WSOP Circuit Western Regional Championship
Final Table -- Fact Sheet


This is the first-ever WSOP Circuit Western Regional Championship.  There are four Regional Championships played this season.  The Northern Regional took place in Chicago, last October.  The Eastern Regional took place in Atlantic City, last December.  The Western Regional takes place in San Diego.  The Southern Regional will take place in New Orleans, in May.

The 2010-2011 WSOP Circuit season concludes with the inaugural National Championship, which will be played at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.  The National Championship takes place May 27-29, 2011.  The National Championship is limited to only 100 qualifiers.  Those qualifiers earn seats various ways at each WSOP Circuit stop.

There are four ways to qualify for the 100 open seats into the National Championship.  The first way is to win any of the WSOP Circuit $1,500 buy-in Main Event Championships.  The second way is to win the best all-around player point-race at any WSOP Circuit stop.  The third way is to make to the final table (nine seats) at any Regional Championship.  The fourth way is to accumulate enough points on a national leaderboard during the course of the 2010-2011 WSOP Circuit season.

The National Championship field of participants includes the top nine finishers from each Regional Championship.  Hence, the nine players who appear at the final table of the Western Regional Championship are automatically guaranteed a seat into the season-ending National Championship.

The National Championship will include a $1 million prize pool.  In addition, the winner receives a WSOP gold bracelet.  This is the first time in history a WSOP gold bracelet has directly been tied in to the WSOP Circuit.

The Western Regional Championship takes place at the Harrah’s Rincon Resort and Casino.  Harrah’s Rincon is located near Valley Center, CA – which is about 40 miles north of San Diego.  The resort is located on tribal land owned by the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians.  Rincon means “roadrunner.”

All Regional Championships in addition to the National Championship will be nationally-televised.  Tournament coverage will be broadcast at later dates on the Versus Network.  Dates and times will be announced at WSOP.COM.

Harrah’s Rincon is the tenth of 15 total stops this season on the WSOP Circuit.  However, only four of the stops include a Regional Championship – including Harrah’s Rincon (San Diego).

Harrah’s Rincon is one of only three venues which have hosted a WSOP Circuit stop during each of all seven seasons.  The other two venues are Harvey’s Lake Tahoe and Harrah’s Atlantic City.

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The Western Regional Championship is a $10,000 (+300) buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament.  The tournament attracted a total of 98 entries.  The total prize pool amounts to $940,800.

The winner will receive $282,242 in prize money.  He/she will also be awarded a WSOP Circuit gold and diamond ring, which is the ultimate symbol of achievement for winning any WSOP Circuit event.  However, the Regional Championship ring is extra special, since it also has diamonds (the other even rings are made of gold).

All players who cashed in this event were guaranteed at least $19,653 in prize money.

The tournament was played over four consecutive days, from May 27-30.  The first three days were played inside the Bordeaux Ballroom, located on the second floor at Harrah’s Rincon.  The Bordeaux Ballroom is located adjacent to the poker room.  The final table (Day Four) was played inside the more spacious Palladium Ballroom, which normally hosts some of the top acts in music and entertainment.

Among those who entered the tournament were former WSOP Main Event champions Phil Hellmuth (1989), Carlos Mortensen (2001), and Jerry Yang (2007).

Other former WSOP gold bracelet winners who participated were Daniel Negreanu, Eric Seidel, Eric Froehlich (E-Fro), Scott Montgomery, David Williams, and Kathy Liebert.

At least two recent WSOP Main Event final table “November Nine” players played in this event, including Scott Montgomery (5th place in 2008) and Joseph Cheong (3rd place in 2010).

Neither of the two “stars” from the Harrah’s Rincon series entered the Regional Championship.  Mstr Lynch (Lewisville, TX), winner of two gold rings and best all-around player, did not play.  Moreover, Seneca Easley (Ft. Worth, TX), who won the $1,500 buy-in Main Event Championship, did not enter.

Players from Texas won four of the ten preliminary events held prior to the start of the Regional Championships.  Lynch won two events.  Easley won another.  A fourth gold ring was won by Justin “Choctaw” Kruger (Denison, TX).

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The 14th-place finisher was poker superstar Daniel Negreanu.  He was one player off the “bubble.”  Negreanu suffered a brutal run during his last 90 minutes in the tournament, falling from among the chip leaders to the rail within a relatively short time frame.

The dreaded bubble finisher was Kyle Bowker, from Walton, NY.  For 13th place, Bowker received little more than sympathy (and no prize money).  He endured a brutal beat on his final hand.  Bowker was all-in holding pocket nines.  He flopped a nine, which was good for a set against Dana Kellstom’s pocket aces.  With one card to come, an ace hit the board, giving Kellstrom a higher set (trip aces).  It was a tough way to exit for Bowker after playing excellent poker over nearly three days.

