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John Hoang Wins No-Limt Hold’em Event:

Former software engineer turned poker pro stages comeback win and earns $212,187 in first major tournament victory
by Nolan Dalla

A few years ago, John Hoang received some very bad news.  The software engineer with Lucent Technologies was living in northern New Jersey and had just been fired from his job – the victim or corporate ‘outsourcing.’  Hoang was at a personal and professional crossroads in his life.  He could either try and latch on to another job somewhere and compete with the other 60,000 unemployed ex-technology workers contending for entry-level jobs.  Or, he could follow his dream to become a professional poker player.

Hoang packed his belongings and moved to Los Angeles, where he was destined to make his dream a reality.  Hoang, who beat the middle and high limit Atlantic City games in his spare time back in New Jersey, found the action in California even better.  His bankroll and confidence grew over the next year.  Gradually, Hoang decided he wanted to start playing in more poker tournaments.  And so, he arrived at this year’s Jack Binion World Poker Open.  He was one of 369 entrants in the $2,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event.

On Day One, 360 players were eliminated.  Twenty-six of these players, places 10 through 36 received prize money.  Nine finalists returned for Day Two and players were eliminated as follows:

9th Place – John Bolten, a businessman from Overland Park, KS, was the first player to exit.  On his final hand, he lost to a set of Nines.  Bolten, who finished 6th in an event here back in 2001, collected $13,690 as the 9th-place finisher.

8th Place – In a big 3-way pot, short-stacked Dale “Milkman” Hackney lost with K-9 to Davood Mehrmand’s 10-10, who tripled-up on the hand.  Hackney, a dairy farmer from Michigan was pasteurized in 8thplace – good for $20,535.

7th Place – Lowest in chips at the start, Gavin Griffin took a tough beat with A-J on his final hand against K-J.  The board brought not one, but two dreaded Kings, eliminating Griffin unceremoniously in 7th place.  Griffin, a former WSOP gold bracelet from last year, received $27,379 in prize money.

6th Place – Tony Cousineau always seems to finish high in tournaments – with numerous cases and final tables.  However, he could do no better than 6th place in this event.  On his final hand, the Florida-based touring pro made top pair with A-7 when Seven came on the flop, but ended up losing to set of 10s.  Cousineau collected $34,225.

5th Place – Bob Hume from Orlando, FL was short-stacked and started with the best hand, 10-10 against Davood Mehrmand’s 5-5.  But a Five flopped, crushing Hume.  Hume took home $41,070.

4th Place – Tony Seunsom (aka “Tekk’) took two tough beats in a row and went out next.  On the first hand, he had A-Q and was ‘all in’ against Martin Vallo’s 6-6.  A Queen flopped, but a Six fell on the river, igniting the crowd and ripping away nearly half of Seunsom’s stack.  A few hands later, Vallo would prove to be Seunsom’s nemesis once again.  This time, Seunsom was dealt A-Q against Vallo’s A-9.  Vallo was in a horrible spot, but managed to flop a Nine, killing Seunsom’s prospects for victory.  Seunsom, from Houston, TX earned $47,914.

3rd Place – The excitement really started when the game became three-handed.  John Hoang was the low-stack and was down to his last 9,000 at one point – in contrast to Davood Mehrmand’s 500,000 in chips.  But Hoang held on and regained a comfortable stack size after picking up several critical pots.  One of the key hands of the tournament occurred when Davood Mehrmand was dealt K-J and tried to steal the pot pre-flop, running into Martin Vallo’s A-Q.  Merhmand was the ‘all in’ player and desperately needed help.  No problem.  A King flopped, and Vallo was severely crippled.  Incredibly, he came back a few hands later with a huge triple-up hand: 

Mehrmand – A-9

Hoang – 7-7 

Vallo – 5-5

Vallo and Hoang were both ‘all in.’  On the turn, the board showed 8-6-5-3, which meant all three players had outs.  An Ace would give Mehrmand the win.  A blank fell instead, which meant Vallo was right back in the tournament and the chips were now about equally divided.

