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Poker leader flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct

We have news of what may be a poker first -- at least for organized tournament poker. Yesterday, at a World Series of Poker circuit event at Caesars Atlantic City, the chip leader at the final table of a major event was disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The player, who is identified in the WSOP press release as a general contractor from Richmond, Va., was thrown out of the game and "forcefully removed from the tournament room" at a point when five players remained in the opening event of the WSOP Circuit tournament that had a $300 buy-in and started with more than 1,000 players.

At the point the Richmond man, Lesley Thornburg, was disqualified, he had earned about $19,000 for his fifth-place standing. The winner, a 76-year-old retiree from Brick, N.J., collected a little more than $76,000.

According to the official tournament report, Thornburg had been given two warnings for unsportmanlike behavior the previous day. The behavior was described thusly: "Ceaseless display of loud comments and baiting tactics lasting several hours."

The final straw came when Thornburg was actually the beneficiary of great luck twice. On one all-in, his ace-7 was dominated by an opponent's ace-queen, but Thornburg caught a 7 to grab the chip lead. Then, two hands later, he knocked out a player in sixth place when Thornburg had 4-4 against 7-7 and caught a 4.

But then Thornburg lost control, the report said, and he "began jamming chips into the pot with reckless abandon." He was warned by tournament officials and finally, when he shoved half his stack into the pot and announced "all in," officials ejected him for the "annoying and confusing antics."

Thronburg may consider himself lucky. In the Old West, all this would have ended much differently.

Photo credit: Christopher T. Assaf

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