Valley Center, CA (March 23, 2011) – The World Series of Poker Circuit has produced a number first-time poker champions who have gone on to enjoy fame and future success.

Joseph Cheong (San Diego, CA) won a WSOP Circuit gold ring at Harrah’s Rincon last year.  He parlayed that victory into a trip to Las Vegas a few months later where he entered the $10,000 buy-in 2010 WSOP Main Event Championship.  Cheong ended up finishing in third place and won a whopping $4.1 million in prize money.  Had a key hand or two gone his way, he might have been the reigning world champion.

Dwyte Pilgrim (Brooklyn, NY) enjoyed his breakthrough year two seasons ago when he won two WSOP Circuit gold rings – first at Caesars Atlantic City and then at Harrah’s Rincon.  He went on to win more than $1.6 million on the tournament circuit over the next 12 months.    

Tonight, the next poker superstar may very well have been launched into orbit as 22-year-old Mstr Lynch won his second WSOP Circuit gold ring within a four-day span.  With flashbacks of his victory in the $555 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament still fresh, Lynch once again startled the poker world with a major victory.

Lynch came out on top in a field of 97 players and won $25,236 in prize money.  Days earlier, he bested a field of 180 players en route to a $20,897 payday.  Lynch now owns not only two WSOP Circuit gold rings -- he is also the current point leader in the race for best all-around player at this year’s Rincon series.  The player who accumulates the most points wins a seat in the WSOP Circuit National Championship, coming in May.

This was only the second time this season a player has won two WSOP Circuit events at the same location.  Earlier in January, Kyle Cartwright (Bartlett, TN) won two gold rings at Harrah’s Tunica.

Lynch was interviewed immediately following his victory and made the following comments:

On how he became a serious poker player:
I grew up in Dallas.  When I was in high school, I moved to Mississippi with my family.  I went on to Ole Miss where I attended college for a year.  That’s when I first saw poker on TV.  I couldn’t believe how much money they were making.  I was like, ‘this can’t be real.’  Later, I moved back to Dallas.  They opened up a casino (in Durant, OK) which was only about an hour north of where I lived.  And, you could pay there at age 18.  I started playing there and was beating the games.  I only played No-Limit Hold’em.  That’s basically how it all started. 

On how he developed into a tournament player:
You have to have a bigger bankroll to play in cash games.  So, I played mostly in the tournaments there (in Oklahoma).  I got a feel for the local scene and tried to improve my tournament play.  I try to look at the entire situation and go with my own judgment.  I tend to trust my gut feeling.  So far, it’s worked out good.  I have made a couple of mistakes here and there.  But I have usually made the right decision.  I also have a partner I play and travel with.  We talk about poker and strategy all the time.  We go back and forth discussing things and I think that helps me a lot.

On enjoying success in tournament poker at a young age:
I hope to earn enough money to travel around the country and play poker.  That is my dream right now because that’s what I want to do.  I use all of this as motivation.  I just keep on trying my best every time and hopefully it works out like it’s been working out, so far.

On African-Americans in poker:

I think many of us do not see what I see.  Many of my friends think, ‘you can’t make that much money from poker.’  They think I am just gambling my money away.  I tell them it is like any other sport.  It’s a skill game.  You basically have to use the same skills and strategies in poker that you have to use in other sports.  I think with people like Phil Ivey succeeding, more African-Americans will see that and get into the game.  Eventually, people will what poker really is – that anyone can win regardless of color.

On his future plans and goals:

I have an open mind about anything and everything right now.  I am just trying to do good in poker.  I want to go as far as I can, and see where I end up.  That’s my plan right now.  I’m going to enter tomorrow’s tournament (the Main Event) and play my best.  That’s always the plan – to play my best.

……………

This $1,080 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament was the ninth of ten gold ring events held at this year’s Harrah’s Rincon series.  The total prize pool amounted to $94,236.  The top 12 finishers collected prize money.  A complete list of all in-the-money finishers for gold ring Event e can be found here.

The tournament was played over two days.  After most of the starting field was eliminated on Day One, survivors returned for Day Two action.  Final table play began on a Wednesday afternoon.  It appeared that Mstr Lynch would battle it out with Jacob Kalb for the title, since both players held a considerable lead over the rest of the field.  Indeed, Lynch got to the finish line.  But his last threat was Lance Federick, who put on a terrific performance in coming in second.

