ST. LOUIS, MO. – Barry Schultz, winner of Event #18 at Harrah’s Tunica knows all too well how hard it is to win a WSOP Circuit event. Back in February, despite having a massive chip lead over his heads up opponent, Matt Lawrence, Shultz offered to chop first and second place prize with Lawrence for the ring. Despite the $10,000 offer, Lawrence, who had just doubled up to survive, thought for a long time before finally deciding to take the deal.

Two months later, Lawrence would come to the World Series of Poker Circuit Events at Harrah’s St. Louis to claim what he left back in Mississippi.

Event #8 drew an impressive 313 player field, each putting up a $500 (+50) buy-in to generate a total prize pool of $151,805.

Day One ended with two tables who resumed play the following day at 2:00 pm. RW Schroeder’s pocket aces failed to hold against J Austin Hijar, eliminating him in tenth place to set the stage for the final nine at about 3:20 pm.





Chip Count

Matt Lawrence

Tulsa, OK



Austin Schaal

Vandalia, IL



J Austin Hijar

St. Louis, MO



Tina Tellone

Sunrise, FL



Brandon Hinkle

Carthage, TN



Michael Boyet

Arnold, MO



Duane Gerleman

Ridgeway, IA



Nathaniel Grinols

Southaven, MS



David Rylander

Collierville, TN



Ninth Place

With blinds and antes at 4,000/8,000/1,000, Nathaniel Grinols was left needing a lot of help after an all-in with     vs. Michael Boyet’s AK suited. The board was dealt ten-high, resulting in an early exit for Grinols. Grinols is a 28-year-old welder from Southaven, MS. Ninth place paid $3,066.

Eighth Place

High Heels Poker Tour marketing director, Tina Tellone was the lone woman at the final table. She had a healthy stack going into the final table, but found herself in trouble after flat-calling a 24,000 pre-flop raise from Lawrence with pocket jacks.

Tellone fired out 75,000 after a flop of      . Lawrence shoved his entire stack into the pot and Tellone made the call. Tellone could not have been happy with the sight of Lawrence tabling    . A   hit the turn and the river was without the two remaining jacks in the deck, eliminating Tellone in eighth place. She collected $3,628 for her two-day effort.

Seventh Place

David Rylander was soon all-in with his remaining 110,000 chips and got a call from Lawrence. Rylander had it in with the best hand, AK vs. Lawrence’s A8, but was outflopped with a spread of      . No help came for Rylander on the turn or river, sending him to the payout table. Seventh place paid $4,463.

Rylander is a 46-year-old project manager from Collierville, TN. He and his wife, Dina, are regulars on the WSOP Circuit and are the first husband and wife to ever make a WSOPC final table. This was David’s sixth Circuit cash, one shy of Mrs. Rylander’s seven.

Sixth Place

Boyet made it 40,000 to go pre-flop before Lawrence re-raised to 85,000. Boyet was all-in and Lawrence made the call. Boyet was looking good with     vs. his opponent’s    .  Boyet maintained his lead after a queen-high flop, but was pained to see an   hit the turn. A river seven marked the end of Boyet’s tournament run. Sixth place paid $6,695.

Fifth Place

Schaal was involved in a monster pot all-in with pocket queens vs. Brandon Hinkle’s pocket kings. The board ran jack high, crippling Schaal. He was all in a few hands later with     against Hijar, who called with    . Both players flopped a flush with      , but Hijar’s hand was the nuts, sending Schaal out in fifth place.

Schaal won his first WSOP Circuit Event earlier this year at Tunica and was looking to pick up a second gold ring. Instead, the 22-year-old poker player from Vandalia, IL was forced to settle for $8,926 fifth place prize money.

Fourth Place

Duane Gerleman came to St. Louis off of a strong showing at Horseshoe Council Bluffs in February. He continued his run with WSOPC Final Table number four. The 54-year-old farmer from Ridgeway, IA fell three places short of taking it all the way in his fourth WSOPC final table appearance. He did however pick up $11,158.

Third Place

Three-handed, Lawrence made it 43,000 to go and got a call from Hinkle. The two saw a flop of      . Lawrence fired out 65,000 which Hinkle raised all-in. Lawrence made the call and showed pocket 6’s.

Hinkle was on an open-ended straight draw with    . Hinkle bricked the turn and river and his tournament run was over. Hinkle is a 31-year-old in sales and has a 14-month-old daughter with his wife of ten years. He brought home $15,621.


Play between the final two began at 6:24 pm with blinds and antes at 8,000/16,000/3,000. Lawrence had a 4 to 1 advantage over Hijar.

Hijar, who himself had come so close to a Circuit Event victory a number of times, fought valiantly to stay alive, doubling up twice through his opponent.

However, Lawrence played masterful heads up, minimum-raising pre-flop and then forcing his opponent off of hands post-flop to regain his original lead.

Heads up play lasted nearly three hours before the final hand when Hijar raised the 30,000 big blind to 100k with    . Lawrence moved all-in with     and Hijar called. It looked like Hijar would double again when the flop came      , but running clubs     on the turn and river gave Lawrence the victory, worth $36,115 and the WSOPC gold ring he left on the table a couple of months ago.

Hijar was left with $21,921 in second place prize money and an even stronger determination to one day win WSOP Circuit gold.

"I’m pretty confident in my game. I knew I would have another chance to win the ring," said Lawrence of his decision back in February

"I’m ecstatic," he said when asked how it felt to get the win.

"To have chopped five or six tournaments in the past and to finally just put one away, it really means a lot."

Still to come are 4 more events and nightly (single-day) non-ring $230 and $340 buy-in events which begin at 4 pm and 7pm. The WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s St. Louis runs through April 15th.