Atlantic City, NJ (March 5, 2011) – Once upon a time, Limit Hold’em was king.  Limit games outnumbered No-Limit ten-thousand to one.  Then, No-Limit appeared on television and the poker world turned upside down.

The blast from the past on this year’s WSOP Circuit schedule at Caesars Atlantic City was a $350 buy-in Limit Hold’em tournament.  The third of ten gold ring events attracted a modest-sized field of 158 players.  Ten years ago, this same event would likely have attracted twice as many bodies.

But Dennis “Mike” Summers had no complaints.  He ended up defeating the field of 158 poker dinosaurs and won first prize totaling $12,414 and his first WSOP-related poker title.  Summers was also presented with his first WSOP Circuit gold ring, the coveted symbol of victory awarded to all winners in poker’s biggest and most prestigious national tournament series.   

Appropriately following his victory, Summers confessed this was the first Limit Hold’em tournament he had ever played.  Perhaps Limit Hold’em tournaments have a bright future, after all.


This was the third of ten gold ring events on the Caesars Atlantic City.  The total prize pool amounted to $45,978.  The top two tables of 18 finishers collected prize money.  A complete list of all players who cashed can be seen here at WSOP.COM.

The tournament was played over two days.  After most of the field was eliminated short of a payout on Day One, the following session included just 18 survivors.  It took another two hours to play down to the final table of ten players.  Final table play began on a Saturday afternoon inside the packed Palladium Ballroon, located on the second floor at Caesars Atlantic City. 

No doubt, the most accomplished player among the finalists was Chris Reslock – a former WSOP gold bracelet winner and four-time WSOP Circuit champion.  However, Reslock arrived low on chips which severely handicapped his chances to make history as the first five-time WSOP Circuit gold ring winner. 

Another player of note was Christopher Tryba, a rotund wrecking ball from Las Vegas who plays many WSOP Circuit events.  With his cash in this tournament, Tryba now has nine in-the-money finishes this season, which is the most of any WSOP Circuit player.

The ten finalists and their starting chip counts were as follows:

Seat 1    Wasyl Zaliwciw    141,000 in chips
Seat 2    Chris Tryba    187,000 in chips
Seat 3    Chris Reslock    127,000 in chips
Seat 4    Mark Sykes    155,000 in chips
Seat 5    Wayne Thomas    168,000 in chips
Seat 6    Mike “Wallsy” Walls    150,000 in chips
Seat 7    Thomas Balla    223,000 in chips
Seat 8    Peter Campo    294,000 in chips
Seat 9    Dennis “Mark” Summers    130,000 in chips
Seat 10    Dennis J. Broderick    34,000 in chips

The final table began at 4:00 pm and ended at 10:30 pm.  Although the game was Limit Hold’em, the betting limits were high enough that no player could afford to sit around and patiently wait for a hand.  So, the action was fast from the start.  Players were eliminated in the following order.

Tenth Place:  Dennis J. Broderick hit the skids only seconds after each of the final table players were introduced.  The litigation examiner from Tinton Falls, NJ accepted a cash settlement totaling $896 for tenth place.

Ninth Place:  Chris Reslock is arguably Atlantic City’s best tournament player.  The former taxi driver won his WSOP gold bracelet in 2007 playing Seven-Card Stud.  Reslock was shooting for what would have been a record-setting fifth gold ring, but came up far short.  He arrived at the final table low on chips and busted out holding K-Q suited.  Reslock caught a pair of kings on the flop to go with a flush draw, but ended up losing to a pair of aces.  Reslock accepted $1,106.  His previous four WSOP Circuit wins took place at Harrah’s Atlantic City (2), Showboat Atlantic City, and Harrah’s Tunica.
Eighth Place:  Wayne Thomas was the final table’s elder statesman.  At age 68, he was up against a field of players mostly half his age.  Experience helped Thomas outlast all but seven of the 158 who enter.  He ended up in eighth place.  Thomas made a pair of queens on his final hand, but ended up losing to a straight.  Wayne Thomas, a retiree from Oxford, NC received $1,387.

