Ting Xiao is the newest champion of the WSOP Circuit, rallying from one of the shortest final table stacks to win the Horseshoe Baltimore Main Event.
 
Xiao is a poker pro from nearby Frederick, Maryland, and it’s fitting that he’d earn his largest career cash in his home casino. Primarily a cash game player, Xiao’s previous tournament highlight was a 21st-place finish in a $1,500 WSOP event in 2010. He had just over $30,000 in total career tournament earnings prior to this final table.
 
That’s all changed now with a new crowning poker achievement and a big paycheck. Xiao’s win was worth $147,699 in cash, the diamond-studded gold ring, and one of the precious seats in the 2016 WSOP Global Championship.
 
Xiao finished Day 1 with 184,000 chips, putting him among the leaders for the long road to the final table. By the time Day 2 ended, though, he was near the bottom of the counts, and he began the final table with less than 20 big blinds. Xiao flopped a set of fours to earn a big knockout pot with eight players left, then won a flip with ace-king to eliminate DJ MacKinnon and shrink the table to five. He entered heads-up play with about a 3:2 chip lead over Sandeep Patel, and about an hour later, it was all over.
 
After the last hand was dealt, the soft-spoken Xiao finally let a bit of emotion show as he posed for the winner’s photos. “I’ve always wanted a ring,” he said. “I wanted a ring really badly. I play cash games for money and tournaments for the glory. That’s what the ring is about.”
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The Main Event was the tenth of 12 gold ring events on the WSOP Circuit schedule at Horseshoe Baltimore. The $1,675 no-limit hold’em event attracted 458 entries, generating a total prizepool of $687,000. That money was shared by the final 54 players.
 
The tournament featured two starting flights beginning Friday, August 28 and Saturday, August 29 at 11:00 a.m. Flight A drew 187 entries and advanced 56 while Flight B drew 260 and advanced 84. Both starting flights logged 12 levels of play, and 11 additional players registered just prior to the start of Day 2.
 
Day 2 restarted Sunday, August 30 at 12:00 p.m. with 151 players. The money bubble burst near the beginning of Level 18 (~5:00 p.m.) and play wrapped with 11 players remaining at the end of Level 25 (~3:00 a.m.).
 
Day 3 began Monday, August 31 at 2:00 p.m., and action concluded during Level 30 (~8:00 p.m.), making the total duration of the final table just less than six hours.
 
The final table began with 15,000/30,000 blinds and a 5,000-chip ante. Here were the seating assignments and chip counts:
 
Seat 1: Russ Head - 1,300,000 (43 bb)
Seat 2: Sandeep Patel - 2,470,000 (82 bb)
Seat 3: Peter Lee - 1,315,000 (44 bb)
Seat 4: John Kostelac - 240,000 (8 bb)
Seat 5: Ting Xiao - 530,000 (18 bb)
Seat 6: John Gorsuch - 1,100,000 (37 bb)
Seat 7: DJ MacKinnon - 340,000 (11 bb)
Seat 8: Tommy Vu - 1,125,000 (38 bb)
Seat 9: Brian Walters - 850,000 (28 bb)
 
Final table results:

1st: Ting Xiao - $147,699
Hometown: Frederick, Maryland
Occupation: Professional poker player

WSOP earnings: $17,365
WSOP Circuit earnings: $7,700

2nd: Sandeep Patel - $91,323
Hometown: Parsippany, New Jersey
Occupation: IT salesman

WSOP earnings: $0
WSOP Circuit earnings: $842

3rd: Russ Head - $66,715
Hometown: Rome, Georgia
Occupation: Business owner

WSOP earnings: $0
WSOP Circuit earnings: $123,222 (one ring)

4th: John Gorsuch - $49,457
Hometown: Woodbridge, Virginia
Occupation: Director of finance

WSOP earnings: $93,601
WSOP Circuit earnings: $1,405

5th: DJ MacKinnon - $37,194
Hometown: Buffalo, New York
Occupation: Professional poker player

WSOP earnings: $213,564
WSOP Circuit earnings: $149,654 (one ring)

6th: Tommy Vu - $28,373
Hometown: Cary, North Carolina
Occupation: Professional poker player

WSOP earnings: $0
WSOP Circuit earnings: $4,304

7th: Peter Lee - $21,950
Hometown: Reston, Virginia
Occupation: None listed

WSOP earnings: $151,541
WSOP Circuit earnings: $8,294

8th: Brian Walters - $17,223
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Occupation: Intelligence specialist

WSOP earnings: $0
WSOP Circuit earnings: $0

9th: John Kostelac - $13,706
Hometown: Enola, Pennsylvania
Occupation: Contractor

WSOP earnings: $0
WSOP Circuit earnings: $3,719
 
Notable in-the-money finishers included three-time gold ring winner Daniel Gilmer (32nd place - $3,552), Asher Conniff (26th place - $4,603), and defending champion Chris Csik (10th place - $11,054). Others who entered but did not cash include WSOP National Champions Ryan Eriquezzo and Loni Harwood, former WSOP Main Event finalists Dennis Phillips and Steve Dannenmann, and current November Niner Joe McKeehen.

Here is the full list of gold ring winners from Horseshoe Baltimore:

Event #1: $365 No-Limit Hold’em (239 entries) - Sara Hall wins $17,925
Event #2: $365 NLHE Re-entry (1,649 entries) - Greg Himmelbrand wins $82,864
Event #3: $365 No-Limit Hold’em (132 entries) - Scott Billups wins $13,998
Event #4: $365 No-Limit Hold’em (130 entries) - Stephen Miller wins $10,919
Event #5: $365 Pot-Limit Omaha (125 entries) - Sridhar Chebrolu wins $10,500
Event #6: $365 NLHE Six-Handed (123 entries) - Brian Breen wins $10,515
Event #7: $365 Big O (82 entries) - Phil Hernz wins $7,873
Event #8: $365 NLHE Mega Stack (356 entries) - Eric Rivkin wins $24,569
Event #9: $365 NLHE Turbo (112 entries) - John Ford wins $10,079
Event #10: $1,675 Main Event (458 entries) - Ting Xiao wins $147,699
Event #11: $580 No-Limit Hold’em (95 entries) - Viet Vo wins $14,997
Event #12: $365 NLHE Turbo (102 entries) - Warren Wiggins wins $9,180

Phil Hernz of Plantation, Florida earned the title of Casino Champion at Horseshoe Baltimore. Hernz picked up his first gold ring in Event #7, the Circuit’s first-ever Big O event. He made a total of three final tables during the 12 events, racking up $11,531 in earnings. Hernz’s performance secured him one of the limited seats in the 2016 WSOP Global Casino Championship.