New Orleans, LA (May 17, 2011) – The final table of the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Main Event Championship at Harrah’s New Orleans is now set.  But instead of calling this motley crew the “New Orleans Nine,” they will be the “New Orleans Ten.”

Following nearly 24 hours of play over two consecutive days, only ten poker players remain.  Day Two was expected to play to the official lineup of nine players.  However, at 2 am following a long day, players agreed to suspect play and return with one additional player.  The ten finalists and their seating positions are as follows:

SEAT ONE:  Lance Craig
HOMETOWN:  Grapevine, TX
CHIP COUNT:  694,000

Lance Craig is a 42-year-old self-described “man of leisure.”  He once worked as a software engineer.  Craig is from Grapevine, TX which is in the Dallas area.  Craig has participated in five precious WSOP Circuit events.  He took 17th in the Main Event Championship held two months ago at Harrah’s St. Louis.  He also final tabled various tournaments in the past held at the Winstar Casino, in Oklahoma.

SEAT TWO:  Josh Evans
CHIP COUNT:  1,159,000

Josh Evans is a 26-year-old poker pro from Dallas.  He has played in numerous WSOP Circuit events in the past.  This is his seventh Circuit cash this season.  His best previous showing was third place.  Evans has many tournament accolades, including making the money in the 2007 WSOP Main Event Championship – which paid more than $100,000 for 76th place.

SEAT THREE:  Matthew Waxman:
HOMETOWN:  Parkland, FL
CHIP COUNT:  460,000

Matthew Waxman is a 26-year-old professional poker player from Parkland, FL.  He is originally from Princeton, NJ.  Waxman is also involved in business when he is not playing poker.  Waxman has many previous tournament accolades, including the WSOP Circuit Main Event Championship at Harrah’s Atlantic City earlier this season.  Waxman has accumulated more than $700,000 in live tournament earnings in his career, the most of anyone at this final table.

SEAT FOUR:  Bobby Toye
HOMETOWN:  New Orleans, LA
CHIP COUNT:  882,000

Bobby Toye is 24-years-old and resides in New Orleans.  Remarkably, Toye won the very first three poker tournaments in which he cashed -- earning victories at the Imperial Palace Classic in Biloxi, the World Poker Open, and the WSOP Circuit Seven-Card Stud Championship held at Harrah’s New Orleans in 2008, which earned him a gold ring.  In fact, Toye is one of only two players at the final table who has previously won a WSOP Circuit gold ring.  He is now hoping to win number two. 

SEAT FIVE:   Jonathan Poche
HOMETOWN:  St. Martinville, LA
CHIP COUNT:  656,000

Jonathan Poche is a 29-year-old poker pro from St. Martinville, LA.  Prior to playing poker for a living, he worked as an oil field engineer.  Poche has only participated in two WSOP Circuit events in the past and has made it all the way to the final table for the first time. 

SEAT SIX:  Jacob Bazeley
HOMETOWN:  Cincinnati, OH
CHIP COUNT:  983,000

Jacob Bazeley is a 28-year-old professional poker player from Cincinnati, OH.  He has played in nearly a dozen WSOP Circuit tournaments in the past.  This marks his fifth time to cash, which means he’s made the money about half the time he has entered.  Bazeley won first place in an event at the Indiana State Poker Championships in 2009.  He has also cashed four times at the WSOP in Las Vegas.

SEAT SEVEN:  Todd Wood
HOMETOWN:  Bucktown, LA
CHIP COUNT:  1,619,000

Todd Wood is a 42-year-old lexicographer, which means he evaluates and edits dictionaries.  Wood was born in New Orleans.  This is only the second WSOP Circuit tournament Wood has entered.  In his only previous appearance, he finished in second place in a $500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event at Harrah’s New Orleans, held two years ago.  Wood arrives at the final table as chip leader with more than 1.6 million.

SEAT EIGHT:  Billie Payne
HOMETOWN:  Mansfield, TX
CHIP COUNT:  307,000

Billie Payne is a 34-year-old plumber from Mansfield, TX.  This marks his second time to play in a WSOP Circuit tournament.  He has two previous cashes – including an in-the-money finish at the Choctaw Circuit stop in January as well as a cash at the WSOP in Las Vegas last year. 

SEAT NINE:  Scott Zakheim
CHIP COUNT:  491,000

Scott Zakheim is a 52-year-old attorney from Davie, FL.  He is originally from New York.  Zakheim has participated in four previous WSOP Circuit events.  His most notable poker accomplishments include cashing in last year’s WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas, another cash at the Circuit Championship Main Event at Caesars Palace Las Vegas in 2008, and 16 overall in-the-money tournament finishes totaling more than $200,000 in prize money.

SEAT TEN:  Jim McBride
HOMETOWN:  Slidell, LA
CHIP COUNT:  395,000

James McBride is a 63-year-old retiree from Slidell, LA.  He has played in many prior WSOP Circuit tournaments, cashing four times with two previous final table appearances.  He took fourth place at the 2009 Winter Bayou Poker Challenge Main Event held at Harrah’s New Orleans.

Play will resume on Wednesday, May 18th at 2 pm CST.  The blinds will be 15,000-30,000 with a 4,000 ante. 

Play takes place on the main stage inside the tournament room at Harrah’s New Orleans.  Seating is free and open to the public.

This is ninth of 11 gold ring events on this year’s Harrah’s New Orleans schedule.  The tournament attracted 382 entries – which was the biggest turnout in six years.  The prize pool amounts to $550,060.  The champion will collect $121,017.  He will also be awarded the coveted WSOP Circuit gold ring.  The bonus for winning this year’s Main Event will be an automatic seat into the WSOP Circuit National Championship, which is to be played at Caesars Palace Las Vegas May 27-29.

The tournament’s top 45 finishers collected prize money.  The end of Day One chip leader was Mario Silvestri, from Ft. Worth, TX.  He was eliminated on this day and ended up finishing in 16th place.  Other notable players who cashed, but are now out of the tournament include – Allie Prescott (18th), Mstr Lynch (21st), Dwyte Pilgrim (24th), Michael Traylor (34th), and Dan Schmiech 43rd). 

Another notable finish was that of Edward Corrado, from Naples, FL.  The 80-year-old retiree finished in 37th place.  He took fourth place in last year’s Main Event Championship at Harrah’s New Orleans.

A complete list of all players who have cashed so far in EVENT #9 can be found here.

New Orleans has already crowned eight WSOP Circuit gold ring champions, this year.  The list of previous winners includes:

Event #1:  John Christian (Baton Rouge, LA) defeated 473 players and won $28,288 in $355 NLHE 
Event #2:  John Holley (Destin, FL) defeated 96 players and won $8,380 in $355 MIX POT-LIMIT 
Event #3:  Danny Doucet (Lafayette, LA) defeated 312 players and won $21,116 in $355 NLHE
Event #4:  Brian Walsingham (Atlanta, GA) defeated 423 players and won $26,801 in $355 NLHE
Event #5:  Zhen Cai (Daytona Beach, FL) defeated 293 players and won $33,753 in $355 NLHE
Event #6:  Walter B. Wright (Las Vegas, NV) defeated 101 players and won $14,544 in $565 PLO
Event #7:  Tom Franklin (Gulfport, MS) defeated 646 players and won $38,139 in $355 NLHE
Event #8:  Brian Walsingham (Atlanta, GA) defeated 356 players and won $78,604 in 1085 NLHE

At least 11 players from Harrah’s New Orleans will qualify for the nationally-televised WSOP gold bracelet event.  The Main Event Championship winner gets a seat.  The top overall point finisher gets a seat.  And, the nine players who make it to the final table of the Southern Regional Championship will also earn automatic bids.

The inaugural WSOP Circuit Southern Regional Championship begins following the conclusion of the Main Event.  The $10,000 buy-in tournament will be taped for broadcast on national television.  This is the first time since 2006 television cameras have filmed a poker event in New Orleans.  The final of four regional tournaments promises to be an exciting end to the great 2010-2011 WSOP Circuit season.  The regional championship will be played May 19-22 at Harrah’s New Orleans.

A FULL SCHEDULE of upcoming and completed events at Harrah’s New Orleans can be found here.

A Short History of the WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s New Orleans

The first major poker tournament held at Harrah’s New Orleans was called the “Cajun Poker Classic,” which took place in early 2004.  The three-day tournament attracted 536 players and inspired the casino to host more poker events in the future.  Later that  year, the first Bayou Poker Challenge was held, which consisted of six tournaments. 

Next, Harrah’s New Orleans became a charter member of the World Series of Poker Circuits, which officially started play in 2005.  Since then, New Orleans has hosted the final stop on the circuit each year, which takes place in mid-May just prior to the start of the WSOP at the Rio in Las Vegas.  The first two WSOP Circuit championships held at Harrah’s New Orleans were televised by ESPN and were among the most exciting tournaments broadcast at the time.  They still occasionally appear in re-runs to this day.

WSOP Circuit events in New Orleans proved to be so successful that a second tournament series was created, starting in 2007.  This became known as the “Bayou Poker Challenge” (a.k.a. the Winter Bayou Poker Challenge), which has since become a December attraction.  This tournament series is categorized as a World Series of Poker Satellite, since its Main Event winner earns an entry valued at $10,000 seat (plus expense money) into the WSOP championship, held the following year.