January 03, 2018 - 03:47:58 PM EST  | 


First Circuit stop of 2018 wraps up on Monday with two rings and a nail biter Casino Championship race

January 16, 2018 (Durant, OK) - Jason Strasser, Daniel Jones and Wayne Lovell (pictured) were three of the happiest people in Oklahoma on Monday night.

Strasser and Lovell each won their second ring. Strasser defeated a 1,249-entry field in the main event to earn $332,539 and a seat into the 2018 Global Casino Championship. Lovell took down the final event of the series, a $365 no-limit hold'em. He defeated 1,006 entries to win $55,829 and put a wrap on the first Circuit stop of 2018.

Daniel Jones didn't take home a ring, but he did secure a seat in the 2018 Global Casino Championship for himself. Jones finished 10th in the main event, just shy of a third final table. That gave him 105 points for the series, but he had to sweat the final table a little longer before he locked up the title.

When Jeffrey Trudeau was eliminated in ninth place, Jones had an insurmountable lead for anybody remaining in the final $365 no-limit hold'em and he will join Strasser as the two players leaving Choctaw with a guaranteed spot in a bracelet event with $1 million added to the prizepool.

The 2018 Circuit action is just getting ramped up. In California, the stop at Thunder Valley is in full swing with its main event getting started this Friday and a two-week stop in Tunica is just around the corner, getting underway on Thursday.

Casino Championship Update

In what ended up being a very close battle for the title, Daniel Jones secured his seat in the 2018 Global Casino Championship. Thanks to his two runner-up finishes, a 10th place finish in the main event and a deep run in the opening event of the series, Jones finished with 105 points and just barely edged out Jeffrey Trudeau for the title. Trudeau won the title at Choctaw in November and will also be participating in the 2018 GCC.

Casino Championship Leaderboard

Completed Events

Event 1: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Monster Stack - Adam Mirliss defeats 1,595 entries to win $80,136
Official Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event 2: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Re-Entry - Lou Garza defeats 3,052 to win $158,104
Official Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event 3: $365 No-LImit Hold'em Turbo (1-Day Event) - Cody Pettit defeats 508 entries to win $32,761
Official Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event 4: $365 Big O - Joshua Clanton defeats 295 entries to win $21,238
Official Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event 5: $365 No-Limit Hold'em - Jeffrey Trudeau defeats 336 entries to win $23,183
Official Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event 6: $365 No-Limit Hold'em - Jianmin Xu defeats 310 entries to win $21,854
Official Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event 7: $580 No-Limit Hold'em - Robert Hankins defeats 199 entries to win $25,873
Official Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event 8: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Max - Max Young defeats 410 entries to win $27,059
Official Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event 9: $1,125 No-Limit Hold'em - Michael Sanders defeats 168 entries to win $45,361
Official Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event 10: $1,125 Pot-Limit Omaha - Sochetra Chansan defeats 174 entries to win $46,982
Official Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event 11: $1,675 No-Limit Hold'em Main Event - Jason Strasser defeats 1,249 entries to win $332,539
Official Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event 12: $365 No-Limit Hold'em - Wayne Lovell defeats 1,006 entries to win $55,829
Official Report | Winner Photo | Results

About the Winners

Event 1: Adam Mirliss

Mirliss is a 28-year-old poker pro and student from Dallas. He's been playing poker for about 13 years and professionally for nearly a decade. Last year, he decided to go back to school and is attending the University of Texas at Dallas. He's looking to get a business degree with a concentration in entrepreneurship.

He's hoping to earn a college degree to allow him to have more options down the road, but his immediate goals and dreams are on the felt. He's happy to earn his biggest career score and his first ring, but his ultimate goal is to win a tournament at the Rio and put a piece of WSOP jewelry on his wrist instead of his finger.

Event 2: Lou Garza

At just 22 years old, Garza outlasted what will probably be the largest field of the Choctaw Circuit stop and earned a six-figure score in the $365 no-limit hold'em re-entry event. After defeating a massive field of 3,052 entries, Garza earned $158,104.

Garza is a professionally poker player from San Antonio, who supports his three kids solely from his earnings on the felt. He got into poker a couple years ago and really took to studying and improving his game. After reaching a point where he was making more playing poker than at his job, he took the plunge into the full-time grind. According to Garza, this is the score that can vault him into bigger and better things on the felt and he may become a familiar face at many different stops around the country instead of just in the Texoma region.

Event 3: Cody Pettit

Pettit is a 38-year-old semi-professional poker player from Oklahoma City. After playing poker professionally for several years, he left full-time on-the-felt action to help his friend run a food truck. He now works part-time with his friend and plays poker semi-professionally, which according to Pettit, has only helped his poker results. 

Even though he doesn't play full-time anymore, Pettit still wanted to accomplish some of his poker goals, which included a decade old dream of taking down a WSOP title. He accomplished that feat in the third event of the series when he won the $365 no-limit hold'em turbo single day event for $32,761. He defeated a 508-entry field to earn his biggest career cash and achieve what he's been striving for for over a decade.

Event 4: Joshua 'Plinko' Clanton

Clanton isn't a stranger to World Series of Poker events. He's just usually on the other side of the table. Clanton is a 33-year-old poker dealer that generally travels and deals most of the Circuit events on the schedule. Since he wasn't working this stop in Choctaw and is a mixed games enthusiast, he hopped in the $365 Big O and earned his first ring.

