Alexandru Masek Wins Fourth Career WSOP Circuit Gold Ring

San Diego Law School Graduate Now One Victory Away from the All-Time Leader -- Mark “Pegasus” Smith, with Five Wins

Scott Stewart Takes Runner-Up Spot in One of Year’s Best Finales

WSOP Circuit at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe Continues through Nov. 21st



Photo Caption:  Alexandru Masek (left) poses with Mark "Pegasus" Smith (right) immediately following his victory at Harvey's Lake Tahoe.  
 

Stateline, NV (November 17, 2011) – Alexandru Masek has been able to accomplish huge things on the World Series of Poker Circuit.  He just won his fourth career gold ring in three years, with an enormously satisfying victory in the latest No-Limit Hold’em tournament held at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe.

For the triumph, Masek collected $15,236 in prize money.  He was presented with the coveted gold ring, which is the ultimate token of achievement for winning a WSOP Circuit tournament.  He now has a ring for each finger, with the thumb still to go.

Masek’s fourth victory places him just one win away from the all-time leader in WSOP Circuit wins.  Mark “Pegasus” Smith won his fifth title last month, at Hammond Horseshoe (Chicago).  Oddly enough, Smith was in attendance for Masek’s fourth win and was among the first to congratulate the 26-year-old part-time poker player as he scooped in the last pot of the night.

What’s most remarkable perhaps about Masek achieving yet another win is that he only plays in a limited number of poker events per year.  Undoubtedly, he has the highest wins-to-entries ratio of any player with multiple gold rings in history.  Even more impressive is Masek accomplishing major strides in tournament poker while he’s been attending law school.

Indeed, Masek recently graduated from the University of San Diego.  He is currently taking a recess from studying for the California Bar Exam, which brought him to the WSOP Circuit stop at Lake Tahoe.  Masek stated he is uncertain which direction he might go in pursuit of a legal career.  However, he expects to work in business law at some point.  Masek also expects to play a lot more poker when he has the time.

“I don’t ever look at the payout when I’m playing,” Masek said in a post-tournament interview.  “All I look at is the (gold) ring.  The win meant everything to me in this tournament.”

Masek still resides in San Diego.  He plans to play three of four more WSOP Circuit stops this season, which puts him in strong position to possibly catch Smith for the all-time wins lead. 

“I went to the WSOP the last two years,” Masek stated.  “I would love to win a gold bracelet more than anything.  But in the meantime, I would love to win another ring -- or two.”

Alas, Masek’s comment about winning “another ring -- or two” shows he’s already thinking about making history.  

Masek’s fourth career victory came in the eighth of 12 gold ring tournaments scheduled at the Lake Tahoe series.  The two-day $300 (+45) No-Limit Hold’em event generated a total prize pool totaling $59,946.  The top 22 players were paid prize money.  All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points.

A full list of all players who cashed in Event #8 can be seen here.

The first playing session (Day One) began on November 16th and ended with only two tables of 12 survivors.  Day Two resumed on Wednesday, November 17th. 

No one could have predicted that the first two players eliminated on Day Two were both former WSOP gold bracelet winners.  Sean Drake, who won the 2011 WSOP Casino Employees championship, went out first, finishing in 12th place. 

Moments later, Howard “Tahoe” Andrew, a two-time WSOP champion (duel winner in 1976) took 11th place.  Andrew holds the record for the most consecutive years to attend the WSOP.  He has played in at least one event every year since 1974.  This was Andrew’s second time to cash at this year’s Lake Tahoe series.

Even with two former WSOP winners out, this was still the most accomplished finale of any event played, to date at Harvey’s.  The final included a three time and a two-time gold ring winner.  The final nine players who made it to the final table were as follows:

SEAT 1:  Rex Clinkscales (Las Vegas, NV) – 186,000 in chips
SEAT 2:  Alexandru Masek (San Diego, CA) – 300,000 in chips
SEAT 3:  Shain Matthews (Marysville, CA) – 276,000 in chips
SEAT 4:  Scott Stewart (Lakewood, CA) – 261,000 in chips
SEAT 5:  Brett Schwertley (Omaha, NE) – 119,000 in chips
SEAT 6:  George Saca (Sacramento, CA) – 289,000 in chips
SEAT 7:  Dave Holder (Norman, OK) – 280,000 in chips
SEAT 8:  Greg Sayabalian (Gardnerville, NV) – 236,000 in chips
SEAT 9:  Garilyn Nelson (Ogden, UT) – 112,000 in chips


Final table play began at 4 pm.  Play ended at 11 pm local time.  The duration of play was about seven hours.

9th Place – George Saca finished ninth.  He is a 55-year-old sales and marketing professional from Sacramento, CA.  This was Saca’s third time to make a WSOP Circuit final table appearance at Lake Tahoe – previous finishes were 7th and 8th.  In fact, Saca took eighth place in the first-ever championship at Harvey’s which was a $10,000 buy-in event broadcast on ESPN (2005).  Saca now has nearly $200,000 in WSOP winnings alone during his career.

8th Place – Rex Clinkscales, a Las Vegas poker pro, finished eighth.  He now has eight WSOP Circuit cashes in 2011, five of which have taken place this season.  This also marked his third final table appearance.  Clinkscales is originally from San Antonio, TX. 

7th Place – Shain Matthews, from Marysville, CA came in seventh.  This was his third time to cash at this year’s Harvey’s Lake Tahoe series – which leads all players.  He is a 26-year-old poker pro. 

