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Archer, Breedlove/Lee Win Big In Texas Hold 'Em, Skins
Feb 19, 2007, 10:43 AM

The Texas Hold ‘Em Billiards and Skins Billiards Championship, both produced by Matt and Bettiane Braun of Billiards International, Ltd. in association with Allen Hopkins, were held at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. on February 10. The Brauns were busy that day, handing out over $100,000 worth of prize money and producing several hours of television coverage, which will air on ESPN mid-April.

Johnny Archer was crowned the new “Texas Hold ‘Em Billiards Champion" after defeating John Schmidt, the 2006 U.S. Open Champion, for $25,000 first prize in the final match.

“This tournament takes the sport to a whole new level,” said an elated Archer moments after capturing the title. Archer followed in the footsteps of Marlon Manalo, who won the first annual Texas Hold ‘Em event in December 2005.
“The pressure is just incredible,” said Archer, who rose to the top of a field full of feared competitors including Cory Deuel, George Breedlove, John Schmidt, Rodney Morris, Jennifer Barretta, Jeanette Lee and Luc Salvas. “There’s no margin for error from start to finish. One shot missed and you can lose $25,000! Your nerves are off the wall during the entire tournament.”
Texas Hold ’Em Billiards duplicates the format of Texas Hold ’Em poker with players required to make huge bets and often forced to put it all on the line. A match consists of 16 games, with 4 games to a round, and game values increase every round. Each player must ‘ante” that amount and the winner of the game receives that amount from the other three players in a bracket A player with less than the dollar amount required for a game must go “all-in” and if he or she does not win that game, he or she is eliminated. Only one player is left standing after the championship match.
The semfinal and final matches pit four players against one another in a modified round-robin format. To level the playing field, each player starts the semifinal round with the same amount of money, $125,000 in chips. The four players in each match are required to ante ever-increasing wagers through 16 games of play. The wagers escalate from $20,000 to $40,000 in games 1-12, and short stack players are forced to go “all in” in games 13-16. The two top money winners from each semifinal advanced to the championship match.
Breedlove and Schmidt advanced from the first semifinal, eliminating Morris and Barretta. In the other semifinal, Archer and Deuel eliminated Lee and Salvas. As the championship match began, Deuel had $500,000 in chips, Breedlove $335,000, Schmidt $165,000 and Archer $100,000. With the least amount of chips, Archer’s odds didn’t look good.
Schmidt won the first game and Deuel the second, but from there the momentum of the match rapidly began to shift. Breedlove busted out in game 12 and Deuel, forced to go “all in”, was eliminated in game 14. Breedlove went down next, and Archer and Schmidt then went head-to-head. The match seesawed as the advantage shifted back and forth every game. Archer had $920,000 in chips at one point, only to lose the next game and put Schmidt back in the running. In an over-time game, Schmidt scratched on the break and Archer cleaned the table to emerge victorious.
Much like televised poker, the chip count was used to keep score for the ultimate $80,000 prize purse. Schmidt took home $12,000 as runner-up, Corey Deuel $10,000 as third, George Breedlove $8,000 as fourth, Jeanette Lee and Jennifer Barretaa $7,000 each in a tie for fifth/sixth, Luc Salvas $6,000 as seventh and Rodney Morris $5,000 as eighth.
The two semifinals and the championship match were taped by ESPN for telecast on April 12 from 7 to 10 p.m.

“Skins” is another pressure-cooker format, with four champions competing in a Scotch Doubles team for the $40,000 in prize money. The superstar couple Jeanette Lee and George Breedlove’s chemistry came through, as they defeated Johnny Archer and Jennifer Barretta.
“We couldn’t believe it at first,” Lee said of her and her husband. “We were so focused on the table we didn’t know how much we’d won until it was announced.” The Scotch Doubles pair were the “winners who took it all,” earning $40,000 with a spectacular series of runouts.
The tournament format for the Skins Billiards Championship is somewhat similar to Skins in golf. Two Scotch Doubles teams compete against each other in one match — 12 games — and a team must win three games in a row to win a “Skin.” There are four Skins to a match, with each Skin worth larger amounts of money. Money not won in a Skin carries over to the next Skin. Every rack felt like a hill-hill championship game, with a prize fund of $40,000 up for grabs to the team that won the most Skins.
Needless to say, the one-match Skins Championship was a nailbiter. Archer and Barretta won the first two games and looked poised to take the first Skin, worth $3,000. But Lee and Breedlove came back with determination, and eventually won the first Skin. After that, they were in the groove, taking the next two Skins and bringing up their total winnings to $33,000. The battle for the last Skin, worth $7,000, was a dogfight. After both teams failed to take three games in a row, it went to a one-game sudden death. Archer and Barretta were on a run in the ultimate rack, when Barretta jawed the 6 ball in the corner pocket. Lee and Breedlove quickly cleaned the table and made it a shutout by claiming the entire $40,000 purse and the Skins Championship title.
The standing-room-only crowd gave Lee and Breedlove a rousing ovation in the Basketball Hall of Fame. The event was taped by ESPN, and a one-hour telecast will debut April 5 at 7 p.m.

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