Retired Florida Developer Nick Bickey
Wins $1,000 No-Limit After Even Chop
He Travels the Tournament Circuit Now with
Florida Pals, Two Who Also Made the Final Table
Council Bluffs, Iowa-"It's not about the money," Nick "B.B." Bickey said, after offering an even chop to his out-chipped young final opponent. It wouldn't be, because Bickey had built himself a nice nest egg after retiring as a Florida beachfront condo developer. He just wanted the title, and he got it after a number of formal hands of heads-up play.
Bickey, 61, is from Bellaire, Beach, Florida, who now travels around to various tournaments with five young Florida buddies, two of whom also made the final table tonight. His best prior cash was $16,000 for finishing eighth at the Empire State Poker Series. Tonight he said he played very aggressively in the beginning, tightening up later.
Bickey is also the owner of the original Cheetah from the Tarzan movies. The animal is now 77, the world's oldest chmp. Bickey said his next goal is to play in the WSOP main event, and if he cashes, he'll donate 10 percent to the Suncoast Primate refuge in Palm Harbor, Florida, which cares for primates who were former research specimens or retired from the entertainment business.
There were 10 players left when the final table started, playing with 1,500-3,000 blinds and 400 antes, 36:28 left at level 12. In front with 209,800 chips was Bickey led with 209,800. There were also three low stacks of 18,900 or less.
Here were the starting chip counts:
Seat 1. Steven Hipes 50,500
Seat 2. Jason Bartholomew 15,300
Seat 3. Ron Picou 36,800
Seat 4. Dan Hicks 159,800
Seat 5. Joe Siedlik 55,200
Seat 6. Everett Carlton 17,500
Seat 7. Leonard Daniel 18,900
Seat 8. Nick Bickey 209,800
Seat 9. Duane Gerleman 76,100
Seat 10. Sonny Nicewaner 142,300
Jason "Bart" Bartholomew and Dan Hicks were the other two Florida pals at the final table. "But no collusion here," Hicks remarked. "We all try to knock each other out for bragging rights."
Two of the short stacks, Bartholomew and Everett Carlton, tangled on the third hand. Bartholomew was left with 2,000 after Carlton caught two aces to his A-Q to beat Bartholomew's Q-J. It was Carlton who was first out, though, after he moved in with A-K and lost to Bickey's pocket jacks when small cards hit the board. Tenth paid $2,421.
Carlton is from St. Paul, Minnesota and scored two final tables in this Circuit tournament last year.
Bartholomew didn't last much longer. On hand six he moved in with K-10 suited. Steven Hipes had J-4 in the big blind, flopped a jack, and Bartholomew, finishing ninth, picked up $3,026.
Bartholomew, 38, making his second final table, is from Sarasota, Florida. A former bank manager, now a poker dealer and player, he also played pro baseball with the minor league Cleveland Indians. Overall, he's played three tournaments here and has three top-10 finishes. He learned poker from his grandmother and started playing when Chris Moneymaker made the game popular.
Ron "Rockin' Ron" Picou was next out. He was all in with A-J and lost to Joe Siedlik's pocket 9s after Siedlik flopped a set, then filled when two kings came. Picou, 46, is a bar owner from Willisville, Illinois. He learned poker from his grandmother, has played three Circuits, and this is his second final table.
As play went on, Bickey bet 30,000 into a flop of J-10-7 and was called by Hicks. When a 4 turned, Bickey bet 10,000 and Hicks moved in. Bickey wasn't sure what to do. "Play another hand," Hicks advised. "Another hand, huh?" Bickey replied. "I have a monster." He thought and thought, finally folding his monster, which he later revealed was pocket kings. He said he was suspicious of Hicks' play, having played a lot with him before. Still, Bickey kept going over the hand again and again, wondering if he laid down a winner or not. Hicks later said he flopped two pair, but Bickey didn't believe him.
Blinds were now 2,000-4,000 with 500 antes. During this round, Leonard Daniel, who already had escaped all in a couple of times, did so again with pocket aces, the third time he had been dealt bullets. "The only hand he plays," one of the players cracked.
Well over an hour went by from when Picou went out until we lost another player. With two minutes left in the round, Duane Gerleman moved in with K-10. Sonny "Missouri Donkey" Nicewaer had J-9, and when the board came J-5-3-7-6, Gerleman departed seventh, worth $6,053.
Gerleman, 52, a farmer and part-time craps player from Ridgeway, Iowa, was making his second final table. He started playing 38 years ago against relatives, this is his fourth Circuit, and his prior highlight was finishing seventh in an earlier $300 event.
Blinds were now 3,000-6,000 with 500 antes. Another 45 minutes went by, and then " Nicewaner moved in with A-8. Steven Hipes called with fewer chips holding A-6. Nicewaner flopped an 8 and that was enough to leave Hipes in sixth place, paying $7,566.
Hipes, 50, is from St. Louis and is self-employed. He learned poker in home games with his father and this is his fifth Circuit. He has back-to-back wins in WPT events and this is his fourth cash this week. Hipes also enjoys golf and bowling.
Hicks was next out, and it was his buddy Bickey who did the job. Hicks went was all with Jd-10d against Bickey's pocket 7s. Bickey flopped a set, and Hicks went out fifth. Hicks, 35, is from Tampa, Florida. He has a fourth in a WSOP short-handed event which paid $107,000, a seventh at a Circuit at Caesars Las Vegas, and a fourth at the Bellagio.
After blinds moved up to 4,000-8,000 with 1,000 antes, a dramatic hand developed. Siedlik was all in with pocket kings against Leonard Daniels' Ac-Jc. A flop of Kc-10c-4s gave Siedlik a set and Daniels a draw to a royal flush. A 3s turned and then a club on the river gave Daniels a flush. However, it was the 3c, giving Siedlik a full house, leaving Daniels short-chipped.
He soon went out in three-way action. Holding A-10, he lost to Bickey's pocket queens when the board came K-J-3-10-J. Daniel is 58 and from Carroll, Iowa.
Three-handed, Siedlik led with about 415,000 chips to 270,000 for Bickey and 95,000 for Nicewaner. Nicewaner then went out third when he moved in from the button with Q-J. Siedlik called with Ad-7d and caught an ace on the turn to leave Nicewaner in third place, which paid $15,132.
Nicewaner, 35, is from Rolla, Missouri, and owned a crane rental company (the second business he started and sold) before turning pro three months ago. He learned poker three years ago, has entered very few Circuits, but has two cashes in two events this trip so far. He's a "very successful" high-stakes player who just started playing tournaments.He also enjoys camping, racing and spending time with his wife and two daughters.
Heads-up, Bickey took the next two pots to take the lead. Later, he offered an even chop if he could get the title. Siedlik agreed, and they played through as required. It took a number of hands for Siedlik to lose. Once he moved in with 6-5 and made a full house. But he finally managed to go out. On the last hand he had K-6 to Bickey's A-4. The board came A-3-2-8-3, and the event was over.
Siedlik is a 27-year-old student from Papillion, Nebraska. He learned poker from his grandma when he was little, has been playing hold'em five years, and this is his first Circuit. He also enjoys golf and traveling.
-- by Max Shapiro