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Poker Rookie Jess Yawitz Teaches the Pros a Thing or Two:

St. Louis teacher wins Event #17 and $334,701 in prize money

Consider the following Day One starting table in the $3,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event: 

Seat 1: David “Devilfish” Ulliott 

Seat 2: John Juanda

Seat 3: Anonymous cash game pro

Seat 4: Phil Hellmuth, Jr.

Seat 5: Paul Wolfe

Seat 6: Freddie Deeb

Seat 7: Anonymous cash game pro

Seat 8: Chad Brown

Seat 9: Jess Yawitz – who has been playing hold’em for exactly eight months

Of these names, which do you think made it into the money?  Of these names, which do you think made the final table?  Of these names, which do you think won first place and $334,701 in prize money?

If you guessed Jess Yawitz – please see the nearest mental health professional.

Yes, Jess Yawitz – a 58-year-old former teacher from St. Louis, MO – did the unthinkable.  He crushed a tough field of 386 players and ended up with the Jack Binion World Poker Open gold bracelet for Event #17.  The story went as follows: 

On Day One, 377 players were eliminated.  Nine of these players, places 10 through 36 received prize money.  Nine finalists returned for Day Two and players were eliminated in the following order:

9th Place – Former JBWPO gold bracelet winner (2003) Farzad Rouhani, from Germantown, MD, got into a three-way pot early.  Rouhani started with 10-10, which was hammered by Eddy Scharf’s Q-Q.  Rouhani collected $21,593 for 9th place.

8th Place – On the same hand, Victor Eskew was dealt A-K.  Against Rouhan’s 10-10 and Scharf’s Q-Q, Eskew had a chance to triple up.  Instead, he hit the rail in 8th place when an Ace or King failed to materialize.  Eskew, an Atlanta real estate broker, received $32,390.

7th Place – Mark Rose was the next player to get trimmed.  He was short-stacked and was dealt 6-6.  But Rose was cut down by John Phan’s A-A.  Rose, the owner of a property management company in Edna, TX, took $43,186 for 7th place.

6th Place – This was longtime poker pro Billy Duarte’s second trip to a final table this year.  Duarte wasn’t able to take advantage of the depths of his experience, being low on chips most of the day.  Duarte was forced to make his final stand with Q-10, which got run over by Eddy Scharf’s A-Q.  Duarte, from Colorado, earned $53,983 in prize money.

5th Place – Nicky Frangos was another exceptionally-talented pro at this table, who struggled late.  Frangos seized the chip lead at one point, but lost a few key pots, and was low on chips.  On his final hand, Frangos made two pair but lost.  Frangos, with three final tables on the 2005 World Series of Poker Circuit (Atlantic City), added a 5th place finish here to his resume, and $64,780 to his poker bankroll.  

4th Place – Former Lufthansa airline pilot Eddy Scharf had the chip lead also, then lost it.  Scharf, the winner of a gold bracelet at the 2003 World Series of Poker, had A-10 on his last hand, made a pair of Tens, but lost to Dr. Andy Philachack’s set of Sevens.  Scharf collected $75,577 and fortified his position as Germany’s top poker player.

3rd Place – The three finalists feasted on Eddy Scharf’s chips like a pack of wild wolves over a fallen carcass.  Next, they would turn on each other.  John “the Razor” Phan had been the most aggressive player and enjoyed a chip lead much of the previous day.  But his momentum finally ran out.  The Razor got cut when his pocket Queens were sliced and diced by Jess Yawitz’s A-K.  In one of the tournament’s most decisive hands, Razor Phan’s Queens looked to be in good shape.  But Yawitz held A-K of hearts and flopped a heart draw.  The turn was no help to either player.  Then, an Ace fell on the river, gutting Phan.  The Long Beach, CA poker pro – winner of two events here in 2004 – earned $86,374 for 3rd place.  

The heads-up match between Dr. Andy Philachack, a chiropractor from Dallas, and former teacher Jess Yawitz featured the most unlikely of finalists.  To their credit, both had played marvelously up to that point.  When the duel began, Yawitz enjoyed a 2 to 1 chip lead.  Unfortunately, Dr. Philachack got a sickening run of cards late in the tournament and watched as his stack slowly dwindled. 

