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Toro!  Toro!  Toro! Spaniard Tops Pot-Limit Hold’em Event:
Raul Paez captures first major poker title and $99,657
by Nolan Dalla

The wonderful country of Spain is known for many things -- Pablo Picasso, Flamenco guitar, Sangria wine, arch-style architecture, and bullfighting, to name a few.  It may be time to add ‘poker players’ as one of its greatest exports.  After all, Spain produced 2001 World Series of Poker Champion -- Carlos Mortensen.  His wife, Cecilia De Mortensen, from Madrid, won an event at the 2003 Jack Binion World Poker Open.  Fellow countryman Carlos Fuentes, from Pamplona, finished second in an event here last year.  Now, Raul Paez, from Barcelona, added his name to the talented list of Spanish poker champions.  He won the $500 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold’em event and collected $99,657 as top prize in JBWPO Event #6.

Paez arrived at the final table with a decisive chip lead.  His closest adversary (Jack Ward) was outchipped by 2 to 1.  It took Paez three hours to top the other eight finalists, as he never was in serious danger of losing the chip lead.  This marked Paez’s first major tournament victory.

After playing for 13 hours during the previous day, the nine finalists took their seats at the final table on Day Two.  Players were eliminated in the following order:


9th Place – Calvin Crain, the 43-year-old owner of the Kentucky Turf Company in Lexington, KY, was the first player to exit.  He lost with A-5 to Raul Paez’s K-Q.  The final board showed Q-7-2-7-Q, giving Paez trip Queens.  This was Crain’s first live tournament.  He received $6,229 for 9th place.


8th Place – Chris Grigorian, 44, who has made countless final tables in his twenty years as a tournament pro, hoped to make a run at the chip lead, but was never able to gather chips.  On his final hand, Grigorian was dealt J-J and was knocked out by A-Q when two Aces came on board.  Grigorian, a.k.a. “The Armenian Express” was derailed in 8th place, netting $9,343.

7th Place – Vince Ballinger, a 57-year-old retiree from Greenwood, IN, took two horrible beats in a row and went out next.  After losing most of his chips on the previous hand, he was dealt 9-9 and  flopped a nine – normally a powerhouse hand.  But in the end, he lost to four hearts on board.  Tony Cousinaeu’s heart flush ripped the heart out of Ballinger, who took home $12,457 for 7th place.  

6th Place – Dave Cung, a 32-year-old real estate investor from Calgary, Alberta, was lowest in chips at the start and made a nice run.  He went all in with K-Q on his final hand and was called instantly by chip leader Raul Paez -- with A-Q.  Cung’s dominated hand failed to improve and Paez won with Ace-high.  Cung’s payout amounted to $15,571.


5th Place – Robert Hooten, who is in the telecommunications business in hometown Kansas City, was eliminated shortly thereafter.  He received $18,685.


4th Place – This was Jack Ward’s second final table at the 2005 JBWPO.  He was 9th in the No-Limit Hold’em event #2.  Ward pulled off at least one miracle in this finale, catching a life-saving Nine on the river, when he had 9-9 and was ‘all in’ against Tony Cousineau’s K-K.  But that would be Ward’s lone highlight at the final table.  A short time later, he took 10-10 up against Mike Lutz’s Q-Q and couldn’t repeat the miracle catch.  Nevertheless, Ward has to be satisfied making two final tables thus far, against fields of 628 and 284 respectively.  Ward, an auto broker from Gulport, MS who has won tournaments in Los Angeles and Reno in the past, added $21,800 to his prize winnings.


3rd Place – Mike Lutz, a poker pro from Louisville, KY, suffered a horrible beat when he went all-in with J-J and was a decisive favorite over Raul Peaz -- holding Q-6.  Had Lutz won the key hand, he might have made a made things interesting.  A Queen on the river crushed Lutz, who went out with $28,028 for 3rd place.  Lutz also took 5th place at the Festa de Lago (Bellagio – Las Vegas) last year.


