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Local players dominate the Bike series and Peter Hengsakul wins the Casino Championship at the buzzer     

Bell Gardens, CA (13 December 2018) - The first of two stops by the World Series of Poker Circuit at the Bicycle Hotel and Casino was dominated by local players, both amateurs and pros alike. 11 of the 13 rings awarded throughout the 12-day series were won by players who call Southern California home.

Chris DeMaci got things started with his first Circuit ring in the $400 no-limit hold’em double stack event. DeMaci has been a fixture in the poker world for the last decade, but had lacked a significant live title to his name. He put all that behind him with a dominating final table performance. He took home $38,215 for defeating the 539-entry field.

Several hours after DeMaci earned his first title, another pro earned their first. Jonathan Sherfy, one of the top ranked online sit n’ go players in the world added a live title to his resume. He won the first $250 no-limit hold’em single-day event for $19,675. After online poker became scarce in the United States, Sherfy headed south, crossed the border and was living in Mexico to continue his highly lucrative online poker pursuits. Recently, however, he moved back to the United States and may be taking a few more shots at live tournaments.

A quartet of poker pros added a Circuit ring to a resume that already had at least one. Sean Yu showed he is more than just a no-limit hold’em specialist by winning his fifth ring in the $400 HORSE event for $9,600. It’s his first WSOP victory in a non-hold’em event. He defeated Paul Hendee heads-up, denying Hendee his first ring.

Sohale Khalili hopped in Yu’s winner photo with him, but just six hours later, the two would be taking another photo together. This time, Khalili was the one holding the ring and Yu was there for support. Khalili won his second Circuit ring in the $400 no-limit hold’em, earning $11,180. Khalili had one of the more epic heads-up battles after playing against fellow pro Jared Griener. After nearly three hours of heads-up poker, Khalili finally emerged victorious.

Frankie O’Dell and Aaron Messmer were the other two pros to add another ring to their collection. O’Dell won the second and final non-hold’em event of the series. He took down the $400 Omaha hi-lo event for his third ring and $9,600. O’Dell proved that he is truly to force to be reckoned with in that variant of poker. He’s got two WSOP bracelets in that game and now two of his three rings. O’Dell and Yu are the only two ring winners of the series to also have a bracelet.

Messmer won one of the final rings of the series by taking down the $2,200 no-limit hold’em high roller on the last day of the series. This was Messmer’s second ring of both his career and the season. Both of which came in high roller events. The 28-year-old poker pro won the high roller in Thunder Valley in September and ended his 2018 on a high note with a win in the Bike’s high roller for a $56,700 score. He defeated Andrew Wisdom heads-up, who was trying to win this event for the second year in a row.

There was one other player who won a ring that already had at least one, but he isn’t a full-time player. Entrepreneur Harry Arutyunyan won his third Circuit title in the $600 no-limit hold’em for $36,420. Arutyunyan won two rings last season and is on pace to win another two this season with his first victory coming near the halfway point of the season.

Arutyunyan defeated Peter Hengsakul heads-up for the title, which put him into the lead for the Casino Championship. He held the lead for the final few days until Hengsakul struck again in the final event of the series. Hengsakul finished runner-up to Leslie Scearcy in the second $250 no-limit hold’em single day event for his second cash of the series, both of which coming as runner-up finishes.

Scearcy, a poker dealer in Central California, won the heads-up battle to avenge his knockout of her in her biggest tournament score before her win to close out the series, but Hengsakul’s two runner-up finishes gave him 75 points and a seat into the 2019 Global Casino Championship.

Every other winner at the series was an amateur player, including the man who walked away with the biggest payday of the series. Steven Spunt joined Hengsakul as one of the two players to automatically receive a bid into the 2019 GCC by taking down the $1,700 no-limit hold’em main event.

Spunt is an entrepreneur that only gets to play between 20 and 30 tournaments a year, but is hoping to be able to retire soon and play a few more events.

Robert Natividad won the $400 no-limit hold’em monster stack for the second biggest payday of the series. He earned $84,445 for his victory over the 1,050-entry field. It puts an exclamation mark on his return to poker. The engineer and father took over a decade away from the game to spend time with his family and be a good father to his children. Now that his children have matured, he can find more time to play poker, and also found his first Circuit ring.

Shane Martin, a local recreational player, won the third event of the series. He bested a 117-entry field in the only turbo event of the series. He earned $11,585 in the $400 no-limit hold’em turbo.

And finally, Nancy Matson took down the $1,125 no-limit hold’em event. The video editor from Santa Monica took a day off work and entered the event as a way to achieve her poker goal – finish in the top 100 women of the GPI Player of the Year race. Her victory and her $42,940 score should put her over the hump and secure her achievement by the time 2018 comes to a close in just over two weeks.

The WSOP Circuit wraps up the calendar year with its Biloxi stop before starting the second half of the season in 2019 by heading back to Choctaw.


Casino Championship

Peter Hengsakul missed out on his first Circuit ring twice in the series. He finished runner-up to Harry Arutyunyan and to Leslie Scearcy in the final event of the series. His two runner-up finishes gave him enough to points to overtake all of the front runners for the Casino Championship and give him the title and the seat into the 2019 GCC.


Completed Events

Event #1: $400 No-Limit Hold'em Double Stack - Chris DeMaci defeated 539 entries to win $38,215
Results | Winner Photo | Official Report

Event #2: $250 No-Limit Hold'em Single-Day - Jonathan Sherfy defeated 458 entries to win $19,675
Results | Winner Photo | Official Report

Event #3: $400 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo - Shane Martin defeated 117 entries to win $11,585
Results | Winner Photo | Official Report

Event #4: $400 No-Limit Hold'em Monster Stack - Robert Natividad defeated 1,050 entries to win $84,445
Results | Winner Photo | Official Report

Event #5: $400 No-Limit Hold'em - Brian Snell defeated 91 entries to win $9,010
Results | Winner Photo | Official Report

Event #6: $400 HORSE - Sean Yu defeated 97 entries to win $9,600
Results | Winner Photo | Official Report

Event #7: $400 No-Limit Hold'em - Sohale Khalili defeated 113 entries to win $11,180
Results | Winner Photo | Official Report

Event #8: $400 Omaha Hi-Lo - Frankie O'Dell defeated 90 entries to win $9,505
Results | Winner Photo | Official Report

Event #9: $1,125 No-Limit Hold'em - Nancy Matson defeated 159 entries to win $42,940
Results | Winner Photo | Official Report

Event #10: $600 No-Limit Hold'em - Harry Arutyunyan defeated 301 entries to win $36,420
Results | Winner Photo | Official Report

Event #11: $1,700 No-Limit Hold'em Main Event - Steven Spunt defeated 547 entries to win $174,055
Results | Winner Photo | Official Report

Event #12: $2,200 No-Limit Hold'em High Roller - Aaron Messmer defeated 90 entries to win $57,600
Results | Winner Photo | Official Report

Event #13: $250 No-Limit Hold'em Single-Day - Leslie Scearcy defeated 350 entries to win $16,090
Results | Winner Photo | Official Report