West Palm Beach, FL (Feb. 26) – “Luck Be a Lady” was popularized in the 1950’s Broadway hit musical, Guys and Dolls, with Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando.

But if June Amer were singing the song, the lyrics would most certainly need to be revised.  Never mind, luck.  Instead, Amer’s verse would go, “Skill Be a Lady.”

Amer accomplished what in her mind was an unthinkable dream on Saturday night, winning the most recent World Series of Poker Circuit tournament held at the Palm Beach Kennel Club.  Winning any major tournament is impressive.  But when one considers this was the unquestionably the toughest field of any WSOP Circuit tournament held thus far – and was arguably the biggest challenge of the entire Circuit season based on the field size and quality of opponents -- her feat is even more impressive.

Amer collected a whopping $65,338 in prize money for first place.  She was also presented with her first WSOP Circuit gold ring, the coveted prize awarded to all winners in poker’s biggest and most prestigious national tournament series.

Amer is retired and lives in Pembroke Pines, FL.  She was previously a correctional officer in Dade County.  Amer is no novice when it comes to poker tournaments.  She has an in-the-money finish at the WSOP in Las Vegas.  She also cashed in the first $500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event held at this year’s Palm Beach series, taking 21st place.  No doubt about this, this lady can play poker.  

This was the seventh of ten gold ring events at this year’s inaugural WSOP Circuit Palm Beach series.  The $555 buy-in No-Limit tournament attracted a big field totaling 664 entries.  The prize pool amounted to $322,040.  The top 72 finishers collected prize money.

Among those who cashed were at least two notables.  Robert Cheung, a former WSOP gold bracelet winner, came in 37th.  Kevin McBride, who finished as the runner up to Scotty Nguyen in the 1998 WSOP Main Event entered as well, and finished 30th.  A complete list of players who cashed can be seen HERE.

When compared against all other $500 or greater buy-ins, this was the largest field of any WSOP Circuit event so far this season.  While several $500 buy-in events have attracted big numbers, nothing came close to the 664-player field that packed the tournament area at the racetrack.

On the first day of play, the field size was whittled down to 83 survivors.  On the second day, play continued for seven more hours before the final table was reached.  The seating order and starting chip counts of the final ten were as follows:
SEAT 1:  Zhen Cai (West Palm Beach, FL) – 399,000 in chips 
SEAT 2:  William Navarro (Tampa, FL) – 436,000 in chips   
SEAT 3:  Michael Tait (Hallandale, FL) – 749,000 in chips  
SEAT 4:  June Amer (Pembroke Pines, FL) – 976,000 in chips 
SEAT 5:  Barry Hutter (Coconut Creek, FL) – 943,000 in chips    
SEAT 6:  Donald Williams (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) – 1,100,000 in chips    
SEAT 7:  Lisa Adams Levy (Delray Beach, FL) – 131,000 in chips 
SEAT 8:  Sean Winter (Jacksonville, FL) – 855,000 in chips
SEAT 9:  Farid Jattin (Miami, FL) – 2,000,000 in chips
SEAT 10:  Clint Tolbert (Moore, OK) – 365,000 in chips 

Players were eliminated in the following order:

10th Place – Zhen Cai was eliminated just a few hands after the customary “Shuffle Up and Deal” announcement.  Cai didn’t get to see much shuffling nor dealing.  But he did count out $4,915 at the payout window.  Cai is a 27-year-old poker pro from West Palm Beach, FL.

9th Place – Lisa Adams Levy (ne “Lisa Adams”) has an impressive tournament resume that includes nearly $180,000 in career earnings.  This marked her 12th major in-the-money finish.  Her most impressive victory was a win in the 2006 Ladies Championship at the Tunica Grand, good for a WSOP Circuit gold ring.  This time, she exited in ninth place and earned $6,113.  She works in real estate and lives in Delray Beach, FL.  She is now working on a poker book, which she plans to release later this year.

8th Place – Donald Williams, a 34-year-old poker pro from Fort Lauderdale, FL exited in eighth place (not to be confused with three-time WSOP gold bracelet winner Don Williams).  He earned a nice payout totaling $7,700.

7th Place – Clint Tolbert, a.k.a. “SoonerCT22” was knocked out just 30 minutes into play.  He lost a race and exited with $9,823.  The 29-year-old poker pro from Moore, OK had more than $100,000 in tournament earnings last year.  But this marked his first WSOP-related in-the-money finish.

6th Place – Sean Winter, a 20-year-old poker pro from Jacksonville, FL went cold at the worst time of the tournament.  He began play with an average stack size, but failed to win a hand late and ended up with the mixed blessing of a sixth-place finish.  Winter’s cut of the prize pool amounted to $12,695.  He has previously won major online tournaments, but this was his best live cash, to date.  NOTE:  The legal age to play poker in Florida is 18.  This is the only WSOP Circuit series 18-20 year olds are permitted to play under current law.

5th Place – Barry Hutter, a 24-year-old poker pro and former WSOP Circuit gold ring winner, came up short in this event.  But he did manage to collect a nice payout totaling $16,621.  Hutter wasn’t able to overcome the giant stack of the chip leader.  He lost a race on his final hand, with two overcards losing to a pair.  Hutter previous Circuit win took place last year at Harrah’s New Orleans.
4th Place – William Navarro, from Tampa, FL ended up in fourth place.  His payout amounted to $22,052.  This was the third WSOP-related tournament Navarro entered, so his return on investment has been quite impressive.  

3rd Place – Michael Tait, a poker pro from Hallandale, FL was low on chips when play became three-handed.  He suffered a tough beat after moving all-in with A-J.  The chip leader called and also showed A-J.  But four suited cards came on board, giving the big stack a flush – and all of Tait’s chips.  Tait, who plays poker daily here at the Palm Beach Kennel Club and has more than 20 major tournament cashes, earned $29,654 in prize money.  Tait also cashed in the largest tournament in history, which was the 2006 WSOP Main Event, where he came in 257th out of 8,771 players.

2nd Place – The runner up was Farid Jattin, a 22-year-old student and serious poker player from Miami, FL.  He earned a consolation prize amounting to $40,430.  Jattin was in the chip lead from the start of the final table to nearly the very end, but endured a brutal conclusion to what many anticipated would be a major win.

The last half hour of the tournament was a stunning reversal of fortune.  Jattin appeared to have the title all but locked up.  He was playing at the top of his game and held what seemed to be an almost insurmountable chip advantage.  But Amer managed to land one punch which staggered her rival when she was all-in with Q-J against pocket 7s and caught two queens to draw close to even in chips.  Then, she nicked away at his stack for a few hands ultimately won after making two pair (kings and sixes) against her rival’s top pair (aces).  The final hand showed Amer holding Ks 6d against Jattin’s Ac 3c.  The final board came Ac Qs 6h Kh 2d.  All the money went in on the turn.  Amer was declared the champion.

1st Place – The latest WSOP Circuit champion is June Amer, from Pembroke Pines, FL.  She earned a well-deserved $65,338 in prize money.  She was also presented with the gold ring, which is the ultimate token of achievement given for winning a WSOP Circuit event.  This was her first WSOP-related tournament victory, and her second time to cash at this year’s Palm Beach series.

Amer joined three previous winners Reed Zhao (Event 1), James Giraldo (Event 2), “Tampa Bay Ray” El Cuedo (Event 3), and Chris Lyons (Event *), Brent Carter (Event o).  They are 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.  See the full schedule HERE. 

There are still two more gold ring events remaining on the WSOP Circuit schedule at the Palm Beach Kennel Club.  Poker tournaments run through March 1st.