Valley Center, CA (March 25, 2011) – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were famous for robbing banks.  Poker’s version of the legendary duet of bandits may very well be Seneca Easley and Mstr Lynch.

Of course, Easley and Lynch aren’t bank robbers.  But anyone who sat down at the poker table with either of these two up-and-coming poker superstars during the past few weeks must have felt about as helpless as a bank vault wrapped in dynamite.

Ka-boom!

Seneca Easley blasted away the competition in the latest World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event Championship, held at Harrah’s Rincon near San Diego.  He collected $70,384 in greenbacks for the victory.  Easley was also presented with his first WSOP Circuit gold ring, which is the supreme prize awarded to all Circuit tournament champions.

This is not to say that things always went easily for Easley during the tournament.  To the contrary, he won a brutally tough battle versus a field of 188 players, including a nearly four-hour heads-up marathon match against Shaun Walker, who finished as the runner up.  

Easley’s approach to poker and the inherent challenges of the game is perhaps best summed up in the small tattoo emblazoned on his lower neck.  “It’s Far From Over,” the tattoo reads.

The motto comes from a rap song by Drake, titled ”Over”.  

“It’s my personal motto,” Easley stated in a post-victory interview.  “I never give up.  Never.  Even when things do not go my way, I always remember – it’s far from over.”

Easley’s personal manifesto provided just the right mix of inspiration and courage.  It even set the stage for break or two at critical times during the tournament.  At one point at the final table, Easley was all-in with his tournament life at stake holding an underpair.  Up against a higher pocket pair and with the shorter stack, he caught magic and spiked a set on the flop.  He later went on to victory.

But Easley was also on the losing end of more than his fair share of hands, as well – particularly on the final day.  Whenever Easley took a hit and lost chips, he never blinked or flinched.

“It’s all part of the game,” Easley said later of moments when he lost chips late in the tournament.  “It’s supposed to happen.  Poker is like that – you are going to lose some hands you should win, and vice-versa.”

Easley’s championship victory came only a few days after his close friend and poker traveling companion Mstr Lynch won his second WSOP Circuit gold ring at Harrah’s Rincon.  Lynch, who also resides in the Dallas area and lives close to Easley, was declared the best all-around player at this Rincon series and won a seat in into the $1 million WSOP Circuit National Championship, coming in May.  In fact, both Lynch and Easley earned seats into the nationally-televised WSOP gold bracelet event.

The dynamic duo of Easley and Lynch are destined to become two of the most talked-about players in the game over the next few weeks – with good reason.  Their overwhelming success at Harrah’s Rincon proves once again that the WSOP Circuit can be a launching pad for anyone who is dedicated to winning and has the right network of support to achieve success.

“We are not surprised at all by any of this,” Easley said matter-of-factly when asked what he and Lynch were thinking the first day they drove into the parking lot at Harrah’s Rincon.  “Like I said before, it’s supposed to happen.  We came to win.  We play to win.”

What a two-week run it’s been.  Easley won the Harrah’s Rincon Main Event Championship, good for his first WSOP gold ring.  His colleague Mstr Lynch won two WSOP gold rings.  Together, their combined winnings exceeded six figures.  They also both qualified for seats (and will make up 2 percent of the field) in the 100-player WSOP Circuit National Championship.

On second thought, perhaps the comparisons to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are superfluous.  The legendary bandits ended up gunned down and never really won much of anything.  One expects quite a different destiny for aspiring poker professionals Easley and Lynch.  Indeed, a very bright future appears on the horizon for this talented duo.  At the very least, they are going to be fascinating to watch.

……………

This $1,600 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament was the last of ten gold ring events held at this year’s Harrah’s Rincon series.  The total prize pool amounted to $270,720.  The top 21 finishers collected prize money.  A complete list of all in-the-money finishers for gold ring Event #10 can be found at here.

The tournament was played over three consecutive days.  After most of the starting field of 188 players was eliminated during Day One, only 36 survivors returned for Day Two action.  Final table play began on a Saturday.  

