Most would agree that it isn’t a question of if Mark Smith will win his fifth World Series of Poker Circuit Ring, but instead a question of when. The man better known as “Pegasus” is currently tied with Men Nguyen and Chris Reslock for the most WSOPC Rings with four. He was the 2009/2010 Circuit Player of the Year and already had two final tables on this seasons Circuit coming in the Choctaw Resort and Casino series.

A total of 448 players entered the $345 No-Limit Hold ‘em Circuit event to take their shot at the $28,090 first place prize.  At the end of the first day, just 31 players moved on to the second day of action.  In the end, it would be a fellow Kentucky native, WSOP Circuit Ring holder and one of Mark Smith’s close friends that would make the drive for five wait for yet another event.

The chip counts by seat assignments at the final table were as follows:

1. Bill Blood 302,000

2. Travis Speck 591,000

3. O.C. Altansukh 731,000

4. Doug Paxton 260,000

5. Robert Castoire 559,000

6. Brian Green 154,000

7. Brandon Airey 989,000

8. Mark “Pegasus” Smith 300,000

9. Lou Barlow 197,000

10. Matt Key 392,000

10th Place - $2,150

Despite coming into the final table as one of the bigger stack, O.C. Altansukh took some major hits to his stack early on. When he moved all in with   , Robert Castoire made the call and turned up   . The board ran out       and the 22 year old from Springfield, Missouri was sent to the rail in tenth place.

9th Place - $2,656

Brian Green and Bill Blood were both all in against Robert Castoire just a short time later. Green held   , Blood showed    and Castoire turned up   . The board bricked out for everyone and Blood took the pot with his sevens. Green was the short stack and was eliminated on the hand in ninth place.

8th Place - $3,325

After a flop of    , Travis Speck checked to Doug Paxton, who bet 80,000. Speck raised to a total of 225,000 and Paxton moved all in. Speck made the call and turned over    for a flopped set of fours. Paxton flipped up    for top two and would need to improve to stay alive. The turn was the   and the river came the  . Speck’s set held up to win the pot and knock Paxton out in eighth place. 

For Paxton, this was his fourth cash at the Choctaw WSOPC Series and his third final table.

7th Place – $4,221

Just moments later, Travis Speck raised from under the gun to 65,000 before the flop. Matt Key moved all in from the small blind for 230,000 and Speck made the call. Key turned up    but was in bad shape when Speck tabled   . The board of       brought no help to Key and the Tyler, Texas native was sent to rail in seventh place.

6th Place - $5,435

After a pre flop raise from Brandon Airey, Lou Barlow moved all in for his last 258,000. Airey made the call with    against Barlow’s   . The board came       and Barlow, who finished 425th in the WSOP Main Event this summer, was eliminated in sixth place.

5th Place - $7,101

On a board of     , Travis Speck got all in against Brandon Airey in a massive pot. Airey turned over    for two pair but Speck showed    for a better two pair. The river was the   and Speck doubled up to over 1.1 million with 4.48 million chips in play.

A few hands later, Airey got the rest of his chips in on a flop of     against Robert Castoire. Castoire held    for top pair against Airey’s flush draw with   . The turn was the   and the river came the  . Airey failed to make his flush and was sent home in fifth place.

4th Place - $9,417

When action was folded around to Bill Blood in the small blind, he raised to 100,000. Robert Castoire looked down at his hand and moved all in from the big blind. Blood snap called and turned up   . Castoire flipped up   . The flop came out     and Blood maintained his lead. The   on the turn gave Castoire and open ended straight draw and some additional outs. The river was a dagger for Blood, the  , giving Castoire a set and sending the Excelsior Springs, Missouri native to the rail in fourth place.

3rd Place – $12,683  

Robert Castoire found himself in the middle of a huge pot yet again, this time with Travis Speck. Speck raised from the button to 115,000 and Castoire reraised to 325,000. Mark Smith folded and Speck moved all in for 835,000 more. Castoire made the call and saw that he was in great shape with    against Speck’s   . However, the flop of     gave Speck a set and a huge lead in the pot. It didn’t take long for Castoire to take the lead again though as the   fell on the turn. Only the case six could bring the pot back to Speck. The Burkburnett, Texas native was eliminated in third place when the   fell on the river.

2nd Place - $17,357

After ten hours of play at the final table, Mark “Pegasus” Smith had managed to make it to heads-up play despite only playing a total of three hands the entire day. Because of that, Robert Castoire held an 11 to 1 chip advantage over Smith. Despite doubling up once, Smith finally moved all in with    and was called by Castoire’s   . The board ran out       and Smith was unable to improve.

Smith and Castoire, who both reside in Kentucky and are good friends, congratulated each other and exchanged a few laughs. Despite falling just short of winning his fifth WSOPC Ring, Mark Smith walked away with a smile and collected his $17,357 second place prize.

1st Place - $28,090

Robert Castoire took home the first place prize of $28,090 and his second WSOP Circuit Ring. He won the 2008 $1,000 NLHE event in Tunica to secure his first ring. Castoire was visibly not as happy as a normal tournament victor would be. He stated that he had never been so upset to win a tournament as he really wanted his friend, Mark Smith, to get his fifth Ring.

But, poker is poker and Robert Castoire was not going to give his friend the Ring. Castoire dominated an exciting final table now finds himself only two Rings away from tying his friends record.

But, don’t feel too bad for Mark “Pegasus” Smith. If history has taught us anything, it is that if there is a WSOPC event, odds are “Pegasus” will be there again at the end…

See the complete Choctaw Circuit schedule and previous results here.  The WSOP Circuit at Choctaw runs through January 24th. You can find the complete 2010/2011 WSOP CIRCUIT SCHEDULE here.