Las Vegas, NV (April 30, 2011) – This weekend, poker players are the marquee attraction on the world- famous Las Vegas Strip.  Caesars Palace has been poker central for more than two weeks, playing host to the thirteenth (of 15) World Series of Poker Circuit stops during the 2010-2011 season. 

Poker players flocked to Caesars Palace from all over the country – actually, from all over the world – in order to compete for the last of ten gold rings at stake, plus piles of prize money, in addition to critical ranking points needed to qualify for the WSOP Circuit National Championship, which is also taking place at Caesars Palace.

The final event on the ten-tournament Caesars Palace schedule is the $1,500 buy-in Main Event Championship.  The three-day No-Limit Hold’em tournament started on Thursday.  Competition will conclude Saturday with play of the final table.  LIVE COVERAGE CAN BE FOUND AT WSOP.COM. 

The tournament attracted an impressive field size totaling 496 entries.  Main Event participation was up significantly from last year’s number.  This was consistent with increased overall participation for all gold ring events.  In fact, two of the gold ring events this year attracted in excess of 500 players. 

The Main Event prize pool amounts to $714,240.  The top 54 finishers are being paid.  Here’s a list of players who have finished in-the-money, so far: 

11    Stepan Dzhigarkhanyan    MOSCOW, RUSSIA    $11,492
12    JJ Liu    LAS VEGAS, NV, US    $11,492
13    Benny Chen    STRATFORD, PE, CANADA    $9,399
14    Vasilis Lazarou    LAS VEGAS, NV, US    $9,399
15    Bo Pathammavond    HONOLULU, HI, US    $9,399
16    Harold Wasson    CORONA, CA, US    $7,785
17    Mary Jones    HENDERSON, NV, US    $7,785
18    Lance Oliver    ROSEVILLE, CA, US    $7,785
19    Luther Lewis    GOODLETTSVILLE, TN, US    $6,535
20    Michael Sortino    PAPILLION, NE, US    $6,535
21    Daniel Brown    SAN ANTONIO, TX, US    $6,535
22    David Williams    LAS VEGAS, NV, US    $5,557
23    Russell Powell    EL CAJON, CA, US    $5,557
24    James Fike    LAS VEGAS, NV, US    $5,557
25    Harold Wasson    CORONA, CA, US    $7,785
26    Jeremy Heartberg    WEBSTER, NY, US    $4,785
27    James Riggs    LEWISBURG, TN, US    $4,785
28    Steven Heeley    BALLWIN, MO, US    $4,178
29    Scott Epstein    LAS VEGAS, NV, US    $4,178
30    Raymond Wu    CHICAGO, IL, US    $4,178
31    William Wood    CARMEL, IN, US    $3,693
32    Andrew Robbins    CINCINNATI, OH, US    $3,693
33    Brian Park    LOS ALTOS, CA, US    $3,693
34    Evan Lamprea    WOODSTOCK, ON, CANADA    $3,307
35    Amanda Baker    LAS VEGAS, NV, US    $3,307
36    Mark Jeans    HERMOSA BEACH, CA, US    $3,307
37    Barry Hamilton    DENVER, CO, US    $2,993
38    Erica Schoenberg    HENDERSON, NV, US    $2,993
39    Andrew Watson    TULSA, OK, US    $2,993
40    Horatio Hu    FRESH MEADOW, CA, US    $2,993
41    Peter Paturzo    ORANGE COUNTY, CA, US    $2,993
42    David Levi    LAS VEGAS, NV, US    $2,993
43    Stan Quinn    DANVILLE, CA, US    $2,993
44    Jimmy Fricke    LAS VEGAS, NV, US    $2,993
45    David Byer    LAS VEGAS, NV, US    $2,993
46    Joshua Prager    YUBA CITY, CA, US    $2,743
47    Cody Slaughbaugh    HENDERSON, NV, US    $2,743
48    Anthony Lazar    PLYMOUTH, MN, US    $2,743
49    Clifford Waite    GRAND JUNCTION, CO, US    $2,743
50    Michael Chow    HONOLULU, HI, US    $2,743
51    Tony Hartmann    SHAKOPEE, MN, US    $2,743
52    Ann Mong    LAS VEGAS, NV, US    $2,743
53    Denny Robinson    HENDERSON, NV, US    $2,743
54    William Gaffney    BARTLETT, IL, US    $2,743

After more than 75 percent of the starting field was eliminated on Day One, just 84 survivors returned for Day Two action.  Those players battled amongst themselves and played down to the final table during Day Two.  Play will commence with Day Three starting at NOON Saturday afternoon, inside the Poker Tournament Room. 