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

Seat 1:  Patrick Karschamroon (Los Angeles, CA) -- 585,000 in chips
Seat 2:  Michael Simon (Champlin, MN) -- 172,000 in chips
Seat 3:  Seneca Easley (Fort Worth, TX) -- 856,000 in chips
Seat 4:  Lori Nunes (Crowley, TX) -- 236,000 in chips
Seat 5:  Alexandru Masek (San Diego, CA) -- 246,000 in chips
Seat 6:  Paul A. Hails (Gig Harbor, WA) 164,000 in chips
Seat 7:  Hayden Fortini (Vero Beach, FL) -- 640,000 in chips
Seat 8:  Shaun Walker (Huntington Beach, CA) -- 233,000 in chips
Seat 9:  Narinder Khasria (Milton, ON Canada -- 628,000 in chips


Final table action began at noon and ended at 9:30 pm – which officially clocked in at about 9.5 hours.  Players were eliminated in the following order.

Ninth Place:  Alexandru Masek had a chance to make history.  With a victory, he would have become one of only four players to win four WSOP Circuit gold rings.  Instead to the surprise of many, he exited first from the field, after experiencing a brutal run of cards that crumbled his chip stack down from average size all the way to the barren felt.  Masek’s final hand came when he shoved with A-Q.  His all-in move was called by an opponent who tabled A-K.  The dominant hand held up, knocking Masek to the rail.  Nevertheless, this tournament series proved to be a blessing for Masek – winning a gold ring earlier at this year’s Rincon series as well as making it to the final table of the Main Event.   Masek, a 26-year-old law student at the University of San Diego, received a nice consolation prize amounting to $6,335.

Eighth Place:  Michael Simon played great poker for two days.  But he finally ran out of momentum at the final table after flopping top pair, which lost to a set.  Simon shoved all-in with A-9 after the flop came nine-high.  Unfortunately, Narinder Khasria held pocket fives and flopped a set on the hand.  Simon failed to improve and ended up in eighth place, which paid $7,940.  Simon is a 54-year-old baker from Champlin, MN.  He is married with two children.  Simon is perhaps best known for winning the World Poker Tour Main Event Championship in Reno in 2006.  He has more than $1 million in career tournament winnings.  This marks his first time to make it to a final table in a WSOP-related event.

Seventh Place:  Lori Nunez enjoyed her best WSOP-related career finish in this tournament.  She hoped to become the first female ever to win a Circuit Main Event Championship.  In fact, several women have come close with second and third-place finishes, but so far no female has won a Main Event gold ring.  History will have to wait a bit longer as Nunez ended up as the seventh-place finisher.  She was eliminated holding pocket fives, which lost to A-8 after an eight came on the flop.  Nunez collected $10,111 for a fine effort.  Nunez is a 25-year-old medical professional from Crowley, TX.  She is the mother of four boys.  Nunes now has six tournament final table appearances.  

Sixth Place:  Hayden Fortini took sixth place.  He was eliminated when he missed an outside straight draw.  Fortini pushed all-in holding Q-J after the flop came K-T-T.  But Shaun Walker had K-Q (top pair) and took down the pot after two blanks hit on the turn and river.  That left Fortini out of the tournament with $13,089 in prize money.  Fortini is a 21-year-old student and poker instructor from Vero Beach, FL.  Fortini provides instruction at a poker site called Deep Stacks University.  He has two tournament wins in Florida, where the legal age to play poker in most casinos is 18.  Now that he’s 21, we expect to see Fortini making more final tables in the future.

Fifth Place:  Paul Hails took a tough beat on what turned out to be his final hand of the tournament.  He moved all-in with A-J and was thrilled to get a call from the chip leader Seneca Easley, who showed A-9 suited.  Hails’ delight instantly turned to sorrow however, when a 9 flopped, giving the bullying opponent a huge advantage.  Hails failed to improve from that point forward and ended up in fifth place, good for $17,226.  Hails is a 55-year-old compliance analyst from Gig Harbor, WA.  He is married and has four children.  Hails is a veteran who proudly served in the U.S. Navy.  This marked his first time to appear at a WSOP-related final table.

Fourth Place:  Patrick Karchamroon ended up as the fourth-place finisher.  He went out when he pushed with top pair, which lost to two pair.  Karschamroon had A-T and caught an ace on the flop.  But Narinder Khasria had K-7 and made kings over sevens on the turn.  That left Karschamroon with no chips, but $23,057 in prize money.  Karschamroon is a 29-year-old professional poker player from Los Angeles, CA.  Karschmaroon has previous tournament wins at the Bicycle Club and Commerce Casino (California State Poker Championship).  With this cash, Karschamroon surpassed $250,000 in career tournament earnings.  He also cashed twice at last year’s WSOP in Las Vegas.

