Joel Casper Wins Second WSOP Circuit Gold Ring at Harveys Lake Tahoe

Chicago Poker Pro Triumphs at Toughest Final Table of the Season

Stateline, NV – The winner of the latest World Series of Poker Circuit event at Harveys Lake Tahoe is Joel Casper, from Chicago, IL.

Casper collected $19,597 in prize money.  He was also presented with his second career gold ring, which is the ultimate token of achievement given for winning a WSOP Circuit event.  Casper’s previous win came at the Pot-Limit Omaha tournament at Hammond Horseshoe (Chicago) in 2008.

Casper is a 30-year-old professional poker player.  He and his wife are expecting their first child soon, so this victory certainly came at a good time.  Casper has an impressive tournament resume over the past five years.  He has seven WSOP cashes, including two in-the-money finishes this past year. Casper also now has nine WSOP Circuit cashes -- including five final tables appearances, plus two wins.  His WSOP-related earnings now total more than $200,000.

This was undisputedly the toughest final table of this year’s Harveys Lake Tahoe series, and arguably the toughest finale of any WSOP Circuit event played this season.  The final table included two former WSOP gold bracelet winners as well as four former WSOP gold ring winners.  Defeating such a formidable lineup made the victory all the sweeter.

With his victory, Casper joined six previous winners as leaders in the overall 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 was the fifth No-Limit Hold’em gold ring event of the Harveys Lake Tahoe series, and the seventh gold ring event overall of ten.  This $555 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament began on a Thursday at noon and ended Friday night.  The tournament attracted a respectable midweek field size totaling 154 entrants.

The first day opened with 154 players playing down to 18 survivors, which took about 14 hours.  The final table began at 3 pm, with eventual winner Joel Casper holding the most chips.  Michael Kinzer was his closest threat.  In fact, this was the most star-studded final table of any event played this year at Harveys Lake Tahoe.  Among those who made the final ten were:

Vince Burgio – former WSOP gold bracelet winner
“Captain” Tom Franklin – former WSOP gold bracelet winner
John “Cowboy” Land – two-time WSOP Circuit gold ring winner
Lee Patitz – two-time WSOP Circuit gold ring winner
Joel Casper – former WSOP Circuit gold ring winner
Steve Kats – former WSOP Circuit gold ring winner
Dave Plaskett – 2 WSOP cashes and 3 WSOP Circuit cashes

When the ten finalists took their seats, the seating order and chip counts were as follows:

SEAT 1:  Dave Plaskett (San Francisco, CA) – 79,000 in chips
SEAT 2:  Dusty Leary (Mountain View, CA) – 105,000 in chips
SEAT 3:  John “Cowboy” Land (Dallas, TX) – 170,000 in chips
SEAT 4:  Steve Kats (Omaha, NE) – 172,000 in chips
SEAT 5:  “Captain” Tom Franklin (Gulfport, MS) – 197,000 in chips
SEAT 6:  Michael Kinzer (San Diego, CA) – 350,000 in chips
SEAT 7:  Kelsey Hendricks (Chico, CA) – 154,000 in chips
SEAT 8:  Lee Patitz (Hastings, NE) – 17,000 in chips
SEAT 9:  Vince Burgio (West Hills, CA) – 75,000 in chips
SEAT 10:  Joel Casper (Chicago, IL) – 361,000 in chips

Players were eliminated in the following order:

10th Place – Vince Burgio lasted only about 20 minutes at the final table.  He was down to 70,000 in chips and moved all-in with A-Q suited.  He got a call from a player with 2-2.  The flop gave Burgio the nut-flush draw to go along with his two over cards.  But things went down hill quickly from there and Burgio was eliminated when the final board showed 10-7-9-8-8.  Burgio, who won a WSOP gold bracelet and also made it to the WSOP Main Event final table in 1995 ended up with tenth place and a payout totaling $1,414.

9th Place – Dusty Leary, a 32-year-old computer programmer from Mountain View, CA was disconnected from the final table in ninth place.  He was eliminated with a pair of deuces which lost to a pair of aces.  Leary previously cashed in third place in the $1,500 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event at the WSOP, which paid more than $100,000.  This finish was good for $1,746.

8th Place – Kelsey Hendricks, a 27-year-old poker player from Chico, CA ended up as the eighth-place finisher.  He received $2,189 in prize money.  Hendricks cashed the previous day as well, finishing eight in the Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event.  He has also cashed twice at the WSOP in Las Vegas.

7th Place – Dave Plaskett, a 43-year-old freelance film and video producer from San Francisco, CA was ejected from the finale in seventh place.  He earned $2,791 in prize money.  This was Plaskett’s best WSOP-related finish.  His best previous showing had been 14th place in the WSOP Circuit Main Event Championship, held at Harveys Lake Tahoe in 2007.

