Tag Archives: Event 8

Romeo Mendoza Comes From Behind to Defeat A.J. Kelsall in the $2,200 High Roller

2020 WSOP Circuit – February
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Tampa, Florida – Event 8
$2,200 High Roller (Re-Entry)
$100,000 Guaranteed
Entries:  173
Prize Pool:  $346,000
February 12-13, 2020

Romeo Mendoza
Romeo Mendoza

When heads-up play began in Event 8 ($2,200 High Roller) between Romeo Mendoza and A.J. Kelsall, Mendoza was outchipped by more than 3.5-to-1. But an ace on the river reversed Kelsall’s momentum, and Mendoza held onto the lead after that and closed out the victory for his first WSOP Circuit ring.

“It means a lot,” said Mendoza, “especially because I won it here in my hometown. I’ve been playing at this casino since it opened.”

When the 10-handed final table began, Kelsall had a sizable lead with 132 big blinds, and it looked like he might coast to his first February 13th victory. (More on that later.) When there were four players left, Kelsall had almost as many chips as the other three players combined, and he had that 3.5-to-1 lead over Mendoza when heads-up play began.

Then there was the river card that changed everything.

Kelsall check-shoved the turn on a board of Qh10s9d6c, and Mendoza tanked for a long time before he called with AsAd for an overpair. But Kelsall turned over Qd6s for two pair, and Kelsall was one card away from his first February 13th victory. (Don’t worry, that’ll make sense soon.)

But the river card was the Ah, giving Mendoza a set to win the pot and double into a 3-to-2 chip lead. Mendoza was in control after that, eventually winning when his KsQs beat Kelsall’s 10s10c after the board double-paired with aces and jacks.

“I’ve been playing with A.J. for over 15 years,” said Mendoza. “We’re both hometown guys. We play high-stakes cash games all the time together, so it’s really cool that it was me and him.” But even though they are friends, they were playing for a WSOP Circuit ring, and both of them wanted it. “I felt that if me and A.J. got heads-up, I would win. I kind of know how he plays.”

As for Kelsall, this is the third time in the past four years that he made a final table on February 13th. The last two times (2017 and 2018) he lost to two-time WSOP bracelet winner Loni Harwood, something they’ve joked about ever since.

With Harwood absent from this final table and Kelsall holding a commanding chip lead, all signs pointed to this being Kelsall’s year to finally win on February 13th. Until that ace of hearts fell on the river.


Final Table Results:

1st:  Romeo Mendoza  –  $88,717 + WSOP Circuit ring
2nd:  A.J. Kelsall  –  $54,831
3rd:  Eric Salazar  –  $38,190
4th:  Steven Veneziano  –  $27,206
5th:  James Calderaro  –  $19,834
6th:  Miguel Hernandez  –  $14,805
7th:  William Medina Diaz  –  $11,322
8th:  Hamid Izadi  –  $8,876
9th:  Ben Diebold  –  $7,138
10th:  Arkadiy Tsinis  –  $5,891

$2,200 High Roller: Romeo Mendoza Wins ($88,717); A.J. Kelsall Finishes as Runner-Up ($54,831)

$2,200 High Roller (Re-Entry)
$100,000 Guarantee | Structure | Payouts
Level 27:  25,000/50,000 with a 50,000 ante
Players Remaining:  1 of 173

Romeo Mendoza
Event 8 Champion Romeo Mendoza

After Mendoza caught an ace on the river to double thru Kelsall, he carried that momentum over the next 20 minutes or so into the chip lead.

Finally, A.J. Kelsall raised to 125,000, Romeo Mendoza reraised to 425,000, and Kelsall thought for a while before he moved all in for 1,445,000.

Mendoza thought for a bit before he called with KsQs, and Kelsall turned over 10s10c. Kelsall needed his hand to hold to stay alive.

The board came AhJc3cJsAd, and the board double-paired to counterfeit Kelsall’s pocket tens, giving Mendoza the victory with the two pair on the board and his king kicker.

Kelsall finished as the runner-up, earning $54,831, while Mendoza won the title, the WSOP Circuit Ring, and $88,717.