The heads-up confrontation featured Spaniard Raul Paez, relatively unknown in the United States, versus longtime tournament regular Tony Cousineau, from Florida.  Cousineau has developed a reputation for getting deep into the money, but rarely winning the top prize.  Indeed, Cousineau is a master at getting through 90 percent of the field (and has arguably one of the best records of in-the-money finishes to prove it).  But, winning has proven to be elusive. 


From the onset of one-on-one play, Cousineau knew the challenge would be formidable.  Not only had Paez held a decisive chip lead during the entire time, he enjoyed a 4 to 1 chip advantage over Cousineau.  Hence, it became critical that Cousineau pick a key hand to double up with, and then parlay that into a comeback win.  


Ten minutes into the duel, Cousineau made his final stand:


Cousineau:          Ac 4h

Paez:                    Ks 5s


The flop came 7-6-4, no suits, good for Cousineau – who held a pair.  The turn brought a Queen, no help to either player.  Paez needed a Three, Five, Eight, or King to win.  On the river, an Eight rained down from the poker gods, making a poker champion of Paez, and adding to Cousineau’s disappointing final table legacy.  As the runner up, Tony Cousineau received $54,111 and was visibly upset with the end-result.


Raul Paez, aged 27, has played poker tournaments in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, previously – as well as in Spain and France.  However, he is primarily a limit cash game player who now plays in private games at home and on the Internet.  His family owns and operates a delicatessen in the beautiful Mediterranean coastal city of Barcelona.


Paez began to take poker seriously only two years ago.  He said he entered a casino a Barcelona a few years earlier, saw a poker game, sat down without knowing how to play, and promptly lost all his money.  He returned again and again, each time becoming better and learning more.  Eventually, Paez began beating the local game.  


When asked what makes Spaniards such great poker players and competitors, Paez spoke through a translator:  “We are passionate people.  We are very dedicated when we put our minds to something.”


Raul Paez plans to use the nearly $100,000 in prize money to play many more poker tournaments – both in the United States and Europe.  He is, most certainly, a player to watch carefully who has a bright future ahead.


Final Table Started at: 4:00 pm CST

Final Table Ended at: 7:05 pm CST


2005 Jack Binion World Poker Open Event #6 Results

Presented by Horseshoe Casino Hotel and

Gold Strike Casino-Resort, Tunica, MS

Daily Report

January 12, 2005


Event #6

Pot-Limit Texas Hold’em

Buy-In: $500

Number of Entries: 284

Number of Re-Buys: 399 

Prize Money: $312,810


Official Results:

1.  Raul Paez               
Barcelona, Spain $99,657 * plus seat in the $10,000 buy-in main event

2.  Tony Cousineau     
Daytona Beach, FL       54,811

3.  Mike Lutz               
Louisville, KY             28,028

4.  Jack Ward               
Gulfport, MS                21,800

5.  Robert Hooten       
Kansas City, KS           18,685

6.  Dave Chung            
Calgary, Alberta (CN)  15,571

7.  Vince Ballinger      
Greenwood, IN             12,457

8.  Chris Grigorian      
Panorama City, CA      9,343

9.  Calvin Crain           
 Lexington, KY              6,228

10. Henry Garrison     
Manchester, KY           3,853

11. Josh Jones             
Des Moines, IA             3,853  

12. Tom Crowson       
Huntsville, AL              3,853

13. Ed Thomas            
Winter Haven, FL         3,211

14. Michael Tait          
Ft. Lauderdale, FL        3,211

15. Gino Sabella          
Newburn, NC               3,211

16. Butch Wade           
Knoxville, TN              2,568

17. Mike Cordell         
Little Rock, AR            2,568

18. Can Kim Hua        
Los Angeles, CA 2,568

19. Jamie Stewart        
Bateville, MS                1,926

20. Pat Heneghan        
Chicago, IL                   1,926

21. Otis Anderson       
Houston, TX                 1,926

22. Dale Hackney        
Durand, MI                   1,926

23. Steve Kaufman      
Las Vegas, NV             1,926

24. Danny Hall            
 Calgary, Alberta (CN) 1,926

25. Bob Turner            
Winter Haven, FL         1,926

26. Karel Sanders        
Tunica, MS                   1,926

27. Mark Dickstein     
New York, NY             1,926

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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