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The first tournament of this year’s World Series is officially in the bag. Day 2 in Event #1, the $500 Casino Employees Event, began yesterday and continued on into the early hours of the morning. Emerging victorious from the melee was 39 year old bartender Andrew Cohen.

The action on Day 1 was surprisingly intense, with hundreds of players dropping by the wayside. Day 2 started much as the previous one had ended, with 20 players out of chips and collecting their winnings in only 38 minutes.

One of the most exciting hands of the day occurred with 5 tables remaining. Ramy Zakaria and Casey Kuhn, one of Day 1’s chip leaders, tangled with a third opponent preflop – both calling an all-in bet. The flop came 7-Q-4, and Kuhn pushed all-in against Zakaria. Ramy couldn’t resist the call and pushed all his remaining chips into the pot, only to discover that his set of 4’s was dominated by Kuhn’s pocket 7’s. A fourth seven on the turn ended the hand as a contest, but Lady Luck had not finished rubbing salt into Zakaria’s wounds. The case 4 fell on the river to give Ramy losing quad fours.

Before too long the final table had been set, with chip counts standing at:

Paul Peterson (Las Vegas, Nevada; 26) – 126,000
Bobby Rooney (Oakland, California; 39) – 360,000
Ferdinand Boleski (Las Vegas, Nevada; 42) – 175,000
Jun Dulay (Las Vegas, Neveada; 43) – 297,000
Andrew Cohen (Las Vegas, Nevada; 39) – 408,000
Sammy Porter (Bullhead City, Arizona; 55) – 303,000
John McAvoy (Chandler, Arizona; 40) – 227,000
Casey Kuhn (Bettendorf, Iowa; 24) 392,000
Grant Yasui (Waipahu, Hawaii; 25) – 205,000

Sammy Porter got off to a bad start, dumping off the majority of his chips. So it was no surprise to find him among the early causalities. He was forced into a push with A-8, but was well behind when McAvoy called with A-Q and Rooney re-pushed with pocket Jacks. McAvoy made the call but was powerless to prevent a third Jack hitting the board. When the dust had settled Porter was out in 9th and McAvoy’s stack was seriously dented.

John McAvoy was not a beaten man however, eliminating Ferdinand Boleski on his way to claiming the chip lead. His Q-Q held up nicely against Boleski’s A-J and put his opponent out of the event in 8th. Despite adulation from his friends on the rail, McAvoy once again squandered his large stack with a number of loose double ups. Before long he made a desperate all in push with A-7 suited against Jun Dulay’s Q-Q. The board ran blank and McAvoy was eliminated in 7th.

Bobby Rooney was the next to find himself on the ropes, after doubling up shortstack Paul Peterson. His final act was to make a small blind push with 5-6 suited, duly picked off by Jun Dulay in the big blind with K-8. Rooney needed to catch something, but it was his opponent who profited. A broadway straight ended Rooney’s hopes of recovery and sent him out in 6th.

At this point the action began to slow and it was a couple of hours before the next elimination occurred. It was at this point that Andrew Cohen really began to turn up the heat on his opponents. He started by eliminating Jun Dulay, who’s 8-8 failed to improve against Cohen’s J-J. Moments later he would tangle with Grant Yasui, after calling the Hawaiian’s 145,000 re-raise. The flop fell Qc-6h-6s and Yasui moved all in. Cohen made an immediate call with 5-5, which was vindicated when Yasui was forced to flip his A-9. The turn and river blanked both players and Cohen had recorded his second elimination in a matter of minutes.

Cohen and Kuhn then faced a flop of 3-K-5, with Cohen electing to fire out a 75,000 bullet. Kuhn put him to the test by pushing all-in, but Cohen proved his mettle by making the call. The fact that his 5-2 was a decent underdog to Kuhn’s K-4 might have caused him to question that decision. However, a 5 on the turn saved his blushes and put him through to a heads-up contest for the bracelet.

Paul Peterson started the final table as the smallest stack, and put in an impressive effort to make it to the last two. His opponent, however, had been rampaging through the table in the latter stages and possessed a 5-1 chip lead. It was not long before the pair got it all in the middle on a coin-flip. Peterson pushed all-in with As-Qc and Cohen called with pocket 6’s. The board ran out 10d-Jc-4h-10h-7s and the tournament was over.

Cohen, a father of one, works as a barman at the N9NE Steakhouse in the Palms Casino Las Vegas. His $83,778 first prize money will go together very nicely with his new WSOP bracelet – the first of the 2009 World Series. Cohen’s impressive final table performance may owe something to his friendship with well known pro Alex Outhred, but this victory did not come out of the blue. Cohen has cashed in a number of casino tournaments over the last few years. Most impressively he picked up $15,190 in a WSOP Circuit event in 2007. His live tournament earnings now stand at $101,125.

Final table payouts were as follows:

1. Andrew Cohen $83,833
2. Paul Peterson $51,787
3. Casey Kuhn $33,923
4. Grant Yasui $23,483
5. Dulay Elpidio $17,127
6. Robert Rooney $13,125
7. John Mcavoy $10,545
8. Ferdinand Boleski $8,865
9. Sam Porter $7,782