Manns Beats Formidable Final Table Lineup and Collects $33,922 for First Place
Atlantic City, NJ (December 6, 2011) – It was a storybook finish and a Cinderella story. Only, it all happened for real.
The most recent World Series of Poker Circuit event was as thrilling as they come, producing a stunning final outcome and a first-time tournament winner who overcame several monumental challenges.
Dustin Manns, playing in his second WSOP Circuit event ever, overcame a huge field of 555 players and won his first major tournament victory. In fact, it was the first time Manns had ever cashed in a live tournament. He certainly made the most of his breakthrough victory, earning $33,922 and the WSOP Circuit gold ring, presented to each tournament champion.
Manns win was as surprising as it was thrilling. Not that Mann shouldn’t have won. He probably deserved the victory more than anyone based on his performance. He held the chip lead during most of the seven-hour final table. What was most inspiring was Manns ability to overcome all the odds that were stacked against him from the start.
Here’s what happened to Manns during the last two days:
8 am: Manns shows up for work in Philadelphia where he works as a software engineer. Manns does not feel well, and is given the option to go home for the day.
9:30 am: Manns returns home and goes to sleep for about an hour.
10:30: Unable to sleep, Manns wakes up and decides he is feeling better. He decides to make the 60-mile drive to Atlantic City, where the WSOP Circuit is being played at Harrah’s.
12 noon: Manns enters his second major poker tournament.
4 pm: It looks like Manns is going to be home in time for finner. He is down to just 3,500 in chips when the blinds are 300-600. Manns manages to double up with a straight at one critical monment, and then goes on a massive run over the next several levels.
2 am: Manns ends Day One ranked above average in chips.
3 pm: Manns resumes play on Day Two. His good fortune continues. About two hours into the action, he is the chip leader.
7:30 pm: Manns arrives at the final table of ten players as chip leader. He still has a long way to go to achieve victory. Most of the players at the final table have won major tournaments in the past. Half of the players have won more than six-figures playing live tournaments. By contrast, Manns has zero recorded tournament winnings.
9:00 pm: Manns still holds the chip lead. Play is down to five players.
1 am: 37 hours after he entered the tournament, Manns gets heads-up against Anthony Hill. The two are about even in chips.
2:30 am: On what turns out to be final hand of the tournament, Manns is dealt pocket threes and pushes. He gets snap called by pocket jacks. Manns looks to be in serious trouble. But the river is a miracle. Manns catched a two-outer, one of the threes and becomes the new champion.
“I really didn’t want to win it that way,” Manns said afterward. “I wanted to outplay him. But it sure feels good to win.”
Manns is a 29-year-old high-tech engineer from Philadelphia. His company designs software for large banks, used mostly in online banking services. He is a graduate of Hampton University in Virginia.
“It’s really incredible that I am even sitting here,” Manns said. “I was sick yesterday and then got to feeling better. Then, I decided that since I am off of work I might as well come down (to Atlantic City) and play. It worked out well, I guess.”
The World Series of Poker Circuit continues at Harrah’s Atlantic City. The fourth event of 12 scheduled gold ring tournaments ended with another first-time winner.
Attendance surpassed what many were expecting for the Monday-Tuesday competition. The 555-player field was yet another big turnout. The three previous tournaments, which ran over the weekend, attracted 704, 888, and 288 players respectively. Hence, one can expect large field and big prize pools for the reminder of the WSOP Circuit schedule.
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.
Final table action was streamed on WSOP.com. As is the case with all gold ring event final tables, there is a five-minute delay. Poker fans may tune in and watch the action each day, which normally begins late in the afternoon and runs most of the evening.
Event #4 was a two-day $300 (+45) No-Limit Hold’em tournament. Play began on Monday at noon and ended late on Tuesday night. The total prize pool came to $161,505. The top 63 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 #4 can be seen here.
During the first playing session, 513 players were eliminated. There were 42 survivors who resumed action on the final day and played down to the final table. After another five hours of play, the ten finalists were determined as follows:
SEAT 1: Anthony Zinno (Boston, MA) – 350,000 in chips
SEAT 2: Richard Smith (Warrenton, VA) – 263,000 in chips
SEAT 3: Tod Liang (Brooklyn, NY) – 667,000 in chips
SEAT 4: Anthony Hill (Syracuse, NY) – 655,000 in chips
SEAT 5: Kyle Bowker (Walton, NY) – 275,000 in chips
SEAT 6: Phil Vera (Ashburn, VA) – 1,060,000 in chips
SEAT 7: Dustin Manns (Philadelphia, PA) – 1,138,000 in chips
SEAT 8: Kevin Taso (Queens, NY) – 570,000 in chips
SEAT 9: Daniel Chan (New York, NY) – 390,000 in chips
SEAT 10: Matthew Chang (Rockville, MD) – 195,000 in chips
Dustin Manns and Phil Vera were neck a neck for the chip lead. The remaining players were behind by a considerable margin and had some catching up to do. Among them was Richard Smith, who was shooting for his second gold ring victory in three days. Smith won the opening event, overcoming 704 players.
