Council Bluffs, IA — The $1,500 main event of the WSOP Circuit tour at Horseshoe Council Bluffs attracted a number of big-name pros such as Vince Burgio, Bernard LeeDwyte Pilgrim, “Tahoe” Andrew, and “Woody” Moore. But in the end it was  Blair Hinkle, a 24-year-old student turned pro bracelet-holder from Kansas City, Missouri who emerged victorious. The win earned him  $88,553, a massive diamond and gold trophy ring, a $10,000 buy-in into next year’s WSOP main event, and, last but not least, a seat in the million-dollar Circuit National Championship in Las Vegas next year.
Among those in attendance for final table at Horseshoe Council Bluffs was a live reporting team from CardPlayer magazine. For a recap of the play-by-play and of how it all unfolded click here. For the official final results click here.
Hinkle said the key to his win was trying to keep one step ahead of everyone else at the final table by knowing how they would react to whatever he did. Another important element was a good read on his final opponent, Shiva Dudani. He detected that when Dudani was making small bets he was bluffing. He sensed that Dudani, not getting anywhere, realized that Hinkle was on to him, and was ready to try a big-bet bluff. So, when Dudani bet 400,000 into a board of  - - - , Hinkle called with just ace-high, and after a blank came on the river, he beat Dudani’s king-high and moved into strong chip position.
Cheering him on ringside was his mother, who is now two-for-two being there when he won events.
In this tournament, Hinkle had a roller-coaster ride at the final table because he was playing so many pots. But he then tightened up after he thought his opponents had him pegged as a loose player.
Hinkle, who began playing in home games and online four years ago, was a chemical engineering student, later became a business finance major, and then left school when he fell in love with poker. He plays 30 to 50 tournaments a year and now has more than a million in cashes, half of it coming from a $507,000 win in a $2,000 WSOP no-limit win in 2008.
Also, Doug “Rico” Carli, had another cash-out to extend his lead as the player with the most Circuit cashes. He now has 44, close to twice as many as anyone else.
This event drew 255 players and had a prize pool of $361,440. Total for all events was 4,056, a 12 percent increase over the last Circuit series here. Because of the revamped structure giving players so much more time, there were still 16 players left at the end of day two. When they returned for the final day, Dwyte Pilgrim, who started as chip leader yesterday, was still in front with a healthy lead of 822,000 chips, 242,000 more than his closest competitor, Kevin Calenzo, and well over twice the average stack. Final-table action began with blinds of 5,000-10,000 with 2,000 antes.
It wasn’t until after 6 p.m. before we got to the final table. Bernard Lee went out 10th when he raised under the gun to 199,000 to go all in with A-K. Dudani came over the top to get heads-up holding pocket kings. The board came 10-10-4-3-J, and the multi-talented Lee went out 10th, paying $6,582. Lee is a poker writer for the Boston Herald and ESPN, a poker radio host, instructor, author and official spokesperson for Foxwoods Casino. This is the third consecutive year he has a made the main event final table here.
Players went on dinner break, returning to blinds of 10,000-20,000 and 3,000 antes, playing 90-minute rounds. At this point, Hinkle had moved slightly past Pilgrim to take the chip lead.

Here were the Final Table Starting Chip Counts:

Seat 1. Kevin Calenzo  125,000
Seat 2. Jack Do  428,000
Seat 3. John Wakeen  245,000
Seat 4. Charles Moore  510,000
Seat 5. Blair Hinkle  750,000
Seat 6. Daniel Biddle  500,000
Seat 7. Shiva Dudani  310,000
Seat 8. Dwyte Pilgrim  700,000
Seat 9. Matt Lawrence  460,000

