Lou Esposito Wins the 2007 Bayou Poker Challenge. Largest Poker Tournament Series in Louisiana History concludes with Back and Forth Heads-Up Battle Won by New Yorker. Poker Pro-Celebrity Phil Gordon finishes a disappointing fourth.
The biggest poker tournament series in Louisiana history ended today as Lou Esposito, from Howard Beach, New York won the championship event at the Bayou Poker Challenge. Esposito collected the top cash prize totaling $516,801. He also received a commemorative gold ring along with a $10,000 buy-in to the 2007 World Series to Poker, which is to be held in Las Vegas later this year.
The 13th event and final tournament of this year’s Bayou Poker Challenge attracted 346 entries. Each player posted a $5,000 entry fee in order to compete for a prize pool totaling $1,667,100. With a worldwide Internet audience watching the event semi-live (one-hour tape delay at www.worldseriesofpoker.com) and a full house gathered inside the Harrah’s New Orleans casino, the nine finalists returned to play for the championship on Day Three.
Much of the story over the first two days focused on the utter dominance displayed by poker pro and celebrity Phil Gordon, the chip leader coming into the final table. In one of the most incredible displays of chip magnetism ever on display in the three-year history of the World Series of Poker Circuit events, Gordon took a desperately low stack early in this tournament and turned it into a tower of power. At one point during Day One, Gordon was down to just 525 in chips, from an initial stack of 10,000. His odds were made even worse by the fact the escalating blinds and antes would allow no more than a few hands before possible elimination. Faced with the likelihood of defeat, Gordon moved all-in on what he expected would be his final hand of this tournament. He showed K-2. Gordon’s chances worsened to the point of being almost hopeless when his opponent showed A-Q and flopped a straight when the board showed K-J-10.
Then, in a hand that has to be one of the most memorable moments in Gordon’s storied career—a deuce fell on the turn which gave Gordon some extra outs. The river brought another deuce, which made a full-house for Gordon (deuces over kings). Gordon inched up to about 1,200 in chips with that miracle catch – which meant he still had a long way to go. But after doubling up several more times, Gordon went up over 10,000, then 20,000. By the early evening, Gordon was the chip leader with over 100,000 in chips. The rush was the equivalent of an avalanche.
“I figure my chances of winning this tournament at the point when I was all-in with the K-2 against the made straight was about 150,000 to 1 against,” Gordon said later. “My equity in this tournament was a grand total of $17. I’ve never experienced such an incredible turnaround.”So, Day Three began with much fanfare and, for some—high expectations. The nine finalists were seated and the cards went in the air. The first hour was especially good to the small stacks. In what was an omen of things to come, Lou Esposito doubled up on the very first hand of play. He held pocket aces versus Phil Gordon’s A-K. Gordon caught a king, but the aces held up. That gave Esposito 267,000 in chips.Then, Anthony Longoria was fortunate to survive his first all-in move when he raked a nice pot holding A-5 against David Fox’s 7-7. The final board showed K-8-8-J-J which meant Longoria’s ace-kicker played as the fifth card. Longoria took down a 220,000 pot.
Next, J.D. Estilette doubled up making a straight against Lou Esposito. Indeed, this would be a wild roller-coaster ride for Esposito – the champion-to-be.The chip merry-go-round came to a screeching halt when Scott Mitchell got caught making a bluff. Mitchell was dealt a dreadful hand—Q-3. He tried to steal pre-flop. Clint Schafer might as well have been standing over Mitchell with a sledgehammer. He called an all-in raise by his opponent instantly – and showed K-K. The pair of cowboys scooped a large pot and Scott Mitchell the former rodeo clown was bucked off the final table in ninth place. He collected $33,342. It was still quite a week for the man from Florida. Interestingly, Mitchell gained entry into this tournament in the most unimaginable way possible. After busting out last Sunday’s super satellite event, he played three-card poker in the casino and was dealt a straight flush – which paid $5,400. He used that money for the $5,000 buy-in into this tournament, and parlayed that investment into an impressive tournament finish and about $28,000 in profit for the week.
After a short break, play continued. Bobby “Wiz” Wisiak went low on chips and made his final stand with A-7 against Phil Gordon’s K-K. The Wiz needed to spike an ace. But instead, the pair of kings held up. The rich got richer, and the Wiz was left to ponder what might have been had he caught a few cards late in the tournament. The 40-year-old commodities trader from Queens, NY collected $50,013 for eighth place.
David McLeroy was the next player to exit. He raised it up with K-Q and was pot-committed against Lou Esposito, who re-raised with A-6. Neither player made a pair, which meant the ace-high played. Esposito scooped what remained of McLeroy’s small stack, leaving the self-described “poker wannabe” out of the tournament. McLeroy received a well-deserved $66,684 for seventh place. One expects to see McLeroy making many more final tables in the months and years ahead. He sold off his successful business over a year ago to concentrate on playing pokier full-time. Based on this tournament finish, the future looks very bright indeed for Mr. McLeroy.
