The Free Poker Network is PROUD to crown Wisconsin’s first female state champion after an incredible run at the final table this past Saturday, May 15th, at Pitchers Pub in Madison, WI. Congratulations to Ann Richardson of Madison (Pitchers Pub), WI, who will be entering event #54 of the World Series of Poker this July 2nd at the Rio in Las Vegas. Ann will also be playing in the FPN National Championship held at Caesar’s Palace the night before and she has a 1 in 25 chance of making it to the 10k MAIN EVENT at the WSOP later that month. Ann said, “The WI State Championship Tournament was the most exciting poker event she has ever been in!” We here at the Free Poker Network say, “Ann, hold on tight, because you haven’t seen anything yet!”
Play started out a little slow that afternoon as it was an incredibly sunny 75 degree day. It was clear to each of the 41 players that everyone meant business though, despite the sunshine. Early in the second level we had our first knock out as seven time state qualifier Dale Hjelmgren (Outer Limits) pushed all-in with middle 2 pair and was called by Jerry Jensen’s (Tippy Canoes) top set only to watch Dale catch his full house 4 outer on the river. However, Jerry is an avid player in both MN and WI so we’re sure we’ll see him again soon!
The sickest story of the tournament was Jason Birkenmeyer’s double bad beat with back-to-back pocket Aces. The first was an opponent’s all-in short stacked Q-Q. The flop delivered a Q and Jason lost about 25% of his stack. The second was for the remaining chips as his eventual top set was smashed by an opponent’s K-J, flopping Broadway. Jason and his family are huge FPN supporters in eastern Wisconsin and both Mom and Dad eventually made it to become the first Wisconsin husband and wife team to make the final table together.
Regular action continued as most of the big names are eliminated before the dinner break, including Dale Hjelmgren, John Verhaeghe, Jassen Huebener, Ronald and Robbie Baer. And while the side game action heated up, recent Red Rock HPT WI Champion Josh Shaffer decided to show up and thank everyone for his exciting time in Vegas. He said he had a blast!
Right after dinner break, we started level 10 with blinds at 1k-2k and ended up losing Rodney Bahr, (the owner of Tippy Canoes) a first time qualifier. Rodney’s reaction? “I can’t believe how much thought goes into every hand,” he said. “It’s mentally draining. I made a mistake and I’m out. It’s a lot of fun and I had a great time.” And that left us with two tables left and one to go.
The only player with any FPN Final Table history still in the action was Justin Lamb, who was a little below chip average with 14 players remaining. At that point, Justin said, “I will make the final table.” Well as fate would have it, he did just that as the BUBBLE was cracked at level 11 around 8:30 pm. The final table then looked like this:
Dealer - Ryan Baer – Dons Market (48,500)
SB – Dan Sobek – Pitchers Pub (40,000)
BB – Jeff Widgren – Tippy Canoes (67,500)
UTG – John Birkenmeyer – Chutes & Ladders (23,000)
Seat 5 –Justin Lamb – Outer Limits (63,500)
Seat 6 – Keith Lutz – Outer Limits (42,500)
Seat 7 – Ann Richards – Pitchers Pub (95,000)
Seat 8 – Joyce Birkenmeyer – Chutes & Ladders (12,500)
Seat 9 – Fred Hackbargh – Dons Market (18,000)Starting the final table, the action quickly heated up as the shorter stacks made moves around the table. And with the most FPN experience noted Justin decided to waste no time racing for position and chips. Justin and John called Fred’s all-In pre flop. Justin and John then checked it down in good tournament play to a board of 10-9-4-3-A. Fred showed K-J and Justin showed A-10 while John mucked. We all thought John had a smaller than the board pocket pair and was mad at the river, but Fred was eliminated in 9th.
Two hands later we hit level 14 and blinds were up to 4k-8k. John, crippled, was called by Ann who flipped up A-K. John showed K-J and the board was no help. John was graceful and thanked everyone for a great game as he was eliminated in 8th. A few hands later we had a double KO when Keith Lutz decided to make aggressive moves with 10-9 getting two callers with 7-7 and A-Q. The flop brought 10-9-K and with no further help to anyone, Joyce was eliminated in 7th and Dan was eliminated in 6th. The action finally slowed a bit as Justin and Jeff made good post flop bets and raked most of the pots. Rodney Bahr and Cindy (Jeff’s wife) watched intensely after a couple of all-In pre-flop moves between Justin and Keith. It was only a matter of time before we had another call from someone when Justin pushed all-In pre-flop again. But this time it was Ryan who called and showed 9-9. Justin flipped 2-2 and said, “Nice hand.” No help again for Justin and Ryan doubled up, again leaving Justin with a short stack.
Next hand Justin moved again and was re-raised all-in from Ann this time. The table folded and Ann showed K-K. Justin smiled as he showed Q-9 and was eliminated in 5th, although he did go home with some nice FPN swag for his efforts.
Blinds then advanced to 4k-8k with a 1k ante, and Jeff began commanding the table with excellent pre-flop folds every time he felt he was beat and with post-flop bets when he felt he was strong. Ryan and Ann soon got tangled in a hand that was raised and called pre-flop. K-J-A went the board and Ann bet again. Ryan re-raised and both were quickly all-in a moment later. Ann showed A-J for two pair and Ryan showed K-K for a set. The turn was a K and quads took it and Ryan doubled up! A few hands later after a pre-flop limp, Jeff decided to move all-in pre-flop again and was called by Ann. Jeff had 9-9 and Ann showed A-A. This was the biggest pot of the day at this point, and Keith and Ryan could only watch as Ann eliminated Jeff in 4th with a commanding chip lead.
As we were down to the final three, ANN took the chip lead with 245k, next was Keith with 89k and trailing behind was Ryan with 79k. Ryan and Keith both made comments at this point that they would have to go through each other to stand a chance at beating Ann. Soon, Ryan moved all-in, and Keith decided to make the call. Ann waited … and waited … and waited to decide until she finally folded her hand. (Robb peaked at her cards before she folded and noted the A-K she mucked). Ryan showed 6-6 and Keith flipped over K-Q. Flop was air balls with no help on the turn, but then came a monster Q on the river to send Ryan packing in 3rd.
Finally heads-up now between Ann and Keith, who both have quite an impressive history at championship events (Ann has made the past two state events in WI and has gone deeper in each one she has played, and Keith is no stranger to free Texas Hold Em’ in bars in Minnesota as well as he has made a final table at Running Aces last year), the two player’s could feel their nerves starting to churn. Keith soon raised pre-flop and Ann called. The flop was 6c-8s-Qc. Ann bet the pot and Keith called. The turn came 10d. Ann moved all-in and quickly stood up from the table. Keith was in the tank and after three minutes or so he finally decided to call saying, “I have to get lucky at some point to win this, and I do have outs.” Keith showed 10c-Jc for middle pair, a gut shot straight draw with the flush draw as well. Ann showed Qd-8c for two pair. The river was 6h giving both players 2 pair but Ann’s were higher making her the newest Free Poker Network Champion. Congratulations again Ann and good luck at the World Series of Poker!