Chip Jett flew away with the $5,000 no-limit hold’em championship event that wrapped up the California State Poker Championships in a dramatic, movie script-like ending.
Returning from a break, he and Scotty Warbucks were dead even in chips and it looked like a long struggle lay ahead. Instead, on the first hand, the flop gave Warbucks a set of queens and Jett a flush. All the money went in the middle, the flush held up and Jett suddenly was richer by $214,700.
The event, which was held at the Commerce Casino in Southern California, attracted 113 entrants who ponied up a buy-in of $5,080 each. The total prize pool was $565,000.
The first-place prize was the biggest cashout to date for the tough, 28-year-old pro from Las Vegas by way of Arizona, eclipsing his $200,000 win on the Party Poker million dollar cruise. Jett has had numerous tournament wins and won best all-around at the 2001 L.A. Poker Classic.
Jett came to the final table with a chip lead of 137,600, thanks to a massive, $70,000 hit he put on Mike Laing with 12 players left, when his K-K beat Laing’s A-K. He experienced turbulence along the way, though, and lost the lead a couple of times. But then he picked up an enormous, $270,000 pot to become the lead dog again.
Warbucks, who buys and sells insurance policies to seniors, has had his own share of tournament wins, including the Hustler Casino’s Grand Slam $3,000 championship.
Crippled by Jett, Laing busted out with pocket nines against Sudhir Setia, who had A-K and spiked an ace on the river. Setia then finished 11th. On a flop of 8-7-5, Jett moved in with K-7. Setia called with A-10 and couldn’t overcome Jett’s paired seven.
The final table started with $200 antes and blinds of $800/1600, 8:11 remaining. Kathy Liebert was second-lowest in chips with $18,000. She picked up two small pots with uncalled all-in raises. Then, on hand 10, with blinds of 1-2k and $300 antes, she raised to 7k with pocket sevens. Jon Barker moved in.
Liebert didn’t act for two or three minutes and a clock was put on her. She finally called. Barker had Jh-8h. The board came 6-3-2-9-J, and Liebert was first out.
Card Player magazine boss Barry Shulman joined her three hands later. Kenna James opened for $5,000 with Ac-8c. Shulman, one off the button, moved in for 11k with Qd-9d. Shulman had the lead when the board came 10-8-4-9, but a river ace finished him.
A few hands later, Jett opened for $6,000 and Minh Nguyen came over the top, all in for $6,900 more with A-8. Jett had KQ and flopped two pair to cut the field to seven.
Hand 26: Young Phan opened for $8,000; Jett made it $24,000 to go and Phan called all in for $18,000. The hands are shown. Ouch! Kings for Phan, aces for Jett. Rags come and Phan goes.
On hand 42, Kumar flopped a set of sevens when the flop came 8-7-5. He bet $8,000 and Kenna James moved him in. James, a PR player at Hawaiian Gardens, had 8-6, giving him top pair and an open-end straight draw He hit his straight with a river nine and busted Kumar.
At this point, Jett was still flying high with $240,000, followed by James with $165,000; Barker with $80,000; and Matt Szymaszek, a recent college grad, with about $20,000.
On hand 50, Jett limped with A-K and had what looked like a perfect flop: A-2-3. It was perfect for Warbucks, who had flopped a wheel. Warbucks slow-played it, calling when Jett moved in on the river and doubled up to $140,000. Jett was now in third place behind Warbucks and James.
Right after blinds went to $1,500/3000 with $500 antes, Szymaszek, who had moved all in five times before and lived, did so for the final time for $19,000. Jett called. James raised $60,000 and Jett moved in for $65,000 more. "That is a bet!" James exclaimed, unsure what to do. Finally putting Jett on A-K, he called with pocket jacks. Bad read; Jett had kings He busted Szymaszek, who had Ad-7d, hauled in a huge pot of $271,500 and was well in front again.
James was down to about $47,000, but he hung on. After 50 more hands, when blinds went to $2,000/4,000, with $500 antes, the rough count was: Jett, $270,000; Barker, $155,000; Warbucks, $100,000 and James, $40,000.
James finally left on hand 106. In the small blind, he tried an all-in bluff bet of $28,000 with just 10-7. Barker picked him off, calling with K-J and flopping a jack.
Jett lost the lead a second time when he raised to $16,000 with K-10 and Warbucks, with pocket jacks, moved in for $61,000 more and flopped a set. The approximate count: Barker, $220,000; Jett, $185,000; Warbucks, $160,000. Then Warbucks won a $150,000 pot from Jett, who flopped a set of fives when the board came 6-5-3 with two hearts. Two more hearts came, and Warbucks, with pocket queens, one a heart, had a second nut flush. "The best play I ever made in my life," Warbucks said afterwards. "I didn’t risk my chips until I made the flush."
But Jett stormed back, picked up a couple of pots and then busted Barker, who moved in for about $25,000 with A-4 and flopped an ace. Jett had only pocket deuces, but made a set on the river.
Heads-up, Jett now enjoyed a lead of about $300,000 to $265,000. Ten hands later he and Warbucks were dead even. Right after limits went to $3,000-6,000, the deciding pot came down.
Warbucks, on the button, had pocket queens again, and Jett had 7s-6s. The flop was As-Qs-3s. Jett made a small trap raise of $10,000 with his flush.
Warbucks tried to call, but mistakenly put in $20,000. Jett re-raised $60,000 more and Warbucks moved in with his set. A nine of hearts and jack of spades didn’t help Warbucks, and just like that, the tournament was over and Jett was the 2003 Cal State 2003 champion.