Chad “Li’lholdem” Batista is 25, slightly built and looks like he’s barely 16. He dresses street-fashion with turned-around caps and oversized clothes, he’s had “not much” education, his work experience consists of one week as a telemarketer, and at the poker table he chatters away, plays unpredictably and seems in a state of perpetual excitement.
Not exactly your typical pro, but never mind. Today he’s on top of the poker world after winning the $5,000 championship at the WSOP Circuit tour at Caesars Indiana. The victory was worth $262,002 and a $10,000 seat in next years WSOP main event. Actually, Batista might just be trying to project an image, because away from the table hes an exceedingly polite and well-mannered, yes, sir, yes maam young man. Act or not, TV will love him if he ever gets on camera. This is his second brick and mortar tournament. In his first, he finished fourth in the preceding $2,000 event. He taught himself by watching other players, and never read a poker book. Online, he won two PartyPoker million-guarantee events in one month. Batista is from Coral Springs, Florida.
This was a see-saw event, with Batista starting with the chip lead, losing it with some unorthodox plays until, in the final stages, out-chipped about 9-1 and seemingly finished, he roared back to overtake and then beat runner-up Hoyt Lance, a real estate developer..
Final table play began with Batista leading with 388,000 chips. All-told, there were seven pros at the table.
Seats and Chip Counts:
Name Hometown Chip Count Seat
Chad Batista Coral Springs, FL 388,000 5
Robert Arthur Columbus, OH 286,000 8
Joel Casper Chicago, IL 217,000 3
Ed Corrado Naples, FL 206,000 4
Hilbert Shirey Winter Havel, FL 166,000 1
William Brown Fillmore, IN 149,000 6
Hoyt Lance Ringgold, GA 112,000 7
Thomas Fuller Boulder, Co 89,000 2
Douglas Carli Alliance, OH 78,000 9
With five minutes left on the clock, opening blinds were 4,000-8,000 and 1,000 antes. Not unexpectedly, the aggressive Batista on the first hand tried to take the $21,000 dead money with a $22,000 raise, only to have Hilbert Hill Street Shirey shut him out with an all-in re-raise. After blinds went to 6,000-12,000, Batista made another move, taking the blinds and antes with a 30,000 raise and then showing 5-3.
On hand three, 75-year-old Ed Corrado lost 110,000 of his 206,000 chips when he bet the flop and then folded when Joel Casper raised him all in.
Blinds now went to 3,000-6,000 with 1,000 antes. On hand eight, Corrado had 18,000 left after he moved in with Kc-Qc and lost to Douglas Rico Carlis pocket jacks. On hand 11, Shirey opened for 30,000 with As-Qs, Thomas Moon Fuller moved in for 84,000 with A-J from the button, and Corrado, with 12,000 in the big blind, added his last 4,000 with Q-7. When the board came 8-7-5-Q-3, Corrado took the main pot and tripled up with two pair, Shirey took the side pot, and Fuller took home $16,173 for ninth place. Fuller is a 23-year-old pro from Boulder, Colorado whos played poker seriously for six years. Ninth place paid $16,173
At this point, Batista and Robert Arthur were closely tied for the lead. As play continued, Corrado doubled through, then took the blinds with an all-in bet, and had zoomed up to about 100,000.
Hand 24 was the last for William The Dog Brown. Batista opened for 34,000 with pocket jacks and Brown, moving in for 46,000 with Ac-10c, busted out when a board of J-10-3-A-3 gave Batista a boat. Brown, 64, is an insurance agent from Fillmore, Indiana. Hes been playing for 58 years, and this is his best finish ever. He won $24,260 for eighth.
Later, Lance bet 190,000 all-in into a 200,000 pot on a flop of A-A-4. When Robert Arthur folded and Lance showed K-J, an admiring Batista, exclaimed I love it! and high-fived Lance for his daring bluff.