Mehrmand had just about everything go wrong during the last hour.  He went from decisive chip leader down to the felt in a few key hands, one of the most painful being when he lost with J-J to Hoang’s A-A.  Mehrmand finally went out with Q-Q after Vallo made a pair of Aces with A-9.  This marked Mehrmand’s third trip to the final table this year – the only player so far to pull off the trifecta.  Unfortunately, the victory eluded Mehrmand this time as well, and the Iranian-born ex-patriot now living in Germany collected $54,759.

When heads-up started, Martin Vallo enjoyed a slight 5 to 4 chip advantage.  Hoang won a few early pots, and seized the chip lead.  It only took a short time for the classic hold’em confrontation to close the evening – a big pair versus A-K, close to an even-money proposition for both players:

Vallo:  A-K

Hoang:  J-J

The final board showed Q-4-3-4-5, which meant the pocket Jacks was the winner.  Martin Vallo, one of a talented contingent of Danish poker pros which includes the likes of Gus Hansen and Mads Andersen, was the runner up.  He officially collected $109,519.

This was certainly the second most unbelievable comeback win at the 2005 JBWPO, after Sirous B’s most improbable victory last week.  Hoang had been down about 50 to 1 at one point when the action was at three-handed.  But proving Yoggi Berra’s classic line, “It’s never over ‘til it’s over,” Hoang steadfastly never gave up and staged a remarkable comeback.

Whether overcoming adversity by following his dream after being lay off from his job, or coming back from a huge chip disadvantage in a poker tournament, John Hoang is an inspiration and example to everyone.

 

 

2005 Jack Binion World Poker Open Results Event #15

Horseshoe Casino Hotel and

Gold Strike Casino-Resort, Tunica, MS

Daily Report

January 21, 2005

Event #15

No-Limit Hold’em

Buy-In: $2,000

Number of Entries: 369 

Prize Money: $687,539

 

Official Results:

 

1.   John Hoang                      Alhambra, CA             $212,187

2.   Martin Vallo                    Copenhagen, Denmark 109,519

3.   Davood Mehrmand          Frankfurt, Germany               54,759

4.   Tony “Tekk” Seunsom    Houston, TX                          47,914

5.   Bob Hume                        Orlando, FL                            41,070

6.   Tony Cousineau               Daytona Beach, FL                34,225

7.   Gavin Griffin                   Darien, IL                               27,379

8.   Dale Hackney                   Durand, MI                             20,535

9.   John Bolten                      Overland Park, KS                 13,690

 

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

 

10. Don Moseley                   Houston, TX                          8,214

11. Tracy Scala                       Del Ray Beach, FL                 8,214

12. Lucy Rokach         
 Stoke-On-Trent, England      8,214

13. Gullermo Ruz                  Tampa, FL                              7,057

14. Chris Grigorian               Panorama City, CA                7,057

15. Jimmy Cha             
  La Habra, CA                         7,057

16. Mads Andersen                Copenhagen, Denmark 5,645

17. Jack Ward                        Gulfport, MS                          5,646

18. Walter Anderson              Athens, AL                    5,645

19. Terry Garner                    Hattisburg, MS                       4,234

20. Roger Tichenor                Sarasota, FL                           4,234

21. Dee Caldwell                   Lexington, KY                       4,234

22. Lee Markholt                   Eatonville, WA                      4,234

23. Dennis Waterman            Myrtle Point, OR                   4,234

24. Petar Ivancenic                Chicago, IL                             4,234

25. Joel Fishbein         
Las Vegas, NV                       4,234

26. Peter Scayer                     Birmingham, England            4,234

27. Herman Zango                 Miami, FL                              4,234

28. Paul Paez                         Barcelona, Spain          2,823

29. K.D. Groves                     Dallas, TX                              2,823

30. Sam Pollack           Boston, MA                            2,823        

31. Dominick Spadavechia    Boca Raton, FL                      2,823

32. Cal Ridyker                      Las Vegas, NV                       2,823

33. Edward Ameen                New Orleans, LA                   2,823

34. Gerrald McClendon         Waxalachia, LA                      2,823

35. Richard Kirsch                
Ft. Lauderdale, FL                 2,823

36. Shae Drobushvich           Moline, IL                              2,823

Final Table Started at: 4:00 pm CST

Final Table Ended at: 8:15 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

Events 1- 5
Click for Results for Event #6, #7, #8, #9,#10
Click for Results for Events #11, #12, #13, #14
click for Schedule of Events

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