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Thomas Beckstead Wins The 2013 Card Player Poker Tour Bicycle Casino Main Event

California Poker Pro Earns $102,010 For Topping 369-Entry Field

by Erik Fast |  Published: Jun 26, 2013


The Bicycle Casino, located about 10 miles south of downtown Los Angeles in beautiful Bell Gardens, California, has long been known as one of the best places for poker action in the world.

With 175 tables, it’s one of the largest poker rooms in the world, but it is the player-friendly service that truly sets it apart. It only made sense that the Bike would become the first-ever California stop on the Card Player Poker Tour, hosting a series of nine events from May 23 to June 5.

The highlight of the whole series was the marquee $1,100 Card Player Poker Tour Bicycle Casino no-limit hold’em main event, which featured a $300,000 guaranteed prize pool, with first place assured a payday of at least $100,000. There were three starting days, each drawing more than the previous. Players who were eliminated on day 1A were allowed to reenter the following day, with day 1B bustouts able to try one last time on day 1C.

When all was said and done, a total of 369 entries had been made, surpassing the guarantee by more than $50,000 to build a prizepool of $357,930. That meant that the eventual champion was set to take home $102,010 in prize money in addition to the title of CPPT champion.

Narrowing The Field

From World Series of Poker bracelet winners like David Singontiko to 2007 World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Championship winner Eric Hershler, there were plenty of accomplished poker players who turned out for this CPPT main event. The fact that Hollywood was just around the corner meant that the film industry also had some representatives in the field, including actress Sasha Barrese, best known for her role as Tracy Billings, the bride-to-be of the missing Doug in the 2009 mega-hit film The Hangover. Barrese has acted in all three of the Hangover films, the third installment of which opened nationwide just days before this event began.

From the 369 that started, only 91 survived to day 2. From that, the field was whittled down to 36 players, with Stephanie Donahue being the first player eliminated in the money in 37th place. From there on out, players were guaranteed at least a $2,150 payday.

With only four tables remaining, the biggest name left in the field was poker pro and television writer/producer Matt Salsberg. The executive producer of Showtime’s hit Weeds recently earned the title of World Poker Tour Player of the Year, making three final tables and winning the most recent WPT Grand Prix de Paris. Salsberg entered day 3, which would see the remaining field narrowed to the final nine, inside the top-ten chip counts.

“This is one of the few really deep structured events you’ll see on the L.A. regular circuit,” Salsberg told a Card Player reporter, “So it’s actually really advantageous for somebody that plays very deep structured events to play against guys that really don’t have a lot of experience playing those.”

Salsberg was eventually be eliminated in 22nd place, losing a race with pocket fours against an opponent’s A-Q.

At the end of day 3, the final nine was set. There were three young guns in Ho Shin “Kevin” Lee, Rubin Chappell and Thomas Beckstead, a couple of casual players in Stan Hackett and William Zaiss and some seasoned players in Pogos Simityan, Zaher Samaan and Alan Myerson. The chipleader heading into the final day was hometown-heroine Nichoel Jurgens, a cash game professional and also a regular commentator on the Bicycle Casino’s popular cash-game web stream “Live At The Bike.”

Jurgens survived and thrived through the grueling tournament days, all while five-months pregnant. She now had a chance to be on the other side of the camera at this final table, which was broadcast on the “Live At The Bike” website and on, complete with hole cards and commentary. With the title and seven-figures on the line, the stage was set for this final table to be a great one.

The Final Table

Jurgens began the final table with roughly twice as many chips as the next largest stack, that of Thomas Beckstead. She increased that lead when she knocked out Stan Hackett, topping his ADiamond Suit KClub Suit with her pocket tens. Hackett, a 47-year-old insurance agent from Valencia, CA earned $7,600 for his ninth-place finish.
The next to go was a short stacked Zaher Samaan, who was crippled in one hand, then looked to be in good shape to double up when he got all-in with pocket kings.

Unfortuantely for him he had run into Ho Shin Lee’s pocket aces, and he was eliminated in eighth place for $9,050. Following him was William Zaiss, who had a rollercoaster final table, but eventually succumbed when his KClub Suit QDiamond Suit ran into yet another pair of aces, held this time by Thomas Beckstead. Zaiss took home $10,735 for his seventh-place showing.

Pogos Simityan entered the day as the shortest stack, so it was a bit of a coup for him to survive to sixth-place. Eventually he lost a race with AHeart Suit KHeart Suit against Thomas Beckstead’s pocket deuces and hit the rail with $12,525.

Alan Myerson entered the final table with the most tournament experience of anybody, with six career titles and 152 cashes to his name, totaling nearly $785,000 in lifetime earnings. He added $14,460 to that total when he was eliminated in fifth place, flopping a pair of eights in a battle of the blinds against Thomas Beckstead’s slow-played pocket tens.

Four-handed play saw the lead passed around between the remaining players. Eventually Los Angeles-based cash game professional Ho Shin Lee was ground down and eliminated in fourth place, taking home $24,340.

Much like four-handed play, there were numerous lead changes when only three remained, with Rubin Chappell, Thomas Beckstead and Nichoel Jurgens all holding the lead at one time. Eventually Beckstead began to pull away, while Chappell began to get short. On his final hand the 31-year-old Downey, CA resident Chappell raised to 260,000 from the button with the ADiamond Suit 6Diamond Suit and Nichoel Jurgens moved all-in with the 5Heart Suit 5Club Suit, having Chappell covered. Fives remained in front and Chappell was eliminated, taking home $34,900 for his deep run.

Heads-up play began with roughly even stacks. At first Beckstead got out to a lead, then Jurgens fought back and overtook the advantage. Beckstead was ground down to the point were he was opening for all-in raises preflop, before eventually doubling up after rivering a broadway straight and moving all-in.

Beckstead held just a slight chip advantage when the final hand arose. He opened to 450,000 from the button and Jurgens reraised to 950,000. Beckstead moved all-in and Jurgens called with the ASpade Suit 6Diamond Suit.

Beckstead flipped up the JHeart Suit JClub Suit and was the favorite to win the title, as he just barely had Jurgens covered. The board ran out KDiamond Suit 9Diamond Suit 6Spade Suit 5Diamond Suit 8Club Suit and Beckstead’s pocket jacks held up, securing him the title, while Jurgens earned $52,110 for her runner-up finish.

For the win the 27-year-old Temecula, CA resident earned the title, the $102,010 first-place prize and 600 Card Player Player of the Year points. Beckstead had already made three smaller final tables this year, and now sits in 127th place in the overall POY standings as a result of this marquee win.

“This is pretty much cloud nine for me. Since I was about 19, I’ve played poker for a good part of my income. When I started to play tournaments again this year, a lot of it was because I wanted to get that six-figure score and to get that bracelet, that trophy… some hardware to put on the mantle at home,” said Beckstead just after he won. “For me it’s been kind of a long journey, and this is definitely a little bit of vindication.”
Congratulations to Thomas Beckstead, the 2013 Card Player Poker Tour Bicycle Casino main event champion! ♠