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Davenport Claims Inaugural PokerRoom.com "Become a Poker Pro" Tournament

8 March 2006

NASSAU, Bahamas - After trailing Bill Pero for nearly the entire tournament, Jim Davenport dominated the final hour of PokerRoom.com's "Become a Poker Pro" tournament en route to the inaugural PokerRoom.com title on Sunday afternoon.

The tournament was held aboard Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas cruise ship on Sunday as part of an entire weekend dedicated to some of PokerRoom.com's top online players.

A resident of Newport Beach, Calif., Davenport called Pero's all-in bet with A-Q after the flop came A-J-7 to win the tournament's final hand. Pero held Q-7 and was drawing dead after another ace fell on the turn.

"I'm still so nervous," said Davenport, who recently accepted a job as an analyst for an investment bank. "I measure success in being able to wake up in the morning and be excited about going to work. I legitimately love my new job, and I felt like if I didn't win, I would still go home a winner. But they're not sponsoring me through the poker circuit, so now I have a new employer."

Davenport, a USC graduate who plays on PokerRoom.com as JDtrojan3, claims a prize package valued at $250,000 and will be sponsored by PokerRoom.com for the next 12 months. His winnings include $60,000 in cash, plus buy-ins and travel costs for 12 tournaments, including the Main Event of the 2006 World Series of Poker.

Players who earned a spot in major land-based tournaments through PokerRoom.com online satellite tournaments over the last two years were invited to play in PokerRoom.com's inaugural "Become a Poker Pro" tournament.

Sixty-nine players started the tournament online, vying for a chance to play at the final table. Players who made the final table carried their chip stack from the online portion of the tournament into the live portion of the tournament.

It appeared that Pero (who plays under the screen name BillyBluff13), who entered the final table as the chip leader, was destined to carry that lead from start to finish. He cracked pocket aces, held by Chris Birchby (MarvinGarden) on the first hand of the final table, hitting a set of tens on the flop and calling Birchby's all-in bet after making a full house on the turn.

Less than half an hour later with the blinds still at the 400/800 starting level, Pero once again cracked pocket aces, taking more than 80,000 in chips from Jack Arnold (Dragon2) after flopping a flush. Arnold went from second in chips to the table's short stack, eventually finishing in seventh place.

Pero looked poised to take the tournament title when he beat 3-1 odds to bust Dustin Goff (HustlerPoke) in fourth position. Goff moved all-in preflop with A-J and Pero called with A-10, hitting a 10 on the flop to amass more than a 2-1 chip lead on Davenport, who was in second place.

But after that hand, the tournament was all Davenport's.

Early on in three handed play, with the blinds at 6,000/12,000, Davenport took 50,000 in chips off Pero, calling his pre-flop re-raise and pumping another 50,000 into the pot after the flop came K-Q-4. Pero folded, and so did his momentum. Davenport busted Ryan Rufe (rufebert) a few hands later with J-J vs. 7-7, building a 401,000/287,000 chip lead as heads-up play began.

That lead grew when Davenport stole a pot after Pero had been the aggressor, just calling 50,000 chip bets pre-flop and after a flop of 2-3-3. Looking at a scary board of 2-3-3-4-7 with three diamonds, Davenport fired 80,000 into the pot forcing Pero to fold. After the hand, Davenport held a 3-1 chip lead.

"I was surprised I had a lead going into heads up, let alone a 100,000 chip lead," Davenport said. "I just went with my instincts. I made a bluff on a big hand and I got a pretty good read on Billy. Once I felt like I had that read, I knew I could just play the cards."

A few hands later, Davenport slow played his A-Q, checking his big blind and checking when he paired his ace on the flop, prompting Pero's all-in bet.

"I didn't make many mistakes all day," Pero said. "Before we went heads up I made a mistake that cost me 50 grand. At the end, the Q-7? A mistake. I probably should have held off. Actually, I didn't realize I had as many chips as I did. But when the seven hit, how do you put someone on A-Q? You don't. I had three diamonds and a low pair, but heads up, that isn't that bad a hand."

While Pero missed out on the first place prize, he will be joining Davenport in Las Vegas this summer, winning a spot in the Main Event of the WSOP with his second place finish.

"I wanted to win, but I'm not a sore sport," Pero said. "I'm still happy. I've always wanted to play in the World Series, and now I've got my shot."

In his previous life, Aaron Todd was a sports journalist by day and a poker player by night. He can now be found covering the poker beat for Casino City and making horrendously unsuccessful bluffs in his home game. Write to Aaron at aarontodd@casinocity.com.

Davenport Claims Inaugural PokerRoom.com "Become a Poker Pro" Tournament is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Aaron Todd
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.