A shocking hand took place about two hours into the finale when Lou Esposito was dealt A-A for the second time in the finale. He moved all-in after an initial raise by Phil Gordon. The chip leader who had been the dominant figure in this event up to that point made an instant call and flipped over K-K. It was a disastrous situation for Gordon, who was on the brink of losing the chip lead for the first time since the late afternoon of Day One. The flop came and gave Gordon some extra outs, as three hearts were dealt. Gordon held the only heart and had a chance to make a flush. However, two non-heart blanks fell on the turn and river; In the course of just a minute, Lou Esposito seized the chip lead for the first time, rocketing up to over 1,000,000 in chips. Meanwhile, Gordon was left with about 500,000.
In a flash, the outcome of the tournament was wide open. Unfortunately, J.D. Estilette would not be around much longer to compete for the top prize. In what turned out to be his final hand, the 67-year-old Cajon from Lafayette was dealt pocket eights. He ran head-first into pocket kings, held by the chip leader—Lou Esposito. Estilette picked up some extra outs when the flop came 6-9-10. But that was as close as Estilette got to being a serious threat. J.D. Estilette – a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather – pocketed a very respectable $83,355 for sixth place.
Anthony Longoria was soon to follow. Down to about 200,000 in chips, Longoria found A-5 suited and decided to go with it. Phil Gordon contemplated the raise and decided to call. That proved to be a wise decision as Gordon’s A-7 had Longoria’s A-5 completely dominated. Both players caught an ace. But the weak kicker booted Longoria off the final table. The Texas trial attorney ended up settling his case for $116,697.
Gordon used the next hour constructively and added to his chip stack. The experienced veteran of many tournament battles whittled away and eventually surpassed the million-chip mark – putting him neck a neck with Leo Esposito. Then, he lost many of those same chips on a big hand which would foreshadow the doom that was too follow.
Clint Schafer stayed out of the way during most of the initial three hours – holding steady with about 300,000 in chips. Then, he doubled up on a big hand holding pocket sevens against Phil Gordon and moved straight into contention. A short time later, he had about a million in chips.
Phil Gordon’s dream of winning his first WSOP-related title turned into a nightmare when he lost another devastating hand to Clint Schafer. After a pre-flop raise by Schafer, Gordon moved over the top and Schafer called. Gordon had much the worst of it – A-10 against Schafer’s A-Q. Gordon failed to make a pair, which meant an unceremonious and less-than-satisfying fourth-place finish. The poker pro-author-teacher-businessman-philanthropist from Las Vegas collected $116,697 as a consolation prize. The survivors, sensing victory on the brink, breathed a collective sigh of relief.Down to three players, David Fox finally went out when his pocket sevens were steamrolled by Lou Esposito’s A-A (the third time he caught bullets at the final table). The sevens ended up being sadly unlucky for Fox, who failed to improve his hand. Third place paid $133,368 to the poker player from Coram, New York.When heads-up play began, Lou Esposito enjoyed nearly a 3 to 2 chip lead – 2,085,000 to about 1,400,000 for Clint Schafer. However, Schafer took a slight chip lead after about a dozen hands. After 45 minutes, the see-saw battle went back and forth with Esposito back in command.
Then, Schafer doubled up on a big hand. Esposito was caught trying to make a move with bottom pair while his rival held top pair. The better hand held up, and Schafer regained the lead.
The duel lasted about two hours and included six lead changes. The final – somewhat anti-climatic—hand of the tournament was dealt out as both players ended up with a pair of sixes. But Esposito had the better kicker. After the flop of 8-6-4 Esposito bet out (with K-6). Schafer (with 6-7) raised and Esposito called the all-in move. Schafer had a pair, with an inside straight draw. Esposito’s king was the better kicker. Two blanks – a jack on the turn and a 4 on the river sealed Schafer’s fate and crowned a new WSOP Circuit champion.
As the runner up, Clint Schafer officially received $266,736 in prize money. It was the best tournament finish ever for the Baton Rouge resident, who is married and has five daughters.
But the day and night belonged to New Yorker, Lou Esposito. He won a well-deserved victory and later admitted he caught a few cards at key points. He also congratulated the other finishers – particularly his final adversary, Clint Schafer. “I thought he played great,” Esposito said. “It was my day – but he was very tough to knock out.”
Esposito is a 31-year-old business owner. He has owned a pizzeria, vending machines, and a cell phone store. Remarkably, Lou started playing poker only about two years ago and has already competed in over 40 events. He defeated 650 entrants in a major tournament at the Borgata in Atlantic City earlier this year, and has made it to final tables at WSOP Circuit events, as well. This was his biggest win ever,
“At the final table, I lost some of the battles,” Esposito said. “But in the end, I won the war.”
Dieser Artikel erschien auf PokerOlymp am 24.05.2007.