Manh Tran Wins Gold Ring at Harveys Lake Tahoe

Second WSOP Circuit Event in High Sierras Draws 419 Entrants – Attendance up 37 Percent over Last Year, So Far

Stateline, NV – The winner of the second World Series of Poker Circuit event held at Harveys Lake Tahoe is Manh Tran, from Sacramento, CA.      

Tran, age 38, had previously enjoyed some success at various tournaments held throughout California and Northern Nevada.  He final tabled a few events previously at the Sierra Poker Classic, held at Harveys Lake Tahoe.  But this was his first major tournament victory and his best WSOP-related finish, to date.

As play gradually reduced the field, it became apparent that Tran would be the dominant player among the remaining competitors.  He held the chip lead during much of the later half of the tournament.  When play reached the heads-up stage, he was the chip leader by more than a 5 to 1 margin.

Tran collected $26,257 in prize money.  He was also presented with the gold ring, which is the ultimate token of achievement given for winning a WSOP Circuit event. 

With his victory, Tran joined previous day’s winner Phillip Hui as the early co-leaders in the point race for the top player at this year’s Harveys Lake Tahoe series.  The poker player who accumulates the most overall points receives a freeroll entry into the $1 million 2010-2011 WSOP Circuit National Championship, to be held next May in Las Vegas.


This $345 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament began on a Saturday at noon and ended late on Sunday night.  The tournament attracted 419 entrants, which was up significantly from last year’s number.  Through the first two gold ring events played at Harveys Lake Tahoe so far, the two No-Limit Hold’em tournaments have attracted 826 players.  This number represents a 37 percent increase in attendance over the first two events last year.  In fact, this was the biggest WSOP Circuit turnout at Lake Tahoe in more than two years. 

The first day opened with 419 players playing down to 20 survivors, which took about 14 hours.  The final table finally began at 5 pm at the end of a busy weekend at the Nevada-California border resort.  Among the finalists was Clint Baskin, who won the $10,000 buy-in Main Event Championship held at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe in 2006.  But Manh Tran enjoyed a healthy chip lead, which he kept for most of the six-hour finale.  When the ten finalists took their seats, the seating order and chip counts were as follows:

SEAT 1:  Clint Baskin (Linden, CA) – 248,000
SEAT 2:  Keith Jeske (West Sacramento, CA) – 285,000
SEAT 3:  John Howe (Danville, CA) -- 415,000
SEAT 4:  Manh Tran (Sacramento, CA) – 872,000
SEAT 5:  Zachary Ray (Pittsburg, CA) – 681,000
SEAT 6:  Chris Powell (Sacramento, CA) – 295,000
SEAT 7:  Elizabeth Sparks (San Bruno, CA) – 618,000
SEAT 8:  Ken Palomino (Madera, CA) – 231,000
SEAT 9:  Phuoc Khong (Oakland, CA) – 376,000
SEAT 10:  Mike Price (Danville, CA) – 180,000 

Players were eliminated in the following order:

10th Place – It was a bit of a surprise that one of the larger stacks was the first player to bust out from the final table.  John Howe took a few beats and ended up as the first player down to the felt.  The assistant property manager from Danville, CA collected $2,009 in prize money. 

9th Place – Mike Price, an electrician from Danville, CA was unplugged from the final table when his A-Q ended up losing to A-K.  Price, who arrived with the lowest stack, survived only about a half hour.  He ultimately collected $2,482 in prize money.

8th Place – Zachary Ray, who describes himself as a proud Native American, took a tough beat on what turned out to be his final hand of the tournament.  Ray was dealt pocket aces.  After the flop came 5-3-2, Ray moved all-in.  Unfortunately, he was check raised by an opponent holding pocket threes, which made a set.  The trip threes held up and busted Ray in eighth place.  The social worker and semi-pro poker player from Pittsburg, CA received $3,107 for two days of poker playing.

7th Place – Tournament newcomer Chris Powell was eliminated about two hours into play.  He flopped top pair on his last hand, which lost to a straight.  Powell was all-in holding A-Q against Elizabeth Sparks, with K-T.  The flop showed Q-J-3 -- which put Powell in the lead, but also gave Sparks eight outs to a straight, plus three more outs with her king overcard.  The 9 on the turn completed the straight and put Powell out in seventh place.  The attorney from Sacramento, CA was awarded a settlement amounting to $3,945.  Incredibly, this was the first WSOP Circuit Event Powell has entered. 

6th Place – Phuoc Khong outlasted 413 players, but could quite not overcome the final five.  He lost most of his chips late when he made an aggressive all-in pre-flop raise holding A-7, which lost to Clint Baskin’s pocket aces.  Khong was eliminated just a few hands later.  Khong, an insurance agent from Oakland, CA had the term on his tournament life expire and was paid cash value amounting to $5,080.

5th Place – Clint Baskin, who works as a plumber and lives in Linden, CA, ended up as the fifth-place finisher.  The former WSOP Circuit Main Event Champion, who won nearly $350,000 in his previous triumph at Harveys Lake Tahoe back in 2006, added another $6,637 to his poker bankroll.  Baskin was short-stacked much of the way, but did manage to bust out in the middle of the pack.  He finally went out with J-T, which lost to Elizabeth Sparks’ Q-T.  Both players flopped a ten.  But Sparks’ better kicker played when the final board showed T-5-2-7-4.  This was Baskin's fifth career final table on the WSOP Circuit.

4th Place – Ken Palomino, a pro poker player from Madera, CA survived for nearly five hours before exiting in fourth place.  The former financial advisor ended up short-stacked late in the tournament and busted out when his K-Q offsuit was topped by Keith Jeske’s A-K.  Neither player made a pair, which meant the ace-high played.  Palomino galloped away with a nice payout totaling $8,801.

