Las Vegas (November 23, 2015) –Planet Hollywood offers a glimpse of Tinseltown’s glitz and glamour in Las Vegas, a place where stars come to play. And over the past four days, the stars of the poker world descended on the World Series of Poker Circuit tournament area, coming out in droves for the Planet Hollywood Circuit’s Main Event. The field included former world champions, November Niners, WSOP bracelet winners, and players with countless other accomplishments. Yet the stars eventually faded, and the when the last card was dealt, it was a relative unknown holding all the chips.
Sean Berrios, whose lifetime earnings before tonight totaled just over $113,000, emerged as the victor from the crowded field, earning by far the biggest payday of his first major live tournament victory and $347,192. “I’m just ecstatic right now,” Berrios said after the event, nearly speechless as he processed his accomplishment.
Appropriately enough, Berrios played the final table wearing a New England Patriots jersey. His favorite football team was playing the rival Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football. The Patriots won, maintaining their undefeated record this season—a foreshadowing of Berrios’s victory later in the night. “They jersey’s a good-luck charm,” he said. “It’s been good luck for me in the past.” And the streak continued, as Berrios earned his first WSOP Circuit ring and the biggest score of his career. His previous biggest cash was a fourth place in a $1,500 Limit Hold’em event at the 2014 WSOP.
Berrios is an amateur player. He’s an active duty member of the Air Force, working as a contracting administrator. He’s also a limit hold’em specialist. Even so, he masterfully navigated a field of professionals who regularly play no-limit. “I just stayed patient,” he said. “And I waited to pick my spots.”
This victory likely offers the humble Berrios a little extra pride, as he bested a truly star-studded field. Entrants in the tournament included 2001 WSOP Main Event champion Carlos Mortensen, 2013 Main Event champion Ryan Riess, Colossus winner Cord Garcia, and bracelet winners Dutch Boyd, Erick Lindgren, Kathy Liebert, Bryan Piccioli, Leo Wolpert, Will Givens, Barry Hutter, Adam Friedman, Kevin Eyster, and Jared Hamby. They were joined by November Niners Jake Balsiger, Joseph Cheong, and Dennis Phillips, as well as Gavin Smith, Matt Salsberg, Sofia Lovgren, Kelly Minkin, Sorel Mizzi, Dan O’Brien, Charles “Woody” Moore, and Maurice Hawkins, among others.
Day 3 began at noon Monday with 22 players. The first elimination took place about 45 minutes later, and the field was reduced to two tables (18 players) at about 1:30 p.m. Three-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Robert Hankins was the next player eliminated. The other multiple-ring winner remaining, Brett Schwertley, finished in 12th place. Then at 4:00 p.m., about 20 minutes Schwertley’s elimination, Shawn Rice busted out in 11th, and the other ten players combined to a single table.
After the redraw, there were two quick eliminations—Ali Rabah in 10th place ($27,619) and Ali Fazeli in 9th ($34,269). After that, the action slowed considerably. About an hour later, Jonathan Chehanske was eliminated in 8th place ($42,993). And it was nearly another hour before Dennis Stevermer bustout out in 7th ($54,572). Forty minutes later, the remaining six players paused for a dinner break. When they returned, it was another two hours and 45 minutes before Brian Hansen was eliminated in sixth place ($70,083).
The period of relative inaction took its toll, though, and by this point, the blinds were growing large compared to most players’ stacks. Hansen’ bustout was the start of a flurry of eliminations, and three more players hit the rail within the next hour: Ben Palmer in fifth ($91,052), Davis Aalvik in fourth ($119,316), and Antonios Roungeris in 3rd ($157,908).
When heads-up play began, Sean Berrios held a 2-1 chip lead over Peter Hengsakul. Hengsakul quickly evened the stacks, however, and the two went to battle. Berrios regained his advantage, essentially employing the same strategy that got him to that point. “I stayed patient, and I got really good cards. He played great,” Berrios said of Hengsakl. “I just ran well at the right time.”
In addition to the ring and the prize money, Berrios wins a free entry into the 2016 WSOP Global Casino Championship. Every Main Event winner and Casino Champion on the Circuit during the 2014-2015 season receives a free entry worth $10,000, and event will have a minimum prize pool of $1,000,000.
The tournament began Friday with Day 1A, which attracted 551 entries. Day 1B saw an additional 753 entries, and the 1,304-entry field generated a prize pool of $1,956,000. In-the-money finishers include Cord Garcia (135th place, $2,914), Dutch Boyd (133rd place, $2,914), Aaron Massey (121st place, $2,914), Kathy Liebert (106th place, $3,443), Zo Karim (103rd, $3,443), Charles “Woody” Moore (99th place, $3,736), Jake Schindler (57th place, $5,262), Barry Hutter (48th place, $5,809), Ben Yu (37th place, $6,474), Maurice Hawkins (30th place, $9,545), Robert Hankin (18th place, $18,562), Nancy Nguyen (17th place, $18,562), and two former WSOP Main Event champions: Ryan Riess (84th, $4.068) and Carlos Mortensen (67th, $4,812).
The Main Event was the ninth of 12 gold ring events on the WSOP Circuit schedule at Planet Hollywood. The $1,675 no-limit hold’em event attracted 1,304 entries. The total prize pool came to $1,956,000 and the top 135 players were paid.
The tournament featured two starting flights beginning Friday, November 20 and Saturday, November 21 at 12 p.m. Flight A boasted 551 entries and advanced 93, while Flight B drew 753 and advanced 148. Both starting flights logged 15 levels of play.
Day 2 restarted Sunday at 2 p.m. with 241 players remaining. The money bubble burst toward the end of Level 18 (~3:30 p.m.) and play wrapped at the end of Level 25 (about 12:45 a.m.). There were 22 players left at the time.
Here are the final table results. Full Results are available here.
1 - Sean Berrios - $347,192
2 - Peter Hengsakul - $215,160
3 - Antonios Roungeris - $157,908
4 - Davis Aalvik - $119,316
5 - Ben Palmer - $91,052
6 - Brian Hansen - $70,083
7 - Dennis Stevermer - $54,752
8 - Jonathan Chehanske - $42,993
9 - Ali Fazeli - $34,269