Ninth Place, $8,103: After Matt Lawrence opened with a raise holding  - , Kevin “Special K” Calenzo reraised all in with  - . The board was  - - - - , with Lawrence’s paired king leaving Calenzo in ninth place. Calenzo is  27 and a student from New Hartford, New York who learned to play seven years ago at casinos. He chopped an online tournament for $75,000, and won $65,000 for third at a Venetian Deep Stack tournament. Hobbies are sports and beer drinking.
Eighth Place, $10,131: Next out soon after was Daniel “The Bear” Biddle. Holding 6-5 he went all in when a flop of 6-9-4 paired him. But Dudani had pocket kings, and Biddle finished eighth after two sevens didn’t change anything. Biddle, 54, is a former PGA golf pro, now retired and living in Paris, Kentucky. He began playing two years in local events and has a Circuit cash at Harrah’s St. Louis and a final table at a Mid-West event at Horseshoe Southern Indiana. He is married with three boys.
After Hinkle opened for 120,000 with  - , Wakeen called for his last chips with  - . A board of A-K-9-10-8 gave Hinkle the pot with a paired king, and Wakeen departed seventh. Wakeen, 46, is an owner/truck driver from Onalaska, Wisconsin who learned poker as a kid from his father. Prior cashes include a 59th in a WSOP $1,000 event this year, and 18th in a $300 Circuit event here. His hobby is pool.
Seventh Place, $12,867: The pace continued surprisingly fast as another player left soon after. This time it was John “Bagalowski” Wakeen. The level ended, players went on break, returning to blinds of 12,000-24,000 with 4,000 antes. Dudani was the new leader with just over one million chips.
Sixth Place, $16,608: With a board showing A-7-2-8, Jack Do went all in holding A-4. Bad move, because Dudani was waiting with the other two aces in the hole, and after a meaningless 9 came on the river, Do went out sixth while Dudani’s chip lead went past the 1.5 million mark. Do, 25, is a nail technician from Dakota Dunes, South Dakota who’s been playing eight years.
As play went on, Pilgrim, who earlier had survived an all-in, got very low when his A-J lost to Hinkle’s pocket aces. All in again a hand later, he got lucky with As-8s against  pocket queens when he flopped an 8 and caught another on the river.
Fifth Place, $21,795: Next out was Charles “Woody” Moore. He had  -  and moved in pre-flop from the button for 783,000. Hinkle, having him very slightly covered, called from the cut-off seat with pocket 9s. When the board came 8-J-4-8-Q in four suits, Moore departed fifth, while Hinkle moved up very close to chip-leader Dudani. Moore, 62, is from Las Vegas and retired. He’s racked up $1.3 million in tournament cashes. He has two final tables at both the WSOP and the WPT and holds a National Costa Rica Championship. His biggest cash by far was $625,000 for finishing third in a $10,000 WPT championship event at Commerce Casino
Fourth Place, $29,092: Blinds were now 15,000-30,000 with 4,000 antes. Early in the round, Matt Lawrence pushed in with  - , up against Dudani with  - . Lawrence paired his ace when the board came  - - - - , but Dudani’s higher kicker was enough to leave Lawrence in fourth spot. Lawrence, 26, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, was formerly a college student and has been a pro for a year. He won a ring at a St. Louis Circuit, and his hobbies include sports and music.
Third Place, $39,531: We got heads-up after Pilgrim, who had been hanging on, finally went out third. With a board of  - -2- , Pilgrim moved in his last 440,000 with top pair, holding  - . But the 7 had given Hinkle, holding an 8-6, an unbeatable straight, and Pilgrim could progress no more, cashing third. Pilgrim, 27, is a pro from Brooklyn, New York. He has been on an amazing streak this year with wins in the Southern Poker Championship, the Mega Stack Challenge in Mashantucket, the Five Star World Poker Classic in Las Vegas, a Circuit victory at Harrah’s Rincon, and a 4 p.m. win here, along with 12 final tables in all. He holds a Circuit Player of the Year championship and is currently fourth in the Card Player POY.
Second Place, $54,715:  Heads-up, Hinkle had a modest lead with 2,722,000 to 2,349,000 for Dudani. Then, after picking off Dudani’s 400,000 bluff, Hinkle was in strong position. On the final hand, Dudani, down to 1.4 million, tried an all-in move after he missed his straight draw. The board showed  - - - -  and all he had was  - . Hinkle called with  -  for two pair, and the victory was his. Dudani, 24, is a student originally from Numbai, India now living West Des Moines, IA. He began playing four years ago with fellow students and his biggest cash was $16,859 for winning a mega deep stack event in Vegas.