The most recent World Series of Poker Circuit tournament concluded today in dramatic fashion.  Erhart “David” Edquist, a 46-year-old tax consultant and recreational poker player from San Diego, pulled off a near-miraculous upset against the experienced poker pro, Habib Khanis.  At one point very late in the tournament, Edquist seemed absolutely doomed.  He was all-in holding pocket tens against Khanis pocket kings.  Even Edquist realized he was dominated and drawing slim.  But a ten thundered down giving Edquist a full house, which assassinated Khanis kings.  Moments later, Edquist went on to achieve his first tournament victory and was the ecstatic recipient of $37,344 in prize money and his first gold ring, which is the coveted token of achievement for winning events on the WSOP Circuit.

This was the final tournament before the start of the championship event at Harrah’s Rincon Casino and Resort.  This $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament was the tenth “gold ring” event on this year’s Rincon schedule, which attracted 154 entries, generating $149,380 in total prize money.  Only the top 18 finishers collected payouts.  All the action took place inside the Rincon Pavilion Showroom.

After 145 players were eliminated on the first day, nine survivors took their seats at the final table.  Khanis started off with a decisive chip lead.  In fact, he had his closest rival covered by more than a 2 to 1 margin.  It was fitting that he would play all the way down to a final showdown versus the far-less experienced Edquist.  Only this time, David (Edquist) defeated Goliath (Khanis).  This final table was also unique in that it was the first finale with multiple female players.  Kim “Ice Beer” Wooka and Esther “E-Tay” Taylor became the second and third females to make a final table appearance at this Rincon series.  The top nine finishers were as follows:

9th Place – Jeff Savage was the final table’s first casualty.  He went bust when he moved all in on the turn, holding K-J to a board showing J-4-4-2.  Unfortunately, Richard Doyan held pocket aces and called the bet.  Savage was drawing to just two jacks, which he failed to catch.  That meant an early exit for the “self-unemployed” (his words) poker player from Austin, TX.  Savage, who pilots his own turbo-prop airplane, flew off the final table in ninth place with $4,481.

8th Place – Jim Price departed next when he moved all-in with A-8, which was called and dominated by David Icke’s A-10.  Price picked up a flush draw when three diamonds flopped to go along with his lone diamond, but two black cards on the turn and river ended the championship hopes of the CPA and attorney from Oklahoma City.  Price only started playing poker last fall.  He has already made it to final tables in the Dominican Republic, as well as local tournaments in casinos in Oklahoma.  Price registered a payout totaling $5,975.

7th Place – If a prize were to be awarded for the greatest distance traveled to play at Rincon, the winner would unquestionably be Kim “Ice Beer” Wooka, from Osaka, Japan.  The female poker pro was chosen last year out of thousands of players to represent a poker company based in Asia.  She now travels around the world, playing in many tournaments.  Wooka was in contention for a while, but she ultimately busted out in seventh place when she took an A-6 up against Habib Khanis’ A-J.  Neither player paired, which meant the higher cards played, knocking out the Japanese pro.  Wooka earned $7,469 in prize money.

6th Place – One of the biggest pots of the tournament developed when three-way action took place between David Edquist (A-K), Todd Julich (6-3 suited), and David Icke (A-Q).  Julich got trapped in the pot between the two bigger hands, with Edquist holding the advantage.  The final board showed K-7-4-2-9 (Edquist made top pair, with kings), as Julich missed both his straight and flush draws, while Icke was in even worse shape with a dominated hand and the fewest chips.  Ultimately, Icke had to settle for sixth place, which paid $8,963.  The teacher and real estate broker from San Diego previously cashed in the 2005 WSOP Main Event and the 2007 WSOP Seniors Championship.

5th Place – Wounded on the previous hand, Todd Julich was low on chips and moved in with Q-10.  David Edquist was the bad guy again, this time calling with A-9 suited.  An ace on the flop essentially knocked Julich out, resulting in a fifth-place finish.  The manager for BP Explorations who now lives in Alaska collected $10,457 in prize money.  He previously cashed in a WSOP Circuit event in New Orleans.

4th Place – Esther “E-Tay” Taylor took a tough beat when she was all-win with A-J versus Habib Kahnis’ K-J.  It appeared she would double through, but a king on the turn (food for a pair of kings) ended up knocking out Taylor, who ended up as the highest-placed female finisher so far in any Rincon tournament.  “E-Tay,” a Las Vegas poker pro, was paid $12,548 for fourth place.

3rd Place – Richard Doyen took a few beats and was left as the lowest stack.  He moved all-in holding A-10, which was called and covered by Khanis, with pocket jacks.  The flop made things interesting, as K-Q-10 came.  But a nine on the river gave Khanis a straight, knocking out Doyen.  A 25-year-old U.S. Marine who served two tours in the Middle East, Doyen plays poker recreationally.  Amazingly, he has only played in two tournaments in his life and he cashed in both.  Third place paid $14,938 – quite an accomplishment.

2nd Place – When heads-up play began, Habib Khanis enjoyed about a 2 to 1 chip advantage over David Edquist.  The duo battled for about a half hour, before the stunning hand took place which would essentially decide the outcome.  After Edquist spiked his perfect ten on the turn, Khanis was outchipped by about 8 to 1.  The savvy vet doubled up once, but that was his last hurrah.  Khanis finally went out with pocket jacks, losing to Edquist’s A-6 after an ace flopped.

          Habib Khanis, who has two major wins and nearly $400,000 in tournament earnings in addition to much success in cash games, collected the most disappointing $23,901 he has ever counted.  Khanis congratulated his foe and accepted defeat gracefully.  “What can you do?” he asked while shrugging his shoulders.

1st Place – The winner David Edquist was cheered on by his wife, who vowed never again to watch another live poker tournament.  “This was excruciating sitting watching this,” she said.  Of course, her viewing experience was made far more enjoyable by Edquist’s victory.

“I don’t like to win that way, by getting lucky,” Edquist stated.  “But, I’ll take it.”

Partly by luck and partly by skill, Edquist earned his victory.  But to Edquist’s credit, he has only played in two events this year at Rincon.  In impressive fashion, he made the final tables of both.  That’s not luck – that’s skill.

With 11 gold ring events now completed at Harrah’s Rincon, the tournament has attracted 4,392 total entries and has awarded $1,222,680 in total prize money.  Still to come are two more events, including the $5,000 buy-in championship which starts at noon.  The WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s Rincon continues through April 1st.