Long Islander Mike Linster Collects $35,529 and WSOP Circuit Gold Ring for First Place

Atlantic City, NJ (December 5, 2011) – Action at the World Series of Poker Circuit continued today with the third of 12 scheduled gold ring tournaments at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City.

The newest poker tournament champion is Mike Linster, from Island Park, NY located on Long Island.  The 35-year-old full-time professional poker player collected $35,529 in prize money.  After his victory, Linster was also presented with his first WSOP Circuit gold ring by John Arthur, Poker Director at Harrah’s Atlantic City.

Linster was a former electrician before he began playing poker full time.  He’s enjoyed tournament success at a variety of venues.  In fact, he’s on the best roll of his life during the last month.

Early in November, Linster won the Dominican Republic Poker Championship.  Next, he final tabled the Borgata’s Main Event Championship\, held one week ago.  Now, he is a WSOP Circuit gold ring winner – courtesy of the 288-player field that entered the most recent tournament.

Based on his recent successes, one can expect more exciting things ahead for Linster, who expects to play in more live poker tournaments during the coming months.

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Harrah’s Atlantic City has a rich history hosting WSOP Circuit events.  In fact, it was the very first casino ever to host such a tournament, which occurred back in January 2005, during the Circuit’s inaugural season.  Since then, Harrah’s Atlantic City has been a staple on the national tour, having hosted a tournament series during each and every season.  During most years, Harrah’s has been the final event of the year, with its events usually taking place in December.  It’s one of only four Caesars properties to host a WSOP Circuit stop during all eight seasons – the other casinos being Harrah’s Rincon (San Diego), Harrah’s New Orleans, and Harvey’s Lake Tahoe.  Indeed, Harrah’s Atlantic City has established itself as a flagship stop on the national tour, and this year appears to be no exception based on the early turnout.

Through the first three events, tournament attendance continues to be strong.  The opening event attracted 704 players.  Then, the second tournament was considerably larger, at 888 entries.  The higher buy-in amount of the third tournament created a lower turnout than the previous two days.  But the 288 entrants still generated a six-figure prize pool.

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Event #3 was a two-day $500 (+55) No-Limit Hold’em tournament.  Play began on Sunday and ended on Monday evening.  The total prize pool came to $139,680.  The top 30 players were paid.  All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points – used to qualify for a seat in the season-ending championship freeroll to be played later in Las Vegas.

A full list of all players who cashed in Event #3 can be seen here.

The first of two playing sessions included the elimination of 264 players during the first two days.  There were 24 survivors who resumed action on the final day and played down to the final table.  After another three hours of play, the ten finalists were determined as follows:

SEAT 1:  Dean Schultz (Akron, OH) – 230,000 in chips
SEAT 2:  Warren Wiggins (Randallstown, MD) – 70,000 in chips
SEAT 3:  Greg Glassman (Brooklyn, NY) – 169,000 in chips
SEAT 4:  Doug Cressi (Glen Cove, NY) – 693,000 in chips
SEAT 5:  Jackson Kimball (Clarkston, MI) – 157,000 in chips
SEAT 6:  Lorne Kanover (Long Island, NY) – 565,000 in chips
SEAT 7:  David Cheng (Paramus, NJ) – 593,000 in chips
SEAT 8:  Cameron Munaf (Dallas, TX) – 314,000 in chips
SEAT 9:  Joseph Messer (Brooklyn, NY) – 181,000 in chips
SEAT 10:  Mike Linster (Island Park, NY) – 485,000 in chips 

   
Doug Cressi arrived with the chip lead.  But Lorne Kanover ranked a close second in chips when the final match began.  Three players had in excess about half-a-million or more chips, while the other seven less fortunate players had around 300,000 or less in chips.

Final table play began at 6:30 pm local time.  Play finished at 1:30 am, making the total duration almost seven hours – the longest final table, so far.

10th Place – Warren Wiggins, a facilities management specialist from Randallstown, MD exited first.  He was desperately short-stacked when he sat down among the final ten players and then went bust about 30 minutes into the action.  This was his sixth time to cash on the WSOP Circuit.  Tenth place paid $2,490.

9th Place – Joseph Messer, a publisher from Brooklyn, NY played a terrific tournament in what was his first WSOP Circuit event, but suffered a “Fahrenheit 451” of sorts at the final table.  Messer was unable to establish any momentum during his story stay and exited in ninth place with $3,076 in prize money.  Messer previously finished in the money at a few tournaments played in the Los Angeles area.
   
8th Place – Longtime tournament trail veteran Dean Schultz was the eighth-place finisher.  The Ohio-based poker pro now has 29 WSOP Circuit cashes.  He trails only two players for the most in history – behind Doug “Rico” Carli and Mark “Pegasus” Smith.  In fact, Schultz now has close to 100 major tournament cashes on his resume, and nearly $500,000 in prize money.  Schultz collected $3,855 for yet another in-the-money finish.

