New Orleans, LA (May 10, 2011) – John Holley seems most comfortable when he’s out on the open seas.  He’s the captain of his own motor boat and works as a professional deep sea fisherman and guide.  Needless to say, Holley has caught more than his share of fish over the years.

Holley hooked huge school of fish in New Orleans, at the latest World Series of Poker Circuit tournament.  He won his first gold ring – the ultimate prize for winning on the Circuit -- and collected $8,380 for first place.  Holley also jumped out to an early lead in the highly-competitive race for Best-All Around Player for this tournament stop in the WSOP Circuit National Championship rankings.

Holley is 50-years-old and lives in Destin, FL.  He has two final table appearances this year in WSOP Circuit Main Events.  Holley took ninth place two times – in championships held in Tunica and Biloxi.  Holley also finished as the runner up in the Pot-Limit Omaha event held here in New Orleans last year.  This was Holley’s fifth cash this season.  At this point, he appears to be a lock to receive on the at-large bids to play in the National Championship should be not qualify as the Best-All Around Player for New Orleans.

This was the second WSOP Circuit tournament on this year’s Harrah’s New Orleans schedule.  The $300 (+55) buy-in Mixed Pot-Limit Omaha/Pot-Limit Hold’em tournament was one of 11 gold ring events being held in the Crescent City.

Attendance was about average for a mixed game format.  The total prize pool amounted to $27,936.  The top 12 finishers collected prize money.  A complete list of all players that cashed can be found at WSOP.COM.  
The tournament was played over two consecutive days.  After most of the starting field was eliminated on Day One, only nine survivors returned for Day Two action.  The list of finalists included several players with final table experience, and three former WSOP Circuit gold ring winners – Doug Carli David Nicholson, and Phillip Hui.

Final table play began on a Tuesday afternoon on the main stage of the special events center at Harrah’s New Orleans.  Holley enjoyed a comfortable chip stack from start to finish and won in impression fashion.  

The finalists and their starting chip counts were as follows:

Seat 1:  Dustin Wertz (New Orleans, LA) – 315,000 in chips  
Seat 2:  Jeff Winget (Waterloo, IL) – 30,000 in chips
Seat 3:  Doug “Rico” Carli (Alliance, OH) – 54,000 in chips
Seat 4:  Phillip Hui (San Antonio, TX) – 82,000 in chips
Seat 5:  John Holley (Destin, FL) 138,500 in chips  
Seat 6:  Thomas Ryan Hopkins (San Antonio, TX) 105,500 in chips  
Seat 7:  Michael “Car Wash” Schneider (Covington, GA) – 140,000 in chips
Seat 8:  David Nicholson (Perkinstun, MS) – 98,000 in chips

Final table play began at 3 pm.  Play ended at 9 pm – making the total duration about six hours.  The official order of finish was as follows:

Eighth Place:  Thomas Ryan Hopkins was the first player to be eliminated.  He began play ranked third in chips, but went out after about a half-hour of play.  During the Pot-Limit Omaha round, Hopkins moved all-in on a flush draw.  He completed his flush on the turn, and appeared to be in a great position to double up.  But the board paired on the river, giving his opponent a full house.  Hopkins ended up settling for eighth place.  He is the owner of a wholesale poker business in his hometown of San Antonio called “Push Your Luck Poker.”   

Seventh Place:  Phillip Hui went out about 45 minutes into play.  The golf pro and instructor from San Antonio previously won a WSOP Circuit gold ring, at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe (2010).  Hui’s bid to win what would have been a second gold ring fell way short.  Hui was never able to accumulate enough chips to be a threat for the chip lead.  He went out in seventh place, which did give him some extra points in the National Championship rankings.  

Sixth Place:  Jeff Winget, a poker dealer from Waterloo, IL was on the other end of the table during this tournament.  He managed to cash for the fifth time on the WSOP Circuit, which includes three final table appearances.  Winget is also an artist.  Some of his works can be viewed at

Fifth Place:  Doug “Rico” Carli was been one of the WSOP Circuit’s top players since its creation seven years ago.  The former stockbroker-turned-poker pro from Alliance, OH has accumulated nearly $1 million in career tournament earnings.  This marked his 49th time to cash on the WSOP Circuit – the most of any player in history.  He also owns two gold rings.  Carli arrived at the final table low on chips.  He managed to double up once and appeared ready to make a late move.  But he ran card dead during his final half hour, ending up in fifth place.       

Fourth Place:  Michael “Car Wash” Schneider, from Covington, GA ended up in fourth place.  Schneider arrived in the finale ranked second in chips, but went out about three hours into play.  Schneider now has more than $500,000 in career tournament earnings.  He’s won three major tournaments in the past, but has yet to win a WSOP Circuit gold ring.  This was his second cash in the Circuit.  He also have four in-the-money finishes at the WSOP in Las Vegas.  
Third Place:  David Nicholson, a poker pro from Mississippi who won his WSOP Circuit gold ring last October at the Imperial Palace in Biloxi, finished in third place.  Three-handed play went for nearly two hours.  During that time, Nicholson tried to accumulate chips.  But each time he appeared to have a shot to challenge one of the bigger stack he would either not get a call or would not be able to continue with a hand.  This was Nicholson’s fourth time to make it to a WSOP Circuit final table this year.  He appears to be in good position to possibly make the cut in the race for qualifying for the National Championship.       

Second Place:  Dustin Wertz, who works in sales and lives in New Orleans, finished as the runner up.  Wertz has played in numerous WSOP Circuit tournaments over the years.  He has cashes in many tournaments.  However, this was as close to victory as he has ever come.

The final hand was dealt as follows:

Holley:  As 7h
Wertz:  3h 3c
Flop:  Kh Td 8h
Turn:  7s
River:  2h  

All the chips went in pre-flop.  Holley enjoyed a sizable chip advantage.  Wertz made a raise, followed by Holley’s all-in move.  Wertz called and was glad to see himself in a race to the huge pot.  The flop was favorable to Wertz, since Holley failed to improve.  But the river, a seven, was a dagger to Wertz’s hopes.  The river was a blank, and Holley was declared the winner.

First Place:  John Holley, a fisherman from Florida, became the latest WSOP Circuit champion.  His victory was particularly sweet in light of coming close to victory a number of times over the past year.  He earned his first WSOP Circuit gold ring with an impressive win at Harrah’s New Orleans.  First place paid $8,380.

Interestingly, Holley stated his goal is to be on television, playing in a poker event.  He has appeared on TV many times due to his highly-successful career as a fisherman.  Although this event was not televised, look for Holley to return to the spotlight later, when the Southern Regional Championship begins on May 19th.

With his victory, Holley is the current leader in points for Best All-Around Player for the Harrah’s New Orleans series.  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 at Caesars Palace Las Vegas, next month.  At least 11 players from Harrah’s New Orleans will qualify for the nationally-televised WSOP gold bracelet event.