After three days of intense play, a winner was crowned at the World Series of Poker Circuit Harrah’s Tunica Main Event. Play began with 647 players, up 167 from the year before, and by Day 3, only 16 remained. After nine hours, Kurt Jewell emerged victorious and captured his third gold ring, the $192,984 first-place prize and a seat in the National Championship.
After a long night on Sunday, players returned at noon on Monday to determine a winner. It didn’t take long for the first elimination of the day to occur. Short-stacked Michael “Carwash” Schneider failed to make a comeback and was dispatched in 16th place. Over the next few hours, he was followed out the door by Kyle Hamlin (15th – $11,814), Frank Mull (14th – $11,814), Doug “Rico” Carli (13th – $11,814), Jae Chang (12th – $14,516), and John Cecil (11th – $14,516).
At about the same time as Cecil’s elimination, a hand developed at the other table, in which Houston White called a raise of 52,000, only to have Jacob Bazeley three-bet to 175,000 from the small blind. The original raiser folded, Houston made the call, and the flop fell . Bazeley bet 150,000, Houston moved all-in for around 650,000, and Bazeley called with . Houston tabled and couldn’t catch up, as both the turn and river blanked. Just like that, the final-table bubble was burst.
Here’s a look at how the official final table of nine stacked up:
Harrah’s Tunica Final Table
|6||Michael “Great MJ” Cooper||763,000|
The first elimination occurred in less than half an hour when Steve McClusky opened the action with a raise to 80,000 and Ray Weaver called from the small blind. The flop came , Weaver checked and McClusky bet 200,000. Weaver called to see the turn and checked. McClusky moved all-in and Weaver called.
McClusky flopped two pair but Weaver was drawing live to a straight and a queen. Unfortunately for him, the river was a blank, and Weaver, who had finished as the chip leader on Day 1a, was eliminated in ninth place.
Todd Chew was the next to go after he ran top-two pair into the jack-high straight of Chris Thompson. He was followed out the door by Michael "Great MJ" Cooper, who’s were cracked by Bazeley’s when the board ran out . A short time later, McClusky was sent to the payout desk in sixth place, leaving just five players, which is when one of the most interesting hands at the final table developed.
After action folded around to Dustin Gardner in the small blind and he limped, Kurt Jewell, at the final table for his second year in a row, was inspired to exercise his option in the big blind with a raise to 115,000. Gardner looked at his opponent for a few moments before announcing he was all-in for 1.44 million total.
Jewell seem interested, but took his time and asked for a count. About 30 seconds later, he slid in a stack to represent a call.
Gardner clapped his hands, excited because he was ahead, but things grew serious on the flop. Jewell had picked up an open-ended straight draw and a flush draw, so things were still very much up for grabs. The turn was of no consequence, but the river was. Jewell hit Broadway and went to the rail to celebrate with his friends. Meanwhile, a downtrodden Gardner shook hands with the table and made his exit in fifth place.
As if that hand wasn’t exciting enough, Bazeley and Jewell created a monster pot when Bazeley moved all-in holding on a flop only to run into Jewell’s . A shell-shocked Bazeley was eliminated in fourth place, while Jewell vaulted to the chip lead.
The next to go was Dan Blakeman, who began the day as chip leader. He grew short stacked and was unable to come back when his failed to pull ahead of Jewell’s . Blakeman’s elimination left Jewell taking 7,200,000 chips into heads-up play against Chris Thompson, who had 5,665,000.
It was a good match because the two swapped the chip lead back and forth, but Jewell was out in front when the final hand developed. I happened when Thompson opened on the button for 125,000 and Jewell made it 325,000 more to go. Thompson grabbed a handful chips and put in another raise to 550,000 more.
Jewell responded by announcing all-in and tension was high. Thompson sat still for a moment before announcing a call.
The flop came and gave Jewell the lead. The turn produced the and gave Thompson a set, which prompted him to fist pump and shout "Yes!" However, he quieted down when he realized the card also gave Jewell a straight draw. The hit the river and filled Jewell’s straight, giving him his third WSOP Circuit ring, which includes two main-event victories.
Harrah’s Tunica Final Table Results
|7th||Michael “Great MJ” Cooper||$29,013|
Also earning a victory of sorts on Monday was Steve Melton. After his second-place finish in Event #7: $345 No-Limit Hold’em for $16,947, a third-place finish in Event #4: $345 No-Limit Hold’em ($10,697), and a 19th-place finish in the Main Event ($8,115), he captured the Harrah’s Tunica Casino Championship title. Melton accumulated 87.5 points, overtaking the previous leader, Matthew Weber, who finished with 80 points. Melton and Jewell both have seats in the $1 Million National Championship.
The World Series of Poker Circuit rolls on this month with its next stop at Palm Beach Kennel Club from Feb. 16 through Feb. 27. For the remaining WSOPC schedule, and to find out when you can get in on the action, head over to WSOP.com.