2009-2010 World Series of Poker Circuit Season Six

Horseshoe Casino (Chicago) Hammond, IN (October 16-25, 2009)

Event #1: $300 (+45) No-Limit Hold’em (October 16-17, 2009)

Total Entries:  1,412
Total Prize Pool:  $405,692

23-Year-Old Poker Pro Josh Shmerl Wins First WSOP Circuit Event of the 2009-2010 Season

Josh Shmerl outlasted a WSOP Circuit record 1,412 opponents to take down event #1 of the Horseshoe Chicagoland Circuit Event to win $79,107 and a coveted WSOP Circuit Event gold ring.

The 23-year old from Wauconda, IL entered final table play the chip leader and despite losing the lead, managed to maintain a sizable stack until the end:

• Ninth place went to 23-year old Jeff Lou of Buffalo, NY. Having entered the final table second place in chips, Lou lost a few huge pots early on and took home $7,854.
• Nick Frost finished in eighth place. A previous “Sunday Million” winner, the 23-year old Chicagoan earned $8,804.
• In seventh place was George Snow, a 28-year old carpenter from Joliet, IL, who took down $10,345
• Sixth place belonged to Elvin Simpson, an industrial engineer-turned-poker pro who earned $12,698.
• The fifth place finisher was Stuart Marshak, a 32-year old risk manager from Chicago. This was Marshak’s second WSOP Circuit final table Horseshoe Hammond. He also final tabled two WSOP events in Las Vegas. Fifth paid out $16,431.
• Chris Vankirk of Woodridge, IL took fourth place. The former salesman collected $22,313.

A deal was made when play got down to the final three. While terms were not disclosed, C.J. Sullivan , a 33-year old Chicago comedian was the official third place finisher, taking home $31,997. Sullivan hosts a sports and comedy radio show called “Visitors Locker Room.”

Heads up was between Aaron Massey, a 25-year old financial services representative from Chicago and Shmerl. The two even-stacks battled until nearly 4 a.m., when in a decisive hand, Shmerl called Massey’s A-J all-in with a pair of 5’s. Shmerl’s pocket pair held up, decimating Massey’s chip stack. Massey could only go all-in with 5-3 against the KQ of Shmerl. A river king gave Shmerl the victory and paid the runner up $48,683.

When asked about winning the largest WSOP Circuit Event tournament in history, Shmerl said, “I really can’t believe it. It’s a great feeling. It’s awesome.” When asked about his plans for his $80,000 prize, “It goes right back into the bankroll,” he replied.

Winner Notes:

• Shmerl’s hometown of Wauconda is a small community of 12,000 residents located in a lake resort area, northwest of Chicago.

• Shmerl admits to not doing much else, other than playing poker.  He did not attend college and has never worked a conventional job.  Shmerl began playing poker while in his teens.  He has been playing professionally for nearly five years.  Shmerl initially played poker online, but has since opted for live play.  He also travels regularly to tournaments held throughout the Midwest and Las Vegas.

• Shmerl had previously finished as the runner up twice in major tournaments.  He took second place at the Venetian Deep Stack series held last year in Las Vegas.  Shmerl also finished second at the WSOP Circuit held at Council Bluffs in 2008.

Event Notes:

• The early part of the finale was viewed nearly one hundred spectators, despite the midnight hour.  The tournament officially ended at 3:55 am, in front of a viewing audience which had become considerably smaller and far more weary.   

• A record 1,412 players entered the tournament, which is the largest turnout in WSOP Circuit history for any event.  Attendance eclipsed last year’s near-record for the same event, which was 1,187 entries.  The previous all-time record attendance mark for any WSOP Circuit event had been 1,345 players, at the Tunica Grand Resort and Casino (in Mississippi) set on January 7, 2006.

• The tournament began at noon on October 16th and was scheduled for two days.  Because of the huge field size, tournament officials considered making the event a three-day competition.  But action was fast on the second day, which allowed the final table to be completed.  The entire duration of the tournament lasted about 26 hours.

• After Day One, there were 99 survivors who returned for Day Two.  Play resumed at 2 pm and played down to the final nine, which occurred at about midnight.  The final table was completed in slightly less than four hours.