With proceeds benefiting the US Rugby Foundation's youth programs, nearly 50 participants took part in this year's I'Maul In Tournament, once again held at the Poker Lounge at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
Along with Lambert and Smith, other notables in attendance were former Eagles Mike Saunders, Dave Bateman, John Jelaco, Chris Lippert, Tim Kluempers, Butch Horwath, Brian Vizard, and Chris Petrakes. Also taking part was last year's champion, Philly-Whitemarsh's Steve Hynes.
The sole woman from last year's tournament, Dana Bourne, wife of Rugby Canada Chairman, Rick Bourne, was back for her second try at the crown. Dana made it to the final table last year and nearly duplicated the feat once again this year before busting out in 13th place. Dana wasn't the only woman to impress this year for also nearly making it to the Final 9 was Kayce Smith, wife of pro Gavin and an accomplished player in her own right.
As stacks started getting smaller and the blinds bigger, players were starting to feel the pressure and numerous shouts of "I'Maul In" were heard around the Poker Lounge. Some saw the cards they were hoping for while others did not. Soon there were just nine left. The Final 9.
Philadelphia-Whitemarsh veteran prop Matt "Tatonka" Szkotak was the first to get knocked out when Lambert paired his kings on the river. Next out was former Eagles 7s and OPSB player, Dave Bateman. He was soon followed to the rail by Ed Curren, another Philly-Whitemarsh man. Sixth place went to past OPSB President, Peter Bolton.
OMBAC supporter John "JD" Dahlen was knocked out in 5th place while former OMBAC player, Matt Eshoo, soon followed in fourth place. Jeff Cliff, the only one of the Final 9 who had never played rugby, saw his night end in 3rd place.
That left only Andy Truesdale, a longtime MOB player, heads up against Lambert, who also finished in the money at last year's I'Maul In Tournament. Although Truesdale was ahead in chips going into the heads up battle, it only took one hand for Lambert to take over the chip lead. And one hand later Lambert caught runner, runner on the turn and flop to catch a nine-high straight, and enough to knock out his opponent and capture his first I'Maul In Tournament title.
See images of this year's Final 9.
Final 9 finish and payouts:
1st - Gary Lambert $2,500
2nd - Andy Trusedale $1,500
3rd - Jeff Cliff $800
4th - Matt Eshoo $650
5th - John "JD" Dahlen $550
6th - Peter Bolton $450
7th - Ed Curren $400
8th - Dave Bateman $350
9th - Matt Szkotak $300
In addition to USA Sevens, Gosling's, Pepsi, Bud Light and TaylorMade, the USRF would like to thank all those who took part in USRF events and to the following for their support of the 2011 Scrumble and I'Maul In Tournaments:
Origin India Bahama Breeze P.F. Chang's
Dan Larrea Milwaukee Brewers OMBAC Rugby
Chicago Lions Classic Eagles Godek Rugby & Soccer
Silich Construction Jelco Mark Spear Entertainment
New Haven Rugby Union Virginia Cardinals
Rugby Imports Boca Raton RFC Rugby World Cup 2011
DHL Michael Insurance Sylvan Advantage
Hands On Labor Bear Data World Rugby Shop
Play On Irvine Enterprises Woodberry Events
A Giant Awakens Rugby Magazine RPM Mortgage
Building Infrastructure Group Bill Fraumann