Seventh Place:  The second coolest name at the final table belonged to none other than Wasyl Zaliwciw.  Unfortunately (for him), “WZ” wasn’t dealt the best of cards.  Zaliwci busted out after about four hours of play, and ended up in seventh place.  The business manager from Philadelphia received $1,768 in prize money.

Sixth Place:  Christopher Tryba is one of the WSOP Circuit’s most consistent performers.  The former gold ring winner from Las Vegas cashed for the ninth time this season (the most of any player), but has yet to win a second victory.  Tryba collected $2,291 for sixth place in this tournament, but still complained that he has “no money.”  Tryba was short-stacked throughout the competition, yet still was able to scratch his way to a payout. 

Fifth Place:  Mark Sykes, a professor from New Haven, CT ended up in fifth place.  He ran low on chips and was forced to play a mediocre hand for his tournament life, which lost.  Sykes received $3,018 in prize money.

Fourth Place:  The hands-down coolest name of any player who has ever played poker was Thomas Balla, from Bellerose, NY.  Balla would have been primed to really live the “Balla lifestyle,” had he only moved up a few spots higher.  Instead, the player who lists is occupation as “owning souls” had to settle for $4,047 – constituting a mini-Balla cash.  The hot girls and fancy nightclubs will have to wait another day, as Balla exited in fourth place.  He is a 24-year-old graduate of St. Johns University.

Third Place:  Peter Campo is a 31-year-old self-described lazy drunk.  He has some other impressive cashes, but this marked his highest WSOP-related finish.  Campo was eliminated when he was low on chips and was all-in with 5-5, which ended up losing to A-K when a king flopped.  Campo, from Waterford, CT had to settle for $5,522 in prize money.

Second Place:  Mike Walls, a.k.a. “Wallsy” was the runner up.  He is a 46-year-old plumber from Newark, DE.  Wallsy took $7,671 as his consolation prize.  He has several other notable finishes, including second place in a major tournament held last summer in Atlantic City.

When heads up play began, Mike Summers enjoyed about a 3 to 2 chip lead over Wallsy.  But both players had plenty of chips, so the duel was expected to last awhile.  The final hand came about an hour into the face off when both players made big hands and all the chips went into the pot after a flurry of bets and raises.

“Wallsy” – Ah 9d
Mike Summers – 7d 7c

Flop – 9s 7h 6d
Turn – Qh
River – 9c

“Wallsy” made trip nines, normally a powerhouse hand, but lost.  With his full house, Summers was officially declared the champion.

First Place:  Dennis “Mike” Summers, a 36-year-old business owner from Charlottesville, VA won is first major poker tournament.  His cash prize amounted to $12,414.  

Summers owns and helps run his family’s auto repair shop.  He is also a proud fan of all the Virginia Cavalier sports teams, which play in Summers’ hometown of Charlottesville.  Summer is most proud of his daughter Alyssa, who is ten-years-old.  She has already learned how to play poker from her dad.  Alyssa might want to pay special attention when her dad gives advice on Limit Hold’em.

With this victory, Summers joins previous event winners in the top spot for best all-around player.  They are co-leaders in the point race for the top player at the Atlantic City series. 

Event #1 – Thung “Patrick” Lu defeated 742 players and won $43,184 ($350 NLHE)
Event #2 – Peter Ippolito defeated 254 players and won $30,181 ($570 NLHE)

The player who accumulates the most overall points in the ten gold ring tournaments 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 seven more gold ring events remaining.  The WSOP Circuit at Caesars Atlantic City continues through March 13th.  This year’s schedule includes ten gold ring events, along with multiple second-chance tournaments, single table and mega satellites, plus cash games going around the clock inside the Caesars Poker Room.