Stay tuned for a recap for this event.

A.J. Kelsall
Runner-Up A.J. Kelsall

1st:  Romeo Mendoza  –  $88,717 + WSOP Circuit ring
2nd:  A.J. Kelsall  –  $54,831
3rd:  Eric Salazar  –  $38,190
4th:  Steven Veneziano  –  $27,206
5th:  James Calderaro  –  $19,834
6th:  Miguel Hernandez  –  $14,805
7th:  William Medina Diaz  –  $11,322
8th:  Hamid Izadi  –  $8,876
9th:  Ben Diebold  –  $7,138
10th:  Arkadiy Tsinis  –  $5,891

$2,200 High Roller: Romeo Mendoza Spikes an Ace on the River to Double Thru A.J. Kelsall

$2,200 High Roller (Re-Entry)
$100,000 Guarantee | Structure | Payouts
Level 27:  25,000/50,000 with a 50,000 ante
Players Remaining:  2 of 173

Romeo Mendoza
Romeo Mendoza

With the board showing Qh10s9d6c on the turn and about 350K already in the pot, A.J. Kelsall checked, Romeo Mendoza bet 200,000, and Kelsall check-raised all in. Mendoza went into the tank with 660,000 left in his stack.

As he considered the situation, Kelsall asked if Mendoza had ace-queen.

Mendoza asked, “Is ace-queen good?”

“Depends on the river,” answered Kelsall.”

Mendoza thought for a while longer before asking Kelsall if he had queen-six.

Kelsall pointed to his cards and asked, “Are these cards marked?”

Eventually, Mendoza called with AsAd, and Kelsall turned over — Qd6s. Kelsall had turned two pair, and Mendoza needed to improve to stay alive.

The river card was — the Ah. Mendoza rivered a set of aces to win the pot and double up in chips.

Romeo Mendoza  –  3,125,000  (63 bb)
A.J. Kelsall  –  2,075,000  (42 bb)

A.J. Kelsall
A.J. Kelsall

$2,200 High Roller: Eric Salazar – 3rd Place ($38,190)

$2,200 High Roller (Re-Entry)
$100,000 Guarantee | Structure | Payouts
Level 26:  20,000/40,000 with a 40,000 ante
Players Remaining:  2 of 173

Eric Salazar

Eric Salazar completed the small blind to 40,000, A.J. Kelsall raised from the big blind to 120,000, and Salazar called.

The flop came 10c9h4s, Salazar checked, Kelsall bet 120,000, and Salazar moved all in for about 850,000.

Kelsall quickly called with QhQc for an overpair, and Salazar turned over 8h7h for an open-ended straight draw. Salazar needed to improve to stay alive.

The turn card was the Qd, the river card was the 9s, and Kelsall turned a set of queens and rivered a full house to win the pot and eliminate Salazar in third place.

Eric Salazar – Eliminated in 3rd Place ($38,190)

Heads-up play is now underway between Kelsall and Romeo Mendoza. Here are their approximate chip counts:

A.J. Kelsall – 4,050,000 (101 bb)
Romeo Mendoza – 1,150,000 (29 bb)

A.J. Kelsall (left) versus Romeo Mendoza (right)

$2,200 High Roller: Steven Veneziano – 4th Place ($27,206)

$2,200 High Roller (Re-Entry)
$100,000 Guarantee | Structure | Payouts
Level 25:  15,000/30,000 with a 30,000 ante
Players Remaining:  3 of 173

Steven Veneziano

Romeo Mendoza and Eric Salazar folded and A.J. Kelsall jammed from the small blind. Steven Veneziano called all in from the big blind for 575,000.

Kelsall: Kd2s
Veneziano: Ad7d

Veneziano was ahead for the double up but Kelsall took the lead on the KhQs6d flop then the turn came Td.

“Oh that’s not a good card,” Kelsall said.

Veneziano needed an ace, a jack, or any diamond to double but blanked the 9s river to go out in fourth place.

