October 12, 2017 - 12:14:11 AM EST  | 


This page is the hub for information on the WSOP Circuit at Horseshoe Southern Indiana. Check back here ( for updated information and links on this ongoing tournament series.

Hammond, Ind. (October 24, 2017) -- ­There were four ring winners at the Horseshoe Hammond Circuit on Monday, including the Main Event and High Roller Champion. Three players won their first gold ring and one walked away with his second.

It was Blake Battaglia who conquered the Horseshoe Hammond Main Event. He took his Day 2 chip lead all the way to heads-up play where he faced off against Jeff Banghart. Battaglia got the better of Banghart in the end, winning his first Circuit title and whopping $332,020.

Will Berry was the one who added to his ring collection. The 25-year-old, who already had nearly $500,000 in WSOP earnings, defeated 56 players in Event #13: $5,300 No-Limit Hold'em High Roller Re-Entry to win his second career gold ring and $105,000.

Matt Johnson took down the solo bounty tournament of the series. The 33-year-old defeated 345 entrants in Event #12 to capture his first World Series of Poker gold ring and $15,870.

Michael Schlegel won the last event of the Hammond stop. The 45-year-old from Batavia, Illinois cruised through 214 entrants in Event #14 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo (One Re-Entry) to win $16,046 and his a debut gold ring. The tournament reached conclusion in just one day.

Completed Events

Event #1: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Re-Entry
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #3: $580 No-Limit Hold'em
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #4: $580 Pot-Limit Omaha Re-Entry
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #5: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Monster Stack (One Re-Entry)
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #6: $580 H.O.R.S.E.
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #7: $580 No-Limit Hold'em Six Max Re-Entry
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #8: $1,125 No-Limit Hold'em (One Re-Entry)
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #9: $365 Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better (One Re-Entry)
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #10: $1,675 No-Limit Hold'em MAIN EVENT
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #12: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Bounty Re-Entry
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #13: $5,300 No-Limit Hold'em High Roller Re-Entry
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #14: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo (One Re-Entry)
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

 Casino Champion Race

Edward Han claims the Horseshoe Hammond Casino Championship with three cashes, including one, gold-ring victory, worth a total of 87.5 points.


About the Winners

Jonathan Tamayo: Winner of Event #1

After four separate starting flights and an extensive Day 2, it was Jonathan Tamayo who topped the 2,349-entrant field in Event #1: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Re-Entry. The Texas native earned his third career gold ring and $101,404.

Tamayo's road to victory was a long one. The 31-year-old broke through Flight C with a solid stack. He then had one day off before entering, what would be, an extensive Day 2. The final table alone took just over five hours to complete. Multiple hours of poker can be daunting for players, but lengthy periods at the table do not really phase Tamayo anymore.

“I just process everything and then times flies. I see the clock, but I don’t feel the time. I’ve done it too long,” explained Tamayo.

Tamayo has WSOP cashes dating back to 2008 and they tell a story of a man who is no stranger to the big stage, or big money.  With his triumph in Hammond, Indiana, the young poker pro added yet another six-figure payout to his lucrative stat sheet, which now boasts nearly 1.3 million dollars in WSOP earnings.

Although Tamayo can occasionally be seen on the Circuit tour, he more-so enjoys the annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Majority of his cashes stem from the prestigious summer series, including his largest to date.

In the 2009 Main Event World Championship, Tamayo finished 21st, out of nearly 6,500 players, for a score of $352,832. When Tamayo is not bagging six-figure cashes in the world of cards, he is usually wrapped up in another profession.

“Half of the year I am a football referee in Texas. But, I had two weeks where I was off on the schedule, so I came here. Otherwise, I don’t get to travel much.

The time off from officiating has proven highly profitable so far for the modest poker player, originally from Humble, Texas. Tamayo plans to stay and play the rest of the series at Horseshoe Hammond. He takes an early lead in the Casino Championship race with 50 points, but there are still many ring events to come.

