Amaral Wins First Gold Ring

Chris Amaral’s dominant performance at the latest WSOP Circuit final table was as impressive as anything seen this entire year.  Amaral, a towering figure well over 6-feet tall with a booming voice, was a tournament titan from start to finish.  He steamrolled over the competition all the way to a $25,576 payday.  Amaral did suffer a late scare from the runner up Anthony Degreef, but eventually managed to take down his first live major tournament victory.

After 186 of the initial 199 entries were eliminated on the first day, 13 survivors continued play on day two.  Amaval started off with a decisive chip advantage over his rivals, with nearly 400,000 in chips.  No other player had more than 200,000 in their stack and seven players had less than 100,000, among them New Yorker Dwyte Pilgrim who has arguably been the WSOP Circuit player of the year.  After four players went out early on day two, the top nine finishers were as follows:

9th Place – J.T. Anderson was the first player to be eliminated.  He got trapped for all his chips with A-K against the biggest stack at the table.  Chris Amaval had pocket aces, which held up.  Amaval added nearly 170,000 to his massive chip castle and was about 4 to 1 in chips over his closest rival.  Meanwhile J.T. Anderson, who once worked in the oil business in Texas, drilled the prize pool for a payout totaling $2,654.

8th Place – A few hands later, Adam “Lippy” Lippert moved his entire stack all-in with pocket nines, but ran into Lauren Kling’s pocket aces.  The poker pro from Salt Lake City, UT was certainly an underdog and he failed to improve.  That put Lippy out in eighth place, good for $3,137.

7th Place – Next, Nick Hall, a former financial analyst turned poker pro, was low on chips and tried to steal a round of blinds and antes with a weak hand from the button.  He shoved his short stack all-in but ran into Dwyte Pilgrim’s A-K.  The big cards help up, resulting in Hall’s elimination.  The Las Vegas poker player earned $3,861.

6th Place – Dwyte Pilgrim came in as the highly-touted “next poker superstar.”  Striving for his third WSOP Circuit gold ring in just three months, Pilgrim was never able to generate the momentum necessary to be a threat to the bigger stacks.  Pilgrim ran low on chips and moved all-in with A-6 on his final hand, but ended up losing to a pair of jacks.  Pilgrim, who is from Brooklyn and is currently traveling around the country playing the WSOP Circuit (he won the championship event at Harrah’s Rincon near San Diego last month), collected $4,826 in his third cash so far at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.

5th Place – Mike “GoLeafsGo” Leah, who has over $1 million in career tournament earnings, busted out in fifth place when his A-6 lost to Lauren Kling’s pocket aces.  The Canadian poker pro received $6,032 in prize money.

4th Place – Jonathan Yee went out in fourth place after he flopped a pair of sevens but ended up losing to a higher pair.  Yee, a 27-year-old poker player from San Francisco, collected $7,721.  Over the next hour, Anthony Degreef managed to take over the chip lead at the expense of Chris Amaral, who had been the dominant force during much of play.

3rd Place – Lauren Kling came close to becoming the second female gold ring winner ever at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.  Three days after Suzanne Carrillo’s breakthrough victory, Kling ended up in third place when she tried to steal a round of blinds and antes but got called by Anthony Degreef, with pocket jacks.  Kling, a recent UC-Berkeley graduate now living in Las Vegas, earned $9,893.   

2nd Place – When heads-up play began, Anthony Degreef enjoyed a 3 to 1 chip advantage over Chris Amaral that would be short lived.  About a dozen hands into play, Amaral doubled up and drew close to even on a big hand with pocket aces.  About twenty minutes later after chipping away at his adversary Amaral held a 2 to 1 advantage when the final fateful hand of the night was dealt.  Degreed was dealt A-10 and made two pair.  But Amaral had two clubs in his hand and ended up with a club flush.  The tournament ended with Anthony Degreef as the runner up.  The dog trainer from Salt Lake City, UT leashed on to a payout totaling $15,442.

1st Place – This winner, Chris Amaral is a 27-year-old poker pro from Las Vegas, NV.  He is originally from Fall River, MA.  Amaral plays poker mostly online, but has recently started to play more live events.

With 14 of 22 events now completed at Caesars Palace Las Vegas, the tournament has attracted nearly 3,000 total entries and has awarded $2 million in total prize money.  The $5,000 buy-in Main Event begins next Monday.  Several satellites tournaments are scheduled in the days ahead which makes it possible for a player to get into the championship for as little as $65.  The WSOP Circuit continues through April 30th.