A.J. Kelsall – 2,925,000 (98 bb)
Steven Veneziano – Eliminated in 4th Place ($27,206)

$2,200 High Roller: Counts on Break

$2,200 High Roller (Re-Entry)
$100,000 Guarantee | Structure | Payouts
Level 25:  15,000/30,000 with a 30,000 ante
Players Remaining:  4 of 173

The four remaining players went on another break and return with A.J. Kelsall holding nearly 50% of the chips in play. But it’s still anyone’s game at this point.

Seat 1: Steven Veneziano – 545,000 (18 bb)
Seat 3: Romeo Mendoza – 1,100,000 (37 bb)
Seat 4: Eric Salazar – 1,050,000 (35 bb)
Seat 8: A.J. Kelsall – 2,490,000 (83 bb)

Remaining payouts:

1st: $88,717 + WSOP Circuit ring
2nd: $54,831
3rd: $38,190
4th: $27,206

$2,200 High Roller: James Calderaro – 5th Place ($19,834)

$2,200 High Roller (Re-Entry)
$100,000 Guarantee | Structure | Payouts
Level 24:  10,000/25,000 with a 25,000 ante
Players Remaining:  4 of 173

James Calderaro

James Calderaro open-shipped for 250,000 from the cutoff, Steven Veneziano called in the small blind, and Romeo Mendoza folded his big.

Veneziano: AdAh
Calderaro: 6s5s

Calderaro needed a ton of help to double but blanked the 7c3c3sKh5d board to exit in fifth place.

Steven Veneziano – 1,125,000 (45 bb)
James Calderaro – Eliminated in 5th Place ($19,834)

$2,200 High Roller: Miguel Hernandez – 6th Place ($14,805)

$2,200 High Roller (Re-Entry)
$100,000 Guarantee | Structure | Payouts
Level 23:  10,000/20,000 with a 20,000 ante
Players Remaining:  5 of 173

Miguel Hernandez

Miguel Hernandez open-shoved for about 180,000 from the cutoff and A.J. Kelsall shoved his big stack all in from the small blind to isolate.

Kelsall: AhQh
Hernandez: 5c3c

Hernandez had live cards but he never connected with the 9h7h7s8s7d board to exit in sixth place.

A.J. Kelsall – 2,360,000 (118 bb)
Miguel Hernandez – Eliminated in 6th Place ($14,805)

$2,200 High Roller: A.J. Kelsall Versus Steven Veneziano

$2,200 High Roller (Re-Entry)
$100,000 Guarantee | Structure | Payouts
Level 23:  10,000/20,000 with a 20,000 ante
Players Remaining:  6 of 173

The High Roller final table is having too much fun, plenty of laughs and good times. They were joking around when it folded to A.J. Kelsall in the small blind. He limped, Steven Veneziano raised to 55,000 and Kelsall limped-raised to 185,000.

Veneziano called, the flop came KdJc4d and Kelsall continued for 85,000. The turn was 9h, Kelsall fired 325,000 and Veneziano folded.

“I hate it when I limp the small blind and somebody raises,” Kelsall said. “So there.”

Kelsall showed them 6d2d and they all laughed except for Veneziano.

A.J. Kelsall – 1,975,000 (99 bb)
Steven Veneziano – 835,000 (42 bb)

$2,200 High Roller: Eric Salazar Doubles Through James Calderaro

$2,200 High Roller (Re-Entry)
$100,000 Guarantee | Structure | Payouts
Level 22:  8,000/16,000 with a 16,000 ante
Players Remaining:  6 of 173

Eric Salazar

In a four-way pot, the flop came As9c8s. Steven Veneziano checked in the big blind, Miguel Hernandez checked next to act, Eric Salazar bet 68,000 and James Calderaro raised to 213,000. Veneziano and Hernadez folded and Salazar called.

The turn was 6c, Salazar checked, Calderaro announced all in and Salazar quickly called.

Salazar: 9s9h
Calderaro: Ad8d

Salazar flopped a set of nines versus Caldo’s aces up and he dodged an ace on the Qh river to double.

“Alright Phillu, I got something to blank with you now.” Salazar joked with chip leader A.J. Kelsall in the Phillies gear.

Eric Salazar – 1,240,000 (78 bb)
James Calderaro – 326,000 (20 bb)