On a sunny, 80 degree October day in Hoskins, Nebraska, 52 players from as far as North Platte came together to play their best poker to see who would become Nebraska's new state champion for our Gold Rush 2 promotion. There were a lot of familiar faces in the crowd as most players competed in at least one state championship before.
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With a majority of the players knowing the structure the pace started off pretty slow and we were buckled up for a long day of poker. It took about an hour before we had our first victim. It was Jonathan Hornby out of Legends in Lincoln. He was eliminated by previous champ Dave Schuett, but didn't walk away empty handed. Jonathan won some new FPN swag to show off. Some early exits after running into some bad luck were former champion Travis Tunick when he flopped top, top only to run into two pair. Janet McGrane a five time state qualifier ran into some bad luck early as her pocket Ace's got cracked.
Jeremy Hendricks from the MVP Lounge was on a roller coaster ride early on in the tournament and things were looking good for him to win a second championship. Jeremy got into a big pot early on against Oren Goering from Legends in a 25,000 pot, in which Jeremy was able to trip up on the river to eliminate Oren. This is just how Jeremy was rolling through the tournament. All good things however come to an end as Jeremy's monster chip stack slowly dwindled as his luck turned. Soon after dinner break he found himself all in against Bob Schriefer from the Touchdown Club and Bob took the last of Jeremy's remaining chips send him to the rail.
At break we had two chip leaders Rod Lovig (pictured right) from the Depot and Greer Wiklund from Legends both with 38,500 in chips. Shortly after dinner break were down to two tables. Bob Timberlake from the MVP Lounge was making another deep run at the championship right up until his Kings were cracked by Ace, rag suited. Not only did his opponent flop an ace, he also flopped two hearts to give him the nut flush draw as well. This crippled Bob and the very next hand he was all in with A-Q in a coin flip. After the bad beat he just took he thought he was out of luck, but things can turn that quick. Bob was able to catch an Ace on the flop and have it hold up. Bob continued to gain momentum for a while collecting a lot of chips and moving back up the leaderboard of chip leaders, but in this cruel game it can go just as fast as it comes.
In one of the biggest hands of the tournament and probably one of the most memorable hands we have seen in the past five plus years Rod Lovig got tangled up with Glenn Neighbors. On a flop of Jd, 8d, xd both players raised and re-raised until each player had all their chips in the middle. Rod had Glenn covered by 40k, but the pot had grown up to be 83k and the winner would definitely be the tournament leader. Glenn was holding Q-9 of diamonds and Rod had him beat with K-6 of diamonds. Rod had all but a hammer lock on this hand as Glenn was drawing to one and only one out. The turn was a brick, but you guessed it the river was the 10 of diamonds stealing the pot back for Glenn giving him the gut-shot straight flush. The crowd was stunned and its one of those hands that neither player will ever forget.
Shorty after we were at the final table and it looked like this:
Seat 1 - Matt Norick from Legends in Lincoln with 123K
Seat 2 - Dan Wemhoff from Double T in Columbus with 39k
Seat 3 - Steve Oberg from Double T in Columbus with 9k
Seat 4 - Glenn Neighbors from Touchdown Club in North Platte with 49.5k
Seat 5 - Rod Lovig from the Depot in Norfolk with 51k
Seat 6 - Larry Culhane from Legends in Lincoln with 43.5k
Seat 7 - Sarah Zeluf from MVP Lounge in Omaha with 60k
Seat 8 - Mark Staab from Touchdown Club in North Platte with 8.5k
Seat 9 - Mike Summers from Legends in Lincoln with 108k
Seat 10 - David James from Legends in Lincoln with 108k
Once we fired up the final table Steve Oberg & Mark Staab were eliminated with such a short stack and having to make a move quickly. Larry Culhane was all in with his pocket 10's against Glenn Neighbors pocket 7's. Larry had Glenn covered by only 500 and in a cruel twist of fate a 7 was hit on the flop and locking up this pot, it was looking to be Glenn's day. This basically eliminated Larry. Rod Lovig was next to go when he became short stacked and moved in with K-10, he went up against Matt's A2 and as if the poker gods weren't cruel enough with the 10 of diamonds they finished off Rod with a flop of AQA.
Dan Wemhoff former runner up went out next when his A-8 went up against David James K-9, the flop brought two nines and unfortunately for Dan he fell a little short again. At this point Sarah Zeluf (pictured left) was getting a bit short stacked and moved all in with A-8 only to run into David's A-9. A nine on the turn sealed her fate.
A couple levels later David was all in against Matt each holding an Ace, but just like Sarah before him David ran into kicker problems and was eliminated in fourth place. Mike Summers went out in third place leaving an epic heads up battle between Glenn and Matt.
Heading into the heads up battle Matt had a 2-1 chip lead. Both players were able gather the chip lead only to lose it and gain it back again. It was a see-saw battle for the ages last over 45 minutes. After the blinds had capped and the dust had settled the winner and new Nebraska Gold Rush 2 State Champion was Glenn Neighbors from the Touchdown Club in North Platte.