Reno poker players dominate WSOP event at Harveys
November 13, 2009
STATELINE – Most poker tournament winners can recall at least one decisive moment when they got very lucky and won a key hand which led to victory. For newly crowned WSOP Main Event champ Joe Cada, his big break came at precisely 5:30 a.m. last Sunday morning when action was down to three-handed, and he caught a miracle card to not only survive, but seize the chip lead.
Cada went on the next day to make poker history.
Gary Kraemer of Reno experienced his thrilling moment Thursday night when he was all-in and playing heads-up against a dangerous adversary named Tony Le of Reno in the latest WSOP Circuit event taking place at Harveys Lake Tahoe.
With the WSOP Circuit “gold ring” title at stake, Kraemer (with 7-5) flopped second pair when the board initially showed Q-5-2. He moved all in. Le (with Q-4) called instantly and tabled top pair, queens. A blank fell on the turn, meaning that Le was just one card away from his first tournament victory. Then, it happened. A seven on the river not only gave Kraemer the huge pot, it also catapulted him to a major tournament victory a few hands later and a $16,175 payday.
The $300 (+40) buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament attracted a field of 185 entries, generating $53,835 in prize money. The top 18 finishers collected payouts. All the action took place over a two-day period inside the Harveys Lake Tahoe poker room and special events area, which is part of this year’s only WSOP Circuit stop in Northern Nevada.
Kraemer is a 57-year-old CPA who is originally from Minnesota. He moved to Reno about nine years ago. This victory marked Kraemer’s biggest win, to date. He previously won a few tournaments played at the Grand Sierra in Reno.
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“I know I got a little lucky,” Kraemer said just moments after his victory. “But that’s what it takes sometimes. I think Tony (Le) played great, and he just didn’t get the right card at the right time like I did.”
When heads-up play began, Le enjoyed nearly a 2-to-1 chip lead over Kraemer. Le began the duel with 704,000 versus Kraemer’s 406,000. The underdog went on a roll during the first 20 minutes of play, as Kraemer managed to take over the chip lead. Then, three huge hands came within about t10 minutes and ultimately decided the final outcome.
The first key hand took place when Le recaptured the chip lead with 10-6 against Kraemer’s 6-4. After the flop came 6-4-3, giving Kraemer top two pair, he moved all in and was called by Le, who held top pair. Two eights fell on the turn and river, which gave both players two pair. But Le’s ten-kicker played, resulting in a huge momentum shift.
Then, Kraemer got those chips back and more on his huge windfall where he caught a miracle seven on the river. Moments later, the final hand of the night came when Le was dealt A-3 and moved all in after the flop came A-9-9. But Kraemer was in nearly the best situation possible, holding K-9 – good for three nines. Kraemer’s big hand held up, giving him the victory and crushing Le’s dreams of his first major win.
Le, a table games casino supervisor, has made numerous final tables at major poker tournaments. He finished third in a $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em championship last year in Reno. Le had to settle for another disappointing nonwin, but was consoled with $9,475 in prize money.
Finishing in third place was Joel Monteith of San Jose. Monteith put on an impressive show as he was short-stacked when final table play began. But the 40-year-old truck driver avoided accidents for nearly five hours before crashing and burning in third place. Monteith was dealt A-7 on his final hand versus Kraemer’s A-K. Monteith’s hand was dominated and he failed to improve, resulting in a payout totaling $6,514.
The fourth-place finisher was Paul Sterling, a 44-year-old local poker player from South Lake Tahoe. Sterling made a bold move on what turned out to be his final hand of the tournament. He raised all-in on the turn with nothing more than a flush draw, but missed. Chip leader Le immediately called Sterling’s raise with A-J, which made a pair of aces. Sterling settled for a payout totaling $4,522.
Greg Burns, a 33-year-old poker pro from Dallas, took fifth place. Burns lost most of his stack about midway through final table action holding pocket sixes against Gary Kraemer’s pocket nines. The higher pair held up, destroying Burn’s once-impressive chip stack. Burns was eliminated a short time later and accepted a payout totaling $3,419. Burns plays mostly in local games in the Dallas area and calls himself a “professional grinder.”
The sixth-place finisher was Mark Doherty, a 28-year-old basketball coach from Lafayette, Calif. Doherty was knocked out holding A-10, which lost to Joel Monteith’s pocket kings. Doherty ended up dribbling his way to a $2,638 payday.
Winston Chung was the player to beat early at the final table. But he lost an enormous-sized pot to Le and was eliminated in seventh place a short time later. On the critical hand, Chung’s pocket kings were cracked by Le’s pocket 10s, when a ten flopped. Chung, a doctor from San Francisco, was discharged from the final table in seventh place and was prescribed $2,100 in prize money.
Tim O’Brien took eighth place. He was short-stacked during most of his hour-long stay at the final table. He finally moved all-in with Q-J, which was cracked by a 9-8 when an eight fell on the turn. O’Brien, a treasury manager who has been playing poker for 20 years, funded his poker bankroll with an additional $1,561.
The ninth-place finisher was John Muscat, who took a tough beat when he was eliminated by Le. Muscat was dealt pocket queens on his final hand versus Le’s pocket sixes. Muscat watched in horror as Le backed into a straight (4-5-6-7-8). Muscat, a software consultant from San Francisco, downloaded $1,131 from the prize pool.
With 14 events now completed at this year’s WSOP Circuit at Harveys, the tournament series has attracted more entries and has awarded more than $1 million in total prize money. Still to come are four more events and several satellite opportunities to enter the main event championship, which starts Sunday