Midwest claims vast majority of gold rings and a few players add to impressive careers.
February 12, 2018 (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) -- The World Series of Poker Circuit series at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino came to a close on Monday with the end of the Main Event. A total of twelve WSOP gold rings were handed out over the course of twelve days. Eleven out of the twelve rings went to Midwest players and a few individuals added to there already-impressive careers along the way.
It was the WSOP’s second-ever time hosting a Circuit at Potawatomi, in the heart of Milwaukee. The Wisconsin-based Circuit drew a mass of Midwesterners, and they almost swept the gold ring line up.
The one, outlying winner was TK Miles. The poker pro from Tallahassee, Florida, with plenty of poker accomplishments, acquired his second Circuit gold ring by winning the Potawatomi High Roller. Event #12 had 106 entrants and Miles pocketed the top prize of $63,599, bringing his total WSOP earnings to right around $940,000.
All in all, the Midwest winners entailed Wisconsin players wining a total of five gold rings, the Chicago area taking home three gold rings, and a solo gold ring going to Minnesota, South Dakota, and Ohio.
Michael Wolff, from Madison, kicked things off with a win in Event #1: $365 No-Limit Hold’em 30-Minute Levels, good for $24,286 and his first gold ring. Wolff was a part of the Casino Championship talk early one with two cashes and 60 points. The 25-year-old also cashed in the Main Event for 10 more points. However, in the end, the honors went to a fellow Wisconsinite.
Eddie Blumenthal, a long-time poker player, also from Madison, ultimately achieved the Potawatomi Casino Championship. Blumenthal cashed four times at the Circuit series, including a first-place finish in Event #9: $365 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo, where he earned his first WSOP gold ring.
Blumenthal finished with a total of 102.5 points. His next closest competitors in the Casino Champ race were Lee Rzentkowski (80 points) and Josh Shmerl (72.5 points).
Shmerl certainly had a successful series, cashing for just over $45,000 in total. The 32-year-old native of Chicago finished third in Event #4 and then followed up with a runner-up finish in the High Roller tournament, worth $39,309.
Rzentkowski shined bright on the Potawatomi radar as well. The Financier, originally from Milwaukee, stamped three, top-ten finishes over the course of the series. His crowning achievement came in Event #5: $365 No-Limit Hold’em Six Max Re-Entry, when Rzentkowski captured his second WSOP gold ring.
One of the most prominent poker players to ever come out of Wisconsin was absent for most of the Potawatomi Circuit. However, when Josh Reichard returned from his stint in Australia, he wasted no time jumping back into the spotlight.
The well-known Circuit regular arrived just in time for the last three ring events. Reichard entered Event #11: $365 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo after busting Flight B of the Main Event. By the end of the fast-paced tournament, Reichard was posing for a winner’s photo with his ninth career gold ring.
The culmination of the 12-tournament series and largest score of all came in the Potawatomi Main Event. Between two separate starting flights, a total of 604 entrants showed up for the signature, WSOP competition. This created a $906,000 prizepool, which paid out the top 63 people.
When the Main Event reached the Day 3 finale, there were plenty of powerhouse players remaining. Gold bracelet winners Keven Stammen and John Reading were among the final eight. On top of that was ten-time gold ring winner Maurice Hawkins, three-time gold ring winner Andy Philachack, and Jose Montes, owner of one gold ring.
In the end, it boiled down to Stammen and Michael Crawford. Heads-up action turned bleak for Crawford when Stammen hit a nut flush and took over 80% of Crawford’s stack with him. Shortly after that, Stammen sealed the deal, becoming the Potawatomi Main Event Champion.
The conquest provided Stammen with a Circuit gold ring to pair with his WSOP gold bracelet, which he won back in 2009 at the 40th World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Along with the second piece of golden hardware, the poker pro from Ohio was awarded $190,265 for his Main Event triumph.