Valley Center, CA (March 21, 2011) – Matthew Weber must be thinking to himself, “This is all too easy.”

The 23-year-old bartender, college student, and dedicated part-time poker player obliterated his competition in the only two World Series of Poker-related tournaments he’s entered.  Weber has participated in just two gold ring events in his life.  He now has a second place finish in one, plus a victory in the other.

No poker player and indeed no legend has ever done that – not Doyle Brunson, not Stu Ungar, not even Dwyte Pilgrim.

Weber won the most recent WSOP Circuit competition at the Harrah’s Rincon Resort and Casino, near San Diego.  He topped a sizable field of 273 entries en route to an impressive win.  His success came following a second-place finish in a similar event held two years ago at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe.  Hence, Weber has now taken the top two spots in the only two gold ring events in which he has participated.

When told that many poker players play for months and sometimes years without ever finishing as high on the tournament final results, Weber made a rational observation.

“I guess I should start playing in more WSOP Circuit events,” Weber said.

Weber came out on top in a $345 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament.  He collected $16,711 in prize money for his victory.  He was also presented with his first gold ring, the coveted prize awarded to all WSOP Circuit tournament champions.

This tournament was the seventh of ten gold ring events held at this year’s Harrah’s Rincon series.  The total prize pool amounted to $79,443.  The top 30 finishers collected prize money.  A complete list of all in-the-money finishers for gold ring Event #7 can be found here.

The tournament was played over two consecutive days.  After most of the starting field was eliminated on Day One, survivors returned for Day Two action.  Final table play began on a stormy Monday afternoon.  Rain and high winds throughout Southern California may have dampened the spirits of those who were outdoors.  But poker took center stage inside, with Matthew Weber cast in the starring role. 

Typical of the San Diego poker scene, current and former military personnel made up a sizable portion of the field.  Many active duty and retired military live in the San Diego area.  Three players at the final table were veterans.  When final table action began, the nine finalists and their starting chip counts were as follows:

Seat 1:  Jay Pettit (Carlsbad, CA) – 99,000 in chips
Seat 2:  Matthew Weber (Elk Grove, CA) – 857,000 in chips
Seat 3:  Kris Kissam (Long Beach, CA) – 211,000 in chips
Seat 4:  Joe Ford (Temecula, CA) – 245,000 in chips
Seat 5:  Ed Hansen (Tustin, CA) – 358,000 in chips
Seat 6:  Erin Applin (San Diego, CA) – 300,000 in chips
Seat 7:  Chris Zwickilton (San Diego, CA) – 158,000 in chips
Seat 8:  Ramy Sabbara (Orange County, CA) – 176,000 in chips
Seat 9:  Larry Turley (Las Vegas, NV) – 350,000 in chips

Final table action ran about 7.5 hours, beginning at 4 pm and ending at 11:30 pm.  Players were eliminated in the following order.

Ninth Place:  Jay Pettit was the first player to exit and ended up as the ninth-place finisher.  He is a 50-year-old attorney.  The former U.S. Navy officer took second place in another recent tournament held in the San Diego area.  However, this was his first time to cash in a WSOP-related event.

Eighth Place:  Ramy Sabbara finished in eight place.  He is a 35-year old business owner from Orange County, CA.  This marked Sabbara’s first final table appearance in a major poker tournament.

Seventh Place:  Erin Applin took seventh place.  She is a bartender from San Diego.  Applin took fifth place in one of last year’s Ladies International Poker Series (LIPS) tournaments held in Los Angeles.  She also cashed twice within the past year in two open events at the LA Poker Classic.

Sixth Place:  The sixth-place finisher was Larry Turley, from Las Vegas, NV.  He is a 66-year-old retiree from the U.S. Air Force.  This marked Turley’s third visit to a WSOP Circuit final table.  He finished fourth in one of last week’s gold ring events at Harrah’s Rincon.  Turley is now in contention for the Best All Around player race, which is now quite competitive going into the last few events. 

Fifth Place:  Kris Hissam ended up as the fourth-place finisher.  He is a 25-year-old federal corrections officer, from Long Beach, CA.  Hissam previously served in the U.S. Navy.  This was his second WSOP Circuit final table appearance.  He finished seventh a few years ago at Harrah’s Atlantic City.

Fourth Place:  Joe Ford took fourth place.  He is a 36-year-old retail manager from nearby Temecula, CA.  This was Ford’s first time to cash in a major poker tournament.

Third Place:  Chris Zwickilton played well enough to finish in third place.  This was his first time to cash in a WSOP-related event.  Zwickilton is a 37-year-old software engineer from san Diego.  He helped to create a new mobile phone application which can be found at  The application helps users integrate daily tasks with their location as determined by a GPS system.

