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Event #1 - WSOP Employee Event - Limit Hold'em Results & Report

34th Annual World Series of Poker

Event #1 - WSOP Employee Event - Limit Hold'em
Binion's Gambling Hall
128 East Fremont Street
Las Vegas, NV, 89101, US
Full Schedule
Submit Photo David Lukaszewski, April 15, 2003 Poker Shift Manager at Desert Diamond Casino, Wins Casino Employees Event at 2003 World...
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Profile: David Lukaszewski
Date: April 15, 2003 Time: 12:00 PM

Buy-In: $500
Prizepool: $96,720
Entries: 208
Game Type: Limit Hold'em

Place Country Name Prize
1 USA David Lukaszewski $35,800 and + Gold Bracelet
2 USA Paul Trieglaff $18,380
3 USA John Arrage $9,180
4 USA Sammy Schenker $5,800
5 USA Russell Hendricks $4,360
6 USA Steve McCoy $3,380
7 USA Mary Ann Hiner $2,420
8 USA Stan Hohneke $1,940
9 USA Sam DeFoy AKA "Chopper" $1,540
10 USA Dudley Rudd $1,160
11 USA James Blankenship $1,160
12 USA John Tran $1,160
13 USA Richard Santos $960
14 USA Arthur Eastridge $960
15 USA Gabriel Hunterton $960
16 USA Mick Lura $780
17 USA Haviv Bahar $780
18 USA Jim Westerfield $780
19 USA George Walls $580
20 USA Tod McClane $580
21 USA Ed Schumacher $580
22 USA Gordon Jones $580
23 USA Raymond Li $580
24 USA Hans Epstein $580
25 USA Sherry Hammers $580
26 USA Jeff Bell $580
27 USA Mike Sweaney $580

Tournament Report

David Lukaszewski, April 15, 2003

Poker Shift Manager at Desert Diamond Casino, Wins Casino Employees Event at 2003 World Series of Poker

"From the very first hand, I thought I was going to win it." -- David Lukaszewski (2003 Casino Employees Champion)

2003 WORLD SERIES OF POKER EVENT #1 -- Casino Employees Limit Holdem, Buy-in-- $500

Total Entries -- 208

Total Prize Pool -- $96,720

In one of the most exciting and unusual poker success stories in recent memory, David Lukaszewski, a Shift Manager at the Desert Diamond Casino in Tucson, Arizona won the first event at the 2003 World Series of Poker -- the Casino Employees Limit Hold'em tournament. For Lukaszewski, age 33, this was not only his first time to ever play in a world championship event, it also marked the first occasion he has entered a tournament with an entry fee of over $50. Talk about some extraordinary "beginner's luck."

But this tournament wasn't about luck. It was about skill -- more precisely, setting goals and achieving them by recognizing opportunities and then taking advantage. In this, his first excursion into the risky battleground of high-stakes poker, Lukaszewski set modest goals for himself every step of the way, hoping to acquire a certain amount of chips at each stage of the tournament. He shifted his play in response not only on the characteristics of his opponents, but also to meet his chip count objectives. "At the first break, I wanted to have $1,000 and ended up with $1,200," he said. "Then, at the next break my target goal was $2,500 -- and I had $2,800, and so on."

If Lukaszewski were to author "The Making of a Champion," the first chapter would almost certainly be his extensive background in the industry -- as both a Poker Shift Manager and avid cardplayer. The second chapter of the story would be Lukaszewski's laudable dedication to the concept of planning and meeting goals. Goals in life and goals in poker. "Back in January, I made up a list of the goals I wanted to meet in my personal and private life by the end of this year," said Lukaszewski. "The first time I made up my list, I wrote: To win a major event. After I thought about it, I figured that sounded a little too ambitious. So, I scratched it out and wrote instead: To play in a major event."

