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Blake Whittington Captures his Second Circuit Ring while Mike Azzaro, Mike Jukich, and Eric Salazar Grab Their First

Baltimore, MD (6 May 2018) -  The final four events wrapped up at the Horseshoe Baltimore on Monday night with Blake Whittington, Mike Azzaro, Eric Salazar and Mike Jukich all grabbing a piece of World Series of Poker Circuit gold. 

The first event to end on Monday was Event #10 where Mike Azzaro outlasted a field of 137 players to take home $11,506 and his first World Series of Poker Circuit ring. Azzaro defeated the Day 1 chip leader, Michael Stiller heads up to win the tournament. Azzaro said that he was relieved to win the tournament as he was seeking World Series of Poker Circuit points, but also that he was very happy. Before the tournament even ended, Azzaro bought a ticket for Event #12 and was hopping back and forth between the two tournaments. 

A full list of results for this event can be found here. 

The next event to finish up was the Main Event, where Mike Jukich finished strong and conquered a field of 513 players to take home $165,438 and his first World Series of Poker Circuit ring. Jukich had several deep runs before including a runner up finish in a Main Event in Philadelphia. Jukich defeated Jeremy Stein heads up for the title. Jukich was extremely happy to finally be able to take home a ring after many close class. 

To read more about Jukich and his victory, click here. A full list of results can be found here.

Event #12: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Double Stack Turbo was the third event to end and taking down his first ring was Eric Salazar. Salazar bested a field of 149 players to win $12,516 and his first World Series of Poker Circuit ring. Salazar has had a lot of success in the last two month, making four final tables and finally closing one out with a victory in Event #12. He attributed a lot of his success to his friend Blake Whittington and Matt Higgins. 

A full list of results for this event can be found here. 

The last event to close out on Monday night was Event #11: $3,250 No-Limit Hold'em High Roller. While his friend Eric Salazar was able to close out an event just a few yards away, Blake Whittington was busy closing out his own victory in Event $11. Whittington felt like he and Salazar both needed to win for the great story. The two of them were able to do it with Whittington locking up a win over 37 entries in Event #11 for $49,950 as well as his second World Series of Poker Circuit ring. 

To read more about Whittington's victory, click here. A full list of results from this event can be found here. 

 


 

Completed Events

Event #1: $365 No-Limit Hold'em (30-Minute Levels) - Chris Harris Tops 173 Players For His First Ring and $14,012
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #2: $365 No-Limit Hold'em (30-Minute Levels) w/ Re-Entry $250,000 Guaranteed - Bradley Yazici Tops a Massive Field of 1,232 to take home a $65,957 Payday 
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #3: $365 No-Limit Hold'em (30-Minute Levels) w/ Re-Entry - Nicholas Verderamo Finds Redemption by Topping a Field of 134 for $11,254
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #4: $365 No-Limit Hold'em MONSTER STACK w/ Re-Entry - Yevgeny Ganz Finds Some Luck to Take Home a Victory in Event #4
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #5: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Handed w/ Re-Entry - Vicki Mengel Runs Over the Field in Event #5 to Capture Her First World Series of Poker Circuit Ring
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #6: $365 Pot-Limit Omaha w/ Re-Entry Nitis Udornpim Conquers a Tough Final Table in Event #6 to Find His First Signature Win in Maryland
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #7: $580 No-Limit Hold'em w/ Re-Entry - Ryan “The Janitor” Phan Finally Cleans One Up by Winning Event #7 at the Horseshoe Baltimore
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #8: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo - Timothy Bishop Caps Off an Impressive Week at the Horseshoe Baltimore with a Win in Event #8
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #9: $1,675 No-Limit Hold'em Main Event - An Impromptu Trip to Baltimore has Mike Jukich Leaving With his First Ring and a Six-Figure Payout
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #10: $365 No-Limit Hold'em (30-Minute Levels) w/ Re-Entry - Mike Azzaro Captures his First World Series of Poker Circuit Ring in Event #10
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #11: $3,250 No-Limit Hold'em High Roller w/ Re-Entry - Blake Whittington Takes Down the Horseshoe Baltimore High Roller for $49,500
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #12: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Double Stack Turbo - After Several Recent Final Tables Eric Salazar Final Closes One Out in Event #12
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo


Circuit Leaderboard

With five cashes, four final tables, and one victory, Timothy Bishop claimed the top spot on the Horseshoe Baltimore Points Leaderboard. With that, he secures a spot in the Global Casino Championship as well as honors as the Casino Champion of the Horseshoe Baltimore.


