Atlantic City, NJ (December 5, 2009) –The World Series of Poker Circuit Events at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City kicked off in grand fashion Friday, December 4th with the first event of the Circuit drawing 1,056 players.

The ballroom served as the venue for the WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s AC, which hosted the first-ever WSOP Circuit Events nearly five years ago. The tournament area was packed with players and spectators for much of the day. Alongside event #1, a battle for East Coast supremacy brewed at the feature table, where the annual Philly vs. New York World Series of Poker Showdown was being held. The event, sponsored by ESPN FM Radio 950 Philadelphia and ESPN Radio1050 New York, pits poker players from the two cities against one another, adding to a long list of cross-town rivalries. Philadelphia, whose Phillies lost the MLB Championship to the New York Yankees in 6 games, saw their hopes for redemption shattered when Robert Ricci, a divorce lawyer representing New York took down the event.

Also on hand for opening day of the Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City WSOP Circuit were representatives from Cabot Creamery, who in conjunction with the WSOP Circuit Events, is the proud sponsor of Project Full House, a fundraising campaign that gives players the opportunity to donate a portion of their winnings to the New Orleans Chapter of Habitat For Humanity. Project Full House will span all 11 Circuit Events of the 2009/2010 season, culminating at Harrah’s New Orleans in May. Cabot is a co-op of over 1200 dairy farming families located throughout New England and upstate New York who since 1919, have been dedicated to assisting people in need.

The first day of event #1 saw over 90 percent of the 1,056 player field eliminated as 99 in-the-money finishers made it into day two which began at 1 pm.

After about seven hours of play, at level 27 with blinds at 20,000/40,000 and 5,000 chip antes, a short-stacked Alex Kahn of Fairfield, OH busted in 10th place, setting the stage for the first final table of the Harrah’s AC circuit:

Name Hometown
 Seat  Chip Count
Chris Goez   
Hamburg, PA  1 1,300,000
Desmond Chan New York, NY  2 339,000
Massoud "Solo" Nikjouian Woodbridge, VA  3 1,776,000
Casey (Bigdogpckt55) Jarzabek St. Catherines, ON  4 1,100,000
Jeremy Solomon Oreland, PA
 5 605,000
Salah Levy
Westfield, NJ  6 300,000
Steven Rodriguez Staten Island, NY  7 2,000,000
Dante Magtoto
Alexandria, VA
 8 272,000
Dwyte Pilgrim Brooklyn, NY
 9 1,700,000
The final nine resumed play just before 10:00 pm. A few hands into play, former tennis pro Salah Levy was served the first elimination by Dante Magtoto after shoving his short stack all-in with  - .

For the most part, the final table was a jovial one, with exchanges of light-hearted banter taking place between the players. However, a bit of bad blood began to boil over between Massoud Nikjouian and Casey Jarzabek after Jarzabek re-raised Nikjouian’s initial pre-flop raise of 130,000 to 400,000. Jarzabek made the call and the flop came  - - .

Nikjouian then pushed all-in, putting the Jarzabek, the Pocket Fives 14th ranked online multi-table tournament player in the tank for a few minutes before mucking his hand. Nikjouian showed the semi-bluff:  - . The banter that followed became not-so light-hearted. A few hands later, the two got involved in another pre-flop confrontation when Nikjouian raised to 200,000 with  - . Jarzabek’s re-raised all-in with  -  and was called. The board came  - - - - , sending Jarzabek to the rail in eighth.

Seventh place belonged to Steven Rodriguez who saw his chips dwindle after folding to a couple of pre-flop re-raises. Rodriguez took a big hit to his stack after he ran his J-K into Jeremy Solomon’s A-K. Rodriguez’s tournament run ended when he pushed the rest of his stack all-in with A-J suited against the pocket kings of Desmond Chan. A jack on the river was too little too late for Rodriguez, who saw his tournament life end. However, the 42-year old real estate agent was able to build a little equity during his two-day run, taking home $13,828 for his efforts.

Out in sixth place was Chris Goez. Goez, a 30-year old contractor, played a conservative game for most of the night, but made the untimely decision to move all-in pre-flop with  -  against the  -  of Dante Magtoto. Goez was unable to improve over Magtoto and was eliminated. Sixth place paid $16,901.

Jeremy Solomon found himself dominated after running his  -  all-in into Nikjouian’s  -  preflop. The board improved neither player’s hand sending Solomon off the table in 5th place and $19,974.

Desmond Chan was next out in fourth. Chan, a 30-year old data analyst shoved with pocket fours against Nikjouian’s  -  who caught a flush with two hearts on the flop and a third on the turn. Chan earned $23,047 for his finish.

The final three players were seasoned poker veteran Nikjouian, 2009 Rincon Circuit Champion Dwyte Pilgrim and Dante Magtoto, a 28-year old IT consultant who has been moonlighting on the felt for the past few years. Pilgrim, the short-stack of the three, fell short of earning his third WSOP Circuit ring after his  -  did not improve against the pocket queens of Magtoto.

Heads-up was between Magtoto and Nikjouian. Magtoto, with about a million chip lead, proposed a deal with his opponent to split the remaining $90,000 of the prize pool $50K/$40K with the ring going to Magtoto. Nikjouian suggested the two step outside of the ballroom to further discuss the deal. A few minutes later, both players returned to the table visibly upset. Apparently, negotiations had fallen through and the two decided to play it out. The final hand of the night saw both players all-in pre-flop; Nikjouian’s A-6 off vs. the  -  of Magtoto.

The flop came  - - . A queen on the turn gave Magtoto the lead, which held after a seven hit the river, earning him $61,459 for first place and a WSOP Circuit Event ring.

Magtoto, who also once played professional pool, described his ascent from playing micro stakes online to winning his first major tournament. "I always thought I was a decent player. I did a lot of reading about poker and played online until I was constantly winning."

After playing his first live game, Magtoto discovered his knack for reading players and eventually stopped playing online, preferring to play at live tables.

"Unfortunately, I haven’t had the bankroll to play at the level I want, but this win will help change that."

Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City is the fourth stop of the 2009/2010 WSOPO Circuit Events. With one event now completed at Harrah’s AC, the tournament has now attracted 1,056 total entries and has awarded $307,296 in total prize money.

Still to come are 16 more events and 29 nightly (single-day) satellites which begin at 3 pm and 7 pm. The WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City continues through December 20th.