New Jersey’s Allen Bari Wins World Series of Poker Circuit Event

There are few tougher setbacks than losing one’s job.  That’s exactly what happened to 23-year-old Allen Bari just four months ago.  After graduating from Rutgers University with a degree in finance and economics, Bari went to work for the global financial giant Morgan Stanley.  That didn’t exactly work out as he expected.  Late last year Bari was laid-off as part of its “corporate downsizing,” leaving the ambitious young man from West Orange, NJ in a career quandary.
Bari decided to play more poker with his newly found free time, both online and in live action.  He started traveling around to cardrooms and major poker tournaments.  His report card so far?  Pretty good.  He’s already cashed six times in tournaments this year alone, including events held in both Atlantic City and Las Vegas.  Then came what must be considered a breakthrough victory.  Bari just added $72,000 to his poker bankroll by winning the $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament, the fifth event on the World Series of Poker Circuit schedule being held this month at Caesars Atlantic City.
Event #5 attracted a more modest field of 225 players, following a busy weekend during which two of the first three events generated fields in excess of 1,000 entries.  After 216 players were eliminated on the first day, the nine finalists took their seats as the feature table.  New Yorker Vinny Pahuja arrived with an impressive chip lead – more than 3 to 1 over his closest competitor.  Bari, the eventual winner, began his quest for the championship in third place.  Players and starting chip counts began as follows:

Seat 1:  Michael Scipione    115,000

Seat 2: Jeff Morrill 66,500

Seat 3: Mike Huguenot 148,500

Seat 4: Allen Bari 151,000

Seat 5: Ed Berger 175,000

Seat 6: Dewey Whitmore 100,000

Seat 7: Lance Carter 85,000

Seat 8: Vinny Pahuja 470,000

Seat 9: Soheil Shamseddin 86,500

From the very start, play was aggressive.  Predictably, there were some early bust outs.  Players were eliminated in the following order:

9th Place - On the second hand of play, Lance Carter moved all-in with A-Q.  Vinny Pahuja called with 10-10.  The pocket pair went from having a slight edge to an overwhelming favorite when a ten flopped, giving Pahuja trip tens.  Pahuja ended up with a club flush on the hand (four clubs on board to match the 10c in his hand) while Carter failed to improve and exited as the ninth-place finisher.  The aerospace engineer from Arlington VA rocketed out of the tournament with $4,500 in prize money. 

8th Place – Jeff Morrill went out a short time later.  In his defense, he moved all-in with the best hand but took a terrible beat.  Morrill had 10-9 in the blind and raised all-in after the flop came A-10-9 – good for tens and nines.  Ed Berger made the call with A-Q, holding top pair with a solid kicker.  After a blank on the turn, the river came with a queen, giving Berger the higher two pair.  Morrill staggered away from the final table in despair and was forced to settle for eighth-place.  The 37-year-old poker player from Brentwood, TN took a payout of $6,770.

7th Place – Soheil Shamseddin joined Morrill on the rail with his own bad beat story when he moved all-in with K-K.  Mike Scipione called and showed A-Q suited.  All suspense ended when an ace flopped, killing Shamseddin’s hopes of doubling up.  Although the deck dealt some beats on this day, Scipione did not take one on this hand as the paired aces held up.  Meanwhile, Soheil Shamseddin was forced to exit the tournament in seventh place.  The president of his own golf company, Shamseddin cashed twice at last year’s WSOP in Las Vegas.  He collected $9,000 this time.

6th Place - Yet another exciting hand took place when Ed Berger went out just a short time later.  Berger held A-K and moved all-in on a semi-bluff after the flop came Q-J-4.  With two overcards (A-K) and a straight draw (10), Berger did not want a caller.  But after deliberating for nearly five full minutes, Vinny Pahuja finally decided to make a tough call with Q-10, good for top pair, with a suspect kicker.  The turn brought Berger to his feet as a king fell, suddenly reversing the advantage in Berger’s favor.  However, Pahuja has picked up a flush draw with two diamonds.  A fifth diamond rained down on the river, crushing Berger’s hopes of victory.  The owner of a marketing and advertising company, Berger is an avid offshore fisherman and outdoor writer.  He collected $11,250 in his first WSOP-related cash.

5th Place – About two hours into play, Michael Scipione found himself sitting with the lowest stack.  With blinds and antes escalating, Scipione had to play a weak hand in an attempt to double up.  He ended up losing to pocket queens and ended up as the fifth-place finisher.  The 21-year-old poker player from Philadelphia pocketed $13,500.

4th Place – Vinny Pahuja maintained his chip lead, although Allen Bari was a close second.  Dewey Whitmore and Mike Huguenot were low on chips, although both players still had enough weight in their stacks to be dangerous.  Play was conservative over the next half hour, with the foursome trading off blinds and antes.  Then, a big hand took place where both players were destined to move their chips into the pot.  Mike Huguenot was dealt Q-Q and flopped trip queens when the board showed K-Q-4.  Slow playing his big set in an attempt to trap his unsuspecting rival, Huguenot gave his opponent a free card.  That turned out to be a mistake.  When an ace fell on the turn, Huguenot decided it was time to push with his entire stack and just as he did so, Vinny Pahuja nearly beat his adversary into the pot.  Pahuja called instantly and showed J-10 for the nut straight.  The board failed to pair on the river, which meant Pahuja had increased his chip lead once again.  Huguenot was forced to exit in fourth place.  The attorney from Pleasantville, NY earned a settlement good for $15,750.   

3rd Place - Dewey Whitmore went out next when he moved all-in with A-10 and was called by Allen Bari with K-J.  This turned out to be quite a decisive hand, as Whitmore’s (former) chips catapulted Bari closer to the chip leader Pahuja.  Whitmore loved the flop, which came ten high.  He held a pair of tens, with top kicker.  However, a king rudely fell on the river which removed Whitmore from the poker trio.  Bari won the pot with a pair of kings while Dewey Whitmore, a West Virginia contractor nailed down a payout totaling $20,250.

2nd Place - When heads-up play began, Pahuja still held the chip lead.  But everything would change on one big hand, which essentially determined the outcome of the tournament.  On the biggest hand of the night, Pahuja was dealt the A-4 of clubs.  Bari was dealt A-3.  After the flop came 8-6-3 with two clubs, Bari was all-in with bottom player (threes) against Pahuja’s club draw.  However, two big red face cards fell on the turn and river, which meant Pahuja had completely missed his flush draw.  That gave Bari an overwhelming chip advantage and left Pahuja on life support.  With just enough chips left to post a blind, it all ended just a short time later when Bari won the final hand of the night and the tournament officially ended. 

Vinny Pahuja was visibly disappointed with the turn of events.  What had been potential wire-to-wire victory at the final table had been shattered by losing one critical hand.  Cheered on by his younger brother in the audience, Pahuja finished as the runner up.  The former bond salesman from New York City who now works in real estate added $39,600 in prize money to his investment portfolio.

1st Place - The winner was Allen Bari.  He had done just enough to quietly survive for two full days until he found himself heads-up against the chip leader.  Then, all it took was essentially one big hand to tilt the balance in his favor, and Bari ended up waltzing away with his biggest poker payday ever.  Bari was also presented with the gold and diamond ring awarded to all event winners at this year’s Caesars Atlantic City tournament series.  Looking back on that job loss now, maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

For more information, please contact: 

Nolan Dalla — WSOP Media Director at (702) 358-4642


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