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Lester Wins One for the Old Guard

25 July 2006

LAS VEGAS -- It was a classic battle of the old guard versus the new guard, and after World Series of Poker (WSOP) veteran Jason Lester taught the young gun a quick lesson in heads up play, he left the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in the traditional way, with a gold bracelet around his wrist and $550,764 in cash in a cardboard box.

Alan Sass, meanwhile, stayed in character as a young gun, heading out the door with a small army of friends to one of Las Vegas' most well-known gentlemen's clubs. Sass claimed $284,256, and while he also left with cash in hand, it was unclear whether he asked for it all in one dollar bills.

With 16 WSOP cashes and six final table appearances in his career, Lester was the most experienced player at the final table of Event # 32, a $5,000 Pot Limit Hold'em championship. But while Lester has consistently been near the top of the field, he was still looking for his first gold bracelet. His best finish came in the 2003 Main Event when he finished fourth behind Dan Harrington, Sam Farha and Chris Moneymaker.

Sass is a 23-year old budding professional player who splits time between Las Vegas and Southern California. He rented a house with several friends who dubbed themselves "Ship It Holla Ballas" for the WSOP. The house hasn't worked out so well in recent days, as the group was robbed of all of their computers and monitors, but just two days later, Sass found himself with the chip lead at the final table of a WSOP event.

"We just lost everything," said Sass of the robbery. "It was like 30K worth of everything. But (finishing second) is a good little consolation prize."

Sass, who started the day as the chip leader, used pocket nines to beat Tony Hartman's A-K, knocking Hartman out in fourth late in the day.

Lester doubled up with pocket fives through Stuart Fox to stay alive, but a few hands later, it looked like Sass might send Lester out in third after pairing a Jack on the flop versus Lester's pocket sevens. Lester, however, hit trip sevens on the turn and doubled up to take the chip lead.

Sass appeared to be tilting when he went all in with a suited 10-9, and it looked like he was on his way out after Fox flopped a pair of Queens with his A-Q, but he hit a miracle straight on the turn to double up to take the chip lead with 878,000 chips. It was only a matter of time for Fox, who was crippled on the hand, and he finished third half an hour later when his suited K-3 failed to connect with the board, and Lester's A-9 won the pot.

Lester dominated heads-up play, building a 2-1 chip lead just before the players took a dinner break. Soon after they returned, Sass made a fatal error, bluffing with a gut shot straight draw after Lester made top pair. Lester called the all-in reraise, and Sass did not catch one of his four outs.

"I know it sounds cliché, but experience really helped," Lester said of the win. "A lot of experience, and that one seven!"

Pot Limit Hold'em Notes: Emad Tamtouh said that his favorite poker moment heading into his final table appearance was seeing fellow Aussie Joe Hachem win the Main Event last year. Hachem checked in at the final table to visit Tamtouh shortly before he busted out in seventh place … Tommy Smith, who started the day in third chip position, finished eighth after one of the most unbelievable sequences of the final table. After re-raising the pot preflop and seeing Sass call, Smith checked on a flop of Q-6-2. When an ace hit the turn, Smith went all in and Alan called, and both players turned up a set, Tommy with three sixes and Sass with three Queens … Smith had knocked Kirill Gerasimov out in ninth with a set of queens just half an hour earlier ... After Sass knocked Hartman out, he had to serve a six-hand penalty because he turned his hand over before the flop, even though Hartman had $42,000 chips left. The players both went all-in after the flop, and after the hand, Sass served his penalty.

Lester Wins One for the Old Guard is republished from CasinoVendors.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.