Jim Calvo: Winner of Event #3

Jim Calvo came away with his first World Series of Poker gold ring on Monday. The 52-year-old poker player defeated a field of 199 players in Event #3: $580 No-Limit Hold'em at the Horseshoe Hammond Circuit series, banking $25,873 and 50 Casino Championship points to go along with his new piece of WSOP gold.

“It feels good. I mean, it feels great,” Calvo expressed after his win “You know, I had a second place at the World Series of Poker in June. I was an overwhelming chip leader and then the guy came back, so that was disappointing,” he said.

This past summer, at the 48th annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Calvo was also faced with a shot at gold. He made it all the way to the end of Event #29: $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em, but could not deliver the final blow,

Calvo finished one spot short of a gold bracelet, but did take away a massive payday of $282,276. Although it is not a bracelet, and the payout dwarfs in comparison to his last score, the debut, gold-ring achievement was a thing of redemption for Calvo.

“I love having this ring. You know, it feels good. I like winning. I think it is a much bigger accomplishment to win,” stated Calvo.

It was a strenuous, back-and-forth battle between Byron Ziebell and Calvo for the Circuit title. This time around, Calvo held strong and avoided another runner-up finish. The father of four has, for the most part, been playing poker for a living in recent years.

“I used to say I was a recreational player, but I’ve been winning so much money lately it feels like it’s a little bit more of a hobby at this point,” Calvo said.

His other professions include being a Lawyer and Real Estate Investor. As Event #4 is concerned, Calvo emerged victorious as a poker pro. The Illinois native now has a memorable story to share with his children, Jimmy, Matt, Charlie, Joey, and pet dog, Rufus.

Edward Han: Winner of Event #4

Edward Han traveled to Chicago from his home state of Virginia and seized his first World Series of Poker gold ring at the Horseshoe Hammond Circuit stop. The 29-year-old defeated a field of 115 entrants in Event #4: $580 Pot-Limit Omaha Re-Entry to claim the Circuit title and $17,250.

“It feels great,” expressed Han. “I missed one last April when I played in a Circuit Event. I got runner-up, so it feels good to finally winner.”

During the 2016/17 Circuit tour, Han felt the sting of a runner-up finish during the solo PLO event at Horseshoe Baltimore. When it comes to PLO, Han is no slouch. On the contrary, his Omaha experience extends over a decade and it would be hard to match Han’s admiration for the game.

“PLO is by far my favorite game,” Han stated “I started playing PLO High, only, since 2013. I’ve played PLO 8 since like 2004. But ever since then, I fell in love with PLO. It’s definitely my favorite game to play.”

Han's PLO prowess ultimately carried him to the winner’s circle, at Horseshoe Hammond. It was a debut cash at the Chicago-area stop for Han. In fact, the Virginia native can rarely be seen at out-of-town, Circuit stops.

“My friend wanted to visit Chicago, to see the city for the first time and also to play in the tournaments. So, I said I’d come with him and now we’re here,” Han said with a smile.

All of Han’s previous, Circuit cashes were recorded Horseshoe Baltimore, the closest stop to his hometown of McLean, Virginia, near Washington D.C.

Han plans to stick around northwest Illinois for the next few days. Immediately following his achievement, Han jumped in the H.O.R.S.E. tournament, Event #6. The soon-to-be-married individual has a duty to continue playing if he is to reach his year-end goal.

“I also promised myself I’d win two pieces of jewelry this year. So, I’m half way there!” exclaimed Han.

Kevin Eyster: Winner of Event #5

Kevin Eyster added a third piece of World Series of Poker gold to his collection on Tuesday. The 28-year-old poker pro took down Event #5: $365 No-Limit Hold’em Monster Stack (One Re-Entry) at the Horseshoe Hammond Circuit stop.

The Monster Stack drove deep into the night, finishing off with a lengthy heads-up battle between Eyster and Kevin Saul. Throughout the final stretch of Event #5, gold bracelet winner Ben Keeline, and two-time gold ring winner, Kzysztof Stybaniewicz watched as the two powerhouse players faced off.

“I back a few people. These are two of my horses and they are also good friends of mine,” explained Eyster. “On this trip, we are staying together, so it makes it a lot easier. We all share pretty good comradery.”

Around 2:00 a.m., in Level 35, a moment of triumph was finally had. In the end, Saul left as the runner-up and Eyster was the one posing for a winner's photo with his two traveling buddies.

With the victory, came Eyster's second career gold ring, and third piece of WSOP gold. The poker pro from Lafayette, Louisiana lays claim to a gold bracelet as well, a prestigious prize he captured back in 2014.

Eyster was awarded $622,998 for his gold bracelet achievement. His current Monster Stack finish was good for $39,499. Although the cash prize dwarfs in comparison to his largest score to date, Eyster was grateful for the payday.

“This one feels great. I really needed this win,” Eyster expressed “I had to drop down to these stakes. This is the first tournament I played on the dropdown stakes,”

Eyster, admittedly, has been in a slump lately, one which caused him to humbly seek out lower buy-ins. The Louisiana native is usually playing in tournaments with five-figure entry fees.

John Ma: Winner of Event #6

John Ma took down the solo, mix-game tournament of the Horseshoe Hammond series. The 44-year-old, and former poker pro, rode through 120 competitors in Event #6: $580 H.O.R.S.E. to win $18,001 and his first gold ring.

“It feels awesome. I just never would have imagined this happening,” Ma claimed on account of his dire situation going into the final day of the tournament.

Ma entered Day 2 with just two big blinds, an improbable position to come back from. However, with the help of some early doubles, he remained in the game and acquired some chips to play with.

From there, the Engineer went on to complete his 180-degree turnaround, reaching the unofficial final table with an overall chip lead. There was plenty of skill among the final nine players, including Ma’s own mix-game prowess.

“Prior to me working as an Engineer I was a full-time, cash professional player,” stated Ma. “I would only play high stakes, mixed games like H.O.R.S.E., so that was like my bread and butter.

Ma's chip advantage and experience carried him to victory. The triumph was a gratifying one for Ma, who left the poker scene when he and his wife began to start a family. His departure from the world of professional poker may have actually helped in his cause.

“Playing poker… periodically is actually more enjoyable. I feel I play better,” said Ma

Although he does not grind out poker sessions for a living anymore, Ma has earned something to show for his time on the felt. A flashy, new piece of gold and memorable story will surely be tokens to share with his loved ones.

Ma still looks to player poker here and there, but puts his family first. The dedicated father and husband now lives in Hoffman Estates, Illinois with his wife. They have two children and are expecting another in May.

Andrew Moser: Winner of Event #7

Andrew Moser claimed his first World Series of Poker gold ring and pocketed $33,526 at the Horseshoe Hammond Circuit. The 33-year-old poker pro defeated 253 entrants in Event #7: $580 No-Limit Hold'em Six Max Re-Entry, a tournament that took two days to reach a conclusion.

There were only six players who survived Day 1 of the six-handed competition. This left a full, official final table to roll over into Day 2. It was his second final table appearance of the series. This time around, Moser was in a much better position and reached heads up. Moser made quick work of his opponent. In less than 30 minutes the match was finished and a familiar face walked up on The Venue stage to join in celebration.

It was Edward Han, winner of Event #4: $580 Pot-Limit Omaha Re-Entry, who walked up on The Venue stage to celebrate with Moser. The two friends traveled from Virginia to the Chicago-area together.

Each claimed the journey was initiated by the other. No matter the reasoning behind the origin of voyage, it has been well worth the trip time so far.

“I never really travel other than just outside the mid-Atlantic. MGM is where I normally play,” explained Moser “Ed wanted to come up here just for a break. I did want to see Chicago.”

Aside from sightseeing, both players struck gold in Horseshoe Hammond arena, and captured debut gold rings. Moser also banked 50 Casino Championship points for his recent victory.

Interestingly enough, the dynamic duo has intertwined themselves in the race for Casino Champion. Han was sitting atop the leaderboard with 60 points. However, Moser has now dethroned his pal, recording a total of 65 points.

“Ed might stay longer. I am going to play the Main regardless,” Moser pointed out, alluding to a possible persistence in the Casino Championship race amongst friends.

Richard Bai: Winner of Event #8

Richard Bai took down Event #8 at the World Series of Poker Circuit stop at Horseshoe Hammond. The Chicago native defeated a field of 139 players in the $1,125 buy-in, No-Limit Hold'em tournament to claim $38,919 and his first career gold ring.

The competition took two days and 23 Levels of poker to reach a conclusion. Bai had the most successful Day 1 of any player. He finished off the first leg with a stack worth 239,000 and the overall chip lead.

Bai's advantage only heightened during Day 2 action. By the time unofficial final table was reached, the poker pro had nearly 600,000 in tournament chips.

It was Christopher Chiang who Bai found himself heads up against. Both players were striving to grab a debut gold ring. Chiang hung in for a while, but Bai was the one who ultimately accomplished the feat.

The victory marks Bai's 19th WSOP cash and increases his earnings to right around $150,000. Besides during the annual WSOP in Las Vegas and Chicago-area Circuit stop, Bai does not usually seek out tournament grinds.

“I don’t really play too many tournaments,” claimed Bai. “I love cash. That’s all I play. It’s been my bread and butter for a long time. I’ll probably never be a tournament player, but I do love playing them like once in a while.”

The young poker pro mostly makes a living in the cash-game scene, and has been since 2008. Though tournament poker is not his primary field of expertise, Bai showed that he still has what it takes to win.

Adam Dembowski: Winner of Event #9

Adam Dembowski grabbed a piece of World Series of Poker gold on Friday, at the Horseshoe Hammond Circuit series. The 32-year-old outlasted 133 players in Event #9: $365 Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better to win his first WSOP gold ring.

The tournament finished in two days, and left Dembowski as the last man standing. After falling to around 300,000 in chips during heads-up play, Dembowski thought he would be down and out.

"He scooped like three, four big pots,” Dembowski explained. “I thought I was done. You know, it’s a swingy game,” he claimed. But in the end, Dembowski reclaimed the lead and eventually delivered a final blow to his final opponent, Michael Younan.

The victory provided Dembowski with a nice payday of $11,171. For a living, When the Chicago-area resident is not playing poker he works as a Table Game Dealer at Rivers Casino, near O’Hare International Airport.

“It’s a fun job, I love it. I got the weekends off. I can play poker,” said Dembowski. “In the past couple years, I’ve definitely been playing more.”

Although Dembowski spends a lot of his time dealing out cards, he came to Hammond, Indiana to receive them, at a rate of four per hand no less. Dembowski entered the Omaha Hi-Lo competition harboring little experience with the game type.

“Honestly, I never play Omaha Hi-Lo,” admitted Dembowski “Got some help from friends who know the game better than me. They taught me a few things and I decided to try it, and… It worked out.”

His lack of Hi-Lo familiarity did not deter the Wisconsin native though. With tips from some pals and knowledge of the variance Omaha entails, Dembowski powered through to a Circuit title and debut gold ring.

Blake Battaglia: Winner of Event #10 MAIN EVENT

Blake Battaglia is the World Series of Poker Circuit’s most recent Main Event Champion. The Chicago-area poker player conquered Event #10: $1,675 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event at his home-field casino, Horseshoe Hammond, winning a debut gold ring.

“It hasn’t hit me yet. It’s unreal,” said Battaglia, following his momentous score.

The staggering, Main Event purse left Battaglia in awe when all was said and done. On top of the golden hardware, Battaglia was awarded a WSOP cash of $332,020 for his triumph.

Three long days of cards was what it took for Battaglia to realize his accomplishment. Along the way, as is with all poker tournaments, there were some ups and downs, but Battaglia remained on the up side throughout majority of the final stretch.

Flight A did not bode well for Battaglia, failing to hold on to his chips. However, the 31-year-old did find more luck during Flight B. He survived the second starting flight with around 125,000 in chips, leaving him in a middle-of-the-pack position.

It was not till midway through Day 2 that Battaglia really lit up the Main Event radar. He hit the one million mark in Level 21, and then went on to overtake the chip lead with a knockout in the very next level.

When the field was cut to 27 players, and a three table redraw occurred, Battaglia was still ahead It seemed like the Illinois native could not be stopped, scoring another knockout near the end of Day 2, eventually finishing with a noticeable advantage.

“I had a massive chip lead I’m pretty sure. Like I had almost 20% of the chips in play with just 19 [players] left,” recollected Battaglia. It was still no cake walk for the poker pro.

“I mean, today [Day 3] was tough… I just kept telling myself to stay focused play my game,” Battaglia disclosed “I didn’t need to like press the issue.”

There was plenty of experience present on Day 3 of the Main Event, which dove right into a two-table redraw. Some of the big hitters remaining were three-time gold ring winner, Mukul Pahuja, Lytle Allen, who has five, top-ten finish in Circuit Main Events, and the defending Horseshoe Hammond Main Event Champion, Dylan Linde.

Battaglia stayed the course and made it to the unofficial final table, but had been dethroned as chip leader. The upheaval was executed by Jeff Banghart, who would prove to be Battaglia’s number one adversary.

“I know that he overtook the chip lead for a little while. When we went to the final table there was like back-to-back hands where me and him played pots together,” said Battaglia.

“He’s a good player. He was playing solid all day, from what I saw, so yeah I kind of had that feeling,” Battaglia responded when asked if he thought Banghart and himself would match up heads up.

The mano-a-mano match was an action packed one, to say the least. It did not take long, but could have even been shorter. At one point, Battaglia was one card away from glory, but got snuffed on the river.

“Oh man, the ring was half way on my finger man,” Battaglia expressed, still in disbelief of the outcome. “I just had to buckle down. I knew like to not go on tilt… But, you know, we recovered like right away.”

A recovery movement did come swiftly for Battaglia. Then, a pivotal hand emerged.

“There was a huge hand where I jammed the river,” started Battaglia. “I had ace-jack. I told him it was a bluff [afterwards],” he continued “I put him on a ten and I knew the only way I’m going to get him to fold is if I just jam it, so I did.”

The pivotal hand tipped the scales toward Battaglia and ultimately led to the moment of triumph. The victory is a tremendous boost to Battaglia’s young, poker career. The father of three formerly worked as an Electrician, but recently transitioned to playing poker for a living and ended up snatching monumental, Main Event title at Horseshoe Hammond.

“I can’t believe it… Definitely ecstatic about it,” said Battaglia.

Matt Johnson: Winner of Event #12

Matt Johnson took down the solo bounty tournament at the World Series of Poker Circuit series at Horseshoe Hammond Circuit. The 33-year-old defeated 345 entrants in Event #12 to capture his first WSOP gold ring.

It took Johnson two days of poker to reach the crowning achievement and a large part of his dominance came in Day 2. During the second leg of Event #12, Johnson chipped up big time, entering the final eight players with a massive chip lead. His position, or rather, position of his opponents made for a tough final table though.

“I knew I got the worst seat... I had the two toughest players to my left,” Johnson claimed. “Nick lost a couple of big pots. When he was out I could start moving the chips around a little more.”

Directly to Johnson's left was bracelet winner, and three-time gold ring winner, Nick Jivkov. One more spot over, sat Justin Boggs, the Horseshoe Southern Indiana Main Event Champion from two weeks ago.

In the end, Johnson's chip advantage overpowered Boggs during heads-up play and the poker pro from Elgin, Illinois grabbed a Circuit gold ring of his own.

Along with the finger-sized trophy, Johnson also banks 50 Casiono Championship points and $15,870. This marks Johnson's fifth cash on the WSOP Circuit tour. His previous four were claimed at the Potawatomi stop last year.

“I played the Circuit in Milwaukee,” Johnson stated. “I got third in the PLO. So, I mean, I’ve been there. This time I closed the deal.”

Will Berry: Winner of Event #13

Will Berry and his group of poker playing friends have a saying. ‘The key is that you have to want to win.’

Over the last seven months, Berry has proven that he wants the ‘W.’ He won his second career ring on Monday night in the Horseshoe Hammond $5,300 no-limit hold’em high roller. He defeated a field of 56 entries and Andreas Pavlou heads-up to win $105,000.

“It feels pretty great,” said Berry after the win.

The 25-year-old poker pro from Oklahoma has quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with on the World Series of Poker Circuit. He won his first ring last March in the Hard Rock Tulsa Main Event for $180,806.

He takes down another six-figure score in Hammond, but in a much different event. One with a smaller field and a much bigger buy-in. He’s had experience at this level before during the summer at the Rio and actually enjoys the smaller fields and bigger buy-ins more than other events he’ll play.

“I enjoyed this high roller a lot,” said Berry. “I think the structure was great. I actually think this was more enjoyable than the main [event]. Not just because I won, but the people were pretty friendly throughout. It’s just a looser atmosphere.”

Like a true professional, Berry doesn’t think about the stakes when he is at the poker table. He is focused on one thing and one thing only – playing his best at all times.

“Relative to the size of the standard $1,600 main event buy-ins, it’s not that much bigger. It’s just three of them,” said Berry. “When I come to a stop, I’m willing to play the event the maximum four times and it’s still the same game.”

Berry isn’t far removed from his time at the University of Oklahoma, where he honed his poker skills and supported himself in a local $2/$5 game while earning a degree in Petroleum Engineering. He graduated from school in 2014 and just over three years later, he’s emerged as one of the better players on the Circuit.

Immediately after getting his degree, he started out on a full-time poker career. He grinded cash games until his bankroll was big enough to allow him to play tournaments.

“You kind of have to get some scores to play all these buy-ins,” said Berry. “So, it was just cash games until I was able to comfortably able to play tournaments.”

It’s not luck that got him this far, though. He’s a grinder that is constantly putting in work on his game. 

“I like to think that I’m constantly improving,” said Berry, who turns 26 next month. “I try to play as many tournaments as I reasonably can. It’s kind of hard when you have to travel around to places, but I put in the hard work when I’m at home and I guess the results are starting to show.”

Michael Schlegel: Winner of Event #14

Michael Schlegel won the last event of the World Series of Poker Circuit series at Horseshoe Hammond. The 45-year-old from Batavia, Illinois cruised through 214 entrants in Event #14 No-Limit Hold'em (One Re-Entry) to win his first gold ring.

The tournament reached conclusion in just one day and finished in The Venue at Horseshoe Hammond. When it was all over, Schlegel touched on his post-victory reaction.

“It feels really good,” expressed Schlegel “And I tell ya, it feels better that it was back-to-back because I won last night’s nightly turbo.”

Less than 24 hours prior, the local player topped a $150 buy-in, nightly tournament, which also has a fast-pace structure. The turbo-style of play proved likable and beneficial for Schlegel.

“I did like the turbo style,” Schlegel stated “It started off nice and easy. People started getting aggressive on me. I sat back, waited for hands,” he continued “I like to trap a lot, that’s my thing. You know, just check, let them bet in to me.”

A trapping technique can prove fruitful in turbo events. For Schlegel, the strategy catapulted him to a WSOPC final table, and then heads-up battle. It was Schlegel and Aaron Thomas facing off for all the marbles in the end.

“Very good player, very tough,” Schlegel deemed his heads-up opponent. “Ten hands in to it, I said ‘It’s an honor to play with you.’ It really was.”

Thomas put up a tough fight and Schlegel had much respect for his opponent. However, after the last pot was won, it was Schlegel hoisting the gold ring.

Aside from the gold ring, the Illinois native also pocketed $16,046. The victory marked just the second WSOP cash of Schlegel’s fairly, new career.

“I’m a licensed Electrician. Right now, I’m taking a break from it… just grinding. This is my first year playing, pretty much full time.”

WSOP gold is a brilliant way to cap off an inaugural year of grinding the poker realm.

For the full schedule of events here at Horseshoe Hammond and/or for more information on the WSOP Circuit, please use the links below.

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