7th Place – Cameron (a.k.a. Kamran) Munaf, a storm restoration consultant from Dallas could not restore his chip stack back to life after taking a few early beats at the final table.  Nevertheless, he could take some pride in his best WSOP-related finish, which was seventh place.  Munaf, who has more than $100,000 in online poker winnings, earned $4,906 in prize money for his second time to cash on the Circuit.  Munaf made the money last season at the WSOP Circuit stop held near his home in Dallas, which took place in Durant, OK.

6th Place – Jackson Kimball, from Clarkston, MI went out during the fourth hour of play.  He survived a long time on a short stack but ultimately went bust.  Remarkably, this was the first WSOP-related tournament ever for the 22-year-old.  Kimball, a college student at the University of Michigan-Flint, earned $6,339 in prize money.
   
5th Place – Lorne Kanover, an NYPD narcotics detective, is certainly no dope.  He ended up as the fifth-place finisher.  He lost a race to a pair of nines on what turned out to be his final hand.  This was Kanover’s fourth time to cash on the WSOP Circuit and was his highest finish ever.  His resume includes a 15th-place finish in last year’s Main Event Championship at Harrah’s Atlantic City.  This time, fifth place paid $8,318.

4th Place – Doug Cressi, a clammer from Glen Cove (long Island), NY was the fourth-place finisher.  Cressi spends much of his time raking through shoals on coastlines, digging for seafood.  He’s also worked as a lobsterman in the past.  However, Cressi was not able to claw his way to the top of this tournament.  Instead, the shell slammed shut on his poker dreams of victory.  Cressi ended up with a cash delicacy nonetheless, in the amount of $11,091.  This marked his sixth time to cash on the WSOP Circuit and third final table appearance.  His other high finishes include a fourth and a fifth.

3rd Place – Greg Glassman went broke during the fifth hour of play.  He took a devastating blow holding pocket kings versus A-Q and was a favorite to seize the chip lead going into heads-up play.  But the flop brought an ace and a queen, wiping out most of Glassman’s stack.  Glassman’s final comeback shot was shattered a few minutes later when he lost to quad queens.  Indeed, the last hour of the final table is one Glassman will likely want to forget, since he very well could have won the tournament with just a bit of good fortune.  Instead, he collected a nice payout totaling $15,032.  Glassman is a jazz trumpet player from Brooklyn, NY. 

2nd Place – David (Wai) Cheng finished as the runner up.  He is a 32-year-old poker pro from Paramus, NJ.  Cheng finished 116th in this year’s WSOP Main Event Championship.  He also cashed in a total of five WSOP events – pretty impressive since he entered only six tournaments.  The Penn State graduate added another impressive showing to his poker tournament resume with this finish, which paid $20,717.

When heads-up play began, Michael Linster and David Cheng were locked into a virtual tie for the chip lead.  The duel lasted about 90 minutes.  During that time, Linster was the aggressor.  Each time Cheng tried to make a move and raised, Linster often shoved all-in, leaving Cheng to ponder his fate.  In most cases, Cheng gave up his cards, allowing Linster to slowly accumulate the bigger stack.  The last hand of the tournament was dealt as follows:

Cheng:     
Linster:     
Flop:       
Turn:   
River:   

Linster called an all-in pre-flop shove by Cheng, who was behind with a dominated hand, essentially needing to catch a jack.  Although both players flopped an inside straight draw, which could have meant a chopped pot, a queen on the river was overkill, giving Linster the final pot of the tournament with two pair – queens and threes.

1st Place – Michael Linster won his first career WSOP Circuit gold ring.  He collected $35,529 in prize money.

Linster’s win was a decisive victory.  He was fortunate to survive one hand when he caught two pair (aces and queens) against Glassman when he had pocket kings.  But Linster played an almost perfect final.  During the nearly six-hour final table, he was near the chip lead or held the top spot during the entire time.

With his victory, Linster joins Richard Smith (Event #1 winner) and Jeffrey Gurfinkel (Event #2 winner) as the early leaders in this WSOP Circuit’s “Best All-Around Player” standings.  The one player who accumulates the most overall points in Atlantic City’s twelve combined gold ring tournaments receives a pre-paid entry into the $1 million 2011-2012 WSOP Circuit National Championship, to be held in Las Vegas, next May.  At least two players from this tournament series will qualify for the WSOP Circuit National Championship, which is classified as a WSOP gold bracelet event.  The other automatic qualifier will be the winner of Harrah’s Atlantic City’s Main Event championship.

With the third tournament wrapped up, there are still nine more gold ring events remaining in what is being billed as a “12 rings in 12 days” poker series.  The WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s Atlantic City continues through December 12th.  This year’s schedule includes not only all the gold ring events, but multiple second-chance tournaments (at 5 pm and 7 pm most days), single table and mega satellites, plus cash games going around the clock inside the Harrah’s Poker Room.