Third Place:  Narinder Khasria finished in third place.  He was the chip leader when play was at ten handed.  He came to the final table ranked third in chips.  He exited the tournament holding A-9, which was steamrolled by Shaun Walker’s pocket queens.  The ladies held up and escorted Khasria to the rail.  His payout amounted to $31,395.

Narinder Khasria is a 39-year-old poker player from Milton, Ontario (Canada).  His career tournament earnings now total more than $360,000.  Among his cashes are four in-the-money finishes at the 2010 WSOP in Las Vegas.  He now has three second-place finishes and two third-place finishes in major tournaments, but has yet to achieve a victory.

Three-handed play lasted more than two hours.  During that span, Seneca Easley lost the chip lead.  Shaun Walker was the beneficiary.  One of the tournament’s most decisive hands took place when Walker was all-in holding A-Q versus Easley’s A-K.  Walker managed to catch a queen and doubled up.  Otherwise, the outcome of the tournament would certainly have played out differently and perhaps ended much quicker.    

Second Place:  The runner up was Shaun Walker.  His final table performance was arguably the most impressive of anyone.  Walker had to overcome a huge chip disadvantage.  He started play ranked eight out of nine players.  Walker proved to be a vicious adversary and walked away with $43,480, but no gold ring.  Walker is a 29-year-old poker player from Huntington Beach, CA.  He has a number of cashes in various tournaments in Southern California and Las Vegas.  This is his first time to cash in a WSOP-related tournament.

Heads-up play between Walker and Easley was as tough any battle seen so far on this year’s WSOP Circuit.  The duo fought back and forth for nearly four hours.  The chip lead changed five times.  When heads-up play began, Walker enjoyed slightly more than a 3 to 1 chip advantage.  About 20 minutes into the action, Easley made a straight and doubled up which brought the duo very close to even in chips.

Over the next hour, Easley gradually seized control and built his advantage up to more than 2 to 1.  But anyone in the crowd who expected victory to come easy for either player was instead in for a match full of big hands and more than a few surprising twists and turns.

A critical hand took place about two hours into the duel.  Walker re-raised all-in pre-flop and got a most welcome call from Easley.  It was a dream for Walker, who tabled pocket aces.  Easley revealed pocket tens.  Any hope of Easley putting a bad beat on his opponent and winning the tournament then and there ended instantly when two more aces flopped, giving Walker the iron-lock of all locks – quad aces.  The monster hand rocketed Walker back to about a 3 to 1 edge in chips.

About 20 minutes later, Easley spiked a miracle card on what was arguably the biggest hand of the entire tournament.  He was all-in holding pocket threes.  Walker had his adversary covered and showed pocket sevens.  With victory seemingly moments away, Walker’s bubble was about to burst.  Wham!  A three flopped, and Easley catapulted back into the chip lead after his set held up.

Over the next ten hands, Easley used his larger stack to pulverize his opponent.  The final hand of the tournament was dealt out as follows:

Easley –    
Walker –    
Flop –      
Turn –  
River –  

All the chips went in before the flop.  Easley ended up winning the race with his two overcards versus the middle pair.  A queen flopped, giving Easley the lead and the victory, after two blanks hit on the turn and river.  Easley was declared the champion.  

First Place:  With this victory, Seneca Easley enjoyed his biggest career win, to date.  He began playing poker seriously at the Choctaw Resort and Casino in Oklahoma, which is near his home in Fort Worth, TX.  He played in the WSOP Circuit event which took place at Choctaw two months ago and is now determined to participate in more events on the tournament circuit.

Seneca Easley is a 33-year-old former postal worker who worked for 12 years as a mail dispatcher.  He is married and has one child.  Easley’s previous accomplishments include one cash earlier in this year’s Harrah’s Rincon series, as well as several cashes in various tournaments, including the Deep Stack Extravaganza and the Heartland Poker Tour.

Easley’s victory solidified a stellar effort by Texans in Harrah’s Rincon events.  Four of the ten gold rings at stake were won by players from Texas.  Easley (Fort Worth, TX) won the Main Event.  Mstr Lynch (Lewisville, TX) won two gold rings.  Justin “Choctaw” Kruger (Denison, TX) won a gold ring, as well.

Here’s the list of winners from 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)
Event 10 – Seneca Easley defeated 188 players and won $70,384 (NLHE)


With all gold ring events now completed, Mstr Lynch (Lewisville, TX) was declared the winner in the best-all around player race .  Lynch accumulated the most overall points (100) in the ten gold ring tournaments.  He received 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 and the best all-around player.  Moreover, 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.

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.