Finishing in 10th, 11th, and 12th places respectively were – Kwinsee Tran, Alejandro Garcia, and Joe Parker.

Alejandro Garcia (11th place) is from Mexicali, Mexico.  Despite close proximity to the U.S., relatively few players from Mexico have played in major poker tournaments over the years.  However, more Mexican players are now participating in WSOP-related tournaments.  WSOP gold bracelets have been won by only two Mexican players in history.   

The “final table bubble” has added significance in this tournament.  Normally, the prize money jump between ninth and tenth place is not a huge factor which influences play.  However, in the case of the Regional Championship, a guaranteed seat in the WSOP Circuit National Championship was at stake.  Since only the top nine finishers earned seats into the $1 million season-ending contest, ten-handed play lasted longer than expected.  Furthermore, since television was involved, players who made the final nine had additional potential sponsorship money.  This contributed to a tense atmosphere at the end of Day Three and a huge advantage for the larger stacks who were able to increase their advantages over the players with smaller stacks.

The final table bubble finisher (10th place) was Kwinsee Tran, from Orange County, CA.  He had been the chip leader coming into Day Three.  Instead, he settled for tenth place and a $19,653 payout.  Tran won his way into this tournament via a mega-satellite. 

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There are nine players remaining in the tournament, which makes up the official final table.  Play begins Wednesday, March 30th at noon PST and will conclude when the winner has been determined.

In Seat One is Dwyte Pilgrim, from Brooklyn, NY.  He has a chance to tie the all-time record for most career WSOP Circuit wins.  Pilgrim, who now owns three gold rings, can win a fourth gold ring with a victory.  That would tie him with Mark “Pegasus” Smith and Men “the Master” Nguyen.  Pilgrim won the Main Event at Harrah’s Rincon two years ago.  Pilgrim was declared he unofficial WSOP Circuit “Player of the Year” in 2009, which was his breakthrough year in tournament poker.  Pilgrim comes to the final table ranked third in chips, with 408,000.

In Seat Two is Miller Dao, from Maricopa, CA.  He was born in Vietnam.  Dao is a police officer.  He has cashed in preliminary WSOP Circuit gold ring events at Harrah’s Rincon as well as tournaments at the Deep Stack Extravaganza, at the Venetian in Las Vegas.  Dao has a big hill to climb at the player ranked eighth in chips out of nine players, with 99,000.

In Seat Three is David Peters, from Rancho Santa Fe, CA.  He is a 50-year-old attorney.  Peters has a few small tournament wins.  This would be his biggest career victory to date, should he win this event.  Peters starts play ranked second in chips, with 437,000.

In Seat Four is Ali Eslami, from Los Angeles, CA.  He was among the chip leaders during most of Day Three, but now comes to the final table with a slightly above average stack.  At 395,000 in chips, he currently ranks fourth in the chip count.  Eslami is primarily a cash-game player, but has also enjoyed some success in tournaments.  He final tabled the HORSE event at the 2007 WSOP.  Eslami has also defeated a poker bot, in a widely-celebrated match against a programmed player created by the University of Alberta, in Canada.

In Seat Five is D.J. Blanchard, originally from Augusta, GA and now residing in Las Vegas, NV.  He is a 22-year-old professional poker player.  He is one semester away from graduating from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.  Blanchard comes to the final table ranked fifth in chips, with 271,000.

In Seat Six is Tim West, the chip leader.  He has 843,000 in chips, which is almost double the stack of his closest challenger.  West is from San Francisco, CA.  He is a 35-year-old professional poker player.  West is coming off a huge victory in the Wynn Classic (Las Vegas) Main Event Championship, which took place about a week prior to the start of this tournament. 

In Seat Seven is Dylan Wilkerson, from San Francisco, CA.  He is a 26-year-old poker pro.  Wilkerson graduated from UC-Berkley.  He has the biggest challenge of anyone at the final table, currently with 89,000 in chips – which is the shortest stack.

In Seat Eight is Steve Brecher, from Reno, NV.  He is a 65-year-old computer software programmer and marketer who holds a degree from Stanford University.  Brecher now plays regularly on the poker tournament circuit.  He won a World Poker Tour Championship a few years ago.  Brecher is also an accomplished aviator, who flies regularly.  He come to the final table with 246,000 in chips, which places him currently in sixth place.  

In Seat Nine is Dana Kellstrom, from Stevenson Ranch, CA.  He is a 47-year-old poker player and entrepreneur.  Kellstrom entered eight events at last year’s WSOP in Las Vegas, and cashed in three of them.  He is married and has four children.  Kellstrom starts play at the final table with 147,000, which places him seventh in the chip count. 

Play will resume at Level 20.  There are 11 minutes remaining at this level.  Blinds are 3,000-6,000 with a 1,000 ante.

Live tournament coverage can be seen by clicking here.  Updates begin Wednesday at noon.