Charles “Woody” Moore set his goal early.  He wanted to qualify for the million dollar World Series of Poker Circuit National Championship scheduled for Las Vegas next year.  With the new restructured Circuit event, he felt he had a real shot at earning the points necessary to do just that.  In Council Bluffs, Moore made the final table of the Main Event and nearly qualified automatically but fell just short, finishing in fifth place.

Little did Moore know that less than two weeks later, he would be right back in the same position, at the final table of a WSOP Circuit event with a chance to win the seat automatically.

Last year, the WSOPC Main Event at the Horseshoe Southern Indiana drew only 55 players.  With 251 players showing up for the first Main Event at Council Bluffs to play poker, expectations were high for what the turnout might be.  It turned out to be a higher number than the first Circuit Main Event as there were a total of 289 entrants in the $1,600 buy-in tournament.

A number of big name players showed to take their shot at the Circuit Ring and an automatic seat into the Circuit National Championship.  Some of those players included the likes of T.J. Cloutier, Lee Childs, Mark Kroon, four-time Circuit Ring winner Mark Smith and three-time Ring winners Dwyte Pilgrim and Maurice Hawkins.

At the end of play on Day One, 64 players survived and moved on.  In less than five hours, those 64 were whittled down to 30 and all players were in the money.  Of those 30, two had a chance to overtake Kevin Manley for the Horseshoe Southern Indiana points lead and an automatic seat into the National Championship.

With a runner-up finish in the Council Bluffs Main Event and a Ring at Southern Indiana, Shiva Dudani already had a firm grip on the National Championship points lead.  However, if he finished seventh or higher, he would overtake Manley and win his automatic seat by accumulating the most points at this event.  He would come up short, getting knocked out in 17th place.  He did add 20 more points to his lead and now has 145 points.

Tuan Bui Le was in a similar situation as Dudani.  Having won the last ring event before the Main Event started, Le needed to finish 7th or better to get the automatic seat.  He too would fall just short, being eliminated in 13th place.

With their eliminations, Manley locked up the National Championship seat after winning one Ring and finishing second in the event that Le won.

Just ten hours after play started on Day Two, the 64 players were down to the final table of nine.   Kenneth "Badhat" Piel was the final table bubble boy when his    could not improve against Mike Foster’s    on a       board.

Play concluded for the day and the nine finalists would return on Tuesday at 1 P.M. to resume play.

The chip counts going in to the final table by seat assignments were as follows:

1. John Holder  825,000
2. Kevin Calenzo  288,000
3. John Alfera 636,000
4. Joel Merwick  516,000
5. Charles Moore  1,233,000
6. Jorge Solorzano  506,000
7. Kris Bradshaw  251,000
8. Mike Foster  850,000
9. Brian McKain  677,000

Ninth Place - $9,163

After being crippled just a few hands earlier, Joel Merwick got his last few chips in preflop with    against the    of Woody Moore.  The flop came    , giving Merwick a set.  With neither player holding a diamond in their hand, Merwick had a huge lead.  The   came on the turn but the   on the river gave Moore top set and the pot.  Merwick, a 27-year-old poker player from Omaha, NE took home $9,163 for his finish.

Eighth Place - $11,486

Jorge Solorzano had taken a hit to his chip stack early on when he doubled up Kevin Calenzo.   When he got his remaining chips in the middle with   , he was dominated by the    of John Alfera.  The board ran out       and Solorzano was knocked out in eighth place.  The 28-year-old from Louisville pocketed $11,486.

Seventh Place - $14,615

Just moments after eliminating Solorzano, John Alfera called an 85,000 preflop raised by John Holder.  The flop came     and Alfera led out for 250,000, leaving himself just 170,000 chips behind.   Holder moved all in and Alfera immediately made the call.  However, he soon discovered that his    had been outflopped by Holder’s   .  The turn came the   and the river was the  .  Alfera’s aces failed to improve and he was eliminated from the Main Event.  The 40-year-old financial advisor from Pittsburgh won $14,615 for his seventh place finish.

Sixth Place - $18,885

After a raise to 90,000 before the flop from Woody Moore, Brian McKain moved all in for a total of 490,000.  Moore tanked for a few minutes before announcing a call.  McKain turned up    but was trailing Moore’s   .  The board came       and Moore’s queens held up to knock McKain out in sixth place.  McKain was just married nine days ago in Pensicola, FL and now has $18,885 to add to his new wife’s bank account.

Fifth Place - $27,782

Kris Bradshaw had been battling a short stack the entire final table and shoved his last 418,000 in the middle with   .  He got a call from Kevin Calenzo in the big blind with   .  The board came       and Calenzo’s jacks held up to win the pot.  Bradshaw, a 24-year-old student from Grand Rapids, MI, finished in fifth place and collected $27,782 for his efforts.

Fourth Place - $33,043

With the blinds at 20,000-40,000 and a 5,000 ante, Woody more raised to 125,000 from the small blind and Mike Foster moved all in for about 400,000 more.  Moore made the call and showed   .  Foster turned up    and the board ran out      .  Moore’s pair held and Foster was eliminated.  The 27-year-old from Chicago is working on qualifying for the National Championship.  This was his third straight cash at the Horseshoe Southern Indiana Circuit event and he added 55 points to his total for his fourth place finish in addition to the $33,043 payday.

The three remaining players were then sent on a 75-minute dinner break.  After the break, Woody Moore, John Holder and Kevin Calenzo chatted for a few minutes away from the table.  When they returned, they had agreed upon a deal.  All three players would lock up $62,000 each and then play it out for the Circuit Ring, National Championship seat and the remaining $19,390.  Play then resumed with the blinds at 25,000-50,000 and a 5,000 ante.  The three players had nearly identical chip stacks.

Third Place - $62,000

After chip leader Woody Moore grabbed a handful of red 25,000 chips and raised from the small blind, John Holder moved all in from the big blind for just about 1 million.  Moore made the call and turned up   .  Holder showed    and the board ran out      .  Moore’s pocket deuces held up sending Holder out of the tournament in third place.  The former mail carrier from Scottsville, KY took home $62,000 for his finish.

Second Place - $67,000

Calenzo and Moore battled back and forth heads-up for over three hours.  Moore held the chip lead the entire time but could never get Calenzo short-stacked.  Finally, the inevitable happened, they both picked up monster hands.

Moore limped in and Calenzo raised to 285,000.  Moore then reraised an additional 400,000.  Calenzo thought for just a moment and announced all in.  Moore called immediately and flipped up   .  Calenzo turned over    and the race was on.  But, before the dealer put the cards out, the two agreed to give an additional $5,000 to the second place finisher.  After the deal was set, the dealer went back to work.  The board ran out       and Moore’s jacks held to win the monster pot. 

Calenzo, who just won a $1,000 event at the Borgata last month for $80,000 and took ninth in the Council Bluffs WSOPC Main Event, takes home $67,000 for his second place finish in addition to 75 points toward the National Championship.  He now has 115 points and is in second place overall for all non-qualified players, behind only Shiva Dudani.

Charles “Woody” Moore accomplished what he set out to do, qualify for the WSOPC National Championship.  He also pocketed $76,390 for his first place finish.  When asked if qualifying so early on took some of the pressure off, Moore said, “Definitely, but now we have to get my wife qualified.”

For more information about the WSOP Circuit National Championship, click here.