Andy Sacino, an executive host at Hollywood Park and a former owner of the Gardena Club, returned to the game he loves after a long absence and ended up winning the $1,000 World Championship of Lowball event, the 14th of Legends 2003 at the Bicycle Club
After the tournament got down to three players, it took 60 long hands to finish. But nobody (apart from the tournament staff) seemed to mind, because it was a reunion of sorts. The three were old acquaintances who many times years ago had played against each other short-handed in the wee small hours of the morning, as the song goes.
The eight finalists got there after Don Halpern drew one, bet his last 4k on an 8-6, then finished ninth when Sacino showed 8-4. Final table limits began with blinds of $500 and $1,000, playing at 1-2k limits, 37 minutes remaining.
"Super" Mario Esquerra started as chip leader with $23,500, but after losing the first three hands he aggressively played, he dipped to a below-average 10k, then later recovered back to his starting count.
On hand 15, poker player Bruce Coons raised all in for $1,500 and drew one. German Leyva also drew one and made an eight. Coons, drawing dead to a jack, was out of business. One hand later, Stan Goldstein also raised all in for $1,500.
Martin Corpuz called for the additional chip and stood pat with a 10-7. Goldstein took two to a 3-2-1. "Looks good," he said, looking at the first card, an eight. The second wasn’t quite as good, a paired ace, and the pro player cashed out in seventh place.
Corpuz now suggested a deal, but was rebuffed. "You’re gonna be sorry," he warned. After limits went to $1,500-$3,000, Corpuz, a top lowball player of the 80s from northern California, began to make good on his threat. All in for three chips on hand 31, he proceeded to take several consecutive pots, and within eight hands had gotten up to par with about 24k.
Engineering manager Tom Ricketts was in strong contention in early going, but by hand 44 he was all in. Drawing to a 7-5 to Sacino’s made 7-6, he needed a deuce or trey to stay alive, but he paired his five. Esquerra, whose chips were again depleted, was in the big blind with $1,500 left when Corpuz raised him all in with a pat 10-9-8. Esquerra drew one to a 7-6-4-3, caught a less-than-super paired three and departed with a loud "BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!" directed at the startled dealer.
The four players left weren’t that far apart: Sacino, 32k; German Leyva, 25.5k; Corpuz, 24k; and Aurel "Ace" deHollan, 21k. After they made a deal for most of the money, Corpuz said he”˜d play loose. "I don’t want to win. I don’t want the publicity." Making good on his word, he played loose, dropped rapidly and right after limits went to 2-4k raised all in with a 7-4-3-A draw. He paired his four and lost to Leyva’s two deuces.
"Three-handed at 4 a.m. ”” just like old times," one of the players noted. Playing the most conservatively, deHollan hit two bikes in a row at one point, but otherwise did not fare very well. Nearly 50 hands later, with 3-6k limits, he was down to 8k against 48k for Sacino and 47k for Leyva. Soon after, he folded in the big blind with only $1,000 left after Leyva raised with a pat 6-4. "Tough as nails," Sacino marveled. In the small blind next, deHollan drew two to 8-4-2. He paired his four, losing to Leyva, who drew to 7-4-A and made a king.
Heads-up, Leyva led, 62-41k, but after seven hands the count was reversed, and the two made a deal for the remaining money.
Lowball World Championship
1. Andy Sacino, $20,000
2. German Leyva, $11,500
3 Aurel deHollan, $6,000
4. Martin Corpuz, $3,500
5. Mario Esquerra, $3,000
6. Tom Ricketts, $2,500
7. Stan Goldstein, $2,000
8. Bruce Coons, $1,500