The finale was the most stacked lineup of players of any tournament, so far. In addition to two former gold ring champions, the final ten featured five players with at least $100,000 in career earnings. One player had more than $1 million in tournament winnings.
Final table play began at 7:30 pm local time. Play finished at 2:30 am, making the total duration about seven hours.
10th Place – Kyle Bowker, a 28-year-old poker pro from Walton, NY was the first player to exit. He was eliminated about ten minutes into the final session. Bowker was the most accomplished player among the final ten in terms of tournament winnings. He’s accumulated nearly $1.2 million in earnings, to date. His biggest win was last year at the EPT Main Event, held in London. Bowker is enjoying a monster year. This was his 13th major cash. His resume includes a second and third place showing at WSOP Circuit events played in Atlantic City.
9th Place – Daniel Chan, from New York City, went out next. He was another player at the final table with a strong poker pedigree. This was his 14th major cash this year. He has accumulated nearly $150,000 in live tournaments. However, his pocket jacks lost to a flush on what turned out to be his final hand. Chan ended up receiving $3,146 in prize money.
8th Place – Anthony Zinno, an attorney from Boston, had his motion to stay at the final table overruled. He ended up with a settlement totaling $3,960 in prize money. Zinno has a number of previous deep runs, with 14 major cashes on his poker record.
7th Place – Richard Smith hoped to become a duel gold ring winner. He plowed through another big field in impressive fashion, this time outlasting 499 other players. But Smith was not able to establish any momentum at the final table. The Warrenton, VA-based poker pro collected $5,052 in prize money. However, he now has two big cashes in Atlantic City and has jumped into an early lead in the points race, as one-third of the schedule as now been completed.
6th Place – Phil Vera, from Ashburn, VA was eliminated about four hours into the action. The end result was a mixed blessing for Vera – who ended up collecting $6,533. However, given his early chip status as one of the big stacks, Vera certainly hoped to finish higher. He has numerous major tournament cashes – including two final table appearances at the Borgata. This was his second time to make it to a WSOP Circuit final table.
5th Place – Kevin Tsao, from Queens, NY ended up as the fifth-place finisher. He lost a critical pot late to Matthew Chang, and then went out a few minutes later. This was Tsao’s first time to cash in a WSOP Circuit tournament. He earned $8,565 in prize money.
4th Place – Former gold ring winner Matthew Chang finished in fourth place. He moved nicely into position from one of the shortest stacks to a serious threat at one point, but then was eliminated as play entered the seventh hour. Chang, who won his title earlier this year at WSOP Circuit South Indiana, now has 16 cashes. He is a former U.S. Marine who works for the U.S. State Department in Washington. Chang added $11,383 to his poker bankroll.
3rd Place –Tod Liang, from Brooklyn, NY played well and ended up in third place. He had a chance to go a little higher, but lost on his final hand holding A-J which lost to A-K. Liang had started the final table ranked third in chips, which was par for what might have been expected. This was Liang’s sixth major cash this year. He won a tournament held last Spring at the Borgata Open. Liang collected $15,340 for this finish.
2nd Place – Anthony Hill played a fabulous tournament. Had he caught a break on the final hand, he likely would have won his first WSOP Circuit gold ring. But it was not to be. Instead, Hill collected a consolation prize in the amount of $20,978. The Syracuse, NY-based poker pro has 29 major tournament cashes and more than $300,000 in live tournament winnings. This was his best showing in a WSOP-related event.
When heads-up play began, Manns enjoyed a very slight chip advantage over Hill. The duel lasted about 90 minutes. The last hand of the tournament was dealt as follows:
Hill called an all-in pre-flop shove by Manns. He was way ahead with a dominant hand. Meanwhile, Manns essentially needed to catch a three. Bang! The miracle card fell on the river, which turned the final table area into a circus. Manns could not believe his eyes, and Hill’s state of disbelief was even more profound.
1st Place – Dustin Manns won his first career WSOP Circuit gold ring. He collected $33,922. He normally plays cash games in the Philadelphia area. He has played in few poker tournaments but now says he may start playing more, as he enjoys the action.
Except for the final hand, Manns was never in serious danger of elimination. During the seven-hour final table, he was near the chip lead or held the top spot during the entire time.
When asked for a few comments following his incredible victory, Manns wanted to make it known he is a huge fan of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. He said he is disgusted with the way his Eagles have played this season, and thinks head coach Andy Reid should be fired. For now, it appears Reid has few outs and may be drawing dead – which suits the newest WSOP Circuit champion just fine.
With his victory, Manns joins the previous winners as the early leaders in this WSOP Circuit’s “Best All-Around Player” standings. However, Richard Smith appears to be the player to beat at this point, with two deep runs – including seventh place in this tournament.
The 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 second tournament wrapped up, there are still ten 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.
WSOP Circuit Gold Ring Winners at Harrah’s Atlantic City:
Event 1: Richard Smith (Warrenton, VA) defeated 704 players and won $41,995
Event 2: Jeffrey Gurfinkel (Brooklyn, NY) defeated 888 players and won $50,446
Event 3: Michael Linster (Levittown, NY) defeated 288 players and won $35,529
Event 4: Dustin Manns (Philadelphia, PA) defeated 555 players and won $33,922
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