Black Hawk, Colo. (March 27, 2013)Chris Parsons is a battle-tested gold ring champion following the 12-day WSOP Circuit series at The Lodge Casino. He recorded three cashes -- first, sixth and ninth-place finishes -- en route to earning 87.5 points and nabbing Casino Champion honors and a berth in the WSOP National Championship Presented by Southern Comfort 100 Proof.

But it didn't come without a fight.

Thankfully for Parsons, he held the upper hand in the battle and controlled his own destiny going into the 12th and final event, a one-day turbo tournament that ran simultaneously with Day 2 of Event 11.

He began Day 12 with the Casino Championship lead at 72.5 points, but two players at the Event 11 final table, Krzysztof Stybaniewicz and Jonathan Alfonso, had a chance to overtake him.

Alfonso began the final table with the chip lead, but exited seventh, earning 20 points and bringing his total to 72.5 points, tied with Parsons. His elimination, though, meant Stybaniewicz was assured at least a sixth-place finish and 22.5 points, and thus, the Casino Championship lead with a minimum of 85 points.

Stybaniewicz was unable to pad his lead and he was eliminated sixth, standing pat as the leader in the clubhouse.

But there's more.

Parsons was deep in Event 12 with Joshua Vizcarra, and Michael Sanders, two players who also had a shot at overtaking Stybaniewicz. Vizcarra didn't provide much of a sweat when he was the tournament's bubble boy, but Sanders was another story.

"On dinner break, Sanders [and I] were talking about what we had to do to actually win," Parsons said. "I knew I had to get ninth or eighth. If I got eighth, [Sanders] would have had to win."

Sanders was eliminated 14th, topping out at 57.5 points meaning Parsons needed a ninth-place finish or better to earn 15 points and edge out Stybaniewicz at the top -- and that's exactly what he did.

Parsons faded the next few eliminations and found himself at the unofficial final table 10 needing to outlast one more player.

"It was miserable. There was like four all-ins and no one would bust," Parsons said of the sweat.
 
Jay Pinkussohn did Parsons' dirty work for him, exiting the tournament in 10th place. Parsons job was done and he followed close behind Pinkussohn finishing ninth and earning much, much more than a $1,100 payday. The 15 points jumped Parsons' total 87.5 points, a mere 2.5 better than Stybaniewicz.

Parsons is now a two-time National Championship qualifier, earning an at-large bid last year. This year likely will prove to be a different story, though, as he comes with the swagger of a gold ring champion.

"I played pretty well last year," Parsons said. "New Orleans is fun so I'm looking forward to going there. I'd love to win. That would be really cool."

Parsons is a 26-year-old professional poker player from Mentor, Ohio. He's been a staple on the tournament circuit for the last few years and has amassed more than $100,000 in WSOP Circuit earnings.

The WSOP National Championship takes place at Harrah's New Orleans May 22-24. The tournament will be filmed for ESPN and feature as many as 200 players (100 WSOP Circuit qualifiers and 100 WSOP player of the year qualifiers permitted to buy into the event for $10,000) and a prize pool of up to $2 million.

More information regarding the season-ending event is available on WSOP.com.

Top 10 Casino Champion points standings from The Lodge Casino:

1. Chris Parsons - 87.5 points
2. Krzysztof Stybaniewicz - 85 points
3. Jonathan Alfonso - 72.5 points
4. Bryan Campanello - 70 points
5. Michael Sanders - 57.5 points
6. Kelley Wilson - 55 points
7. Thomas Beckstead - 52.5 points
8. Allan Farber - 52.5 points
9. Kevin Eyster - 50 points
10. Nine others tied at 50 points

Full points standing from The Lodge Casino available on WSOP.com.