Chris Bell Is First WSOPC Eastern Regional Champion

After four days of intense play, the World Series of Poker Circuit Eastern Regional Championship concluded this evening when veteran Chris Bell eliminated his last and most resilient opponent – Chris Klodnicki – to become the first pro to claim the new title. The event’s top payout of $358,295 was the largest cash of Bell’s career to date, but only by a slim margin. Bell won Event 46 of the WSOP earlier this year for an only slightly smaller payout of $327,040.

As a new event on the WSOP Circuit, the regional championships have yet to gain the same clout as the events at the actual World Series of Poker. But while the attendance for this second regional competition was lower than expected, the skill level was as high as it ever is at a major tournament. It took nearly 12 grueling hours of play for Bell to earn his much deserved diamond ring. In fact, it took more than six hours just to eliminate the first final tabler (Seth Fischer).

While Fischer came to the table as the small stack, he nevertheless put up a valiant fight. Still, eventual champion Chris Bell clearly came to the last day of the tournament ready to battle. From the beginning, Bell seemed determined to use his hefty second place stack to bully and bleed his opponents whenever and however possible. Klodnicki was considerably more tight, biding his time and taking larger pots whenever the chance arose. The two butted heads early in the tournament with the win going to Bell, and that hand not only marked Bell’s shift back into the chip leader position but also foreshadowed Bell’s eventual win.

Half of the table seemed to fall like dominoes after Fischer’s elimination. Klodnicki managed to nab the top spot again only to be outdone shortly thereafter by Micah Raskin. Raskin’s defeat of Nick Mitchell in 8th place gave him his first taste of big stack power, but his lead was short-lived. Only a few hands later, Bell eliminated Jason Burt, putting him within close reach of Raskin. Klodnicki had a brief and unpleasant run-in with Pandya then reasserted his dominance by eliminating Andy Frankenberger only a few hands later.

Twenty minutes later, yet another player – Todd Terry – fell to Klodnicki. Not to be outdone, Bell shoved all in against chip leader Raskin in a gutsy move that helped him to reclaim his first place position. It was a loss that Raskin would not recover from; half an hour later he surrendered the last of his chips to the other Chris (Klodnicki).

Klodnicki then set his sights on the number three player – Pandya. After crippling Pandya, he used his then significant chip advantage to do the same to Bell. For a while, Bell and Pandya were fighting under the table for Klodnicki’s scraps. It looked like Pandya would prevail after doubling up off Bell, but Bell’s next desperate shove against Klodnicki kept him in the game. He used those chips to eliminate Pandya a few hands later when he drew a full house against his ill-fated competitor’s two pairs.

As if they knew it would come down to the two of them, Klodnicki and Bell had been heckling each other all day. Klodnicki came to the heads-up portion of the event with a notable lead, but the action was hard and fast, and before long Bell closed the game. Less than an hour into their duel, Bell got the break he was looking for when his baby pair turned into three of a kind on the flop. With a pair and outs toward a straight, Klodnicki called Bell’s all-in, but Bell’s hand prevailed through the river, making him the first WSOPC Eastern Regional Champion.

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