Chris Gamboa Wins First Major Tournament Victory at Harrah’s New Orleans
New Orleans, LA – Sometimes a tournament winner comes out of nowhere.  That’s what happened today in the most recent World Series of Poker Circuit tournament, held at Harrah’s New Orleans.  Chris Gamboa, in his first recorded tournament cash ever, made it all look too easy.  He outplayed several opponents with far more cashes and final table appearances en route to a commanding victory in the $500 No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which attracted 314 entries.

Gamboa is a 30-year-old professional poker player from Houston, TX.  He previously worked as a shipping agent before taking up poker full time.  This was only Gamboa’s second WSOP-related tournament. 
It was quite a showing for someone who concentrates most of his time on cash games and possible indication of things to come for the player who expects to play in more tournaments in the future.  Gamboa was rewarded handsomely, to the tune of $35,313 for first place.  He was also presented with his first gold ring, the ultimate achievement for winning a WSOP Circuit tournament.

This was the second gold ring event (out of 19 tournaments) on this year’s WSOP Circuit schedule at Harrah’s New Orleans.  The tournament was played over two consecutive days during May 9th and 10th.  The top 36 finishers divided a prize pool totaling $147,140. 
After most of the field was eliminated on the first day, final table play began on a Sunday afternoon.  There were no prior WSOP Circuit gold ring event winners among the final nine players, which guaranteed a first-time champion.  Little did anyone know at the time when play began that not only would the top prize be won by a first-time winner, it would also be his first time to cash in a major poker tournament of any kind.

David Moyer, who ended up as the second-place finisher, arrived at the Final Table with a slight chip advantage over Shawn “Doc” Quillin and Brian Gabrielle.  But the wide distribution of chips and low blinds and antes meant everyone was within striking distance of the chip lead.

When Final Table play began at 4:00 pm, the nine finalists and their starting chip counts were as follows:




Chip Count


Chris Gamboa

Houston, TX



Mark Gallagher

Kingwood, TX



Vien Le

Baton Rouge, LA



David Moyer

Luling, LA



Paul Distefano

Plaquemine, LA



Shawn “Doc” Quillin

Charlotte, NC



Brian Gabrielle

Edina, MN



Richard Langdon

Charlotte, NC



John Eric Honeycutt

Houston, TX



Final Table play lasted nearly six hours and ended at 9:30 pm.  Players were jazzed up from the start, but were trumpeted away from the final table in the following order:

Ninth Place:  Langdon moves “In and Out”
Richard Langdon, a CEO from Charlotte, NC, was eliminated about ten minutes into the finale.  His played his final note with AQ, which was drummed down by pocket tens.  Langdon failed to improve his hand, resulting in a ninth place finish and a payout totaling $3,310.  This was Langdon’s second time to cash in a WSOP Circuit tournament.  He previously made the money once at Harrah’s Tunica.

Eighth Place:  “Round Midnight” for Distefano

Paul Distefano, the owner of Mike Club in Plaquemine, LA, was eliminated about 20 minutes into play.  He moved all in with JJ.  Unfortunately, Distefano picked up a big pocket pair at the worst possible moment since he was called in one spot by an opponent holding pocket aces.  Distefano failed to improve and the aces won, which resulted in an eighth place finish worth $4,414.  Distefano had previously made several cashes elsewhere.  He played poker professionally for two years.  He was also a former high school and basketball coach and currently serves on the Iberville Parish School Board, a post he has held for 16 years.      

Seventh Place:  Gabrielle Goes “Up a Lazy River”

Brian Gabrielle, a former sports handicapper and oddsmaker turned poker pro from Minnesota, suffered some bad luck at the final table.  He lasted about an hour during which he gradually lost his stack to the point where he had to take some risks.  Gabrielle moved all in on what turned out to be his final hand, hoping to steal a round of blinds and antes with a weak hand.  Unfortunately, his opponent picked up AK which caught an ace on the flop.  Gabrielle made a small pair, but exited in seventh place, worth $5,517.  Gabrielle was featured on the Fox Sports reality poker show called “Wild Card Poker,” which ran a few years ago.  He has cashed in WSOP events, in addition to tournaments on the World Poker Tour and Canadian Poker Tour.

Sixth Place:  “Descent into the Maelstrom” for Honeycutt
John Eric Honeycutt, a.k.a. “281 not 713” finished in the middle of the pack, taking down sixth place.  The IT Director from Houston received a payout totaling $6,989.  This was only the third WSOP Circuit Honeycutt had entered.  He is now 2 out of 3 in cashes, after finishing in third place a few weeks ago at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.  

Fifth Place:  Gallagher “Takes Five”
Mark Gallagher, a 24-year-old poker pro from the Houston area, was the fifth place finisher.  He was getting low on chips and moved all in with AJ.  He got called by AK, and failed to improve.  This marked his third time to cash in a WSOP Circuit event at Harrah’s New Orleans, and was his second-final table appearance.  He now has nearly $100,000 in live tournament winnings.  His prize totaled $8,828.

Fourth Place:  “Vien Le the Moocher”
Vien Le, an accountant from Baton Rouge, LA became short stacked when play reached four-handed.  He found pocket deuces on his final hand, which got a call from A9.  A nine flopped, ending Le’s hopes of making a comeback.  This marked Le’s first time to cash in a WSOP-related tournament.  He received a nice payout totaling $11,035.

Third Place:  “Doc” Quillin is “Out of the Night”

Shawn “Doc” Quillin started out second in chips, but found himself playing catch up in the late stages of the tournament when he became outchipped by the two other players.  Quillin moved all in on his final hand holding pocket 6s.  He was called by an opponent with AK. 

The board got very ugly for Quillin as the flopped cards were 8 9 T 8 9.  That meant the ace played as the higher kicker with two pair on board, while Quillin’s pocket 6s hit the muck.  The diagnostic radiologist from Charlotte, NC picked up a nice score, with $13,610 as the prize for third place.  Quillin previously had several impressive cashes, including 11th place in the WSOP Circuit Main Event at Caesars Indiana last year.  He also took fifth place in this same tournament here in New Orleans last year.
Second Place:  David Moyer takes “Giant Steps”
David Moyer, an attorney from Luling, LA finished as the runner up.  This was his second final table appearance at Harrah’s New Orleans after coming in fourth in an event last year.  Moyer also previously cashed in an Omaha High/Low event at the WSOP in Las Vegas. 
For second place, Moyer received a nice settlement which amounted to $21,703.
Moyer was down by more than 2 to 1 during the heads up match against Chris Gamboa.  Moyer was not able to catch the crucial hand which might have enabled him to double up.  He finally had enough of Gamboa’s aggression and decided to make his final stand when he was down by about a 4 to 1 margin. 
Moyer was dealt   .  He hit a pair of 3s on the flop.  On the turn, Gamboa moved all in on a semi-bluff and tabled     – which gave him a flush draw and two overcards versus Moyer’s pair of threes.  Moyer called with what was the best hand at the time.  But a third heart fell on the river, giving Gamboa a flush.  The final board showed:        The final hand of the tournament can be seen here:
First Place:  Gamboa is “Mister Magic”
Chris Gamboa, a 30-year-old professional poker player from Houston, TX, won his first major poker tournament victory.  He collected $35,313 for first place and the WSOP Circuit gold ring.