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21-year-old wins Winter Bayou Poker Challenge

11 December 2008

NEW ORELANS, Louisiana –- (PRESS RELEASE) -- The 2008 Winter Bayou Poker Challenge ended today with a rousing victory in the championship event by Justin "Lockdown Tex" Allen. He collected first-place prize money totaling $158,290. Allen was presented with a swanky gold ring, awarded to all tournament champions at this year's Bayou poker series. Allen also received a travel package to the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas valued at $11,000. The package includes a seat in next year's world poker championship.

The Bayou Main Event cost $5,150 to enter. Of the 103 total entries, about half of the players earned their way in by winning a satellite seat. The rest paid cash. Only the top 18 finishers collected prize money.

The championship event was played over three consecutive days. The tournament took place inside the special events center at Harrah's New Orleans. Among the famous names who participated this year was Paul Prudhomme, the world-famous chef and restaurateur. This marked the seventh major poker series that Harrah's has hosted within the last four years – more than any other Harrah's property. Previous tournaments in New Orleans, including the World Series of Poker Circuit events, have attracted big numbers. As in years past, Mardi the Alligator (as in "Mardi Gras") held onto the six-figure sum in cash – placed cozily into the gator's mouth-- which was on display at tableside.

The tournament generated a prize pool totaling $488,550. The nine events on this year's Bayou schedule attracted 1,367 combined entries, generating $1,024,854 in total prize money.

Day one of the championship resulted in the elimination of 70 players. Day two played down to the final eight players instead of nine, since two players were eliminated on the final hand of the day. That happened when three players all flopped sets, with the two lower sets (held by James Kelly and Core Albertson) being eliminated from the tournament. The final table took place on day three. It took about four hours to play the finale from start to end. The chip lead changed only once. Larry Price was the early chip leader. Then, Justin Allen seized the lead away on the first hand of heads-up play and never surrendered. The top eight finishers included:

8th Place – Justin Jones, a 25-year-old poker pro from Rockdale, TX. He graduated from Texas A&M University and was a member of the Corps of Cadets. Jones took a bad beat on his last hand of the tournament when his A-K faced off against a dominated A-Q. But a queen flopped, knocking Jones out.
7th place – Jake Bazeley, a 25-year-old poker pro from Cincinnati, OH. He arrived at the final table with the shortest stack. Bazeley was now able to do much and eliminated about an hour into play when his A-J was hammered by Cub Culberson's J-J.
6th Place – Jeremy Gaubert, a 25-year-old poker pro from Lockport, LA. He lasted about two-and-a-half hours before finally busting out with A-10. Cub Culberson had Gaubert's stack covered and won with pocket kings. Gaubert has several impressive tournament finishes this year, including 58th place in the WSOP Main Event in July.
5th Place – Philip Sparta, Jr., a 24-year-old poker pro from Fairfax, VA. Sparta took a terrible beat on his final hand when his pocket queens were ripped by Wil Payne's A-8, when two eights came on the board. That killed Sparta's chances of victory. He had previously won a WSOP Circuit event in New Orleans. Sparta earned his way into this tournament via a single-table satellite.
4th Place – Wil "WilPay" Payne, a 73-year-old retiree from Ft. Worth, TX. On his last hand Payne moved all-in with pocket eights as well as an inside straight draw. But he ran into a set of tens and failed to improve. Nevertheless, Payne started off with one of the lowest stacks and managed to leap up three spots on the money ladder. He has previous final table appearances at the World Poker Open and Mid-America Poker Classic.
3rd Place – Matt "Cub" Culberson, a local poker pro. He is a regular inside the Harrah's New Orleans poker room. Culberson flopped top pair on his final hand. He had K-Q and caught a king. But he had kicker problems as Justin Allen had A-K (ace kicker). Culberson ended up in third place.
2nd Place – Larry Price, from nearby Gretna, LA. This was only the second time Prize has cashed in a major tournament. He came close to winning, but a grave error late in the game sealed his fate. As the runner up, Price received $83,053.
1st Place – Justin "Lockdown Tex" Allen, a 21-year-old poker pro from Dallas, TX. Allen just turned 21 two months ago. Allen was previously a student at a small college affiliated with Baylor University near Waco. He plays poker on his computer and is just now starting to enter more live tournaments. His only other previous cash was at the World Poker Open last month.

When heads-up play began, (eventual runner up) Price enjoyed a slight chip lead over Allen -- with about 1.2 million to 900,000 in chips. Yet everything reversed in shocking fashion on the first hand when the two finalists got involved in a pre-flop raising war. Price tabled his hand and showed A-2 while Allen had 6-6. A deuce flopped, but the pocket sixes held up. That meant Allen had seized a massive chip lead – about 20 to 1, due mostly to Prize overplaying his hand.

A few hands later, the final hand of the tournament was dealt when Price moved all in with Q-4. Allen called with pocket nines. The pair held up, giving Allen his first-ever tournament victory.

The 2009 World Series of Poker Circuit returns to Harrah's New Orleans in May. This will be the fifth-consecutive year that New Orleans has served as the final stop on the annual circuit. Events will run from May 8-20.

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