6th Place – John Land, a.k.a. “Cowboy” moaned for three hours that he was not getting cards at the final table.  In his defense, he claimed being dealt only two playable hands during his entire time – and both of those hands were marginal.  His pocket sevens won a tiny pot.  And his pocket fours ended up being the final nail in his tournament coffin.  Cowboy moved all-in with 4-4, which got a crying call by Steve Katz, who showed 6-6.  The higher pair held up, putting Cowboy out in sixth place.  The former construction company owner from Dallas and two-time WSOP Circuit gold ring winner had to settle for $3,616 in prize money.

5th Place – In the fourth hour of play, Lee Patitz – a 74-year-old retiree and poker player from Hastings, NE -- exited when he moved all-in with K-J after a king flopped.  Unfortunately, he ran into disaster as his opponent called and showed pocket aces.  Patitz, who was one of two players shooting for a third gold ring had to settle for fifth place, which paid $4,765.  Patitiz previously won WSOP Circuit events at Council Bluffs, IA.  This was his seventh time to cash in the Circuit.

4th Place – Michael Kinzer, a semi-pro poker player from San Diego, was eliminated in the fifth hour when he lost a race late in the tournament.  He was getting low on chips and moved all-in pre-flop holding K-Q offsuit.  His raise was called by Joel Casper, who tabled 6-6.  The flop was a crushing blow to Kinzer, as a six came on board, giving Casper a set of sixes.  Kinzer failed to improve on the turn and river and went out in fourth place.  The former U.S. Army paratrooper earned a nice payout amounting to $6,388.

3rd Place – Steve Kats, a poker pro from Omaha, NE now has a first-, a second-, and a third-place finish so far in 2010 on the WSOP Circuit.  He won a gold ring at Council Bluffs last February.  He had a shot to capture his second victory in this tournament, but ran card dead late and ended up in third place.  Kats went bust when he was low on chips and moved all-in with 10-9 hoping to steal a round of blinds.  “Captain” Tom Franklin called the raise and showed A-4.  The Captain’s ace-high played to a disoriented board, eliminating Kats with $8,716 in prize money.

2nd Place – “Captain” Tom Franklin, given his nickname after serving proudly in Vietnam, put on another impressive performance following three cashes earlier this month at the WSOP Circuit played at the IP Biloxi.  Franklin finished as the runner up in this tournament, which paid $12,109.  Franklin has more than $1 million in WSOP earnings.  His resume includes 32 cashes, including a gold bracelet win in the Omaha High event at the 1999 WSOP.  Franklin just missed out on capturing what would have been his first WSOP Circuit gold ring, after many close finishes.

When heads-up play began, the chip counts were close to even, although Joel Casper enjoyed a slight advantage.  The chips went back and forth for more than two hours (with a dinner break in between).  Franklin suffered a tough blow on one hand when lost with top pair, after Casper made trips on the turn.  That made him a 2 to 1 dog.  But Franklin managed to claw back when the last hand was dealt out in front of a large Friday night crowd gathered inside the tournament area.

With Casper holding a chip lead of about 1,100,000 to 800,000 Franklin was dealt    .  Casper was dealt    .  After Franklin made a raise which was called, the flop came      .  Franklin bet out and Casper smooth called with two pair.  The 8h on the turn was magic to Casper and essentially a death knell to Franklin.  Both players checked, presumably eager to trap his adversary.  The   on the river gave Casper the lock.  Franklin bet out what was left of his stack and Casper quickly called, raking in the final pot of the tournament.

1st Place – Joel Casper, from Chicago, IL earned WSOP Circuit victory number two and $19,597 in prize money.


Joel Casper joined the following players as WSOP Circuit gold ring winners so far at Harveys Lake Tahoe:

Phillip Hui (Event #1 champion -- NLHE)
Manh Tran (Event #2 champion -- NLHE)
James Sparks (Event #3 champion – Omaha High-Low Split)
Devin Jackson (Event #4 champion – H.O.R.S.E.)
Cyle Curtis (Event #5 champion – NLHE)
Matthew Hughes (Event #6 champion – Six-Handed NLHE)


The Main Event No-Limit Hold’em Championship starts this coming Sunday, November 21st.  The buy-in is $1,600.  Single-table and mega-satellites are running regularly inside the Harveys Lake Tahoe Poker Room.

With the conclusion of the seventh gold ring event at Harveys Lake Tahoe, so far this year a total of 1,520 players have participated in WSOP Circuit events.  That means each event has attracted an average of 215 players.  With a busy weekend expected coming up, this figure will likely increase.


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-Resort and Spa in Biloxi also produced impressive numbers.
Harveys Lake Tahoe 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 cost $39 on 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, 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: