Cherokee, NC (23 April 2018) -- Former Circuit main event winner Dylan Wilkerson of San Francisco, CA has claimed his second Circuit main event ring, triumphing in Event #10: $1,675 No-Limit Hold'em Main Event at Circuit Harrah's Cherokee. The victory brought Wilkerson the winner's payday of $294,152.
The victory by Wilkerson also assures Event #5 winner Steven Snyder the Casino Championship title for this Circuit stop. Snyder had already amassed 92.5 points through 10 official ring events entering Monday's final day of action, and no other players earned enough points to surpass Snyder's total. Snyder, though, has already assured himself a spot in August's Global Casino Championship.
Wilkerson's win came after a lengthy heads-up duel against veteran poker pro Erick Lindgren, who put in a surprise appearance in the Cherokee main event. Wilkerson began heads-up action against Lindgren with a 4:1 edge in chips, then watched as Lindgren dominated the early stages of the duel to take and 8:1 lead himself.
From there, though, the cards swung Wilkerson's way. After a double-up and a couple of other big pots, Wilkerson moved back into the lead. Then Wilkerson caught pocket kings in the same hand that Lindgren found pocket queens. The chips went in, the board blanked out, and Wilkerson was the winner. Lindgren's runner-up effort was worth $181,864.
Finishing in third and fourth, respectively, were Daniel Wagner of West Seneca, NY, and Howard Setzer of Concord, NH. Wagner and Setzer went to the rail together in a double-knockout hand that gave Wilkerson a 4:1 edge in chips as the head-up duel with Lindgren began. Wagner earned $135,150 for third, having started the hand with the larger stack, while Setzer collected $101,601 for fourth.
The Harrah's Cherokee main event reached its nine-player final table with the elimination of Jonathan Hilton in tenth. Hilton exited after being forced into an all-in choice by Wilkerson on a board. Hilton called with , but Wilkerson showed for trip kings.
Wilkerson picked up another knockout when he ousted Christopher Meyers in ninth. Meyers three-bet shoved over a Wilkerson open, and Wilkerson called. Meyers was ahead to start with to Wilkerson's , but Wilkerson caught a king on the flop and the board brought no other help.
The final narrowed to seven when Wilkerson picked up a third straight knockout, with his victim this time being Gordon Battle. Battle was down to just a few big blinds after losing a large pot just prior, and called off his last chips pre-flop with pocket eights against Wilkerson, who showed pocket nines. Wilkerson caught a nine on the flop and ended up with aces full, sending Battle to the rail.
A collision between Gabe Costner and Brian Wagner trimmed the final table to six. Costner raised preflop, then called all in to a Wagner reraise. Costner showed to Wagner's , but the runout gave Wagner two pair and sent Costner to the payout window.
Next to fall was Fikret Kovac, who departed when his couldn't improve against Wilkerson's in an all-in preflop hand. A short-stacked TK Miles followed Kovac to the rail a while later, when Miles' fell to Wagner's when Wagner spiked a jack on the turn.
Then came the double knockout that gave Wilkerson a commanding lead to begin heads-up play. Wagner, Setzer, and Wilkerson ended up in a three-way, preflop all-in for about 40% of the chips in play. Wilkerson showed , Wagner had , and Setzer offered . The board again ran out Wilkerson's way, bringing .
That set the stage for what looked like a quick walkover over Lindgren, but Lindgren had other ideas. Lindgren played his stack aggressively, making some big hands and forcing Wilkerson out of other pots. Then, just when it seemed the ring was Lindgren's, the cards swung back to Wilkerson. The final hand, for all of Lindgren's chips and most of Wilkerson's, brought a preflop betting war. Once the chips were in, Wilkerson showed . Lindgren said, "You've got to be kidding me," then flipped over . The board ran out , sealing Wilkerson's win.
"I feel... relieved," admitted Wilkerson. "I had such a big lead when we started heads-up, and I pretty much blew it as bad as you can, but I came back and won. So I feel pretty good." Regarding Lindgren's early heads-up surge, Wilkerson said, "Nothing went my way, and I probably didn't play very well. Those things happen, and you usually don't get the chance to come back."
Wilkerson isn't a regular at Circuit Harrah's Cherokee stops, but this time was different. He was there not only to compete, but to spend time with his good friend, Joe Cheong. Cheong traveled to Cherokee seeking Global Casino Championship points, and he earned a bunch by winning Event #11, $365 No-Limit Hold'em (1-Day), which virtually assures Cheong a seat in that event come August.
Wilkerson said, "I was in the area. So I said [to Joe], 'Let's go to Cherokee. Why not?'"
Both friends leave Cherokee winners, though Cheong got in the last quip. After checking social media, as "subiime" Cheong frequently does, he turned to Wilkerson and said, "Look! You've Tweeted once. And you've gained 12 followers!"
Here are the top nine finishers, along with their earnings:
1st: Dylan Wilkerson - $294,152
2nd: Erick Lindgren - $181,864
3rd: Daniel Wagner - $135,150