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Claire Miller Wins $1,000 Seniors No-Limit Hold

$50K H.O.R.S.E. Event Reaches Final Table; $2,500 Short-Handed Event Kicks Off


"Age is an issue of mind over matter; if you don't mind then it doesn't matter."
- Mark Twain

Great things can occur in the wings when all eyes are on the main stage. It is unlikely that any other event this year at the World Series will command such buzz and attention as the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event. The crowds flocked incessantly around the star-studded tables. The larger buy-in and limit restrictions allowed for a great deal of intense action. And yet, in the center of the Amazon Room, several poker veterans sat in quiet concentration, continuing their quest for an elusive World Series of Poker bracelet as the final day of the $1,000 seniors no-limit hold'em event continued. Meanwhile, the $2,500 short-handed (six players per table) no-limit hold'em event enjoyed an explosive first day in its own corner of the Amazon.

$1,000 Seniors No-Limit Hold'em

Yesterday 1,184 players began the seniors event, creating a prize pool of $1,077,440 and a first prize of $247,814. Those 1,184 players were whittled down to a tough field of 55, who began play at 2 p.m. PDT. Shortly after returning from their dinner break, the final 18 players were consolidated into the final two tables. Due to the potential late hour this competition could reach, the players were informed that when the final table of nine had been determined, they would be given a choice to play through the night to determine a winner, or to return the next day to play for the bracelet on the final table stage. Around 11:17, the final 10 players were seated at the final table. Their chip stacks were as follows:

1: Scott McClellan-$58,000
2: Clare Miller $416,000
3: Judith Carlson $113,000
4: Mike Nargi $149,000
5: John Vorhaus $43,000
6: Jake Wells $283,000
7: Doug Schuller $366,000
8: Ron Rose $86,000
9: Stan Schrier $157,000
10: Dave Claiborne $125,000

About 20 minutes into play at this table, John Vorhaus and Scott McClelland found themselves all in and dominated holding Aspade Jclub and Adiamond Jspade, respectively, to Doug Schuller's Aheart Aclub . The board offered no miracles to either player and they were eliminated in 10th and ninth place, with McClelland earning $21,549 and Vorhaus earning $24,242. The brusqueness of this double knockout convinced the players that this was a sign of how the final table would play out, and they decided to continue to play until a champion was crowned.

Shortly after midnight, Stan Schrier, whose best finsh at the WSOP was a third-place finish at the 2001 main event, was the next player to exit, an unfortunate pawn of the poker gods as his 5-5 was counterfeited by a board containing eights and 6ixes as Mike Nargi raked the pot with a Kclub10spade good for a king-high kicker.

At about 12:30, the most pivotal hand of the final table took place as the two chip leaders, Doug Schuller and Claire Miller, butted heads in a major way. After a raising war, Miller showed no fear as she called Schuller's sizable all-in bet before the flop, and her Aclub Kspade outraced Schuller's Qdiamond Qheart. Schuller earned $32,323 for his seventh-place finish. Miller now enjoyed a monster chip lead that she would not soon relinquish.

WSOP bracelet winner and renowned poker author Ron Rose was the next to exit, in sixth place, earning $37,710 when his 7club 7diamond ran into chip leader Miller's Jclub Jspade. Miller then laid down her executioner's axe for a spell, and Jake Wells assumed the mantle as he busted David Claiborne in fifth ($43,098) with a flopped pair of kings to beat sevens and Judy Carlson in fourth (53,872) with flopped aces. However Wells was no match for Miller after she defended her big blind against his all-in bet and her Jdiamond 8spade managed to connect to the board of Qclub 10diamond 4club Jclub 3heart and best Wells's Adiamond3club to send him home in third place $74,882 richer.

The heads-up battle between Mike Nargi and Claire Miller was short and sweet. On Hand No. 5, Miller called Nargi's all-in bet with Qspade 8spade and managed to spike an 8diamond on the river to vault past Nargi's 3-3. Nargi's second-place finish netted him $129,253.
An emotional Claire Miller of Alamagordo, New Mexico, won $247,814 and a gold bracelet to share with her husband of 41 years.