3rd Place – Elizabeth Sparks could have won the tournament, except for a few unlucky hands.  She had a large gathering of supporters at the final table and held the chip lead when play was three handed.  But Sparks lost a huge pot on a brutal beat when her opponent spiked three-of-a-kind on the river.  That hurt Sparks, but she fought back and moved all-in a short time later on the flush draw, which missed.  On her final hand, she held Qd 8d.  Manh Tran had Kc Jc.  Keith Jeske had Ad Ah.  After the flop came Kd Ks 9d, Tran bet out, and Sparks moved all-in on her flush draw.  Jeske mucked his pocket aces, leaving Tran to call with trip kings.  Unfortunately, two blanks fell on the turn and river, which put Sparks out in third place.  The office manager from San Bruno, CA received $11,853 in prize money.

2nd Place – When heads-up play began, Manh Tran enjoyed slightly more than a 5 to 1 chip advantage over Keith Jeske.  It appeared the heads-up match might end quickly, but Jeske proved to be a tough final foe.  He managed to last nearly 30 hands before the final one was dealt.  In the end, Jeske simply could not overcome such a decisive chip disadvantage to a talented rival.  Nevertheless, Jeske -- a former poker dealer-turned-player from West Sacramento, CA -- earned a nice consolation prize amounting to $16,222.
From the looks of the finish, it was difficult to tell which player had actually "won."
"I backdoored second place, dude" Jeske admitted afterward.  "I feel like John Racener in the Main Event.  I made an extra $5,000 in jack.  We're going out to party tonight."

The final hand of the tournament was dealt when Jeske was massively outchipped and took a stab at trying to win a round of blinds and antes.  He announced all-in with Qh 9h.  Manh Tran held As 5c and made the call.  The final board showed Jd 6d 2c Ks Js, giving both players two pair.  But Tran’s ace played as the fifth card and he won the tournament.

1st Place – Manh Tran, a self-described amateur poker player from Sacramento, CA was the winner of the second gold ring event held this year at Harveys Lake Tahoe.  He collected $26,257 in prize money.


On the same day the second gold ring event at Harveys Lake Tahoe ended, the $235 buy-in Seniors Championship was held.  The non-gold ring tournament attracted 108 entries.  Final results will be announced in the next report.


The impressive attendance figures at Harveys Lake Tahoe are consistent with big turnouts at all WSOP Circuit stops, so far.  All four WSOP Circuit events have experienced increases in both attendance and prize money.  Numbers were up significantly at Council Bluffs, Hammond (Chicago), and Southern Indiana.  A new addition to this year’s schedule held at the IP Casino-Reort and Spa in Biloxi also produced impressive numbers.
Several inches of snow this past week and a winter wonderland atmosphere outdoors could not freeze the enthusiasm of hundreds of poker players who showed up this weekend at Harveys Lake Tahoe.  The casino-resort is located on the south shore of crystal blue Lake Tahoe, beneath a wall of snow-capped mountains, making for one of the most astounding views of any poker destination in the world.

Northern Nevada has a rich poker history.  Few may remember that the WSOP had its origins, not in Las Vegas, but rather in Northern Nevada.  The first WSOP-style tournament was played in Reno at the Holiday Casino in 1969.  That first gathering of poker players was called the "Second Annual Gambling Fraternity Convention," and was won by Crandell Addington, later a Poker Hall of Fame inductee.  Poker patriarch Benny Binion was so impressed with the concept that he held the first WSOP the following year at Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas, in 1970.
Now some 41 years later, poker remains alive and well in the Reno-Lake Tahoe area.  In addition to the ten scheduled gold ring events on this year’s schedule, there are nightly No-Limit Hold'em tournaments and plenty of mega-satellites.  Cash games are going on inside the poker room around the clock.

Poker players can still come and join the action.  Hotel reservations can be made by calling 1-800-HARRAHS.  Ask for a special tournament player’s rate under the code:  "WSOP1"  Special hotel rates are $39 weekdays and $69 for Friday nights.  Saturday nights are based on availability.  Hotel reservations can also be made online at
This year, all players on the WSOP Circuit can accumulate points which are used to qualify towards the WSOP Circuit National Championship tournament, to be held in May 2011 in Las Vegas.  The $1 million freeroll tournament will be nationally televised and will be open to only 100 qualifiers.  For the first time ever, a WSOP gold bracelet will be presented to the winner.
The 2010-2011 World Series of Poker Circuit schedule – which includes all upcoming tour stops and dates -- can be viewed here.


Harveys Resort & Casino is the largest resort casino property at Lake Tahoe.  A wide variety of resort features include:  740 rooms and suites; nearly 75,000 square feet of casino space; five great restaurants including the stunning 19 Kitchen • Bar (overlooking beautiful Lake Tahoe), Hard Rock Cafe, Sammy Hagar’s famous Cabo Wabo Cantina and the elegant Sage Room Steakhouse (est. 1947); a full-service health club and pool; elaborate convention center services; Harveys Cabaret theatre (home of the Improv Comedy Club); race and sportsbook; poker room; wedding chapel; and family arcade.  Harveys also presents the celebrated Lake Tahoe Summer Concert Series, which features superstar artists including Elton John, The Eagles, Bob Dylan, Kenny Chesney, and many more.  In 2010, Harveys Resort & Casino was awarded 35 Casino Player Magazine Best of Gaming Awards including:  Best Steakhouse (Sage Room); Best Headliners; Best Video and Reel Slots; Best Race/Sportsbook; Best Poker Room and Best Poker Tournaments.  For more information and reservations, please visit: