Hammond, IN – The winner of the first-ever World Series of Poker Circuit Regional Championship is Jim Anderson, from Wooster, Ohio.
Anderson collected $525,449 in prize money, plus the coveted gold ring, presented to all WSOP Circuit champions.  This marked Anderson's first major tournament victory.  He is a former bartender who has been playing poker seriously for only about a year.  This is his first season to play poker on the WSOP Circuit.  He cashed 242nd in this year's WSOP Main Event, held in Las Vegas.  In fact, Anderson acknowledged that his experience at the WSOP and deep run in the Main Event helped him considerably in this tournament.

“I definitely think my deep run in the Main Event this year helped me here,” Anderson said in a post-tournament interview.  “The $10K is always intimidating if you are new.  But having played in it before, it allowed me to focus more.  The atmosphere was kind of similar with all the lights and the television cameras around.  So, I think I was used to the pressure somewhat.”

Anderson got into the tournament somewhat by accident.  He won a preliminary (non-Gold Ring) event held three days earlier.  When Anderson won the smaller tournament at the Horseshoe Casino, he had no idea that a paid $10,000 seat into the Regional Championship came with the victory.

“I won one of the tournaments that took place earlier this week,” he explained.  “First place gave away a free seat.  I did not even know it at the time.  So, I got into this event and didn’t even expect to get a seat.”

Anderson put on a masterful performance over four full days, including a well-focused and determined effort on the final day of competition.  His final table experience began with a feeling of cautious optimism at the very start to a surprising upset in the end, versus some very formidable competition.  He began as one of the lowest stacks at the final table and made his move late in the finale en route to a stunning victory.
This was the first WSOP Circuit Regional Championship ever held.  All the action took place at the Horseshoe Casino, near Chicago.  The $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Texas Hold’em tournament attracted 226 players, a figure which surpassed the expectations of many.  The big turnout was encouraging on several levels.  This was the biggest buy-in poker tournament on the WSOP Circuit since 2007.  It was also the richest poker tournament ever held in the Chicago area.    

The 226-player field created a total prize pool amounting to $2,101,800.  That is the biggest prize pool in more than three years.  The payout nearly quadrupled the size of the average WSOP Circuit Main Event last year, which averaged just under $600,000.

Tournament play began on Monday.  Nearly half the field was eliminated on that day.  Day Two played to the money, which was reached at 24 players.  Day Three played to the final nine.  The winner was determined at midnight on Day Four.

Many of game’s top players played in this first-time event.  Among the well-known names which entered were – Barry Greenstein, Gavin Smith, David Baker, Chris Bell, Chad Brown, Nick Binger, Matt Brady, Doug “Rico” Carli, Eric Froehlich, Matt Glantz, Blair Hinkle, Frank Kassela, Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler, Kathy Liebert, Jeff Madsen, Jason Mercier, Brock Parker, Sorel Mizzi, Tony Rivera, Vanessa Selbst, Dan Shak, Shannon Shorr, Justin Smith, Matt Stout, Bernard Lee, and Steve Zolotow.

On Day Four, the following players took their seats at the final table:

SEAT 1:  Bernard Lee (Wayland, MA) – Started with 401,000 in chips
Bernard Lee is one of poker’s most highly-accomplished all-around personalities.  He finished 13th in the 2005 WSOP Main Event and earned three major poker titles during three consecutive years between 2006 and 2008.  To date, he has won nearly $1.5 million in tournament poker during his career.  Lee is widely recognized as “the voice of poker in New England,” since he hosts ESPN’s weekly show called “Inside Deal” and has written a regular poker column for the Boston Herald newspaper.  He also represents the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.  Lee is a graduate of Harvard University and lives in the Boston area with his wife and two children.

SEAT 2:  David Sands (Las Vegas, NV) – Started with 1,360,000 in chips
David Sands is a 25-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas, NV.  He previously worked in internet marketing before taking up poker for a living.  At one time, Sands was the number one ranked online tournament player in the world, according to one major ranking site.  He was also recently afforded the prestigious opportunity to become one of the “Brunson Ten,” which is a small elite group of poker players led by the legendary Doyle Brunson.  Sands cashed five times at the 2010 WSOP.

SEAT 3:  Jim Anderson (Wooster, OH) – Started with 345,000 in chips
Jim Anderson is a 24-year-old former bartender who now plays poker.  He only began playing poker seriously this year, and has already won a $1,000 buy-in Mixed Event.  This is the second year Anderson has played on the WSOP Circuit and marks his first appearance ever at a televised final table -- which he hopes will be the first success of many more to come in the years ahead.

SEAT 4:  Tony Hartman (Skakopee, MN) – Started with 194,000 in chips
Tony Hartman is a 43-year-old professional poker player from the Minneapolis area.  He has been playing in major poker tournaments for more than a decade and has numerous cashes and final table appearances all over the country.  He has also made five final tables at the WSOP in Las Vegas.  Hartman credits much of his success to two people -- a very supportive and loving wife, and great mother.

SEAT 5:  Shannon Shorr (Birmingham, AL) – Started with 905,000 in chips
Shannon Shorr is a 25-year-old professional poker player from Birmingham, AL.  He graduated from the University of Alabama, and hoped to ride “the tide” to victory.  Shorr is a top online pro who plays under the name “Bluff for Rent.”  To date, he has amassed more than $3.3 million in live tournament winnings, more than any other player at the final table.

SEAT 6:  Mark Owens (Chicago, IL) – Started with 270,000 in chips
Mark Owens is a 38-year-old options trader from Chicago, IL.  This is only the second WSOP Circuit event he has played.  Owens cashed in one of the early events and then took some of that prize money to enter a mega-satellite at the Horseshoe Casino which cost $200.  Owens won his way into this tournament that way, turning an initial $200 investment into more than $48,000.  Owens is a proud graduate of the University of Illinois and is even prouder to be a husband and father to two children, Justin and Ava.   

SEAT 7:  Curt Kohlberg (Weston, MA) – Started with 863,000 in chips
Curt Kohlberg is the senior player at this final table, at the young age of 52.  He is the president of a management consulting firm.  Kohlberg is a proud graduate of both the University of Massachusetts and M.I.T.  He is married to Allegra and has three children, Alex, Sara, and Allison.  Kohlberg is a nationally-ranked squash player.  He also enjoys helicopter skiing, proving once and for all there’s never a dull moment in the life of Curt Kohlberg.

SEAT 8:  Gabe Patgorski (Chesapeake, VA) – Started with 2,359,000 in chips
The chip leader is Gabe Patgorski, from Chesapeake, VA.  He is a 24-year-old poker player, who also spends much of his time working in business and hosting a talk show.  Patgorski is a graduate of the University of Virginia.  He is also a top online player who has performed very will in many major events at major sites.  Patgorski has two cashes at the WSOP in Las Vegas.  This marks his first year to play on the WSOP Circuit.  He was the chip leader during much of this tournament. 

SEAT 9:  Brandon Adams (Miami, FL) – 155,000 in chips
Brandon Adams is a highly-accomplished writer, a teacher, and professional poker player.  He has appeared regularly on many televised poker shows and final tables.  Adams has lived in New Orleans, Boston, and now resides in Miami, FL.  He was previously a teacher at Harvard University for eight years, where he taught courses in behavioral finance and international macroeconomics.  That was an ideal training ground for how he spends much of his time now, which is playing in some of the biggest cash games in the world.  In fact, he has played as high as No-Limit Hold’em with $1,000-$2,000 blinds.
The nine survivors were each guaranteed a seat in the $1 million freeroll National Championship tournament next May in Las Vegas – to be held just prior to the start of the 2011 WSOP.  Only 100 players overall will qualify to participate in what will be a Gold Bracelet event, making it one of the most attractive overlays ever in poker.
The “AMP Energy Meter” (note that AMP Energy drinks are the official sponsor of the WSOP Circuits) recorded 226 total hands being played at the final table, which took 9 hours and 45 minutes.  Players were eliminated in the following order:

9th Place – Mark Owens ($48,615)
The only local player among the final nine was the first to be eliminated.  That occurred when Mark Owens was dealt    .  He moved all-in golding middle pair after the flop came      .  Shannon Shorr called and tabled    .  The overpair held up and scooped the pot as the   and   fell on the turn and river.  Owens’ stay at the final table lasted barely an hour.

8th Place – Tony Hartman ($60,952)

Tony Hartman is a longtime veteran of many poker tournaments and final tables.  However, he has yet to achieve that still-elusive first major victory.  Hartman’s hopes will be delayed at least a while longer since he ended up finishing in eighth place.  The short-stacked Hartman tried to bluff steal a round of blinds and antes, but got called, and ultimately took a walk.  Hartman feebly showed    , looking like he got his hand caught by mommy in the cookie jar.  His hand was live against    , but the board of           took Hartman’s last chips away and he had to settle for eighth place.

7th Place – Brandon Adams ($77,556)

Brandon Adams was certainly one of the most well-known players among the final nine.  However, he too was severely disadvantaged due to starting with a low stack.  Keeping in line with the short-stacked players busting out early, Adams moved all-in what turned out to be his final hand holding    .  His hand was dominated by    .  Neither player made a pair Board:           , but the A-Q played which meant Adams was out of the tournament in seventh place.

6th Place – Shannon Shorr ($100,151)
Shannon Shorr held out for nearly five hours before finally succumbing to the odds.  He was eliminated with     which was a terrible case of timing to pick up a big hand.  Gave Patgorski called the all-in re-raise and instantly tabled his    .  Shorr was doomed and the board only confirmed he would be the next player to exit, as the five table cards came          .

5th Place – David Sands ($131,299)
David Sands, a.k.a. “DocSands” went out in fifth place.  He busted after being short-stacked, moving in with    .  It proved to be a terrible time to make a bold move, since Curt Kohlberg called instantly with    .  The pocket aces held up as the final board ran out          .  Sands thus became the middle of the pack finisher.

4th Place – Curt Kohlberg ($174,807)
Curt Kohlberg was arguably the most colorful personality at the final table (which is saying something, given the interesting lineup of finalists).  Shortly before play began, he strapped on a large necklace that he acquired while traveling on a safari in Africa.  He was given the necklace as a gift by a tribe.  The necklace and his family (who were present) inspired Kohlberg to play well.  However, he was eliminated in the eighth hour of play when he moved all-in with Ac Th which was called by Jim Anderson, with    .  The big pair held up as the final board showed          , giving Anderson what remained of Kohlberg’s stack. 

3rd Place – Bernard Lee ($236,368)
Bernard Lee seemed to want the victory more than anyone else, or was at least the most demonstrative player at the table when showing his emotions.  He was short-stacked throughout the duration of his nine-hour stay in the finale.  However, Lee made a late run and was in second-place when play reached three-handed.  That was as close as Lee came to victory as he was eliminated when he was dealt     which lost a critical race against Gabe Patgorski, who showed    .  The flop came      , which was not particularly good for Lee despite being the leader.  The   on the turn was a killer and the   on the river sealed Lee’s fate as the third-place finisher. 

2nd Place – Gabe Patgorski ($324,770)

Gabe Patgorski, a.k.a. John Patgorski dominated this tournament like no other player, at least until the final 90 minutes.  He was the chip leader from Day Two onward and was the player to beat at the final table.  Patgorski took two devastating losses late in the tournament.  He staged a late comeback but was not able to overcome the performance of his final rival, Jim Anderson.  Patgorski has much to be proud of however, as second place paid $324,770.

The final hand of the tournament was as follows:

(All the chips went in pre-flop)
FINAL BOARD:            

1st Place – Jim Anderson ($525,449)
The winner was Jim Anderson, a.k.a. James Anderson from Wooster, OH.  With this victory, plus his previous two cashes at the WSOP, Anderson now has accumulated $576,609 in WSOP combined earnings.
The final table will be televised later on the Versus Network.  This marks the first time in three years that a WSOP Circuit Championship will appear on national television.  The date(s) and time(s) will be announced later at WSOP.COM
This year’s WSOP Circuit at Horseshoe Casino (Chicago) was a record-breaker.  The first tournament (Event #1) set an all-time record for the biggest turnout in the entire history of WSOP Circuits, with a whopping 1,611 entrants.  Next, the Main Event Championship not only shattered the old record set three years ago, it more than doubled the previous high mark at 872 players.
As poker players look to the months ahead and make their plans, there’s no doubt that the 2010-2011 WSOP Circuit season is going to be a smashing success.  In fact, it already is.  All three Circuit stops held so far have enjoyed a dramatic rise in attendance, not just for preliminary tournaments, but for Main Events, as well.  Overall prize pools are also up at all three WSOP Circuit stops, thus far.

The next WSOP Circuit stop will take place at the IP Casino Resort and Spa, in Biloxi, MS.  The ten-event schedule will take place October 28 through November 10.

The next Nationally Televised Regional Championship is set to take place at Harrah’s Atlantic City.  The tournament runs December 4-22.  The $10,000 buy-in Regional Championship runs December 19-22.