Nikhil Gera wins first career ring and earns largest career cash in Bike main event
Bell Gardens, Ca (December 13, 2016) – The final table of the $1,675, no-limit hold’em main event at the Bicycle Casino was filled with top poker talent with players combining for several millions in career tournament earnings, but it was lesser known local grinder Nikhil Gera who came out on top to win his first Circuit ring and $246,295.
Gera navigated through a final table that featured Bracelet winner Ankush Mandavia, Eddy Sabat, Harry Arutyunyan, and two-time Bracelet winner Tuan Le to get to heads-up play against fellow Los Angeles local Paul Nguyen. The two local players played heads-up for a few hours in front of a rowdy rail before Gera had amassed all the chips and officially topped the 842-entry field.
“It feels great,” said Gera after the win. “I’ve been playing a lot recently and have a lot of good friends here who give me advice on hands, and on life and stuff. This one is for them too.”
Gera was greeted by his rowdy rail as soon as the final card was dealt. His rail included Nipun Java, Craig Chait, Sean Yu, and lots of other poker talent. His mother was also on hand to watch him take down the title. She is also a poker enthusiast.
“These are like the best guys in L.A.,” said the 39-year-old physician of his supporters. “And they are the best players in too. A lot of noise was made by these guys.”
Gera doesn’t play professionally, but his job allows him a lot of free time to play. After growing up in the Los Angeles suburbs and going to medical school in New York, Gera came back to the Los Angeles area and has been working in an emergency room as a Psychiatrist.
He does shift work, which basically has him putting in very long hours two days a week, but has plenty of time to play. His network of poker friends he has around has helped him get to a point in his ability to take down a Circuit title.
“All these guys have different strengths,” said Gera. “I feel like we are kind of a team and we feed off of each other. You pick up different things from different people for sure.”
Gera had a deep and loud group of supporters, but so did his heads-up opponent. The atmosphere was one closer to a football game, rather than a poker match. But that made it more enjoyable for Gera in the win.
“It made it kind of fun,” said Gera. “It’s fun that I’m an L.A. regular and this tournament being here and having the rail and stuff. It was a lot of fun.”
The final table was filled with poker talent, but the field as a whole was also one of the tougher events the Circuit has seen in recent history. Gera’s experience with tough players helped him throughout the final table en route to his first victory of his career.
“It actually was cool because it makes you focus a little bit harder when you know that the people you are playing with are at the top of this game,” said Gera. “I actually had a really tough Day 1 table with a lot of good pros. Playing with them definitely got me in the right mindset to play against good players.”
In addition to the ring and the prize money, Gera wins a free entry into the 2017 WSOP Global Casino Championship. Every Main Event winner and Casino Champion on the Circuit during the 2016-2017 season receives a free entry worth $10,000, and event will have a minimum prize pool of $1,000,000. The Global Casino Championship will be held next summer and full details are expected to be released in the spring.
The tournament began Saturday with Day 1A, which attracted 365 entries. Day 1B saw an additional 453 entries. There were 24 players who exercised their option to buy-in to Day 2 directly and the 842-entry field generated a prize pool of $1,263,000. In-the-money finishers include Sean Jazayeri (15th - $15,345), Mohsin Charania (17th - $12,645), Phil Laak (18th - $12,645), Barry Hutter (24th - $8,880), Jared Jaffee (31st - $5,685), Darren Rabinowtiz (32nd - $5,685), Nipun Java (39th - $4,470), Marco Johnson (52nd - $4,030), Matt Salsberg (58th - $3,665), Scott Clements (67th - $3,370), and Cord Garcia (82nd - $2,855). Among those who entered but didn’t make the money are David “ODB” Baker, Frank Kassela, Ronnie Bardah, Gordon Vayo, Dan Heimiller, and Mike Leah.
Here is a look at the final table results:
1st: Nikhil Gera - $246,295
2nd: Paul Nguyen - 152,190
3rd: Eddy Sabat - $112,105
4th: Alex Massman - $83,660
5th: Ankush Mandavia - $63,250
6th: Harry Arutyunyan - $48,435
7th: Mark Hamilton - $37,560
8th: Tuan Le - $29,490
9th: David Mendelson - $23,440