Media badge tucked in the back pocket of his jeans, veteran poker tournament reporter Chad Holloway captured the first bracelet of the 2013 WSOP on Thursday, defeating a field of nearly 900 in the early morning hours.
Holloway, senior editor of PokerNews, delivered the final knock out to California poker pro Allan Kwong after an hour-and-a-half of back and forth jabs culminated in a surprisingly explosive final hand.
The bracelet of the $500 buy-in Casino Employees No Limit Hold’em event within reach, Holloway said his experience covering tournaments since 2010 helped keep him calm.
“I reflected back on the countless situations I’ve observed,” the 30-year-old Wisconsin native said. “I was just patient, and I kept my head about me and just remembered all the mistakes I’ve seen players make over the years.”
Since 2012, members of the poker media have been allowed to play in the employees event.
Friends, fellow poker journalists and even a group of well-known pros gathered on the rail in the Amazon room to cheer. Another poker blogger, Josh Cahlik, finished 12th in the event.
Not long after the final table got underway, Antonio Esfandiari approached what’s known as the “mothership,” looking for Holloway under the lights and shouted: “Come on, Chad! One time!”
Daniel Negreanu followed a few moments later. “Go Chad! You’re my hero,” he yelled.
With Holloway wearing his lucky “bird shirt,” a short-sleeve button down top emblazoned with a nameless yellow, blue and gray cartoon character, the crowd broke into a cacophony of bird calls each time he took down a pot.
Nearly seven hours after play started at the final table, members of the poker media swarmed their colleague and friend.
“Let’s go home,” he said.
“No way,” fellow reporter Donnie Peters said. “You’re working tomorrow, buddy.”
Holloway left law school in 2008 to make poker a bigger part of his life. He wants to compete in at least a couple more events this year.
But with the priority of his job still in the front of his mind, he negotiated the time of his bracelet ceremony — around 2 pm Thursday –during a scheduled break period, so he could continue to cover the rest of the series.
The final table began when Hieu Le shoved his last 92,000 and was eliminated on the first hand among the final nine players. Le ran 2 2 into the 3 3 of Kwong. The board ran out A T 5 Q T to send Le to the payout cage.
Holloway took the next player out, after tank-calling a four-bet shove for about 200,000 from Michael Trivett. Holloway held A 8 against Trivett’s K J. Holloway nailed the A 7 2 flop, a 7 turn sealed the hand, and the river brought the K, by then a meaningless card.
Tyrone Smith was eliminated in 7th place after he shoved J T into the Q J of Bobby Rooney. The queen-high was good enough as the board ran out K 6 3 K 8 and Smith was sent tot he rail.
With the blinds at 6,000/12,000, Sean Small shoved his last 89,000 with J 8 and ran into the A 4 of Holloway. Holloway held on a board of 4 3 7 6 9 with a pair.
Daniel Ellery shoved 46,000 and tripled up, but was eliminated in fifth place shortly after, holding 6 5. He called off his chips on a 9 3 3 6 turn, but was unable to fade Brian Pingel‘s flush draw, as the A fell on the river.
Pingel took another shot at a flush draw, this one with a gutshot to a straight, shoving 9 6 on a flop of 8 5 4 but lost to Rooney’s 4 5 two pair, as the board ran out Q K. Pingel was knocked out in fourth place.
Holloway crippled Rooney, who doubled Holloway after missing on a combination straight and flush draw. Holding A T Kwong later knocked Rooney out in third place. Rooney held T T but the board ran out with the 9 K 3 8 and the A on the river that gave Kwong a better pair.
In the final hand, Kwong raised to 75,000 preflop and Holloway called. The flop brought the Q Q 5, Holloway check-raised and Kwong shoved.
Holloway turned over the Q 9 for three of a kind and Kwong tabled A K. The turn brought the T and a few gasps from the crowd, while the river 2 sealed Holloway’s victory.
Final Table Payouts
- Chad Holloway – $84,915
- Allan Kwong – $52,318
- Bobby Rooney – $33,903
- Brian Pingel – $24,811
- Daniel Ellery – $18,426
- Sean Small – $13,868
- Tyrone Smith – $10,567
- Michael Trivett – $8,146
- Hieu Le – $6,348
Latest posts by Dave Ferrara (see all)
- How and Why Amir Lehavot was Eliminated in Third Place - November 5, 2013
- How and Why Michiel Brummelhuis was Eliminated in Seventh Place - November 5, 2013
- Breaking Down The WSOP.com Sign-Up Process - September 20, 2013
- With Bracelet Win, Loni Harwood Leaps Into Female Rankings - July 8, 2013
- Brian Yoon Wins Little One for One Drop, First Gold Bracelet - July 7, 2013