 

 


For a full schedule for this series, including satellites and nightly tournaments, click here.



About the Winners

Event #1: Chris Harris 

Chris Harris had a monkey on his back after two 13th place finishes last year. His friend teased him relentlessly, but the 27-year-old home improvement salesman didn't give in, insisting that he had the chops to take down a World Series of Poker Event. 

"When I got deep in both tournaments last year in the circuit, it was funny that I placed 13th both times. All my friends were just teasing me about it," Harris said. "So it was definitely a monkey on my back. I told everyone I definitely have the skill to win one of these things and I know one day I'm gonna be a champ," he said. "I just kept trying and trying. To finally take this win, it's surreal, but I always knew it would happen."

Harris used that motivation to take down Event #1: $365 No-Limit Hold'em at the Horseshoe Baltimore, taking home his first gold ring as well as $14,012.

Event #2: Bradley Yazici

Bradly Yazici is not a tournament player normally, but he took a break from the 5/10 and 10/25 cash games to make an appearance at the second biggest guarantee of the series. His time away from the cash tables paid off as he locked up the first place prize of $65,597 and his first World Series of Poker Circuit ring. But for Yazici it was just another day at the office. 

"To be honest, it’s just like any other day," Yazici said about his win. "I don’t really think the accolades… I’m not very much into that so it’s not really a big deal to me, but it’s still nice.”

Event #3: Nicholas Verderamo

Nicholas Verderamo is a 27-year-old actuary from Baltimore, MD. Verderamo has already produced much success here at the Horseshoe Baltimore, securing his first ring last year and coming close to locking up the Casino Championship. This year, Verderamo is looking to improve on his finishes from last year. He's already done so by locking up a victory in Event #3, an event which he placed 5th in last year. 

“In a similar tournament last year I got fifth, and it really hurt because if I would’ve gotten third, I would’ve been casino champ,” Verderamo said. “That’s the goal this series.”

Verderamo says that his job as an actuary helps him constantly on the felt. 

“It’s so much expected value, and variance,” Verderamo said about his job. “I essentially analyze risk for a living and that’s the most important part of poker, I’d say.” 

For his victory in Event #3, Verderamo took down his second World Series of Poker Circuit ring and $11,254.

Event #4: Yevgeny Gans

Yevgeny Gans describes himself as mainly a five-card pot-limit Omaha cash game player, so making the shift to tournaments was a big adjustment for him. He said he might play a few more tournaments this series, but doesn’t plan on firing too much.

Gans is a 40-year-old who works in home improvement sales who plays poker just a few times a week. At one point during his final table run, Gans said he was probably a 6-1 underdog to win the tournament, but he won it anyways. 

“Don’t tilt,” is what Gans described his strategy as. “Let it come to you,” he said.

For his win in Event #4, Gans earn his first World Series of Poker Circuit ring as well as $20,303.

Event #5: Vicki Mengel

Vicki Mengel is a former police officer from the Baltimore City Police Department. She's always had a love for poker and was looking for a big win to prove herself on the felt. 

Currently, Mengel is self-employed and plays mostly in the cash games around town. Before she won Event #5, Mengel had roughly $10,000 in tournament winnings. She's more than doubled that with her victory, earning $12,655 and her first World Series of Poker Circuit ring. 

As for her other interest, Mengel said she enjoys both soccer and softball. 

Event #6: Nitis Udornpim 

Nitis Udornpim is a 23-year-old financial analyst for Bank of America who just recently became a recreational player. Just about five months ago Udornpim moved to Maryland where he immediately began to run over the tournament scene, earning over $80,000 in cashes. 

“I recently just became a recreational player,” Udornpim said. “I studied poker before I became a financial advisor. It definitely helps, but it was poker first. Poker is still a little more natural.”