With blinds high and racing around the table, Dr. Philachack had to make a stand somewhere.  He made that stand with 8-3 after catching an Eight on the flop.  But Yawitz had K-4 and managed to flop a King.  That was enough to commit both players to the pot, as two blanks fell on the turn and river.  Yawitz’s Kings held up and he was the winner.

Runner up Dr. Andy Philachack officially collected $172,747 in prize money – quite a performance for his first major final table.

Meanwhile, new champion Jess Yawitz was ecstatic.  Although he learned to play poker as a child, he has only played hold’em for about eight months.  Poker on television influenced him to come and play in events like the JBWPO.  

“I have never played hold’em in cash games or home games before,” Yawitz said afterward.  “But I decided I wanted to give poker a shot.  At 58-years-old, I don’t have the luxury of starting slow.  When I play, I put the pedal to the metal.” 

Perhaps next time the likes of Hellmuth, Juanda and Devilfish sit down at a table – it’s Jess Yawitz they should fear.


2005 Jack Binion World Poker Open Event #17 Results

Horseshoe Casino Hotel and

Gold Strike Casino-Resort, Tunica, MS

Daily Report

January 23, 2005

Event #17

Limit Hold’em

Buy-In: $3,000

Number of Entries: 386 

Prize Money: $1,082,671


Official Results:


1.   Jess Yawitz                      St. Louis, MO                        $334,701  

2.   Dr. Andy Philachack        Garland, TX                            172,747

3.   John Phan                         Long Beach, CA                     86,374

4.   Eddy Scharf                      Cologne, Germany                 75,577

5.   Nick Frangos                   Mars Landing, NJ                   64,780      

6.   Billy Duarte                     Berthoud, CO                         53,983

7.   Mark Rose                        Edna, TX                                43,186

8.   Victor Eskew                   Atlanta, GA                            32,390

9.   Farzad Rouhani               Germantown, MD                  21,593


* plus a seat in the $10,000 championship event


10. David Bach                      Athens, GA                             12,986

11. Carlo Sciannameo           Worcester, MA                      12,956

12. William O’Connor Houston, TX                          12,956

13. William Edler                  Las Vegas, NV                       10,797      

14. Lawrence Gosney            London, England          10,797

15. Dewey Tomko                 Winterhaven, FL           10,797

16. Dr. Max Stern                  San Jose, Costa Rica              8,637

17. David Chiu                      Roland Heights, CA               8,637

18. Malbek Gracz                  Raleigh, NC                           8,637

19. Daniel Alaeci                   Santa Fe Springs, CA             6,687

20. Hans “Tuna” Lund Sparks, NV                             6,687

21. D.W. MacDonald            Calgary, Canada                     6,678

22. Matt Lefkowitz                Inverness, CA                         6,678

23. Allyn Jaffrey Shulman     Laguna Nigel, CA                  6,678

24. Michael Booth                 Jacksonville, FL                     6,678

25. Adeeb Harb                      Long Beach, CA                     6,678

26. Gary “Hog” Haubelt        Pittsburgh, PA                        6,678

27. Paul L. Clements             Baraboo, WI                           6,678

28. Douglas Farmer               Corrales, NM                         4,452

29. Tommy Vinas                  Houston, TX                          4,452

30. Chris Crockett                 Costa Mesa, CA                     4,452

31. Surinder Sunar                 Wolverhampton, UK             4,452

32. Dale Hackney                   Durand, MI                             4,452

33. Guillermo Ruz                Tampa, FL                              4,452

34. Jimmy Cha                       Alhambra, CA                        4,452

35. Rogen Chambra               Jackson, MS                           4,452

36. Jim Worth                        Toronto, Canada                    4,452

Final Table Started at: 4:00 pm CST

Final Table Ended at: 7:15 pm CST


Report by Nolan Dalla – JBWPO Media Director


Tournament Director – David Eglseder

Co-Tournament Director (Horseshoe) – Ken Lambert, Jr.

Co-Tournament Director (Gold Strike) – Robert McGovern


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