Facing a 7-1 chip disadvantage during heads-up play, Joey Couden never panicked. "You can't ever let losing enter your mind," Couden said after emerging victorious at the 2014 Hollywood Poker Open Columbus Regional Main Event.
"It's a poison," he continued. "I was born to win this tournament. I've been playing in the Columbus area since I was 15," the Columbus native added.
Final Table Results
|7||Patrick Grace III||$9,124|
With the $60,827 he collected for the win, Couden moved above the half-million dollar mark in career live tournament earnings. "I'll be playing some at the World Series," he said about his immediate future plans.
Couden outlasted a record-setting HPO field of 126 players that created a prize pool of $202,754. The 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event champion, Chris Moneymaker, would be among those who would play. Moneymaker was looking to win his second HPO Regional title of the year, but would be eliminated early on in Day 1 and ultimately that would be enough for the HPO Ambassador.
At the end of play on the first day, there were 29 players who would make the cut and return to try and make the money on Day 2. Only 13 would get paid so there was work aplenty for those still in the field. Nick Guagenti would surge to the top of the leader board early on by knocking out two players in one hand.
Local top poker professional Shawn Cunix would make a deep run, but he would end up falling just short of making the money when he was eliminated in 17th place.
The bubble was quick and painless, and it was David Westfall who would get the dubious honors of finishing one short of the money. After the bubble burst, Guagenti would get his chips in on a draw and would not improve to finish in 13th place for $4,055.
Couden would start his run to the final two when he hit runner-runner nut flush to take down a big pot. Not to be outdone, his heads-up foe, John Michalak, would top the one-million chip mark by hitting a flush of his own to eliminate PJ Grace in seventh place ($9,124).
Scott Dehm ended Day 1 as the chip leader, and he would make good use of those chips for most of Day 2 before being eliminated in sixth place ($11,151). There would be some tension between the eventual final two in a hand that saw the elimination of Jimmie Adams in fifth place ($13,483).
Couden eliminated Christopher Collins in third place ($24,330) with two pair and heads-up play started with him holding a slight chip advantage over Michalak. That wouldn't last long as Michalak would take control of the match. Nearly three hours in, however, things would change and Couden would double with the against Michalak's . Couden would never look back and Michalak would make his last stand eventually. When he did, he was dominated with the against Couden's . Michalak would not improve and was eliminated in second place for $36,496.
Next up for the Hollywood Poker Open is the Season 2 Championship Event at the M Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada starting on June 27. The event garners a bigger $2,500 buy-in, and last year Ana Marquez topped a field of 631 to claim the lion's share of the $1.4 million-plus prize pool to win $320,189. PokerNews will be on hand to bring you all the exciting poker action, so make sure to tune in.