T.J. Bull-Welch of Port Byron and Ben Wiggins of Rock Island sport big smiles after their visit to the Rio Casino’s payout window to collect a combined $7,333 they won by both finishing in the money in Event 45 at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. A portion of the winnings was headed back to the Quad-Cities to be shared with other members in their poker league who were cheering them on to their first WSOP money finish.
Kris Dinusson of Eldridge collects his prizes, including a seat in WSOP Event 45, after winning the Kennedi’s Kisses charity tournament in Davenport in February against a sellout crowd of 296 players, who no doubt are happy to see him score his first WSOP cash.
BY RUSS SCOTT
RELEASE: JULY 12, 2011
LOCAL PLAYERS REPRESENTED POKER BUDDIES LEFT AT HOME
Three Quad-Cities area poker players who played in the same World Series event have more than geography in common — all three scored their first WSOP cash, and they all represented players left at home.
T.J. Bull-Welch, 40, of Port Byron, Ill., placed 67th against a field of 2,890 in the $1,000 no-limit hold ‘em tourney June 26-28. His run for the money ($5,045) included a timely double-up against top pro Phil Hellmuth.
Ben Wiggins, 31, of Rock Island, Ill., cheered for Bull-Welch after finishing in the money himself — 190th place, $2,288. In all, 297 players cashed in Event No. 45 at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas.
The third Q-C area player to cash was Kris Dinusson of Eldridge, Iowa, who battled to a 149th-place finish and collected $2,548.
Beyond personal satisfaction, the three players were chasing poker glory — and a $455,350 top prize — under the watchful eye of envious Quad-City players left behind.
Bull-Welch and Wiggins won their tournament seats in a Quad-City poker league that builds a WSOP prize pool during a year-long series of events. Scott Bull of Moline cashed for the league in 2010. Profits are shared among members.
Dinusson earned his World Series seat on a snowy February night in Davenport, Iowa. He won the Kennedi’s Kisses charity tournament against an overflow crowd of 296 players, all hoping to win the trip but rooting for Dinusson to do well in Vegas.
From an experience standpoint, Bull-Welch’s cash probably was the biggest surprise.
“I’ve never played poker online,” said the accounting and finance staffer for a local school district. “I went to a local poker room one time before the trip to get a feel for playing in something other than a home game.”
So what did he learn?
“I learned how many more hands you see with a professional dealer. I folded a lot of hands in Vegas that I would have played in the poker league. I avoided some traps by doing that,” Bull-Welch said.
Still, to reach his high finish, he had to survive the Day 1 bloodbath that saw about 90 percent of the field eliminated. His confrontation with Phil Hellmuth, the all-time WSOP bracelet champ with 11, came on Day 2.
“I was pretty short-stacked, and when I looked over at my wife and friends on the rail taking pictures, I felt even more like an amateur. To see them, I had to look right past Hellmuth,” Bull-Welch said.
Facing a raise from Hellmuth, Bull-Welch moved all-in from the big blind for his last 8,500 chips holding A-10 suited. Hellmuth said, “I think you got me,” but called the bet anyhow with J-10 of diamonds. An ace and two diamonds came on the flop, but Hellmuth’s flush draw never came.
“He was very polite in defeat,” Bull-Welch said of the sometimes volatile Hellmuth, who finished 28th in the event for $10,560 en route to an impressive total of five WSOP cashes for $1.5 million this year.
Wiggins, a local automobile sales consultant, was making his second WSOP appearance on behalf of the league. A year ago, he lasted six levels.
“I sat down with the mindset that I was going to cash this time,” he said. “I had more patience this year and wasn’t as awestruck at playing in such a big event.”
But what did he learn that might help other amateurs?
“It’s the same game we play in the league, but on a larger scale. You have to be more patient and take more advantage of hands played in position (last to act),” Wiggins said.
Dinusson’s charity event victory in February was by far his best poker success. “I hope I play like this in Las Vegas,” he said that night. Mission accomplished!
E-mail your poker questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com or www.luckydogpoker.com.
COPYRIGHT 2011 RUSS SCOTT
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM