We're back in Council Bluffs at the Horseshoe with another five days of poker action at the RunGood Poker Series. When last we were here in August, the Main Event drew 283 players and paid $34,267 (plus a $2,000 New Orleans Blaycation prize package) to first place finisher Brandon Fish. The Main Event for this visit begins tomorrow, but there are several preliminary events to talk about in the meantime.
First up was the $135 Pro Bounty tournament. Always a crowd favorite, this time around we were joined by our friends at Fireball Whiskey, who added Fireball t-shirts and hats to our usual mystery envelopes (containing prizes ranging from RunGood gear to $1,000 cash). A total of twelve RG Pros, Harrah's executives, and special guests were designated as bounties; knocking one of them out got you the Fireball swag plus the contents of the mystery envelope. Fireball didn't stop there--they turned up the heat with shots for the players during the event!
The special guests included former Cornhuskers Damon Benning and Jay Foreman. Benning was the 1996 Orange Bowl MVP and is now the co-host of Sharpe and Benning in the Morning, one of the top 25 sports shows in the nation. Foreman was drafted in the fifth round of the 1999 NFL Draft and played for the Buffalo Bills, the Houston Texans, and the New York Giants. He is the founder of the Foreman Foundation which helps lead the fight against diabetes.
164 players entered the event, creating a prize pool of $16,400. 18 places would be paid, with $4,428 going to first. One by one the bounties fell, and Fireball shots were...shot, with the final table reached shortly after midnight. By this time, the blinds were 6,000/12,000 with a 2,000 ante.
With nine players left, the action folded around to a short-stacked Elizabeth Hunter in the small blind, probably due in some part to her table talk. With 8,000 of her 35,000 stack already committed to the pot, she warned the table, "I'm not saying it's all going in, I'm just saying it's probably all going in." All in it went, as advertised, with Yashveen "Josh" Mudireddy in the big blind calling the additional 21,000 to put Hunter at risk. Hunter tabled [Td][7s] while Mudireddy held [Qc][5c]. The board ran out bad for Hunter, [5d][9d][2c][5h][7d], and she hit the rail in ninth place for $492.
8th place finisher Clint Lilienthal was active early at the final table, raising liberally and taking down several pots uncontested. But the tide turned when he underestimated the strength of Laura Mayer's hand in his last confrontation. Mayer raised from early position to 32,000 and Lilienthal called from the big blind. The flop came [Th][3h][2s]. Lilienthal paused for several seconds and then announced he was all in. Mayer quickly called. Lilienthal turned over [Kc][3c] for second pair but was up against Mayer's [As][Td] top pair, top kicker. Neither the [8s] on the turn nor the [8d] helped Lilienthal's cause and he exited the tournament in eighth place for $582.
Mayer at this point held the chip lead and knew how to use it, raising preflop to between 3 and 4 big blinds and taking down uncontested pots, though that's not how she dispatched 7th place finisher Joseph Davitt. Davitt had been quiet thus far at the final table and his stack had dwindled to 54,000; meanwhile, the blinds had just increased to 8,000/16,000 with a 3,000 ante. He pushed it all in from UTG+1. The action folded around to Mayer in the big blind. With a huge stack and having to call 38,000 to win 99,000, she decided to gamble with a modest [Jc][6h]. Davitt turned over [Qc][Td] and needed to hold to stay alive. Sometimes the flop falls on the wrong side of the percentages and such was the case for Davitt when the dealer flopped [Jd][4h][8h]. Only a queen or a nine for a straight would save Davitt. "It's never easy," remarked Mayer. But the [7c] and [8c] hit the felt on the turn and river to bring Davitt's tournament to an end. His seventh-place finish earned him $664.
