Elizabeth, IN (October 6, 2011)—Turn on ESPN during a Tuesday night broadcast of the World Series of Poker Main Event and chances are you might see the face of Scott Schwalich. Last July, Schwalich recorded a 14th place finish in the most prestigious tournament in poker earning him almost $500,000. 

Last night, three months after his Main Event run, he closed the book on his first live tournament win with a WSOP Circuit victory in a dominating performance in Event 5. Schwalich bested a field of 247 players and was awarded almost $18,000 in prize money as well as the gold ring.

He began Day 2 as the chip leader with 14 players remaining. By the time they reached the final table, he had given up the chip lead to 28-year-old Bobby Hodson, but still remained second in chips. It wasn’t long before Hodson had relinquished his lead, leaving the tournament in eighth place, and it was Schwalich’s for the taking. With three players remaining, Schwalich had almost 60 percent of the chips in play. 

At 24-years-old, Schwalich is a professional poker player and recent college graduate with a degree in finance. He hails from Miamisburg, Ohio and appreciates the freedom that playing poker allows him. While his Main Event run was remarkable, the WSOP Circuit ring won’t be taking a back seat to it any time soon.

For his victory, Schwalich was awarded 50 points toward the Casino Championship at Horseshoe Southern Indiana. The player with the most points at the end of the Circuit stop will receive automatic entry into the $1 million National Championship. All-time ring leader, Mark Smith, currently sits in first place.

Joining Schwalich at the final table was Charlie Dawson. Dawson’s sixth place finish afforded him his 18th WSOP Circuit cash (including two runner-up finishes) and 10th final table.

Final Table:

Seat 1 George Ward 245,000

Seat 2 Scott Schwalich 440,000

Seat 3 Stephen Binkley 240,000

Seat 4 Bobby Hodson 476,000

Seat 5 Jimmy Lee Tidwell 278,000

Seat 6 Thomas Surgaugh 364,000

Seat 7 Jesse Kidd 357,000

Seat 8 Tommy Cronin 56,000

Seat 9 Charlie Dawson 19,000

Eighth Place:

Hodson arrived at the final table in the driver’s seat. After beginning the day fourth in chips, he had amassed almost 500,000 and was the chip leader. After a few unfortunate hands, Hodson moved all-in pre-flop against Jimmy Lee Tidwell. Tidwell called and the two players showed their cards. Hodson tabled Ace Jack and Tidwell showed Ace Queen. Neither player improved their hand, and Tidwell’s Ace-Queen high was good enough to win.

Hodson is a 2005 graduate of Florida State University where he played on the baseball team. He and his fiancé are expecting their first child, a son, in the near future. He earned $1,977 for his eighth place finish.

Sixth Place:

Charlie Dawson, undoubtedly the most decorated player at the final table, was at a great disadvantage all day. Starting with only 19,000 in chips, he didn’t have too many options pre-flop. He eventually got all-in with King Jack versus the Ace Jack of George Ward. The flop paired Dawson’s Jack, but it also paired Ward’s Ace. The turn and river were no help to Dawson and he came up short of a Circuit ring again. He finished the tournament in sixth place and earned $3,241.

Dawson is a 42-year-old real estate investor who says his poker ambition is to win Circuit rings. 

Interview with Dawson:

How do you feel after a finish like this? You played great, but came up short of a ring again. – “I’m kind of content just making the final table. I had a lot of fun. I was so short all day long it’s a miracle I got as far as I did. I’m really happy with my finish. I love final tables. That’s why I play. A lot of us don’t play for the money, we play for the chance to get a ring. One of these days…”

Winner interview with Scott Schwalich:

You’ve had big scores before, but what does it mean to you to get a WSOP Circuit ring? – “It means a lot because it’s actually a poker memento. It’s a big deal. I wanted the ring more than the money. It feels good. This is also my first live tournament win.”

What did you take away from playing so well on a stage as big as the Main Event? – “Just learning how to cope in a tournament like that. It’s such a long, excruciating, exhausting grind and kind of learning how to handle that. There is a good mix of all kinds of players in (the Main Event). It was such a good experience for my live play in general.”

You took 14th in the Main Event and now you follow it up with a win on the Circuit. You’ve got to be having some fun playing poker these days. – “Oh absolutely. I don’t think anyone that has ever won a live tournament hasn’t had fun. It’s a lot of fun.”

What’s it like seeing yourself on ESPN? – “It’s really weird. It doesn’t feel real. You watch other people on T.V. all the time and then when you see yourself on there it doesn’t seem real.”

Three-handed it seemed it like it was your tournament to win and everyone else was just playing for second. Did you have that feeling at all? – “Yeah, I did. But I also knew if something happened, like it did, where they both got into an all-in situation and one of them got a stack, then we’d be pretty even heads-up and I’d have to earn it.”

This is the fifth of 12 ring events slated to take place at the Horseshoe Southern Indiana. Winners of all events will receive first-place prize money and the coveted WSOP Circuit ring. In addition, the winner of the Main Event will receive a seat to the $1 million Circuit National Championship in Las Vegas. An additional seat will be awarded to the individual who earns the most Circuit points at this stop.

The WSOP Circuit Events at Horseshoe Southern Indiana continue through October 10. The Main Event will take place October 8. 

Each final table throughout the 2011/2012 Circuit tour will be streamed live at

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