TUNICA, MS – Robert "Skinny" Hankins is the latest Circuit Event winner at the World Series of Poker Circuit Events at Harrah’s Tunica.

Hankins started playing poker recreationally three years ago, both for fun and to make a bit of side money to supplement the income he earned making tires at the Bridgestone plant near his hometown of Murfreesboro, TN.

However, beginning in 2008, production cuts resulted in the layoff of hundreds of employees at the LaVergne, TN plant. Among them was Hankins.

"I went from earning $1,100 a week to collecting a $200 a week unemployment check," said Hankins in his slow southern drawl.

With an additional 40 hours a week now on his hands, Hankins started playing more poker at nearby casinos and at a local home game, the poker barn. "Skinny" soon began to realize the possibilities of earning a living from playing cards.

In his first year playing professionally, Hankins made the final nine three times and earned over $35,000, just from the WSOP Circuit at Tunica. His most recent final table saw him with second in chips against a group of mostly short-stacked but determined competitors.




Chip Count

Dave Simon

St. Louis, MO



Michael House

New Albany, IN



Robert Hankins

Murfreesboro, TN



Bobby Bryan

Osceola, AR



Leo Stephens

Dayton, TN



Gregory Burns

Flower Mound, TX



Damjan Radanov

Memphis, TN



Robert Taylor

Booneville, MS



Brandon Jackson

Batesville, AR



Ninth Place

Brandon Jackson was eliminated in ninth place after seeing his pocket aces cracked all-in vs. the pocket jacks of Robert Taylor. Jackson, a 35-year old contractor who played in memory of his father, Jimmy would have made dad proud with his final table finish. Ninth place paid $1,379.

Seventh Place

After the elimination of 33-year old Gregory Burns, Robert Taylor was next to hit the rail. A short-stacked Taylor called after Damjan Radanov moved his monster stack all-in from the small blind. Taylor was dominated with A-2 vs. Radanov’s A-9 and was unable to improve on the board. Seventh and Eighth places paid $2,006 and $1,630 respectively.

Sixth Place

A few hands later, Radanov claimed the rest of 58-year old roofing contractor, Leo Stephens’, short-stack with A-K vs. Stephens’s A-2 all-in on a king-high board. Stephens earned $3,016 for sixth.

Fifth Place

Another short stack, David Simon was the fifth place finisher after his A-4 all-in was unable to improve on the board against Michael House’s. Fifth place paid $4,019.

Fourth Place

41-year old restaurant owner, Bobby "Bob the Chip Builder" Bryan was eliminated after losing his remaining stack to Radanov with J-9 against his opponent’s A-10. Bryan picked up $5,023 for fourth.

Third Place

After House was eliminated in third place, Hankins and Radanov, each with comparable chip stacks, made a deal. While details were not disclosed, the agreement resulted in Radanov taking 2nd place for an official payout of $9,809 while Hankins took the ring and an official payout of $16,314.

"Radanov is a big cash player and I’m about the tournaments so we were both happy with the deal," said Hankins, who ended up in third place in an event in last year’s Tunica Circuit Event after seeing his aces cracked vs. an opponent’s A-K.

Despite a successful first year, Hankins acknowledges that sustaining a career as a poker pro is an uphill journey that he has just begun.

"It’s hard for a young poker player to play on the big stage unless you have the bankroll or someone to back you," said Hankins.

"I’m going to play more WSOP Circuits, Vegas and I’m talking with a backer so we’ll see how it goes."

Said Hankins about his win, "I feel good man."

Still to come are 12 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.