Ace-queen is Matt Stout’s least favorite hand. He busted out of the 2007 World Series of Poker main event with those cards and suffered a string of misfortune with them in the world’s most prestigious poker competition. “I had five races with ace-queen in the championship last year and I lost every one of them,” Stout recalled, in reference to his very respectable 118th-place finish. But after winning Event #7 at the Caesars Atlantic City series today, holding ace-queen, Stout might readjust his thinking. On the final hand of the tournament, the ace-queen ended up spiking two pair and gave the 23-year-old poker pro his first-ever World Series of Poker Circuit victory.
Seat 1: Elizabeth Grey-Pardo 175,000
Seat 2: Chris Reslock 208,000
Seat 3: Frank Passantino 266,000
Seat 4: Matt “All In” Stout 464,000
Seat 5: David Godfrey 70,000
Seat 6: Steve Merrifield 110,000
Seat 7: B. Batkhuu 79,000
Seat 8: Thomas Kim 320,000
Seat 9: Lou Esposito 194,000
Blinds began at 3,000-6,000 with a 1,000 ante. From the first hand of play, the action was fast and furious. Players were eliminated in the following order:
9th Place – The first key hand was a bad beat, with David Godfrey on the receiving end of the knock-out punch. Godfrey moved all-in pre-flop with his last 60,000 holding pocket aces. Matt Stout had plenty of chips with which to make the call, and showed 10-7. The final board showed J-9-7-8-5, giving Stout a straight. That meant Godfrey’s tournament life was over, resulting in a ninth-place finish. David Godfrey, a corrections officer from Belleville, NJ, locked up $3,820.
8th Place – A few hands later, Stout knocked out another player when he was dealt A-4 and called an all-in raise by Bayarsaikhan Batkhuu, who was severely short-stacked. Batkhuu showed K-Q. Stout ended up making two pair – aces and fours — when the final board showed A-Q-J-4-9. Batkhuu went out as the eighth-place finisher, worth $5,730 in prize money.
7th Place – Steven Merrifield became the low stack and moved all-in with his last 80,000 holding pocket sixes. Elizabeth Grey-Pardo had doubled up early in the finale and had slightly more than 300,000 in her stack. She decided to call and showed J-10. Things looked good for Merrifield on the turn, as the board showed A-7-4-Q. But a king on the river gave Grey-Pardo a straight and Merrifield’s pocket sixes hit the muck. Steven Merrifield, a 22-year-old aspiring poker pro from West Virginia, finished in seventh place. This was his first major cash in a live poker tournament. He was paid $7,640.
6th Place – Lou Esposito was not happy about the course of eventstha followed. With about 200,000 in his stack, Esposito moved all-in before the flop, hoping to steal a round of blinds and antes. He had A-5. Frank Passantino contemplated his decision with A-6 and finally decided to call. “What a sick call!” Esposito stated, unveiling his displeasure with the action. Esposito was even more displeased with the final board, which showed A-10-9-6-5. Despite hitting two pair, Passantino also hit (a higher) two pair and scooped Esposito’s chips. That jolted Passantino close to the chip lead and left Esposito in sixth place. Lou Esposito, who won last year’s WSOP Circuit championship at Harrah’s New Orleans, pocketed $9,550.
5th Place – The next hand was much uglier. Elizabeth Grey-Pardo moved all-in before the flop with K-K and Matt Stout called with A-8. The board came with four spades, matching Stout’s ace of spades, which completed a flush. Grey-Pardo and actress and writer from Yonkers, NY was forced to settle for $11,460. This was her fourth time to cash in a WSOP Circuit event.
4th Place – Stout held approximately a 3 to 1 chip advantage over Thomas Kim – with the other two players lagging behind. Then, Frank Passantino went out when he moved all-in with A-8 and was called by Thomas Kim, holding A-J. Both players flopped an ace, but neither improved which meant Kim’s jack-kicker played. Passantino ended up as the fourth-place finisher, worth $13,370
3rd Place – With Passantino’s elimination (and chips) Kim moved closer to Stout. Meanwhile, the experienced tournament pro Chris Reslock was forced to gamble to get chips and did so when he moved all-in with A-5, which was called by Stout, holding K-7. The flop came 7-4-4, not exactly the flop Reslock hoped to see. Reslock failed to pair his ace and Stout dragged the pot with two pair, sevens and fours, which meant a third-place finish for the former taxi driver. Chris Reslock, a longtime Atlantic City local, has won three previous WSOP Circuit events, including the championship event held at the Atlantic City Showboat two years ago. Reslock insists he is not a poker professional, but his tournament winnings in excess of $1 million would suggest otherwise.
2nd Place – Stout had a chip lead of about 3 to 2 over Kim. Appropriately, the two biggest stacks at the start of the final table ended up squaring off for the gold and diamond ring. After two hours of fast and aggressive play, during which time seven players went out, the heads-up match was considerably more cautious and calculating. The two finalists battled back and forth for 55 minutes, during which time only a few flops were seen. No hand went past the turn. Predictably, it would take a monster hand with both players holding big cards to tilt the balance. That moment came when Stout was dealt A-Q. He raised 70,000 pre-flop, and Kim re-raised to 300,000. Stout, true to his name, moved “all in” and Kim called with J-J. The flop made it appear that Kim would gain the advantage as three blanks fell – 9-6-2. Then, a queen rained down on the turn giving Stout top pair. An ace on the river was the definitive final action, giving Stout the victory.
The runner up was Thomas Kim, from Brooklyn. NY. The 27-year-old salesman was down to just 1000 in chips at one point midway through the tournament. He managed to triple up on a key hand and coasted all the way to a payout a day later totaling $30,560.
1st Place – Matt “All In” Stout attended college for a time before taking up poker as his primary means of support. He won an event at the US Poker Championship last year and also took 24th place in the Aussie Millions (held in Australia). In addition to his in-the-money finish in the WSOP main event last year, Stout has won a number of online poker tournaments. In fact, he was recently ranked in the top 50 worldwide by a source that tracks online players. Stout plays up to ten games at once, while on his home computer.
“This win was great. I wanted this one really bad,” Stout admitted in a post-tournament interview. “Now give me the ring. Where’s my ring?”
Upon his command, Stout was presented with the coveted WSOP Circuit gold and diamond ring, awarded to all players at this year’s Caesars Atlantic City tournament series. With this victory, Stout now has nearly $400,000 in lifetime tournament winnings, which has come in just two years.
Nolan Dalla — WSOP Media Director at (702) 358-4642
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