage over David Santitoro. But about ten minutes into the duel, Mr. Santitoro evened things up by dragging a few sizable pots. The detour was brief. The finalists battled for another half hour before the next big hand of the night took place, which was the final big fill-up which moved Mr. Willis to the checkered flag.

Mr. Willis was dealt A-6. He raised. Mr. Santitoro was dealt K-K and re-raised all-in. Mr. Willis thought long and hard and finally called. When the hole cards were revealed, Mr. Willis saw he was in big trouble. By the turn, Mr. Willis was drawing to just three outs – one of the three remaining aces left in the deck. The board showed J-7-7-8 and Mr. Santitoro was just one card away from victory. Then, the river came. When gas meets fire, the result is an explosion. Kaboom! An ace detonated from the deck and the room went ballistic. Mr. Willis had caught his three-outer and Mr. Santitoro was left burning inside. "I had him right where I wanted," Mr. Santitoro would say later. No one could argue. Even, Mr. Willis himself – who was glad to deal out a bad beat to his adversary for the sake of 76 grand. A few hands later, what was left of Mr. Santitoro's chips went over into Mr. Willis' stack and the race, tournament, and the final table was history.

Runner up David Santitoro could have easily had his name in the headline. It was the cruelest of blows, to be one card from victory – not to mention a difference of $35,000 in prize money. Mr. Santitoro is a Lieutenant with the Department of Corrections. This was his third WSOP Circuit cash. Second place paid out $41,055.

The newest poker champion is Bob Willis. In a post-tournament interview, he admitted that he almost did not make it into this tournament. Mr. Willis had a race a few days ago and was traveling, which meant he was forced to come and play the first day of the tournament on almost no sleep. But sleeping was the last thing on Mr. Willis' mind late on a Friday night when he slipped on the gold WSOP Circuit ring, awarded to each event champion. Mr. Willis has been racing motorcycles for over ten years. The high point of Mr. Willis racing career was being ranked fifth nationally on the dirt bike circuit back in 1998. He now races on straightaway pavement, on what are called drag bikes.

Oh, and from now on he might play a little more poker in his spare time, too.

by Nolan Dalla – World Series of Poker Media Director

Executive Staff, World Series of Poker Circuit – Caesars Atlantic City


Vice President of Table Games – Fred Niceta
Director of Table Games – Paul A. Natello
Table Games Manager (Poker) – Thomas McDonough III
Poker Pit Manager – Jake Devries

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