Elizabeth, IN (September 30, 2011) – Things started out with a bang at Horseshoe Southern Indiana as Mark “Pegasus” Smith captured his fifth Circuit gold ring in Event 1, $345 No-Limit Hold’em. He surpassed Men “The Master” Nguyen and Chris Reslock and now stands alone in the history books as the all-time Circuit ring leader.

In April of 2007, Nguyen set the bar at four rings with his Circuit victory at Caesars Indiana. Four years later Smith found himself at the very same venue (renamed Horseshoe Southern Indiana) three-handed with a colossal chip lead. Playing out the tournament was merely a formality as Smith muscled his way through the remaining two players to take home the gold ring. 

A close relative of the coveted WSOP gold bracelet, the WSOP Circuit gold ring is the most prestigious prize awarded on the World Series of Poker Circuit. To earn one, players must navigate their way through large fields of battle-tested opponents. Smith’s victory came after two days of grueling poker that included a nine hour final table. 

The final table began at 6:30 p.m. EST, but within just a few minutes, three players busted, leaving six remaining to play it out for the gold ring. Play slowed down a bit, and five hours into the final table, three players remained. At about midnight local time, Smith acquired a massive chip lead.

Joining Smith in the later stages of tournament play was Jay Newnum, known largely on the poker circuit by his nickname, “WhoJedi”. Newnum went on to finish in fourteenth place earning $1,187. Other notable finishers include WSOPC gold ring winner and country musician Luther Lewis. Lewis added a tenth cash to his resume by finishing in twenty-seventh place. 

Horseshoe Southern Indiana and the WSOP Circuit will crown 11 more WSOPC champions over the 10 remaining days of the series and award two seats to the Regional Championship. One seat will be awarded to the champion of the $1,600 Main Event to be held October 8 and another seat will be given to the individual who earns the most ranking points at this stop and is crowned the Casino Champion.

With the victory, Smith takes the lead in the Casino Championship at Horseshoe Southern Indiana. If he continues his impressive performance he will be awarded an automatic entry into the $1 million Regional Championship where he will get an opportunity to complement his rings with a shiny gold bracelet.

Final Table:

Seat 1

Danny Sweeney


Seat 2

David Mendez


Seat 3

Christian Schumacher


Seat 4

James Gordon


Seat 5

Mark Smith


Seat 6

Matt Campbell


Seat 7

Matt Ashlock


Seat 8

Robert Castoire


Seat 9

Steve Kats


First Place

Mark Smith finished the tournament in first place earning $19,441. Maintaining and adding to the record for number of Circuit rings won stands as Smith’s poker ambition. 

Known by his nickname, “Pegasus,” (for his involvement in professional horse breeding and racing) the Georgetown, Kentucky resident now has 24 WSOP Circuit cashes and over $485,000 in career earnings. 

It wasn’t always smooth for Smith at the final table. He was given new life when his rivered flush bested the unknown hand of Steve Kats. Holding the   , Smith moved all in after fifth street on a board of      . Kats called and Smith tabled his flush. With a slight sigh, Kats mucked his cards and Smith moved over the 500,000 chip mark. 

In the middle stages of final table play, Matthew Ashlock was the commanding chip leader. As the early morning hours approached, his chip stack dwindled and he eventually found himself all-in pre-flop with pocket fours against Smith’s   . The   on the river gave Ashlock a set, but it was second best to Smith’s Ace-high flush. Ashlock was eliminated in fourth place and Smith had the tournament all but won with his chip stack.

Fifth Place

Steve Kats came to the final table as the chip leader, but it wasn’t long before he surrendered a pot worth almost 400,000 to Smith.

With five players left, Kats got his remaining chips in with Ace Jack versus Ashlock’s 10 10. The board was no help to Kats and he busted in fifth place while Ashlock became the first player to surpass the 1 million chip mark. 

Kats is a 28-year-old poker pro from Omaha, Nebraska. He previously worked in sales but since turning pro has amassed nine Circuit cashes and one gold ring. He earned $4,823.73 for his efforts.

Winner Interview:

You’ve just won your record fifth ring. How does it feel? – “You can’t imagine. For someone at 59-years-old to have an opportunity to set and hold a world record, in any sport, is just almost beyond belief.”

Can you compare this victory to your first Circuit gold ring? – “It’s kind of like your first child, you can’t pick one. My first (ring) was the Main Event at Tunica. I played with some great players. It was my biggest cash, my biggest score. You know, you won a major. I don’t think (this ring) will diminish that, but it is just as sweet.”

Does it matter who you passed up in the record books (Men “The Master” Nguyen and Chris Reslock) or just that you set the record? – “I had the opportunity to hold the world record. I don’t share it anymore. I tied Men Nguyen, then Chris tied both of us, but then to move ahead is a thing that’s almost just indescribable. I am so very blessed in many areas in life and this is just the latest.”

What’s next? – “Number six. Number six…”

Here is a comprehensive list of Smith’s other Circuit victories:

2006/2007 WSOP Circuit Grand Casino Tunica
$5,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship
First prize $306,003

2007/2008 WSOP Circuit Caesars Indiana
$500 No-Limit Hold’em with rebuys
First prize $36,244

2009/2010 WSOP Circuit Horseshoe Southern Indiana
$345 No-Limit Hold’em
First prize $10,088

2009/2010 WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Atlantic City
$340 No-Limit Hold’em
First prize $34,649

2011/2012 WSOP Circuit Horseshoe Southern Indiana
$345 No-Limit Hold’em
First prize $19,441

Still to come are 11 ring events. The WSOP Circuit Events at Horseshoe Southern Indiana continue through October 10th.

For more information, contact Lukas Willems, WSOP media coordinator

Phone: 920.421.1463


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