As the level neared an end, Batista jumped up and did a little dance when he discovered that his pocket 9s had the lead against Robert Arthur, all in for 130,000 with Ah-3h. Arthur missed a flush draw, and the 32-year-old pro from Columbus, Ohio, went out seventh, collecting $32,346. Arthur, whos only been playing for a year and a half, said the highlight of his poker career before this was taking out David Williams on day one.
When the new level began with blinds of 8,000-16,000 and 2,000 antes, Batista and Lance were virtually tied for the lead with 492,000 and 489,000 respectively. Meanwhile, the dogged Corrado had built his stacks to 187,000. Soon after, Joel Casper, another pro, busted and got $40,433 for sixth. After Carli opened for 50,000, Casper moved in with A-4. Carli showed pocket 9s, and when the board changed nothing, we were down to five. Casper, 26, from Chicago, was a financial planner before turning to poker two years ago.
A couple of hands later, Corrado went all in with pocket queens against Batistas K-9. When the irrepressible Batista jumped up and began calling for cards, Corrado grabbed him around the neck and playfully (?) put his hand over Batistas mouth. A silenced Batista couldnt catch up, and the septuagenarian doubled through again.
As play continued, Batista kept moving up. After moving in and taking another pot following a 50,000 raise by Shirey, he had close to 600,000. But then, seriously gambling, he raised with 7h-5h, then called with the weak holding and lost when his nemesis, Corrado, moved in for 240,000 with A-J.
With about 10 minutes left in the round, everything turned around as Lance knocked out two players in quick succession to take a huge lead. First, on a flop of 7-2-2, Carli moved in for nearly 200,000 with 9-7. Lance decided to gamble and called with A-J. The gamble paid off as he hit an ace and a jack to leave Carli in fifth place. Two hands later, after Lance opened for 50,000 with pocket queens, Shirey went all in for roughly 150,000 with A-J. Lance filled on a flop of Q-7-7, and we were suddenly down to three. When the level ended soon after, he had 879,000 of the 1,670,000 chips in play, while Corrado was second with 435,000, while Batista had dropped down to 377,000.
Carli, who is from Alliance, Ohio, got $48,519 for
fifth. He was a stockbroker before turning to poker, has a math degree and started playing at age 12. Last year he was ranked 23rd in the world by Card Player, and fourth in total final tables.
Shirey, 59, is from Winter Haven, Florida, and has three WOSP bracelets. Married with six children, hes been playing poker for 30 years. He earned $64,692 for fourth.
The three finalists returned from dinner break playing for blinds of 10,000-20,000 and 3,000 antes. Aggressively raising and taking pots, Lance, in 10 hands, moved up to more than 1,000,000. Finally, Corrado stood up to him, going all in and taking the pot after Lance opened for 100,000.
Corrado, who gives his occupation as gambler, went broke soon after we passed the 100-hand mark. On a flop of J-6-4 he moved in with pocket 10s. Hoyt had an automatic call with J-7, and Corrado couldnt help his pair, cashing out third for $80,865. Corrado, who is from Naples, Florida, is officially retired, has been playing poker for 50 years and loves the game because it suits his competitive nature.
Heads-up, Batista didnt want the chip count announced, because he had only something like 175,000 of the 1,670,000 chips in play. But he won some pots, quickly doubled through twice, once when his A-K held up against Lances Q-9, the other time when he held pocket 6s and made a flush to run over Lances As-3s. The two were now essentially even.
A few hands later, Lance was left with a bit over 60,000 when Batista, with Q-10, bet 150,000 on a flop of 10-7-4. Lance moved in with J-4 and couldnt help his paired 4. After a couple more hands of cautious play, Batista moved in with Qc-4c and Lance called with K-9 the board came A-2-2-3, and then a 5 on the river gave young Batista his winning straight.
Lance is 46 and from Ringgold, Georg1a. He is married with five children, and this is his second main event final table in a row. At Tunica, he finished seventh. Hes played poker 12 years, and this is only his first year playing full time.
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