Valley Center, CA (February 22, 2007) – For the third consecutive year, the World Series of Poker Circuit was the feature attraction at the Harrah's Rincon Casino & Resort. Harrah's Rincon is located about 40 miles northeast of San Diego, nestled in a lush mountain valley. Owned by the Rincon San Luiseno Band of Mission Indians and managed by HCAL, a subsidiary of Harrah's Operating Company, the 21-story luxury hotel and casino is one of southern California's most peaceful getaway destinations.
But the Harrah's Rincon Poker Room has been far from peaceful this month. Following ten days of preliminary events which awarded over a million dollars in prize money to more than 200 poker players from several states and five different countries, the $5,000 buy-in championship event began with 181 entries. The size of the field created a total prize pool of $877,850. Eighteen players received prize money.
Former world poker champions Scotty "the Prince" Nguyen (1998), Chris "Jesus" Ferguson (2000) and Carlos "the Matador" Mortensen (2001) entered the main event. The tournament also attracted former WSOP gold bracelet winners Annie Duke, Layne Flack, Barry Greenstein, Gavin Griffin, Kathy Liebert, Max "the Italian Pirate" Pescatori, Robert Williamson III and Todd Witteles. Other notables in the field included Peter Feldman, Phil Gordon, Erik Lindgren, Gavin Smith, and James Van Alstyne. The majority of players qualified to play via satellite tournaments that were held over the last two weeks at Harrah's Rincon.
World Series of Poker Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack was on hand to welcome players and start the tournament. In his opening remarks, he noted that the WSOP is special because it attracts both professional and amateur players – and allows new stars to shine on poker's brightest stage. He also thanked several people at Harrah's Rincon for putting on yet another WSOP Circuit. Finally, Mr. Pollack encouraged players to attend other Circuit events and the World Series of Poker, which will take place in Las Vegas in June and July.
The Harrah's Rincon championship event took place over three days. One-hundred forty-eight players busted out on day one, leaving 43 survivors to return to play on day two. Another 34 players busted out on the second day. The final nine appeared at the final table, played Thursday, February 22nd.
Day one ended with Peter Feldman as the chip leader. He also had a firm grip on the chip lead at the conclusion of play on day two. In fact, given his tournament experience and impressive stack advantage, Mr. Feldman was the player to beat coming into the final table -- with former WSOP gold bracelet winner Gavin Griffin a close second. The final table began with players seated in the following order and their chip stacks:
Seat 1: Jerry Renfroe 19,000
Seat 2: Shane Schleger 205,500
Seat 3: Danny Wong 244,500
Seat 4: Gavin Griffin 390,500
Seat 5: Erik Cajelais 270,500
Seat 6: Peter Feldman 444,000
Seat 7: David Matthew 119,500
Seat 8: Gavin Smith 71,000
Seat 9: Yoon Kim 45,500
Play began at 2 pm with blinds at 3,000-6,000 with a 500 ante. With three low stacks sitting at the table, play was cautious during the early stages.
9th Place – Jerry Renfroe doubled up early, holding pocket 6s. That gave him about 40,000 in chips – his high point at the final table. However, about 45-minutes into play, Mr. Renfroe was dealt A-10 and moved all-in with his last 36,000. David Matthew called with pocket 10s. That meant Mr. Renfroe was basically drawing to a naked ace. The ace failed to come as the final board showed 7-7-5-K-J. Jerry Renfroe, a 40-year-old self-employed poker player from San Luis Obispo, CA finished in second place at the World Series of Poker Circuit championship event held at Harvey's Lake Tahoe last year. He added $17,337 in winnings for ninth place in this event.
8th Place – Yoon Kim took a terrible beat on his final hand of the tournament. He was dealt A-A and was thrilled to see his all-in pre-flop raise get called by his lone opponent, Gavin Griffin -- holding K-K. It was a bad spot for Mr. Griffin, at least until a king flopped giving Mr. Griffin trip kings and a huge advantage. The final board showed K-J-2-Q-6 and Mr. Kim was done for the day. Yoon Kim, a successful realtor from Milwaukee, WI, took a commission of $26,005 for eighth place in this tournament.
Peter Feldman maintained a slight chip lead over Gavin Griffin, with seven players remaining.
7th Place – Next, Gavin Smith ran into a roaring freight train. Down to just 46,000 in chips, he moved all-in with A-Q. Super stacked Peter Feldman called immediately with 7-7. A queen fell as the flop was fanned, but a seven as well gave Mr. Feldman a set of 7s. Mr. Smith was left drawing slim. A fourth 7 came on the river -- good for quad 7s -- sealed Mr. Smith fate, seventh place. The final board showed Q-8-7-K-7. Gavin Smith, one of tournament poker's most successful players in recent years was the runner up in the main event at last year's Harrah's New Orleans championship. This time, his payout amounted to $34,674.
Peter Feldman went to over 500,000 in chips for the first time.
6th Place – Another monster hand knocked out the next player. Shane Schleger was steamrolled by Davidson Mathew, who made four 9s. Schleger went all-in when the final board showed 10-9-7-9-9. Mr. Mathew called and flipped over the fourth nine (Mr. Schleger mucked and did not show his cards). Shane Schleger, originally from New York City, now lives in Santa Monica, CA. He is a 29-year-old professional gambler. Sixth place paid $43,343.
5th Place – Just a few hands later, Erik Cajelais was eliminated. On his final hand of the tournament, he was dealt J-10 and flopped top two pair. However, Danny Wong had 9-8 and flopped a straight. The final board showed J-10-7-3-5. Mr. Cajelais was one of three Canadian players at the final table (Gavin Smith and Davidson Mathew were the others). Fifth place paid $52,011.
That put the average stack size at $452,000. All of the remaining four players were in good chip position.
4th Place – After five eliminations in the first two hours, play slowed down considerably from that point forward. Davidson Mathew doubled up on Gavin Griffin at one point, his A-6 besting Mr. Griffin's A-7 when the flop came with both an ace and a six. The two pair rocketed Mr. Matthew up in second place, and made Mr. Griffin the shortest stack. About a half hour later, Danny Wong went all-in holding K-Q in an attempt to steal after Peter Feldman made the first raise. Mr. Feldman called the large raise and flipped over a dominant hand – A-Q. Wong was in serious trouble. The flop made things interesting, as Mr. Wong picked up a flush draw as the cards showed 10-9-7. But Mr. Feldman ended up making two pair on the hand when the final board showed 10-9-7-A-Q. Danny Wong, a 22-year-old professional poker player from Walnut, CA earned $69,348 for his fourth-place finish.
With three players remaining, Peter Feldman had about 880,000 in chips to 650,000 for Davidson Matthew and 230,000 for Gavin Griffin.
3rd Place – Gavin Griffin had a tough time at