Udornpim says that he's not "in the lab" any more, but that he's still planning to play poker and is putting together his trip to Vegas for this year's World Series of Poker.

Event #7: Ryan Phan

Ryan Phan is a 34-year-old poker professional from Omaha, Nebraska. Phan likes to call himself "The Janitor" and jokes that he works as a janitor at a local university. For the last two years, Phan has been cutting his teeth in the tournament scene, coming close, but not able to land a win, until the Horseshoe Baltimore series. 

“I’m kind of numb right now to be honest,” Phan said. “Because I’ve always been so close and I finally got that monkey off my back. I felt like it was impossible to win.”

Phan's goal was to one day take down a circuit ring, but with that out of the way he plans to now go for a World Series of Poker bracelet or a six-figure score, which is very likely to go hand in hand. 

Event #8: Timothy Bishop

Tim Bishop is not originally from Maryland, but moved here four years ago, quickly becoming a part of the poker scene in the area. He's mainly a cash game player, but dabbles often in the tournament scene and has been working on his tournament game a lot. Over the course of the Horseshoe Baltimore series, Bishop has really put on a clinic, making four final tables and earning five cashes. 

“I hope to say it’s a little bit of both, but it’s definitely a heater,” Bishop said. “I haven’t played any circuit events in a while. I’ve been focusing mainly on cash. I’ve been working on my tournament game a little. So it’s nice that a heater and the work and the luck and everything just all came as once. It’s nice.”

When it comes to his interest beyond poker, Bishop said that he loves his dog. Bishop has a masters degree in exercise physiology. At one point, Bishop was a motocross pro as well.  

Event #9: Mike Jukich

Mike Jukich is a 34-year-old poker pro from Lynchburg, VA. While Poker is his job, and his passion he's a family man first. Immedaite after taking down the Main Event, Jukich gave love to his fiancé Ashley and his two-year-old Son Ryker.  While other's may think it's silly, Jukich was extremely happy to lock up his first WSOPC ring. 

“They’ll think it’s kind of silly, but it did mean a lot to me to actually win one,” Jukich said. “I like that kind of stuff, like trophies. It’s really cool, even if it’s just the sentimental value.”

Jukich is good friends with another Circuit regular Alex Rocha and also said that Asher Coniff and Joe Liberta have done a lot of work on his game with him.

Event #10: Mike Azzaro

Mike Azzaro's interest lie in poker and sports. Azzaro said he loves both playing and watching sports and recently took up skiing as a hobby. Azzaro now has 20 World Series of Poker Cashes and locked up his first World Series of Poker Circuit ring today by conquering Event #10. He says his next goal is to win a bracelet. 

“That bracelet, this summer,” he said. “I can’t wait. Let’s do it. I’m gonna’ be playing basically the whole summer. So let’s do it. I’m ready.”

After his victory in Event #10, Azzaro said he felt relief, as he was chasing Circuit points for the Global Casino championship.

Event #11: Blake Whittington

Blake Whittington is a 26-year-old Poker Pro who originally hails from North Carolina. While he doesn't usually play in the High Roller events, he took down this one for $49,950. He said he likes the added challenge of playing in a tough field, and likes the test of the High Roller fields. 

“To be honest, I haven’t really played many of the High Rollers,” he said. “This is probably my third or fourth one. But I like them a lot. I enjoy very much playing with the best players and they challenge me. A lot of it you can chalk up to run good for sure. It was a really tough field. I just feel like a lucky bastard to have beat them all.”

His first Circuit ring also came in Baltimore, where he took down a PLO event. 

Event #12: Eric Salazar

A bad cash game session led Eric Salazar to seek backing, and since that moment, he's been crushing everything he enters. With the help of his friend Blake Whittington and Matt Higgins, Salazar has been putting a lot of work into his game. And the results have come too, with four final tables over the last two stops. 

“They have helped me such an insane amount,” Salazar said about the two. “We have a thread. We talk about almost every hand that happens. He’s been doing just amazing coaching. It’s improved my game so much. Obviously, I’m showing results. We’ve been pretty much together every day. And it’s just improved me so much.”

Salazar is originally from Houston, TX, but the 26-year-old poker professional now lives in North Carolina with his girlfriend.