May 16, 2008–You gotta love Vegas. Nearly everyone who comes to the city thinks they can cash in, but it's only on rare occasions when someone actually does beat the odds. That was the case at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort when Michigan car salesman Andrew "AJ" Johnson beat out veteran poker pros Allen Cunningham, Erick Lindgren and Dee Tiller, and Las Vegas' own Bill Spencer, to win the $250,000 first prize of the FullTiltPoker.net World Series of Golf. The event, played over the Las Vegas golf courses at the Pete Dye Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort (open for public play, by the way), combines golf and poker in a unique format. Other notables competing included Phil Ivey, Ray Romano, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Phil Gordon, Daniel Negreanu, Rhett Butler, Emily Teller and Dusty Allen, among others.
Johnson successfully knocked out poker pros Allen Cunningham, Erick Lindgren and Dee Tiller, sealing his victory by nailing a tee shot just a few yards short of the pin on the first playoff hole, a 163-yard par three at Paiute Golf Resort in Las Vegas. Lindgren, a member of Team Full Tilt, finished second, winning $60,000.
The final round of the World Series of Golf was played in a five-some that paired Johnson with Cunningham, Lindgren, Tiller, and Bill Spencer, a semi-retired builder from Las Vegas, NV. The World Series of Golf is scheduled to be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports, June 28 and 28.
The World Series of Golf combines the wagering format of Texas Hold 'Em with the skill of golf in a patent-pending format that allows for high-stakes to ride on each golf hole. Players ante up on each tee, then can bet, raise, call, check or fold on each subsequent shot. The object of the game is not to shoot the lowest golf score, but rather to claim the pot on each hole, eventually eliminating your opponents by winning all of their chips.
Johnson, a former collegiate baseball player at Michigan State University said, " This is a once in a lifetime experience. I've never played anything like this, and I've already paid my entry fee for next year."
Actor and comedian Ray Romano – playing for charity – delivered a strong performance, advancing to Day Two by making a dramatic comeback on the 19th hole of play. He went from the lowest chip count to the leader with an "all in" bet on a tricky putt. (Extra holes are played in the event that players still have chips remaining at the conclusion of regulation play.) Romano was eliminated on the 17th hole on Day Two. Poker superstar, Phil Ivey, who went "all in" on the first hole of the event, was eliminated; Emily Jilette, the only female entrant, put in a strong performance but was eliminated on the 19th hole after leading for most of the first round.