GT's Joe Awada took 2nd in a WSOP Circuit event

Apr 21, 2009 5:10 PM

by Joe Awada |

Tournament action was at a fever pitch in Las Vegas last week as the World Poker Tour (Bellagio), World Series of Poker Circuit (Caesars Palace) and The Venetian’s Deep Stack Extravaganza attracted thousands of avid players.

I leaped into the fray with an entry into the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em event at Caesars Palace and when the dust cleared on Friday, just missed winning when my queen-high flush lost to James Lopushinsky’s ace-high flush.

Second place money was good (though the gold ring would have been better!) – not enough to run out and buy a new Escalade, but enough to make my sponsors happy, at least for another week.

I’ve always pointed out that smaller events – this one attracted 151 players – often offer good value in that cashing out can bankroll larger tournaments.

Making the final table was no easy task as I was short stacked for much of Day One. In fact, at one point I was down to 3,000 chips with blinds of 300/600. But, as I’ve pointed out many times before, patience is one of the key attributes of tournament play, and it paid off.

The final table was contentious with six-time WSOP bracelet winner Men "The Master" Nguyen and two former WSOP Circuit gold ring winners.

When we got down to the final three players, it was Nguyen, myself and Lopushinsky, who won a WSOP Circuit event just four days earlier.

Lopushinsky, who hails from Canada’s Yukon Territory, won a key hand against Nguyen when he went all-in with K-9 against The Master’s pocket queens – a king on the flop crippled Nguyen and he soon ran out of chips and took third place.

When heads-up play began, I was behind slightly in chips but lost a couple of big pots. But the coup de grace came when my queen of clubs couldn’t hold up to James’ ace of clubs with four clubs on the board.

Overall, the World Series Circuit has attracted nice fields of avid players. The Caesars event is the ninth of 10 Circuit destinations and continues through April 29. Most of the tournaments are two-day events, with buy-ins ranging from $340 to $5,150 for the championship event, which will be held on Monday, April 27. This weekend, there’s a ladies-only event – the Cleopatra Open – which has a buy-in of $340.

Incidentally, female poker players may like knowing that Suzanne Carrillo of El Paso, Texas won a Circuit event on Saturday, marking the first time a woman has ever won a Caesars Circuit event. Good job, Suzanne.