$50,000 H.O.R.S.E.

The true tenacity and grit of the world's best poker players was on display today at the Rio. Of the 143 entrants, 127 returned to the tables at 2 p.m. PDT to attempt to outlast each other in a battle of poker prowess and wills. The $6,864,000 prize pool and $1,716,000 first prize were not the only incentives to the players. Chip Reese was overheard stating that he was only playing in this event and the main event this year. It could be argued that among some poker players, less pomp and circumstance is accorded to the winning of a bracelet today because a less-skilled player can ride a lucky streak through a large field of newer players. But this event is different. The tournament is structured to last long enough that weaknesses in your games will greatly diminish your chances of victory, and so the bracelet on the line for this event is that much more valuable. With each table lined up as a veritable murderer's row of poker, players fought to cultivate any edge they could muster. Play as the day began was very rigid. Even normally jovial players Daniel Negreanu and Mike Matusow displayed moments of tension and frustration.
Slowly the players fell. Howard Lederer, Johnny Chan, Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, and Erik Seidel were just a few of the numerous heavy hitters to bust out over the course of the day's action. As the night wore on, a combination of fatigue and routine set in. Brief moments of levity were enjoyed, fueled by the color commentary of old pros T.J. Cloutier and Doyle Brunson, and the antics of some of the new guard such as Gavin Smith, who kept the banter light, and provided excitement on one hand of limit hold'em when he eliminated both Roy Thung and Roger McDow. He managed to win with a 9club 8diamond, making two pair against Thung's Adiamond Jdiamond and McDow's Kclub Jclub. As night became early morning, the money bubble approached yet seemed so incredibly far away. Recent bracelet winner Allen Cunningham fought from the short stack for a long time before being eliminated in 18th place. Fairly soon after that, at about 6 a.m., Matt Hawrilenko was eliminated in 17th place as the unfortunate bubble boy.

The money finishers were as follows:

16. Cuong Do ($137,280)
15. Raphael Perry ($137,280)
14. David Levi ($137,280)
13. Joe Cassidy ($137,280)
12. Barry Greenstein ($205,920)
11. Gavin Smith ($205,920)
10.Robert Williamson III ($205,920)

The seating assignments for the final table are:

1: Jim Bechtel : $841,000
2: Doyle Brunson : $1,227,000
3: Chip Reese : $1,756,000
4: Dewey Tomko : $438,000
5: Andy Bloch : $934,000
6: T.J. Cloutier : $351,000
7: David Singer : $745,000
8: Patrik Antonius : $13,000
9: Phil Ivey : $885,000

The players return tonight for the final table at 9 p.m. PDT.

$2,500 Short-Handed No-Limit Hold'em

A healthy field 740 players entered today's short-handed (six players per table) no-limit hold'em event, creating a prize pool of $1,702,000. The top 72 finishers are paid with the winner garnering $442,511. The action began at 12:30 p.m. PDT, with players hoping to reach the money by the end of the day's 10 levels of play. It is apparent that these players were clearly affected by the buzz of the H.O.R.S.E. event, as many players came to gamble from the very beginning, with pros and amateurs alike making early exits. Twice documented during the day players were dealt aces, kings, and queens on the same hand and, contrary to most bad beat stories, the aces held up both times, with reigning main event champion Joe Hachem being eliminated with kings on one of these hands.

Many pros exited this tournament early, including Joe Sebok, John Phan, Barry Shulman, and Layne Flack. The money bubble burst in the eighth level of play, and the eliminations didn't stop there, as only 38 players survived to play tomorrow. Among those are chip leader Bill Lewis ($134,600), Kenna James, Phil Gordon, Harry Demetriou, Joe Beevers, and Card Player intern Jeremiah Smith.

Tomorrow the players return at 2 p.m. PDT to play down to the final table.

Stay tuned to for live updates, chip counts, photos, videos, and for new episodes of "The Circuit" and "The Series."

For more information on bracelet winners and other WSOP news stories, please visit

- By Alex Baer