Atlantic City, NJ – There’s a classic rock song made famous by Janis Joplin where the lyrics go, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”  What the lyric means is, there’s a certain sense of emotional contentment that comes with being on a free roll, whether the situation is life or poker.  Once you’ve committed yourself to the notion you can’t lose, in fact – you have won.

Rohan Long, a real estate broker from Windsor, CT knows the feeling all too well.  He pretty much resigned himself to a middle of the pack finish at what was his first World Series of Poker Circuit final table recently.  Long managed to survive far longer than either the cards or odds normally would have dictated.  With each near miracle dealt from the deck, he gained the confidence and aggression necessary to overcome massive odds and ultimately pulled off a stunning upset victory.

Long survived at least eight all in situations when play was at three-handed, and later heads up.  Each time, he doubled his stack size up to the point where he ended up achieving the greatest comeback of the year of any player in a WSOP Circuit tournament.  Once play became heads up versus a tough-minded online poker pro named Alex Pawlyk, Long pretty much summed up his feelings by announcing, “I’m on a complete free roll now.  Nothing can stop me.”

In a sense, having Long in a complete care-free zone made him the worst possible adversary for a skilled professional.  Rather than the usual tense atmosphere that characterizes the later stages of many major poker tournaments, Long’s presence and attitude ended up creating a great comeback drama, which was unquestionably the most exiting final table of this year’s series at Caesars Atlantic City.

Long, who was born in Jamaica and now lives in Connecticut, won the $560 buy in No-Limit Hold’em tournament and collected the top cash prize totaling $32,592.  He was also presented with his first gold ring, which is the ultimate token of achievement given out to all tournament champions who win WSOP Circuit events held around the country.

This marked the sixth of 12 WSOP Circuit events on this year’s Caesars schedule.  The two-day tournament attracted 210 entrants.  Most of the field was eliminated on Day One, which clocked in at 14 hours.  Four tables of survivors returned for Day Two which played another 10 hours.  The top 27 finishers divided up prize money from a $101,850 prize pool.

Final table play began on a Tuesday night and was held inside the Palladium Arena at Caesars.  There was only one previous WSOP Circuit winner among the final nine.  Local poker player Howard Wolper arrived with the goal to win his second gold ring.  But Wolper went out early, thus guaranteeing a first time champion.  Meanwhile, Juan J. Lopez arrived as chip leader and was in a comfortable position throughout the competition until he crashed and burned in third place.

The low blinds (5,000-10,000) and average chip stack of nearly 250,000 at the start gave all the competitors plenty of time be patient. 

In fact, the tournament structures for all the tournaments played at Caesars this year have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from many players and online poker forums.  Tournament players have been given plenty of starting chips and blind increases have been incremental, allowing for skillful play to overcome the short-term luck factor which is a part of all tournaments.
The nine finalists and their starting chip counts were as follows:




Chip Count


Carlos Alarcon

Wayne, NJ



Juan J. Lopez

Wilmington, DE



Alex Pawlyk

New Brunswick, NJ



Joe Cramer

Carlisle, PA



Howard Even Wolper

Atlantic City, NJ



Willie A, Groom

Brooklyn, NY



Francis Sage

Morton, PA



Mitchell Martin

Las Vegas, NV



Rohan Long

Windsor, CT


Players were eliminated in the following order:
Ninth Place:  Artist Gets No Respect 
Howard Evan Wolper, an artist and semi-pro poker player from Atlantic City, was the first player eliminated.  He was low on chips and managed to catch AK.  But Rohan Long was dealt pocket 10’s, which ended up scooping the pot after Wolper failed to improve. 

Wolper has earned many awards for his work in the performance arts.  He has also done well in poker, with four major tournament wins within a 13-month span, including back-to-back wins a few years ago.  He won a WSOP Circuit gold ring in 2007 at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe.  Wolper pocketed $2,037 in prize money.  
Eighth Place:  Groom Gets Divorced
Willie A. Groom, a scenic artist from Brooklyn, NY became the second creative personality within five minutes to make an exit.  He was dealt A9 and moved all in on what became his final hand.  Unfortunately, Alex Pawlyk picked up pocket 9’s and made an obligatory call with a large chip advantage. 

