Almost exactly a year ago, winning the WSOP Circuit event at Caesars Atlantic City eluded Eric "Sheets" Haber when he fell short of the final table in 16th place. This year, Haber grabbed onto the ring, the Circuit diamond ring that is, along with $431,136 for first place and a seat at this year's WSOP Championship event.
Dan Hicks was the Day One and Day Two chip leader, and his run at a wire-to-wire victory came down to the wire when he and Haber faced off heads-up for the championship. Haber started heads up play with a slight chip disadvantage but was able to gain the lead when all the chips went in the middle on a flop of 5-3-3. Haber's 6-5 held up against Hicks' A-J. Eight hands later, the 41-year-old hedge fund manager sealed the deal when all the chips went in on a flop of J-9-5. Hicks flipped over T-9 to Haber's pocket jacks. "How do you run so good?" Hicks asked, shaking his head and smiling.
"It's never easy," replied Haber, though his set easily held up for the win. Hicks' second place finish was good for $237,124.
During his award ceremony, Haber said, "I really cherish the opportunity to play in live tournaments. I am married with kids and I do not get the opportunity to play in as many events as some others, so I really have to make the most of it when I play live with real people. To be able to grind it out day after day after day at one of these major events and then make it all the way to the final table is something really special. This is what it is all about for me."
On the road to heads-up play, it was the short-stacked Marc Morris that would be eliminated in ninth place. Morris was eliminated on the day's fifth hand when he made his move with A-5, only to be called down by Sumeet Batra's pocket nines. Morris never caught his outs, but posted his best tournament performance with the $26,946 score. 30 hands later, Steven Merrifield's K-2 couldn't improve against Batra's pocket eights, eliminating Merrifield in eighth place with a $40,419 payday.
Former All American Penn State hockey player Scott Blackman started as one of the final table short stacks, but was able to double up when his pocket queens made quads in the early going. Ironically it was Soheil Shamseddin's pocket queens that eliminated Blackman in seventh when Blackman's big slick failed to improve. Blackman took home $53,892. Professional Nick Binger probably had the most tournament cashes coming into the final table, but started the day only fifth in chips. Binger was unable to find any traction during play and ultimately pushed a small stack with A-2 against Batra's K-J. The flop delivered a jack and Binger was unable to catch up. Binger's sixth-place finish added $67,365 to his total tournament cashes.
Not only was this Steven Greenberg's first final table, but it was his first tournament cash. Starting the day eighth in chips, he parlayed his short stack like a pro in final table play. He ultimately met his demise in fifth place when he moved all in with K-Q against Batra's A-8. An ace on the flop sent Greenberg home with $80,838. Soheil Shamseddin was eliminated in fourth place when he decided to stand up to Batra's re-raise with a K-J. Batra showed pocket eights. When the board came 9-8-7, Shamseddin was reduced to an inside straight draw, which never materialized, although his $94,311 fourth-place money did.
Shortly after Shamseddin's eliminatation, Haber doubled up, creating a little more stack equity among the remaining players. It was at this point, that an impromptu dinner break was requested by the players. It is supposed that they ate and discussed the weather in Atlantic City and, perhaps, the ensuing blinds. When play resumed, Hicks applied more big-stack heat and added to his lead. About twenty hands after the break, Batra and Haber decided on an all-in showdown. Pre-flop, Haber's A-6 was in trouble against Batra's A-7. A fortune-reversing six on the river saved Haber and sent Batra home in third place with $121,257.