In what amounted to a wire-to-wire victory in the tournament, Lukaszewski has now met both of those goals. He played, and then he won. He made it look too easy. Lukaszewski's miraculous story actually started back last weekend, when he, his brother, and a group of friends in Arizona decided to drive from Tucson to Las Vegas with the intention of to playing at the World Series of Poker. He earned his seat in the $500 buy-in casino employees event by winning a $65 single-table satellite at Binion's Horseshoe three days ago. "At the time, I thought to myself, maybe I should just sell this off and keep the $500 in cash," Lukaszewski said afterward. "Then, I thought to myself -- why would I drive all the way here to Las Vegas and then not play?" That proved to be Lukaszewski's single best decision of the tournament.

Incredibly, the cheerful barrel-chested Lukaszewski -- who plays mostly in cash games and small tournaments in and around the Tucson area -- was never in serious danger of busting out of the tournament at any point. "I was never below $500," he said in reference to the amount of chips at the start of the tournament. "On my very first hand, I called a raise from the big blind with K-10. I flopped a king, then caught a ten on the turn (for two pair). That gave me chips early and from then on, I was never in jeopardy. I never went 'all in' once during the entire tournament." "I think that first big hand really got me charged. You get into a zone where all the cylinders start to fire. When I sat down, from the very first hand, I thought I was going to win it. Everything went right. Every time there was a chance for me to get into some trouble, I managed to avoid it. And, every time I had a monster hand, I got paid off. Every time I laid a trap, someone seemed to fall into it."

At the dinner break, there were only 32 players left (out of 208 that started). Lukaszewski was one of three players remaining with the most chips. "That's when I knew I was in perfect shape to win this thing. I knew I could take a beat or two and still survive. That's the great thing about limit poker. There's no recouping from a mistake in no-limit hold'em. But in limit hold'em, you can make a mistake and still stay alive. I think that gave me some extra confidence to play more aggressively in some spots."

Lukaszewski also has an interesting theory about what it takes to win poker tournaments. He explained that during every tournament, somewhere along the way, the eventual winner will overplay a hand and get into trouble. "There's always a time or two where you start out behind and come back and beat them. That's got to happen at least once and maybe twice. If you can catch a break or two like that, that puts you in a good position to win."

Lukaszewski arrived at the final table as the chip leader with about $20,000 -- roughly a fifth of the total chips in play. "That's when I changed my style of play (by accident). I had been aggressive all day, but then went passive when we started playing for the gold bracelet. During a break, and I figured out that I had lost some of my aggression. So, when (play resumed) I went back to the more aggressive style that got me there in the first place. I raised and won seven pots in a row pre-flop and only had a decent hand twice. That's when I realized I could run over the table." When play at the final table became short-handed, the three finalists put on a spectacle that shall be remembered for a long time to come. Paul Trieglaff (Palace Station), John Arrage (Binion's Horseshoe), and David Lukaszewski (Desert Diamond Casino) began drinking Kamikaze shots while playing at the table -- one after another. "It was like I was sitting at home playing in a private game," recalled Lukaszewski. "We were all having such a great time, sitting around playing poker that I think we may have forgotten about the prize money and the bracelet."

Despite the lively atmosphere and a cheering mob of casino employees in the grandstand, there some very serious poker played at the final table. "I defy any of the pro tournament players to come to the final table where we played and tell me it was easy. It was hard! There was no checking-down. We were playing serious high-level poker. Anyone that says this is a junior event that not as tough as the regular tournaments is wrong. No way -- it was tough."

Lukaszewski received $35,800 and the renowned gold bracelet for his impressive victory. After the tournament was over -- which came nearly 15 hours after the start and fell as the clock struck precisely 3 am -- Lukaszewski called many of his friends and relatives to tell them the good news. "I woke up everyone at like 4 in the morning to tell them I won! All the poker players that I called -- they knew what this moment means. They know what the World Series of Poker gold bracelet is all about. I can now walk into to any cardroom in the world and show this gold bracelet, and everyone will know. You become part of a very elite club. I feel like I just won the Super Bowl!" At least for the moment, Lukaszewski is probably the only poker player at World Series of Poker right now who can honestly say he's "one-for-one." He's entered one event -- and won it. It was a perfect day for the man who can now single-handedly declare he is an undefeated champion.

-- by Nolan Dalla

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