Bell Gardens, CA (15 December 2015) – As 2015 wraps up for the World Series of Poker Circuit, Valentin Vornicu is making his mark on the season and ending the year on high note. Vornicu won the Main Event at the Bicycle Casino, earning $197,110 and his seventh career WSOP Circuit ring.
“I’m speechless,” an emotional Vornicu said after taking a few moments to compose himself. “This is my first Main Event ring. I’ve been chasing the Main Event. It’s my second ring at the Bike. This is the first casino I’ve won two rings at.”
Vornicu’s seven rings ties him for second place on the all-time list. (Ari Engel and Chris Reslock also have seven.) The only player with more rings is Alex Masek, who recently won his ninth in one of the preliminary events here at the Bicycle Casino. Vornicu and Masek are good friends, and they have a bit of a rivalry on the felt, and on the all-time rings list. In fact, two years ago, Masek earned one his rings by defeating Vornicu heads-up. Vornicu mentioned with a smile that if he’d won that tournament, the two of them would be tied right now. Despite that minor setback in their ongoing competition, Vornicu plans to continue chasing his friend after the holidays.
In addition to the ring and the prize money, Vornicu also earns a free entry into the 2016 Global Casino Championship (formerly known as the National Champion). Each year, 100 players earn free entries, either by winning a Circuit Main Event, earning Casino Champion honors at a Circuit stop, or by ending the season in the top 50 of the year-long leaderboard. The Global Casino Championship has a prize pool with $1,000,000 in added money, and this is now the fourth consecutive year Vornicu has qualified. The player who’s qualified the most consecutive years is Charles “Woody” Moore, who’s made it five years running and is well on his way to a sixth. This is yet another record Vornicu is chasing.
The final day of the Main Event began Tuesday at 1 p.m. with eleven players remaining. Zelman led the way with 2,585,000 in chips. Vornicu was close on his heels with 2,520,000. They both held a big lead over the third-place player, bracelet winner Josh Pollock (1,410,000). Early in the second level of the day, two players had been eliminated, and they were down to the official nine-handed final table.
After two more players had been eliminated, Vornicu got involved in one of the key hands that helped propel him to victory. He got into an all-in preflop confrontation with bracelet winner Josh Pollock. Vornicu held pocket jacks, and Pollock had Ace-King. The jacks won, Vornicu doubled up, and Pollock was crippled. They had been nearly even in chips at the time, and Vornicu took a big chip lead. “Josh was one of the players I was most afraid of,” Vornicu said, adding that he wasn’t happy to have Pollock on his left after the redraw to the final table. “It was a tough final table. Two bracelet winners (Pollock and Shawn Busse). Lots of good players.”
The Main Event attracted a total of 641 entries over two starting days. Day 1A (Saturday) had 235, and another 394 entered on Day 1B (Sunday). Late registration was officially open until the start of Day 2 on Monday, and 12 players took advantage of that by registering Monday morning before the start of play. In total 130 players began Day 2. Roland Israelashvili was the chip leader heading into Day 2, having bagged 252,000 on Day 1B.
The 641 entries generated a prize pool of $961,500, and the top 72 places were paid. The bubble burst early on Day 2 with two concurrent bustouts. Players who busted in the money include Neil Scott (65th place, $2,690), Scott Stewart (51st, $3,210), Tuan Le (36th, $3,980), Ben Keeline (14th, $12,065), Craig Varnell (13th, $12,065), and Roland Israelashvili (12th, $14,825). Players who entered but failed to cash include Matt Salsberg, Cord Garcia, actor Bill Fagerbakke, and Nipun Java, who won the Main Event here in March 2014.
With the conclusion of the Main Event, the WSOP Circuit is on hiatus until January. The next stop is at the Choctaw Durant casino, beginning January 6th.
Here are the final table results from the Main Event. Click here for a full list of results.
1 – Valentin Vornicu - $197,110
2 – Michael Zelman - $121,965
3 – Salvatore DiCarlo – 89,460
4 – Geffrey Klein - $66,525
5 – Hermilo Vargas - $50,140
6 – Shawn Busse - $38,295
7 – Josh Pollock - $29,625
8 – Erhart Edquist – 23,230
9 – Orlando Romero - $18,440