Groom failed to hit an ace or improve and thus went out with a payout totaling $3,056.  Groom would be the first of three consecutive players who were eliminated by Pawlyk.

Seventh Place:  Las Vegas Player Gets Ripped 
Mitchell Martin, a real estate investor from Las Vegas, NV took a tough beat on his final hand of the tournament.  He was dealt A10 and moved all in after the flop came with a ten high.  But Alex Pawlyk woke up in the big blind with 43 and managed to flop two small pair.  It was the perfect trap set up, which snapped shut on Martin’s chance for victory.  Martin ended up going out in seventh place, which paid $4,074.  Martin previously won a major tournament called the Ultimate Poker Challenge, held in Las Vegas.

Sixth Place:  Online Poker Pro Busts 
Carlos Alarcon, an online poker pro from Clifton, NJ made no attempt to hide his disgusted when his pocket 7’s were cracked on the turn by the chip Pawlyk’s K9.  When the fateful K fell, Alarcon ran away from the table with his hands over his face while his friends hurled off a slew of profanities.  That pretty much ended Alarcon’s night.  Nevertheless, Alarcon did collect $5,093 in prize money which now puts him in excess of $400,000 in tournament winnings.

Fifth Place:  Sage Takes the Fifth 
Francis Sage, a 21 year old college student from Morton, PA took a terrible beat and went out in fifth place.  The University of Pittsburgh senior was dealt pocket A’s and moved all in.  Rohan Long called the raise with pocket Q’s and pumped his fist in jubilation when the flop came Q88, good for a full house.  Sage shook his head in disbelief and failed to hit one of the two remaining A’s in the deck.  That meant Sage has to settle for $6,111 on his spring break vacation.

Fourth Place:  Cramer Creamed   
Joe Cramer, a restaurant owner from Carlisle, PA became short stacked and moved all in on his final hand with AJ.  Juan J. Lopez, who held the chip lead, made the call and tabled pocket 4’s.  When a 4 flopped, Lopez suddenly had a set and Cramer was left drawing dead.  That meant Cramer, playing at his first WSOP Circuit final table, ended up settling for $7,130.

Third Place:  Juan J. Lopez Takes Third 
Juan J. Lopez, the manager of a bail bonds business from Wilmington, DE appeared to be close to winning his first major tournament.  But the Cuban-born part time poker player suffered a late rush of misfortune, which ultimately resulted in a third place finish.  Lopez exited when he was dealt AK and moved all in after an ace flopped.  But Alex Pawlyk had A2 on the critical hand, which best Lopez when the final board showed AQ287.  The two pair scooped the largest pot of the tournament, knocking Lopez to the rail.  Lopez, who made it into the money in a WSOP Circuit event held at Harrah’s Atlantic City last December, received a payout totaling $9,167. 

Second Place:  Online Pro Alex Pawlyk Gets Disconnected
Alex Pawlyk, from New Brunswick, NJ was the runner up.  He played extremely well from start to finish, but was helpless to stop his final opponent’s onslaught.  Pawlyk began heads up play with nearly a 15 to 1 chip advantage, but was slowly grinded away one hand at a time until he finally was at a slight disadvantage to Long.  He ended up settling for an official payout amounting to $17,926.

Video: A fun exchange between the final two players
First Place:  Rohan Long Wins
Rohan Long, a Jamaican born real estate broker who now lives in Windsor, CT enjoyed the greatest roller coaster ride of any player at the final table.  He was all in several times, and managed to avoid elimination via some skillful play and catching an occasional miracle card which prolonged his stay in the finale. 
In fact, he survived no less than eight all in situations when play was three-handed and heads up, each time connecting with the cards he needed to survive.  When play was heads up, Long agreed to a deal with his final adversary and ended up winning the tournament with a pair of aces.