By Phil Scudella
This was the 12th Annual Arizona State Poker Championship and one thing was for sure – It was easily the most entertaining State Championship I have ever witnessed – And I have covered every one of them.
Tom Schneider a 4-time WSOP champion hosted the final table on Tuesday Aug.16. The final ten earned their seats by battling through the NLHE tournament from August12 thru the semi-finals on August 15.
Trust me on this, the star of the show was a character from northern California going by the name of Pat Lyons.
Pat must have had a rabbit’s foot, shamrocks and a horseshoe in his pockets because he kept getting exactly what he needed to snap up an enormous chip lead about three plus hours into the tournament.
At one point Pat’s consecutive strings of “All-ins” or calling other players “All-ins” was mind boggling as he continued to scoop up more and more chips, even after being “behind” as the cards were revealed, but he kept getting what he needed on the “flop”, “turn” or “river” to take down huge pots or knock someone out.
After one of those hands I remarked to the entertaining Californian “Pat, no matter what you do, after this tournament, you should buy a lottery ticket – it seems to be your day”
No doubt about it, Pat Lyons talked non-stop aft
er every hand for about the last hour and a half of the tournament. He explained, to the other players when the table was down to the final three – “Let’s just declare me the winner, I’ll offer everyone more money, I just want my picture on the wall and the AZ State Poker Championship trophy and Rolex watch”
He continued negotiating between hands, during hands and after each hand. He even called a time out to meet with the other three players away from the table to try to sell his plan.
Tom Young, the Director of Poker at the Arena Poker Room explained to Pat and the other players that there is only one way to be declared the 2016 Arizona State Poker Champion – You must take every player out and be the last one remaining – then and only then are you awarded $214,700, the $25,000 Rolex watch and trophy plus have you photo added to the Hall of Champions. Game, Set, Match. So now it was back to playing poker.
At one point during these continued negotiations at the table, Pat kept trying to convince John Seaman, who had the next largest stack of chips to reconsider his offer, but John remarked, “even with more money for both of us, you still get the Rolex watch” which prompted Pat to remove his watch and toss it to John “Here, this is a one of s kind collector watch worth over $2,000 – Take it!” But John just pushed the watch back to Pat.
To add a little levity to the situation, I said to the Californian “Pat, when you retire from playing poker, I think you should look into being a hostage negotiator for the FBI” Pat just laughed and shook his head in agreement.
So, reluctantly Pat Lyons, John Seaman and John Jensen played rather quickly to the ultimate outcome. Within minutes John Jensen went all-In, and both Pat Lyons and John Seaman called, both Seaman and Lyons checked to the river and John Seaman took down the 4.5 million dollar pot and took out John Jensen.
In no time at all John Seaman went “All-In” and Pat quickly called – John turned his cards to reveal Jack and a 5 both spades – Pat smiled and turned over a Jack of clubs and 9 of spades – Pat was ahead till the flop, consisting of; 5 of hearts, Ace of Diamonds and Jack of Diamonds…wow, now John was way ahead with 2 pair, Jacks and 5’s with the chance to double his 12 million to 24 million and reduce Pat’s stack from 28 to 16 million.
The turn card was a 4 of spades, no help for Pat. He needed a miracle – but he had done exactly that all day. He needed to catch a 9 or pair the board with just one card – the Ace.
It seemed like a lightning bolt hit the table as Pat jumped up yelling “YES!” as the Ace of Clubs hit the board to give both players Aces and Jacks, but it was not a chopped pot, since the 9 of spades played, giving Pat: two pair, Aces and Jacks with a 9….to win the 2016 Arizona State Poker Championship!
It all seemed so surreal, but I suppose the ultimate end to a perfect “Tuesday Afternoon” for the Hillsborough, California native Pat Lyons. And as the Moody Blues song seemed to play in my head – I got out my camera to record this amazing event.
Congratulations to the 160 players that cashed in this tournament. A total of over $1.5 million was paid out with 160th place returning over $2,000 – There were 1,510 participants in this prestigious event.
The Final Table payouts were as follows;
1st place Pat Lyons – $241,700 + $25,000 Rolex watch
2nd: John Seaman – $181,200 – 3rd: John Jensen – $128,350 – 4th: Ed Pickens – $94,375
5th: Adam Leyba – $86,825 – 6th: Terrance Eischens – $71,725 – 7th: Linglin Zeng – $56,625
8th: Balram Bhandari – $41,525 – 9th Kevin Steele – $26,425 – 10th Place: John Dibella – $18,875
Talking Stick Resort is a AAA Four Diamond Rated Resort and a central landmark within the emerging Talking Stick Cultural and Entertainment Destination located in Scottsdale, east of the Loop 101 on Indian Bend Road. Talking Stick Resort is locally owned and caringly operated by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
For more information about the ARENA Poker Room and upcoming tournaments at Talking Stick Resort, visit www.talkingstickresort.com or call (480) 850-8693.