“Did that just really happen?” Robert Coventry muttered the question under his breath when the final river card hit the felt. Once the card was dealt, Coventry held all the chips in the tournament. And it did happen, despite Coventry’s disbelief, which still hadn’t faded a few minutes later, after his last opponent had left the room. Now, Coventry is the latest winner on the World Series of Poker Circuit.
The Main Event at the WSOP Circuit at the Horseshoe Hammond is historically one of the largest events on the Circuit, and thus has one of the biggest prizes. For his victory today, Coventry earns $313,933, by far the largest score of his tournament career. He also wins his first WSOP gold ring and a free entry into the 2015 WSOP National Championship.
The victory comes in the midst of a life-changing year for Coventry, a 31-year old futures trader from Cary, Illinois. “I just had a son two months ago,” he said after the tournament. “[The][ring] is something I’ll be able to show him and say, ‘This is for you.’ This money is going to go for his future college. It couldn’t come at a better time for my family. That’s what it means to me. I got no sleep last night coming home at 3 a.m. and being up with the baby. It’s been great being a father. I don’t get a chance to play many poker tournaments. This is the one I do every year.”
Coventry emerged victorious from a tough final table that included Steve Billirakis and Viet Vo. Vo is a successful professional poker player and a regular face on the tournament circuit. He finished in second place for $193,935, the largest result of his tournament career. Billirakis is a two-time WSOP bracelet winner who, when he won his first bracelet in 2007, was then the youngest player ever to win a WSOP event. He finished in third place in this Main Event for $144,109. This payout pushes Billirakis over of $2,000,000 mark in WSOP-related earning. When there were only three players left, Coventry, Vo, and Billirakis engaged each other in a tough three-handed battle that lasted over three and a half hours before Coventry finally eliminated Billirakis.
After the three-handed marathon, and defeating Vo heads-up, Coventry expressed tremendous admiration for his opponents. “[Billirakis] really impresses me, his presence at the table. I’ve known him from playing online back in the day. MrSmokey1 [Billirakis's][online][handle] was always someone I revered as a top notch player. It doesn’t get much better than that. To be at the same table with him and see some of the plays he makes. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty intimidating to play against him because you knew he was capable at anytime of putting you in a really, really tough spot.”
Also at the final table was Dennis Huberts, a Chicago police officer who won his seat in the tournament from a Horseshoe Hammond promotion. During the three weeks leading up to the Main Event, the top 80 players with the most hours in the Horseshoe poker room (80 hours minimum) earned a free entry into the $1,675 tournament, and Huberts was one of them. He made the most of his deep run. Yesterday, with 21 players left, Huberts was among the shortest stacks in the room. Yet he told the media at the time, “I’m going to make the final table. I guarantee it!” He was fairly short-stacked the rest of the night, but he survived to Day 3, coming back 10th in chips out of 11 players. He kept surviving and chipping up for almost four hours, but his magical run finally came to an end in 8th place ($39,073).
The tournament started on Friday. It attracted 1,147 entries over two starting days. The Horseshoe Hammond is perennially one of the most popular stops on the WSOP Circuit, and this is the fourth consecutive year the Main Event has had more than 1,000 entries. The total prize pool was $1,720,500, and $313,933 is by far the biggest first-place prize on the Circuit so far this season.
After the two starting days, 251 players returned on Sunday for Day 2. Over half of them would leave empty handed, as 117 players were paid. It took a little less than four hours to reach the bubble, and Tom Midena was the unfortunate 118th-place finisher. After his elimination, every player left in the field was guaranteed a minimum payout of $2,822.
When Day 2 began, the headliner was Ari Engel. Engel won one of the preliminary events here at Hammond—a $580 HORSE tournament—to earn his seventh WSOP Circuit ring. The victory moves him into a tie with Chris Reslock for second place on the career rings list, one behind all-time leader Alex Masek. Engel started Day 2 tied for the chip lead with 344,500. (Tim Burden also had 344,500, and the only other player above 300,000 was Viet Vo.) Engel stayed at or near the top of the leaderboard once the bubble had burst and the tournament was in the money. However, he eventually bowed out in 64th place for $4,284, and he’ll have to wait for another opportunity to tie Masek with eight career rings.
Among those joining Engel in the money were 2012 Hammond Main Event champion Bob Chow (106th, $3,062), Eddy Sabat (90th, $3,630), Ralph Massey (83rd, $3,630), his brother Aaron Massey (79th, $3,940), Hammond Casino Champion Sean Troha (70th, $4,284), Zal Irani (49th, $5,196), Allen Kessler (29th, $8,637), Aaron Steury (25th, $10,048), Jeff Fielder (24th, $11,820), and John Holley (10th, $25,102).
The ever-popular tournament at Hammond attracted several other big names who were eliminated out of the money: bracelet winners Keven Stammen and Owais Ahmed, all-time WSOP Circuit cashes leader Doug “Rico” Carli, five-time ring winner Mark “Pegasus” Smith, and his fellow five-time ring winner Val Vornicu.
Here are the final table payouts. A full list of results is available on WSOP.com.
1) Robert Coventry – $313,933
2) Viet Vo – $193,935
3) Steve Billirakis – $144,109
4) Michael Telker – $108,532
5) Robert Noe – $82,532
6) Shannon Mastin – $63,590
7) Darren Deuser – $49,568
8) Dennis Huberts – $39,073
9) Kenneth Baime – $31,141