TUNICA, MS – 24-year old bartender, Derek Puza of Charleston, SC beat out 572 other players to win Event #6 of the World Series of Poker Circuit Events at Harrah’s Tunica.

While it is not at all uncommon for a 24-year old, or a bartender, or someone from Charleston, SC, for that matter to win a major tournament, it is pretty uncanny that a 24-year old bartender from Charleston, SC who’s only been playing Hold’em since Christmas has accomplished such a feat.

"My little brother taught me how to play," said Puza about his steep learning curve.

"I’d play $20 tournaments at home with him and some friends, but these Circuits are the first tournaments I’ve ever played in."

Puza is not the only novice to have won an event at the Circuit Events here at Tunica. Out of the six tournaments played so far, five had never before cashed at a WSOP Circuit. Of these players, four had never cashed in a major tournament period.

The final table got underway shortly after 9:00 pm with nine players, each with their sights set on winning the $22,218 first place prize and the World Series of Poker Circuit Event ring.




Chip Count

John Lopez

Houston, TX



Jody Akins

Cordova, TN



Ricky Gibson

Sidon, MS



Zane Garner

Jackson, TN



Keith Woernle

Montgomery, AL



Ray Martin

Bargersville, IN



Dutch Magrath

Ringgold, GA



Larry Brown

Jamestown, TN



Derek Puza

Charleston, SC



Ninth Place

The first eliminations of the night came after John Lopez moved his short stack all-in and got two callers by way of Keith Woernle and Dutch Magrath. After an       flop, Magrath called Woernle’s 428,000 all-in with    , while Woernle showed    . A spade on the turn gave Magrath a possible flush, but it was a four on the river that won him the hand with a straight. Lopez earned $1,830 for ninth while Woernle took home $2,158 for eighth place.

Seventh Place

Jody Akins, a business analyst for FedEx, was the next elimination after moving all-in with A-6 off against Derek Puza’s pocket fours. Puza hit quads on the board, leaving Akins to pick up a $2,655 seventh place shipment.

Sixth Place

A few hands later, Puza was all-in again with pocket fours, this time against the     of Ray Martin. Quads were unnecessary for Puza as the board missed both players. Martin, a 56-year old farmer from Bargersville, IN, took home $3,977.

Fifth Place

Baseball handicapper Zane Garner was the fourth place finisher after running his K-Q suited into Dutch Magrath’s pocket kings. Garner parlayed his $230 buy-in into a $5,309 fifth place prize.

Fourth Place

The next player escorted to payouts was Larry Brown after his pocket sevens failed to hold against Margath’s A-10. The 52-year old trucker hauled in a nice $6,631 home to Jamestown, TN.

The elimination of 50-year old farmer, Ricky Gibson, in third place saw Derek Puza heads up against Dutch Magrath. With comparable chip stacks, the two players agreed to chop 1st and 2nd place prize and play on for the ring. The final hand of the tournament saw an all-in call preflop from Magrath with    . Magrath turned over    . The flop came      , keeping Magrath in the lead, but giving Puza an inside straight draw. The turn was devastating for Magrath after a   was dealt, making him the runner up and giving Puza the win.

"I feel fantastic," said Puza after the win.

"These structures are great, they allowed me to play tight and pick my spots here and there."

Still to come are 13 more events and single-day non-ring $230 and $340 buy-in events which begin at 4 pm and 7pm. The WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s Tunica runs through February 10th.