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

Seat 1:    Dan Casetta        Los Gatos, CA        133,500 in chips
Seat 2:    Mstr Lynch            Lewisville, TX        266,500 in chips
Seat 3:    Conrad Monica        Hemet, CA            34,500 in chips
Seat 4:    Jonathan Dimmig        Buffalo, NY            118,500 in chips
Seat 5:    Jacob Kalb            San Diego, CA        255,500 in chips
Seat 6:    William Wolf        San Diego, CA        92,500 in chips
Seat 7:     Andrew Dakoski        Stow, OH            4,500 in chips
Seat 8:     Rip Fritzer            San Diego, CA        107,500 in chips
Seat 9:     Lance Federick        Ft. Worth, TX        146,000 in chips


Final table action began at 2 pm and ended at 7:30 pm.  Players were eliminated in the following order.

Ninth Place:  Andrew Dakoski took a beat late on Day One and arrived at the final table with barely enough chips to post a round of blinds.  Not surprisingly, he was the first player to exit.  Dakoski is a 50-year-old businessman from Stow, OH.  This marked his seventh time to cash in a WSOP Circuit event, and was his fourth cash this season.

Eighth Place:  Jacob Kalb finished in eighth place.  He is a 240year-old musician from San Diego.  Kalb previously won an event at the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza.  Kalb also finished tenth in a WSOP event in Las Vegas back in 2009.

Seventh Place:  William Wolf cashed for the first time in a major tournament with his seventh-place showing in this event.  Wolf is a 22-year-old student from San Diego.

Sixth Place:  Rip Fritzer ended up in sixth place.  He is a 51-year-old realtor from San Diego.  Fritzer has two previous cashes at the WSOP in Las Vegas.  This marked his fifth time to cash on the WSOP Circuit.  He now has 2nd, 3rd, and 6th-place finishes in Circuit events.

Fifth Place:  Conrad Monica is a 41-year-old casino dealer from Palm Springs, CA.  He took fifth place.  This was his third time to cash in a WSOP Circuit event at Harrah’s Rincon.  Monica also cashed in three events at last year’s WSOP in Las Vegas.

Fourth Place:  Dan Casetta barely missed winning what would have been his first gold ring.  Instead, he ended up as the fourth-place finisher.  Casetta is a 40-year-old sales executive from Los Gatos, CA.  He has numerous tournament wins and cashes on his poker resume, with nearly $350,000 in career earnings.  Last year, Casetta was the runner up in the $5,000 buy-in WSOP Circuit Main Event Championship at Caesars Las Vegas, which paid $114,800.

Third Place:  Jonathan Dimmig took third place.  He is a 28-year-old financial analyst from Buffalo, NY.  This was Dimmig’s first time to cash on the WSOP Circuit.  He received a nice payout totaling $11,106.

Second Place:  The runner up was Lance Federick.  He is a 42-year-old part-time poker player who is married and has two daughters.   Federick won the very first live poker tournament he entered, back in 2003 in Las Vegas.  He now has three WSOP Circuit final table appearances this year – including a 2nd in San Diego and 4th and 9th at Choctaw.  Second place paid $15,598.

When heads-up play began, Mstr Lynch enjoyed close to a 3 to 1 chip advantage.  The match proved to be a Texas showdown, as Lynch hailed from a suburb north of Dallas, while Federick was from the other side of the metro area in Fort Worth.

The first critical hand took place when Federick managed to double up.  He held pocket jacks against Lynch’s pocket sevens, and survived.

The duo battled for more than 90 minutes before the final hand took place as follows:

Lynch –    
Federick –    
Flop –      
Turn –  
River –  

All the chips went in on after the flop.  Federick had a club flush draw.  Lynch had bottom pair, with an outside straight draw.  Federick failed to improve and Lynch ended up dragging the pot with two pair – eights and sixes – which was the final hand of the tournament. 

First Place:  Mstr Lynch won his second WSOP Circuit gold ring within four days and collected $25,236 for first place. 

Here is the complete list of winners so far 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)
Event 8 – Alex Maturi defeated 89 players and won $10,790 ($555 NLHE-6)
Event 9 – Mstr Lynch defeated 97 players and won $25,236 ($1080 NLHE)


With nine of ten gold ring events now completed, Mstr Lynch (Lewisville, TX) at 100 points has now overtaken Brian Petersen (San Diego) as point leader in the best-all around race , with 75 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.

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