Howard Dion came to the final table with a short stack and was trying his best to increase it. He three-bet to 39,000 over an all in from Kevin Berthelsen for 25,000, but then folded to a re-shove from Mudireddy. Berthelsen managed to survive that all-in in epic fashion when his [8c][9h] caught runner-runner two pair against Mudireddy's pocket kings. Dion went quiet for five hands and then went into overdrive. First he shoved for 92,000 and took down the blinds and antes. On the next hand, he raised to 41,000 but folded to a shove from Mudireddy. Next, he called another all-in bet from Berthelsen in a blind vs. blind confrontation, but the pot was chopped. Two hands later, Dion shoved his remaining 80,000 from the button and groaned when Mudireddy re-shoved from the small blind. Mudireddy turned over [Ac][Jd] and was ahead of Dion's [Kh][5h]. The flop was good for Dion, but the river was not, as the board ran out [Ks][4s][8s][Td][As], and he left the tournament area with $754 from the prize pool.
The next player out fell just one orbit later in another blind vs. blind hand, this time between chip leader Laura Mayer and Kevin Berthelsen. Mayer raised to 45,000 from the small blind and Berthelsen moved all in for around 90,000. Mayer quickly called and tabled [Ks][Kc] while Berthelsen showed [Qc][3h]. The board was dry for Berthelsen as it ran out [Ad][8c][4s][9d][Ah]. Berthelsen exited in fifth for $918.
The very next hand brought another elimination. John Vechnak raised all in from middle position for 124,000 and Tyler Groth called all in for less from the big blind. Vechnak turned over [Jh][Jc] and Groth remarked, "I've got one over," as he flipped up [Ad][7d]. The dealer spread a board of [Kd][Kc][8h][4s][8s] and Groth would exit in fourth place for $1,230.
Three-handed play continued through two blinds increases and several chip lead changes. When we lost our third-place finisher, the blinds were up to 15,000/30,000 with a 4,000 ante. At this point, Vechnak held the chip lead with 780,000, Mudireddy had 270,000, while Mayer held just over 100,000.
Vechnak folded the button and Mudireddy moved all in for 250,000. Mayer called all-in and found herself up against [Qc][Qh] while holding [6s][7c]. Mayer did manage to flop a pair and a gutshot but just couldn't get there as the board ran out [Th][8d][6d][8s][Js]. Mayer went out in third for $1,673.
Heads-up play lasted a total of twelve hands, during which the chip lead changed twice. Vechnak first lost the lead to Mudireddy; Vechnak raised to 90,000 on the button and Mudireddy shoved from the big blind for 347,000. Vechnak quickly called and showed [Jc][9d] and found himself up against his opponent's [Kh][Td]. The board missed both players as it ran out [7c][5c][Ah][3h][4c] and Mudireddy's king-high won the pot. The chip counts at that point put Mudireddy at 795,000 to Vechnak's 455,000.
Vechnak retook the lead three hands later when the trapper became the trappee. Mudireddy limped on the button and Vechnak shoved from the big blind for 404,000. Mudireddy snap-called with [As][Th] while Vechnak flipped over [Qs][Ts]. The dealer spread a board of [Qd][7c][2h][Qc][Kd]. Following the hand, Mudireddy's stack dropped to 350,000 to his opponent's 900,000.
Four more hands passed and then we came to the confrontation that would decide it all. Vechnak raised on the button to 70,000 and Mudireddy moved all in from the big blind for just over 300,000. Vechnak quickly called and showed [Ah][Ks]. Mudireddy rolled his eyes and turned over [As][7d]. The dealer flopped [Qd][8h][Js], leaving Mudireddy with just three outs, but when the turn came [Tc], he could only chop with a king on the river. The river brought the [Jd], paint but not a king, making John Vechnak the $135 RGPS Council Bluffs Pro Bounty champion! Mudireddy received $2,755 for his second-place finish.
Complete results for the $135 Pro Bounty tournament:
RunGood and Horseshoe Council Bluffs would like to congratulate John Vechnak on his win. For his performance he received $4,428 in prize money, a Fireball Whiskey dartboard, and a RunGood medallion. Thank you to all the players and pros who turned out to play, and many thanks to Fireball for the shots and support!
On the schedule for Thursday are two Day 1 flights for the $180 Deepstack event. Flight A begins at 12 p.m. and Flight B at 7 p.m. Come join us!