West Palm Beach, FL (Feb. 20) – The World Series of Poker Circuit continued today at the Palm Beach Kennel Club.  The second of ten gold ring events on this year’s schedule attracted 409 players for the busy Presidents Day weekend poker festival. 
 
The total prize pool for Event #2 – which was a $500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament -- amounted to $198,365.  After yesterday’s record-smashing 877 entries and more than a quarter million in prize money, it appears that a big week lies ahead for the remainder of the series.
 
As was expected, many of the players who cashed in this event were relatively new faces to the tournament poker scene.  About half of those who made the money had never cashed in any major tournament before, proving the enormous drawing power of the WSOP in attracting new players to tournament poker.  This is the first time a WSOP-related event has ever been held in Florida.  To see a complete list of all players who cashed, please click HERE
 
The tournament winner was James Giraldo, from Miami, FL.  He is a 23-year-old student and part-time sales manager.  Giraldo is originally from Queens, NY.  His parents immigrated to the US from Columbia. 
 
Incredibly, this was Giraldo’s first major live poker tournament.  He plays a lot of poker online.  But until this event, he had never entered a live tournament before.  Giraldo did the unthinkable by not just cashing, but winning $43,191 in a stunning debut victory.  Although he was tested at several points during the two-day competition, Giraldo seemed to possess far more playing experience than one would expect for a newcomer to live play.
 
Day One began on a Saturday afternoon and played from 409 starters down to 27 survivors.  Then, play resumed on Day Two.  On Sunday, when the nine finalists took their seats at the final table next to the packed grandstand overlooking the oval track filled with a full card of live greyhound racing, the seating order and chip counts were as follows:

SEAT 1:  Roberto Alberro (Miami, FL) – 1,250,000 in chips

SEAT 2:  Robert Rousseau (Tallahassee, FL) – 172,000 in chips  
SEAT 3:  James Giraldo (Miami, FL) – 615,000 in chips 
SEAT 4:  Julian Conde (Sunrise, FL) – 424,000 in chips 
SEAT 5:  Courtland Twyman (Deerfield Beach, FL) – 913,000 in chips 
SEAT 6:  Carlos “El Marielito” Frontela (Tampa, FL) – 296,000 in chips
SEAT 7:  Brad Miller (Jupiter, FL) – 190,000 in chips 
SEAT 8:  Tanya Gawarecki (Jacksonville, FL) – 778,000 in chips 
SEAT 9:  Matas Pacevicius (St. Petersburg, FL) – 205,000 in chips
 
Players were eliminated in the following order:
 
9th Place – Matas Pacevicius made an early exit from the final nine.  He was low on chips and went bust about ten minutes into the action.  The Lithuanian-born poker pro and former casino dealer now living in St. Petersburg (Florida, that is) collected $4,083 in prize money.
 
8th Place – Robert Rousseau, a retiree from Tallahassee, FL used to be a professional fisherman.  But fish were hard to come by at this final table and Rousseau ended up being the catch of the day.  He ended up with an eighth-place finish, which paid $5,112.  This was Rousseau’s second time to cash in a WSOP Circuit tournament.  He also made the money at last year’s WSOP Circuit series held at Harrah’s St. Louis, cashing in the Seniors Championship.  His brother also cashed in yesterday’s tournament.
 
7th Place – Julian Conde ended up taking seventh place.  The native of Queens, NY who now lives in Sunrise, FL collected $6,490 in prize money.
 
6th Place – Brad Miller, a project manager from Jupiter, FL was the sixth-place finisher.  This marked Miller’s first time ever to make it to a final table.  He pocketed $8,357 in prize money for a terrific debut performance.
 
5th Place – Carlos Frontela, a.k.a. “El Marielito” was one of the more aggressive players at the final table.  But his willingness to tangle and play pots cost him in the end when he moved all-in holding A-6 suited, which was topped by Tanya Gawarecki’s A-K.  Frontela’s nickname “El Marielito” refers to Cubans who came off refugee boats which sailed to Florida during the early 1980s.  Frontela, who was born in Cuba and now lives in Tampa, FL earned $10,919 in prize money.
 
4th Place – Tanya Gawarecki played down to four handed, and then busted out after more than two hours passed.  Chips moved back and fourth between the four remaining survivors, as Roberto Alberro and James Giraldo increased their stack sizes.  Meanwhile, Gawarecki finally got low on chips and decided to make a bold move, hoping to triple up.  Two players were involved in the pot and Gawarecki decided to make her final stand with 10-9, in an effort to sabotage what she expected here better hands.  She failed to improve and had to settle for a payout totaling $14,481.  Gawarecki made the money at the WSOP last year, finishing 18th in one of the $1,500 buy-in tournaments.  The telecommunications administrator from Jacksonville, FL has been playing live poker for the past five years.
 
3rd Place – Courtland Twyman was able to survive on a short stack for three hours before finally taking a terrible beat, which knocked him off the final table.  On his final hand, Twyman got his money into the pot with the best of it.  He held A-Q which was up against James Giraldo’s A-J.  It appeared Twyman would double through and become a serious threat to the two bigger stacks.  But a dreaded jack on the river completed a three-outer and busted Twyman out of the tournament.  Twyman, who lives in Deerfield Beach, FL has other major tournament cashes.  But this was his highest WSOP-related tournament finish to date.  He earned $19,502.
 
2nd Place – Roberto Alberro had a good shot to win his first WSOP Circuit title.  He had the chip lead during much of the six-hour finale.  But Alberro lost his advantage late and was unable to make a comeback.  Alberro accepted a nice consolation prize amounting to $26,690.  He is originally from Cuba and now resides in Miami.  Alberro has won multiple tournaments held here in South Florida.  He is the 47-year-old vice president of a successful company.
 
Heads up play lasted nearly two hours.  Alberro held the lead most of the way, but was tested throughout by James Giraldo.  It appeared Giraldo was the aggressor when short-handed play began.  Although there were no major confrontations until the very end, Giraldo managed to gradually chip away at Alberro’s stack and seized the advantage when the last hand was dealt.  The final hand took place when Alberro had    .  He was up against Giraldo’s    .  All the money went in on the turn when the board showed        .  Giraldo had an outside-straight draw, along with an overcard.  He was up against Alberro’s inside-straight draw, along with a flush draw.  The river card sealed the deal for both players as the   gave Giraldo a pair of kings and the victory.
 
1st Place – The winner of the second WSOP Circuit tournament ever held in Florida was James Giraldo, from Miami, FL.  He earned a well-deserved $43,191 in prize money.  He was also presented with the gold ring, which is the ultimate token of achievement given for winning a WSOP Circuit event.  This was his first WSOP-related tournament victory.
 
Giraldo raced to the front of the pack and joined the previous day’s champion Reed Zhao as the early leaders in the point race for the top player at this inaugural Palm Beach series.  The poker player who accumulates the most overall points receives a pre-paid entry into the $1 million 2010-2011 WSOP Circuit National Championship, to be held in May at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.
 
There are still eight more gold ring events remaining on the WSOP Circuit schedule at the Palm Beach Kennel Club.  Poker tournaments run through March 1st.
 
This year, all players on the WSOP Circuit can accumulate points which are used to qualify towards the WSOP Circuit National Championship tournament, held in May 2011 in Las Vegas.  The $1 million tournament will be nationally televised and will be open to only 100 qualifiers.  For the first time ever, a WSOP gold bracelet will be presented to the winner. 
 
The 2010-2011 World Series of Poker Circuit schedule which includes all upcoming tour stops and dates can be viewed here.