6th Place – Garilyn Nelson, a.k.a. “G” became only the third woman to make it to a final table through the first eight events.  She ended up going out in sixth place.  Nelson, from Ogden, UT is a business owner.  She is co-owner of “Five Figure Score,” which is a poker site primarily for low- and middle-stakes poker players.  Nelson was the winner of the Ladies Championship last year at WSOP Circuit held at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.  She now has five WSOP Circuit cashes and three final table appearances.

5th Place – Brett Schwertley, from Omaha, NE took fifth place.  He is a two-time WSOP Circuit gold ring winner.  His victories took place last season – one at Horseshoe Hammond (Chicago) and the other at Choctaw (Durant, OK).  Schwertley now has 17 career WSOP Circuit cashes, all within the last four years.

4th Place – Greg Sayabalian, a restaurant and bar owner from nearby Gardnerville, NV went out in fourth place.  He is originally from Boson.  Sayabalian owns “Hamdogs” in Garderville (short for hamburgers and hot dogs).  He said afterward that he would buy everyone’s food if they come by and drink at his place.  Sayabalian has numerous tournament cashes on his resume, mostly at tournaments played in Reno and throughout Northern Nevada.

3rd Place – Dave Holder, a 30-year-old poker pro from Norman, OK took third place.  Holder’s previous poker accomplishments include several deep runs and a few wins in major online tournaments.  This was his best showing in a WSOP-related tournament.  Holder certainly likes to take risks.  Aside from playing poker, he is a part-time storm-chasing meteorologist who follows major storms, mostly in the Midwest.  A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Holder has appeared on The Weather Channel and a Discovery Channel program called “Storm Chasers.”

2nd Place – Scott Stewart, a semi-pro poker player from Lakewood, CO came close to what would have been his second major tournament victory in six months.  Stewart, who won an event in Las Vegas last summer (held at Binion’s), now has 11 major tournament cashes.  He finished as the runner up.  But Stewart was one card away from victory and came very close to achieving a first gold ring victory.

When heads-up play began, Masek enjoyed about a 3 to 2 chip lead over Stewart.  However, Stewart was able to draw even with his rival within the first 20 minutes.  After another 20 minutes, Stewart had a 2 to 1 chip advantage.  There were no big pots during the time.  Stewart just kept on chipping away, while Masek seemed to go card dead at the worst possible moment. 

Then, Masek won a huge race and reclaimed the lead.  At the time, Stewart was one card away from victory -- holding A-K against pockets nines.  But he failed to make a pair.  That proved to be the turning point as Masek reclaimed the lead and then won the tournament about 30 minutes later.

The final hand was dealt as follows:

Masek:     
Stewart:       
Flop:          
Turn:       
River:     

Stewart moved all in on the turn, on a semi-bluff.  He had an open-ended straight draw.  Masek had second pair and made the call.  The river was a blank, and Masek’s pair ended up as the winning hand.

1st Place – Alexandru Masek, from San Diego, CA won his fourth WSOP Circuit title.  Prior to this win, he had two previous wins at Harrah’s Rincon, and another at Caesars Atlantic City.  For this win, Masek  collected $15,236 and the WSOP Circuit gold ring.  He now has ten WSOP Circuit cashes.  His victory was shown on a live streaming broadcast at WSOP.com.

With his victory, Masek joins seven previous champions who now have gold rings at the 2011 Lake Tahoe series:

Event #1:  David Clark (Dallas, TX) defeated 260 players and won $18,208
Event #2:  Josh Roberts (Jackson, CA) defeated 521 players and won $32,300
Event #3:  Mark Bonsack (Maple Valley, CA) defeated 85 players and won $7,484
Event #4:  Michael Rosenbach (San Francisco, CA) defeated 101 players and won $13,874
Event #5:  Daniel Aran (San Jose, CA) defeated 188 players and won $13,874
Event #6:  Rudy Sisson (Sacramento, CA) defeated 221 players and won $15,741
Event #7:  Nick Long (South Lake Tahoe, CA) defeated 199 players and won $57,909
Event #8:  Alexandru Masek (San Diego, CA) defeated 206 players and won $15,236


Two-thirds of this WSOP Circuit stop is now complete.  Through the first eight events, Michael Rosenbach (San Francisco, CA) remains as the leader in the WSOP Circuit’s “Best All-Around Player” standings for Lake Tahoe.  His lead comes from two final table appearances so far – including a fifth and a first-place showing.  However, several other players are within striking distance entering the final weekend of tournaments.

The player who accumulates the most overall points in Lake Tahoe’s twelve combined gold ring tournaments receives a pre-paid entry into the $1 million 2011-2012 WSOP Circuit National Championship, to be held in Las Vegas, next May.  At least two players from this tournament series will qualify for the WSOP Circuit National Championship, which is classified as a WSOP gold bracelet event.  The other automatic qualifier will be the winner of Lake Tahoe’s Main Event championship – coming on Nov. 19th.

With the first eight tournaments now wrapped up, there are still four more gold ring events remaining in what is being billed as a “12 rings in 12 days” poker series.  The WSOP Circuit at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe continues through November 21st.  This year’s schedule includes not only all the gold ring events, but multiple second-chance tournaments (at 5 pm and 7 pm most days), single table and mega satellites, plus cash games going around the clock inside the Harvey’s Poker Room.