The ten finalists and their starting chip counts are as follows:

Seat 1:        James Martini (Incline Village, NV) – 922,000 in chips
Seat 2:        Chris Johnson (Las Vegas, NV) – 1,600,000 in chips
Seat 3:        Alex Santiago (West Hartford, CT) – 1,478,000 in chips
Seat 4:        Jon Seaman (Scottsdale, AZ) 617,000 in chips
Seat 5:        John Kulish (Green Bay, WI) – 1,168,000 in chips
Seat 6:        Brian England (Hazlet, NJ) – 1,390,000 in chips
Seat 7:        “Hollywood Dave” Stann (Hollywood, CA) – 510,000 in chips
Seat 8:         Matthew A. Leecy (Ottawa, KS) – 470,000 in chips
Seat 9:        Derrick Kwenzel (Grand Forks, ND) – 486,000 in chips
Seat 10:    Adam Hui (Markham, ON Canada) – 1,393,000 in chips

Among the more notable players among the final ten is former WSOP Circuit gold ring winner “Hollywood” Dave Stann.  Adam Hui, who made it to two final tables at this Caesars series, is also still alive. 

The current chip leader is Chris Johnson, from Las Vegas.  However, three players are essentially close to be neck-a-neck in the lead – Johnson, plus Brian England and Adam Hui.

The winner receives $153,559 for first place.  He also receives the coveted gold ring, the token prize for winning a WSOP Circuit event.  The champion will also gain an automatic seat into the season-end National Championship finale, which is to be televised from Caesars Palace during May 27-29.

This final tournament caps yet another successful tournament series at Caesars Palace.  The following players won the first nine events: 

EVENT 1:  Giuseppe Biancoviso – Florence, Italy ($350 buy-in NLHE)
EVENT 2:  Randy Huberty – La Grange, KY ($560 NLHE)
EVENT 3:  Randy Crowe – Los Osos, CA ($350 OMHL)
EVENT 4:  Taylor Nguyen – Houston TX ($560 NLHE) 
EVENT 5:  Jesse Bryant – Conway, AK ($350 PLO)
EVENT 6:  Bob Whalen – Milwaukee, WI $560 NLHE)
EVENT 7:  Todd Chew – Nowhere, IL ($560 NLHE)
EVENT 8:  Michael Souza – San Diego, CA ($350 SIX-HANDED NLHE)
EVENT 9:  Miller Dao – Maricopa, AZ ($1,090 NLHE)

At present, Blake Kelso leads the race as the Best All-Around Player for the Caesars Palace Las Vegas series, with 85 points.  With his three final table appearances (8-7-2) in previous tournaments, he was the point leader coming into the Main Event.  However, it appears Adam Hui from Canada has a very good chance to overtake Kelso in points.  It will depend upon where Hui finishes.  Should he win the Main Event, he would automatically qualify – which would then help Kelso.  In addition to the Main Event winner, the (one) player who accumulates the most overall points in the ten gold ring tournaments receives a pre-paid entry into the $1 million 2010-2011 WSOP Circuit National Championship.

This marks the fifth straight year Caesars Palace Las Vegas has hosted a WSOP Circuit stop.  Previous Main Event champions include:

2010:  Andrew Lichtenberger (Las Vegas, NV)
2009:  Justin Bonomo (Las Vegas, NV)
2008:  Allen Cunningham (Las Vegas, NV)
2007:  Cory Carroll (Las Vegas, NV)
2006:  John Spadavecchia (Lighthouse Point, FL)

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