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2004 World Series Of Poker
Thu April. 22, 2004
Event #1
Limit Hold'em-Casino Employees
$500 BUY-IN $500 in chips

Players: 279
Prize Pool: $125,550

1st Carl Nessel (Thousand Oaks, CA) $40,000
2nd Cory Pockat (Colorado Springs, CO) $22,000
3rd Leon Wheeler (Las Vegas, NV) $11,350
4th Bill Bruce (Menifee, CA) $8,820
5th Mark Richman (Ann Arbor, MI) $7,560
6th Roger Jenkins (Union City, CA) $6,300
7th Stephen Calhoon (Bradenton, FL) $5,040
8th William Roffe (San Jose, CA) $3,780
9v Joe Addesso (Las Vegas, NV) $2,520
10th Robert Quiring (Clarkston, WA) $1,520
11th David Tuchman (Sherman Oaks, CA) $1,520
12th Gabriel Hunterton (Las Vegas, NV) $1,520
13th Gerald Stensrud (Long Beach, CA) $1,260
14th Roxanne Rodman (Rancho Mirage, CA) $1,260
15th Walter Lustgraff (Gilbert, AZ) $1,260
16th Susan Bagnascofox (Lake Elsinore, CA) $1,000
17th John Valleau (Atlantic City, NJ) $1,000
18th Aaron Halash (Scottsdale, AZ) $1,000
19th Michael Allen (Henderson, NV) $760
20th Nguyen Rodgers (San Jose, CA) $760
21st Kenneth Gibson (Cathedral City, CA) $760
22nd Michael Howland (Las Vegas, NV) $760
23rd Charles Pannage (Billings, MT) $760
24th Michael Steinberg (Bell, CA) $760
25th Raymond Franzen (Las Vegas, NV) $760
26th Gaylord Simmons (Henderson, NV) $760
27th Jeanette Dizon (San Diego, CA) $760


Former Firefighter, Carl “Coach” Nessel, Sparkles in First Event at 2004
World Series of Poker

“It's been a dream and a fantasy that I never thought would come true, but here I am.”
-- Carl “Coach” Nessel (after winning his first championship gold bracelet))

The World Series of Poker has established a tradition of hosting a special tournament, specifically designed for casino employees. In recent years, the annual casino employees event has marked the “official” beginning of the world's biggest and most prestigious poker tournament -- as dealers, floorpersons, pit employees, bartenders, executives, and personnel from virtually all areas of the gaming business gather at the Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas to determine who is most deserving as the casino industry's top poker player.

This year, the casino employees “world championship” went to Carl “Coach” Nessel, a 57-year-old former firefighter from Thousand Oaks, CA. The Coach plays poker regularly and works assorted tournaments part-time – including this year's WSOP where he is employed as a Chip Runner. The Coach survived a grueling poker marathon, which lasted an exhausting 15 hours and 45 minutes. He won his final hand of the night with a pair of Queens against the runner up, Cory Pockat, a Poker Dealer from Colorado Springs, CO. The Coach's ride to victory did not come easy.

Two-hundred seventy-nine players started the tournament promptly at 12 noon. It took 11 hours to play down to the final table, comprised of an well-rounded mix of casino employees. Five of the 9 finalists were from California.

Joe Addesso, originally from San Diego – who works as a Table Games Supervisor in Las Vegas -- was the first player to exit in 9 th place. He received $2,520.

A short time later, William Roffe was severely short-stacked and exited in 8th place. Roffe, a Poker Dealer who was playing in only his second hold'em tournament ever, had to be proud of his performance. He collected $3,780.

Stephen Calhoun, a Poker Dealer from Bradenton, FL went out next in 7 th place – good for $5,040 in prize money.

An hour into the final table, Roger Jenkins, a Casino Shift Manager from Union City, CA, was the shortest stack. He didn't survive and took 6 th place, which amounted to a payday of $6,300.

Mark Richman was bounced off the final table in 5 th place, when his hand lost to Cory Pockat's straight. Richman, came in second in chips, but could not sustain the momentum he built mid-way through the tournament. Richman, who has won smaller tournaments here in Las Vegas, was awarded $7,560.

Down to four players, Pockat was close to the chip lead with Bill Bruce, with about $45K each in chips. After a short break, blinds increased to $1K-2K, with betting limits at $2K-4K. Pockat took the chip lead when his A-K made top pair at the expense of Bruce.

However, Bruce extracted some revenge a few hands later when he was dealt A-A and won a hand against Pockat. “I knew you had aces when I saw your cards,” Pockat said jokingly. However, Bruce's glory was short-lived. He lost a key hand when the final board showed A-10-10-x-x. Bruce flashed an ace (good for top pair). But the Carl “Coach” Nessel showed down a better kicker -- with A-9.

After a few more orbits, Bruce was short-stacked and made his final stand with A-Q versus Pockat's A-10. Bruce was clearly in a dominant position. But a 10 flopped for Pockat, and Bruce failed to hit his queen. The pair of 10s won the hand, and Bruce went out in 4 th place. Bill Bruce, a Poker Floorperson, from Menifee, CA who was playing in his first ever live tournament, had $8,882 reasons to be extremely proud of his effort.

With three players remaining, Pockat had the chip lead, with about $65K -- versus about $35K each for both the Coach and Leon Wheeler.

One of the most important hands of the tournament occurred when the Coach topped Pockat, with A-K against A-Q. Both players caught an Ace on the turn, and put in four bets before the final card was dealt. The Coach didn't need any help, but got it anyway when a king fell on the river – good for top two pair. The key hand (and $40K pot) put the Coach back near the chip lead.

After a few rounds, Wheeler was severely short on chips and made a raise with A-5, which was called by the Coach, holding Q-2. The flop came Q-8-3, giving the Coach top pair. Wheeler was committed and his last chip rolled into the pot. Two blanks fell on the turn and river, and Wheeler's ace-his was topped by the pair of queens. Leon Wheeler, a Las Vegas Poker Dealer who finished 2nd in this event last year, added a 3 rd place finish to his remarkable two-year performance in this event. Based on recent history, Wheeler, who took home $11,350, seems destined to win this event at some point in the future.

The two finalists merrily shook hands as heads-up play commenced, just as the clock struck 3 am. The Coach had a slight chip lead, with about $80K to Pockat's $60K. The Coach won the first five pots, and took a sledgehammer to Pockat's diminishing stack size. Within just a few minutes, Pockat's chip position had dwindled to less than $30K. But just when it the Coach might runaway with the victory, Pockat staged a nice comeback. He managed to draw back to even at one point, and it seemed that the duel might continue through the early morning.

However, the Coach squashed Pockat's comeback bid when he was dealt Q-x and made a pair of queens against Pockat's pocket 10s and took nearly half of his opponent's stack. Down to his last $30K, the final hand of the night was dealt at 3:38 am in front of a surprisingly large crowd, given the late hour:

Pockat: Q-9
Coach: J-J

The flop came 9-7-5, giving Pockat top pair (9s). But the Coach played his hand perfectly, letting Pockat commit all his chips on what amounted to an underdog hand. The turn brought a 3 and the river brought a 10, which meant the Coach's J-J was the winning hand of the tournament.

Afterward, Cory Pockat showed a mix of satisfaction and disappointment with the result. “I really thought momentum was on my side when I got back to even (in chips),” he said. “But in the end, he proved to be the better player.” Pockat, making his first significant cash in a poker tournament, collected $22,000 as the runner-up.

But the day clearly belonged to the retired California firefighter, who came to the WSOP to work as a Chip Runner, and play poker on the aide. “I'm totally speechless,” he said, as he stared at the coveted gold bracelet, awarded to each winner at the World Series.

“To get to any final table, let alone the World Series, is an accomplishment that goes beyond anything else in poker,” the Coach said. “I saw light at the end of the tunnel when I got (heads-up against Pockat), but the light turned out to be a train,” he said complimenting his opponent.

“I've been coming here since 1976. It's been a dream and a fantasy that I never thought would come true, but here I am.”


-- by Nolan Dalla


2004 World Series of Poker

Event 1 Event 2 Event 3 Event 4
Event 5 Event 6 Event 7 Event 8
Event 9 Event 10 Event 11 Event 12
Event 13 Event 14 Event 15 Event 16
Event 17 Event 18 Event 19 Event 20
Event 21 Event 22 Event 23 Event 24
Event 25 Event 26 Event 27 Event 28
Event 29 Event 30 Event 31 Event 32
Event 33 Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7

 

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