It was a banner day for Alabama native. On the same day that he defeated 295 entries to win $21,238, his son turned five years old and his Alabama Crimson tide won the NCAA national championship. Clanton makes his living pitching cards instead of playing them, but he's no stranger to success on the felt. Just this past summer, Clanton made a deep run in a bracelet event. He finished third in the Casino Employees event and netted $29,372. With all of the success he's had in the last six months, he has no plans of quitting his job as a dealer to pursue poker full-time.

Event 5: Jeffrey Trudeau

Jeffrey Trudeau is now one ring shy of an entire hand worth of Circuit rings. He won the $365 no-limit hold'em to defeat a field of 336 to win $23,183 to earn his fourth Circuit title. The Orlando native has achieved an enormous amount of poker success at just 23 years old with $284,581 in WSOP earnings alone all before he's old enough to rent a car.

He's also seemingly found a second home in Choctaw. Last stop in November, Trudeau won his third ring and earned the Casino Champion title, which secured him a spot in the 2018 Global Casino Championship. The win also gives him a lead in the race again as he now has 60 points thanks to a win and a 16th place finish in the monster stack.

Event 6: Jianmin Xu 

Xu is a 52-year-old engineer from Frisco, TX that won his first ring in the $365 no-limit hold'em event. He crossed the Pacific Ocean 24 years ago to immigrate to America and took up poker as a serious hobby. His extensive education in math makes the game a perfect fit for the father of two and his hobby has proved to be profitable. 

He defeated a field of 310 entries to win $21,854 in just his third WSOP cash. His first two also came in Oklahoma when he cashed in two events at last November's stop at Choctaw. He's the definition of an amateur player, but his goal is to win a bracelet and compete with the best players in the world ion the WSOP Main Event.

Event 7: Robert Hankins

Over the last few years on the WSOP Circuit, Hankins has emerged as one of the most successful players in the history of the tour. He added to his long list of cashes on Wednesday night when he won his ninth ring in the $580 no-limit hold'em.

Hankins' win for $25,873 moved him into a tie for second on the all-time ring leaderboard with Alex Masek. He is just one more win away from tying Maurice Hawkins and Valentin Vornicu atop the list. He recently joined forces with WSOP bracelet winner Chance Kornuth, becoming a part of Kornuth's coaching group. Hankins attributes some of his success to the improvements he's made through the group and is looking to take his already impressive game to another level.

Event 8: Max Young

Young is a 32-year-old poker pro and surfing enthusiast originally from Connecticut, but now resides in Oregon. He had a breakout 2017 where he won two rings, including the Harvey's Lake Tahoe main event to secure a seat in the 2018 Global Casino Championship and won his third at Choctaw.

He defeated 410 entries in the $365 no-limit hold'em six-max event to win his third ring and started his 2018 off proving that 2017 was no fluke. He defeated Gregory Armand heads-up, who was also in search of his third ring. This was Young's second consecutive final table appearance after finishing eight in the $580 no-limit hold'em just a day earlier.

Event 9: Michael Sanders

Sanders is a poker pro from Arkansas that is a regular at most of the Circuit stops. He won his third ring on the eve of the start of the main event by taking down the $1,125 no-limit hold'em event. He defeated 168 entries and earned $45,361 for his efforts.

For his third ring, Sanders got to battle heads-up with his good friend, Jonathan Hilton, who has a ring and a bracelet of his own. With the two being such close friends, the atmosphere of heads-up play bore a closer resemblance to a home game than that of a match with a Circuit ring and a mid five-figure payday on the line. Sanders has a history of deep runs in Choctaw, including a Circuit main event final table and another major title here that resulted in his banner hanging from the rafters.

Event 10: Sochetra Chansan

Chansan immigrated from Cambodia to America in 2004 and set up a doughnut shop in Corpus Christi, TX. He enjoys gambling and is mostly a hold'em player, but decided to hop in the $1,125 pot-limit Omaha event, having never played an Omaha tournament before.

Chansan enjoyed some beginners luck and over the course of two days, defeated 174 entries and won his first ring and $46,982. The 43-year-old enjoyed the action of PLO more than that of hold'em and is more likely to enter Omaha events in the future after his experience in the event.

Event 11: Jason Strasser

Strasser is one of the original online poker wizards. In the early days of the Moneymaker boom, Strasser was one of the best players online and made a nice living for himself on the virtual felt. He graduated from Duke University and played professionally for a short time before leaving poker for finance. 

He took a job on Wall Street and scaled back on how much poker he played. During his time on Wall Street, he won his first Circuit ring in the main event at Foxwoods. He eventually left his job on Wall Street and started his own hedge fund. He moved to Oklahoma City to open up a second office and still works on his game in his down time. He tries to play a couple tournaments a year to stay sharp. He won $332,359 and bested a field of 1,249 entries for his second ring.

Event 12: Wayne Lovell

Wayne Lovell is a retired military veteran from New York that now resides in Texas. He doesn't refer to himself as a professional poker player, but he puts in a lot of hours at the table. He won the second Circuit ring of his poker career in the final event of the Choctaw series.

He came into the final table of the $365 no-limit hold'em as one of the bigger stacks and rode that momentum to victory in the 1,006-entry field. He defeated Seneca Easley heads-up for the title and he'll take home $55,829 to turn what otherwise would have been a losing series into a profitable one.

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