Second Place:  Ed Hansen was the runner up.  He is a 40-year-old business owner from Tustin, CA.  A man of many talents, he is also a race car driver and plays guitar in a band.  Hansen has enjoyed considerable success in tournaments as well, mostly in the Los Angeles area.  In fact, he has more than $300,000 in career earnings playing in tournaments.  Hansen added another $10,327 to his bankroll for second place.

When heads-up play began, Matthew Weber enjoyed about a 2 to 1 chip lead.  The duo battled back and forth for more than three hours.  During that span, the chip lead changed four times.  During the initial hour of player, Weber’s stack size gradually increased to the point where he was about a 3 to 1 favorite.

However, a seemingly critical hand took place when Hansen managed to double up against Weber.  Hansen flopped two pair against Weber’s top pair, with a solid kicker.  All of Hansen’s chips went in post-flop, and he was able to seize the chip lead for the first time.

Another hour later, Hansen was up by a 2 to 1 margin and appeared in good position to earn a victory.  But instead, he faced a ferocious opponent who would not give up.

After the chip lead bounced back and forth one more time in favor of each player, the final hand was dealt out as follows:

Weber –    
Hansen –    
Flop –      
Turn –  
River –  

All the chips went in pre-flop.  It appeared that Hansen (with pocket tens) would double up with his overpair.  But a blistering nine on the river gave Weber a set (trip nines) and the victory. 

First Place:  Matthew Weber is a 23-year-old college student from Elk Grove, which is in the Sacramento area.  He is attending Mesa College.  Weber also works as a bartender at Joe’s Crab Shack. 

Afterward, Weber admitted that staying a little longer than was expected in this tournament could cost him his bartending job.  He said he was supposed to be at work.  But instead, Weber played into the second day and was forced to call in “sick.”

It remains to be seen if the bosses at Joe’s Crab Shack read poker tournament reports. 

Weber had an interesting twist on his success in WSOP Circuit events.  He admitted that poker is not as easy as he is making it appear.

“You really want to know how I learned to play poker,” he stated afterward.  “By losing lots of money.”

Alas, Weber made the most of his prior losses and has most certainly blossomed into a player to watch in future WSOP Circuit events in which he participates.  Weber joined the following list of winners at this year’s Harrah’s Rincon series:

Event 1 – Alexandru Masek defeated 391 players and won $22,794 ($345 NLHE)
Event 2 – “Choctaw” Kruger defeated 149 players and won $17,505 ($555 NLHE)
Event 3 – Matthew Ardo 74 players and won $5,186 ($345 OMHL)
Event 4 – Michael Ippolito defeated 81 players and won $4,584 ($345 HORSE)
Event 5 – Kevin Hanson defeated 331 players and won $19,852 ($345 NLHE)
Event 6 – Mstr Lunch defeated 180 players and won $20,897 ($555 NLHE)
Event 7 – Matthew Weber defeated 273 players and won $16,711 ($345 NLHE)

With seven of ten gold ring events now completed, Brian Peterson from San Diego, CA remains point leader in the best-all around race (currently with 75 points).  He has three cashes so far – 2nd, 4th, and 14th, which puts him ahead of all six previous winners.  However, Michael Ippolito is inching closer at 60 points. 

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.

At least eleven players from the San Diego series will qualify for automatic seats in the $1 million WSOP Circuit National Championship tournament.  Qualifiers include the $1,500 buy-in Main Event winner.  The best all-around player (point leader) will also win a seat.  And, the nine players who make the final table of the Regional Championship will automatically qualify for a chance at the $1 million, plus a WSOP gold bracelet.  This is unquestionably the best chance for many poker players to make history and win the most coveted prize in all of poker.

The final event of this year’s Harrah’s Rincon series runs March 27-30.  The $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Championship will be televised on the Versus Network.  This will be the third of four WSOP Circuit Regional Championships held this season.  Satellites are being held at Rincon to earn a discounted seat into one of Southern California’s most prestigious tournaments of the year.

Harrah’s Rincon is the eleventh WSOP Circuit stop of the season, following well-attended tournaments held in several other locations throughout the U.S.  The current 2010-2011 season includes a total of 15 WSOP Circuit stops.

All poker tournaments take place inside the special events center, located on the main floor of specious and luxurious Harrah’s Rincon.  In addition to gold ring events, there more than 20 second-chance tournaments are on the schedule, as well as single table and mega satellites.  Cash games run around the clock inside the Harrah’s Rincon Poker Room.  To see the complete Harrah’s Rincon tournament schedule, please click here.

The WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s Rincon continues through March 30th.