Kentucky pro Kurt Jewell has taken down the World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC) Harrah’s Tunica $1,600 buy-in main event for $192,984 and a National Championship seat.
Jewell is certainly a star on the WSOPC, having now won three events during the series since April last year. This victory is also his biggest cash prize – and second overall – since collecting $242,909 for winning the $1,600 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em main event on the circuit’s Horseshoe Hammond stop back in late October of 2010.
The Frankfort player outlasted 646 other starters this time – up by 167 from last year – over three days’ play to ultimately defeat Tennessee’s Chris Thompson in their heads-up face-off to collect his second WSOPC main event crown.
The final day’s original chip leader, Thompson – who lives in Fayetteville – collected $119,415 for exiting as runner-up, while places three to 10 were filled by Texan Dan Blakeman (third for $87,586), Kentucky’s Jacob Bazeley (fourth for $65,134), Missouri’s Dustin Gardner (fifth for $49,093), Mississippi’s Steve McClusky (sixth for $37,495), Texan Michael ‘Great MJ’ Cooper (seventh for $29,013), Illinois’ Todd Chew (eighth for $22,744), Georgia’s Ray Weaver (ninth for $18,056) and Tennessee’s Houston White (10th for $14,516).
Champion Defeats Chris Thompson for Title
The final day took nine hours to complete, but it was Jewell who emerged as champion – for a third gold ring – after seeing off Thompson when down to just two players.
We arrived at the final two when Houston’s Blakeman – as the short stack – failed to find the cards he needed for his A♥ 6♦ to overcome the J♠ J♣ of Jewell.
That exit left Jewell on 7.2 million chips going into his clash with Thompson, who took 5,665,000 into the head-to-head.
A fabulous battle ensued as the players exchanged the chip lead, before the final hand arrived with Jewell once more ahead.
On the button, Thompson opened for 125,000, only for Jewell to make it an additional 325,000 to go. However, Thompson was not for backing down and threw in a bunch op chips to take it to 550,000 more.
Jewell was also determined and moved all-in, leaving Thompson to consider his options before eventually calling with 10♥ 10♣.
Jewell revealed his hole cards of Q♠ J♠ to be behind, but picked up a pair of jacks when the K♦ 7♣ J♥ arrived.
However, Thompson was thrilled to see the 10♦ on the turn that gave him trips – but was heartbroken when the 9♥ arrived on the river to complete Jewell’s straight for the title.
Michael Schneider Exits in 16th
The first elimination of the last day arrived quickly, when short stack Michael ‘Carwash’ Schneider, of Georgia, hit the rail in 16th for $9,734.
The following couple of hours saw Alabama’s Kyle Hamlin exit in 15th for $11,814, Frank Mull, of Arkansas, fall in 14th for $11,814, Ohio’s Doug ‘Rico’ Carli leave with $11,814 for 13th, Texan Jae Chul Chang hit the rail in 12th for $14,516, and another Arkansas native, John Cecil, drop out in 11th for $14,516.
At almost exactly the same time, Tennessee’s Houston White was being eliminated by Ludlow’s Bazeley in 10th place – for $14,516 – on the second table.
White had called a 52,000 raise, but was then forced into making a huge decision when small blind Bazeley three-bet to make it 175,000 to go.
The action folded around to White and he called to see a flop of 2-2-4. Bazeley opened with a 150,000 bet and Madison’s Houston shoved all-in for about 650,000.
But Bazeley made the call to reveal nines and dominate Houston’s sevens. The turn and river were no help to Houston and the bubble was burst to set up a nine-handed final table.
Ray Weaver Out in Ninth
Oxford’s McClusky sent Weaver to the rail in ninth about 30 minutes into the final table.
McClusky opened with an 80,000 raise and small blind Weaver, of Greensboro, called to see a flop of A♥ 7♥ J♣.
Weaver checked, but McClusky threw in 200,000 chips and was called by the former for the K♣ to arrive on the turn.
He again checked, while McClusky shoved all-in. Weaver called to show A♦ Q♣ and his opponent revealed the A♣ J♠ for two pair, although the former did have a straight draw, as well as a queen, to win.
But the 4s on the river was no good and Day 1a chip leader Weaver was off to collect his winnings.
Eighth place went to Nowhere’s Chew when his top two pair ran into Thompson’s jack-high straight.
Chew was quickly joined at the rail by Fort Worth’s Cooper when his K♣ K♠ lost out to the 8♥ 8♣ of Bazeley on a board that read 9♠ 8♥ 3♣ Q♣ 9♠.
McClusky, on the button, was eliminated in sixth soon after when his second successive all-in move failed against big blind Bazeley.
Bazeley showed A♥ A♦ to dominate McClusky’s K♦ J♦ and stayed in front for the knockout when the board ran 10♠ J♠ 2♥ Q♠ 4♠ to leave us with just five remaining players.
Gardner Eliminated for Fifth Spot
Sikeston’s Gardner was eliminated in fifth in what was an incredible hand during level 28 – with the blinds at 20,000 and 40,000 and a 5,000 ante.
The action folded to small blind Gardner, who limped in, but Jewell – who finished eighth for $17,328 at last year’s main event in Tunica – raised that to 115,000.
Gardner took his time, eyeing up Jewell, but then moved all-in for 1,440,000. His opponent considered what had gone before in the hand – even asking for a chip count – and then called to reveal K♣ Q♣.
He was up against Gardner’s dominating A♦ J♠, but the flop of 6♣ 10♠ J♣ flop gave Jewell an open-ended straight draw, as well as a flush draw, to leave the gathered railbirds on edge as they awaited the turn.
The 7♥ changed nothing, but the river card of A♥ handed Jewell a Broadway to leave a disappointed Gardner to shake his hand and walk off to collect his payout.
Jacob Bazeley Knocked Out by Jewell
Bazeley hit the rail in fourth about 40 minutes later when, after creating a massive pot with Jewell, he showed A♥ 9♦ to be up against his opponent’s 4♠ 4♦ on a flop of 4♥ 9♠ 4♣.
Bazeley had flopped two pair, but required running nines to stay alive as Jewell had quad fours. He was already saying his farewells as the dealer placed the K♦ and the 8♠ to complete the board.
That took Jewell into the chip lead and he was able to finish off the job when knocking out Blakeman and then Thompson for the title.
Jewell didn’t just pick up a huge cash prize with his victory, though, as he is now in line to collect a World Series of Poker (WSOP) gold bracelet in May during the 43rd staging of the world’s biggest poker series in Las Vegas.
He will be joined by 99 other WSOPC players in the event – to be held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino – when all will be competing for the top prize of $1 million.
England’s Chun Low Tops Non-Americans
The highest-placed non-US player in the money was London’s Chun Law, who exited in 52nd for $3,144 – just ahead of Israel’s Uri Bubill in 53rd, also for $3,144. The top 72 places were paid, leaving Tennessee’s Kyle Cartwright with $2,636.
The WSPOC’s next stop kicks off tomorrow at the Palm Beach Kennel Club, where a $1,600 buy-in main event will be held at the Florida venue during the February 16 to 27 stay.
WSOPC Harrah’s Tunica Top 10 payouts:
1. Kurt Jewell (USA) – $192,984
2. Chris Thompson (USA) – $119,415
3. Dan Blakeman (USA) – $87,586
4. Jacob Bazeley (USA) – $65,134
5. Dustin Gardner (USA) – $49,093
6. Steve McClusky (USA) – $37,495
7. Michael ‘Great MJ’ Cooper (USA) – $29,013
8. Todd Chew (USA) – $22,744
9. Ray Weaver (USA) – $18,056
10. Houston White (USA) – $14,516