Rocco Luciano, a real estate appraiser from Philadelphia, PA, is the winner of Event #1 at Harrah’s Chester. The win, worth $16,888 and the coveted WSOP Circuit Gold Ring, marked the biggest score to date for the 30-year-old semi-professional poker player who is a regular at the poker room here at Harrah’s.

Harrah’s Chester is located in Chester, PA, which is just 23 miles southwest of Philadelphia. Numerous players at the cusp of earning a seat to the WSOPC National Championship are flocking to the Circuit Event to pick up invaluable last-minute points, hoping to secure their spot in the million-dollar, nationally-televised freeroll bracelet event to be held May 27 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

In addition to points, the series presents a number of other overlays to scrupulous poker players including 10 added seats to the already 20 guaranteed in the May 6th and 7th satellites to the $1,600 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Main Event as well as a $400,000 guarantee for the Main.

The opening ring event at Harrah’s Chester drew 244 players, generating a total prize pool of $71,004. The Thursday-start event consisted of two starting days. The remaining three tables of contenders from both flights returned Saturday at 2 pm to play it out for first place prize money and the ring. After a few hours of play, the final table was set with Thomas Patterson sitting atop of the chip leader board.

Ninth Place

The first final table of the Circuit series at Harrah’s Chester got underway at 6:15 pm EST with blinds and antes at 4,000/8,000/1,000. Play was conservative during the early stages of the final table with many of the pots being won before the flop. The final table short stack, Christopher Kusha, survived through the first couple of levels but finally succumbed after moving all-in from middle position with    and getting a call from Luciano from the button holding pocket kings.

No help came for Kusha on the Q-8-3-6-Q board and he made his early exit from the final table stage. Kusha is a 24-year-old grad student and math instructor from Staten Island, NY. The talented amateur poker player is also a musician of 14 years and performed at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops Orchestra. Kusha took home ninth place prize money to the tune of $1,545

Eighth Place

It would be two levels before the next elimination of the night when Trevor Deeter got his remaining chips in the pot with    and was called by Zem Mustefa in the big blind with pocket sevens. It was a decisive race with both players nearly even in chips. Mustefa stayed ahead after a flop of     and sealed up the hand with the   on the turn, sending Deeter to the rail while ascending to near the top of the leader board.

Deeter is a 27-year-old poker pro from Philadelphia, PA. Deeter has seen strong results in this, his first WSOPC season, with seven cashes and three final table appearances. For eighth, he collected $1,932 along with 17.5 valuable National Championship points which put him in strong contention for a seat to the WSOP Circuit National Championship.

Seventh Place

Play continued its conservative pace until the remaining seven returned from dinner break, however a barrage of eliminations marked the 8,000/16,000 level of blinds, beginning when Thomas Patterson ran pocket jacks all-in against Mustefa’s pocket kings, which held to send Patterson to the rail in seventh place. Patterson is a 39-year-old electrician from Wilmington, DE. He earned $2,454 for his two-day effort.

Sixth Place

Just a few hands later, Paul Dolderer was sent to the payout table after moving all-in on a flush draw vs. Mohammad Farah’s flopped set of fours. Dolderer’s flush failed to materialize on the turn and river and his tournament day was finished. Dolderer, a landscape contractor from Havertown, PA, pocketed $3,167 for sixth place.

Fifth Place

After a disastrous river left him crippled with A-Q vs. Anthony Flanagan’s A-J, Reggie Franklin moved his remaining

stack all-in with pocket sevens and was called by Luciano with   . Franklin’s bout of bad luck continued as he ended up on wrong end of the coin flip when tens hit both the flop and turn.

It was a disappointing fifth place finish for the 32-year-old amateur poker player who works as an aviation specialist in his hometown of Park Forest, IL. Fifth paid $4,156.

Fourth Place

Just a few hands before the beat that left Franklin on on the ropes, the river was also none too kind to Zem Mustefa, who was all-in with a set of nines on a     flop vs. Luciano, who was left needing a heart or running cards to stay alive after tabling   .

The running cards came for Luciano on the turn and river –   and  , for a straight that gave him the chip lead while leaving Mustefa with around 100k. Mustefa was eliminated shortly after Franklin after moving all-in with two live callers, Luciano and Mohammad Farah who checked it down to the river. Mustefa showed top pair aces, but was outkicked by Farah, who turned over A-J.

Mustefa is 26 years old from Indian Head, MD. She began playing poker in 2008 after learning from her fiancé, poker player Dajuan Whorley. The future Mrs. Whorley took home $5,548 for her strong fourth place finish in event #1.

Third Place

Flanagan was the third place finisher. He found himself outkicked on an all-in with A-8 vs. Luciano’s A-9. Flanagan was unable to catch up to his opponent on the 8-high board, ending his tournament run. Flanagan has numerous WSOP Circuit Event cashes, one of which include a third place finish in 2009 at Harrah’s Atlantic City. For his third place finish today, Flanagan earned $7,538.

Second Place

Heads up was between Luciano and Farah. Luciano had just under a 3-1 chip lead over his final opponent when heads up play resumed shortly before 11:00 pm with blinds at 10,000/20,000. It only took a few hands before Farah was all-in on the turn with    on a      board. Luciano was behind after making the call with   , but the river came the  , counterfeiting Farah and eliminating him in second place.

Farah is a 29-year-old realtor from Philadelphia, PA. His first-ever WSOP-related cash was worth $10,433.

For the win, Luciano was awarded $16,888 in prize money along with the coveted WSOP Circuit gold ring. The area local also picked up 50 points in the race for a seat to the WSOPC National Championship Event to be held May 27th at Caesars Palace Las Vegas, giving him the early lead in the all-around points race here at Harrah’s Chester.

“This is great, winning the ring really helps validate your poker playing. I’ve never won a major tournament outright so this makes you feel good,” he said after his win.

Rocco, who is known as Rocky to friends and family, shares the same last name as notorious mobster, Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, who was given the nickname after surviving an assassination attempt. Rocky Balboa, of course, is the iconic fictional boxer who fought his way out of the streets of Philadelphia to fame and wealth.

While Rocco played the poker game of his life, making good decisions and putting opponents to tough decisions, he enjoyed his share of run-good, dodging a number of bullets of his own while catching good cards when he needed them the most.

When asked which character better personified his tournament run in event #1 at Harrah’s Chester, Luciano related himself to Rocky.

“Like me, Rocky was an underdog. There are so many great players in these fields and plus I’m a Philly guy who plays regularly here at Chester so Balboa’s definitely the better fit.”

Still to come are nine ring events. See the complete Harrah’s Chester schedule and previous results here. The WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s Chester runs through May 10th. You can find the complete 2010/2011 WSOP CIRCUIT SCHEDULE here.