Felicia Johnico Horses Around and Rides Off With Gold Ring

Lady Texan Becomes Fourth Female to Win Multiple WSOP Circuit Gold Rings

Former World Champ Scotty Nguyen Makes Surprise Appearance on WSOP Circuit

Big Poker Weekend as WSOP Circuit Continues at Horseshoe Bossier City

Shreveport Area Hosting First-Ever WSOP Circuit Events through September 19th



Bossier City, LA – The World Series of Poker is the only major poker tournament series which promotes a wide variety of different poker games.  While there’s little doubt that No-Limit Hold’em remains king, other poker games too deserve a chance to be played and enjoyed by as many players as possible.

Accordingly, the WSOP offers dozens of major events every year – including games which are rarely played anywhere else.  The WSOP Circuit is also determined to promote these other forms of poker – particularly games such as Omaha High-Low Split, Razz, Seven-Card Stud, and Eight-or-Better.  To accomplish this, all WSOP Circuit schedule stops this season include at least two varieties of games other than No-Limit Hold’em.

Not that there’s anything wrong with No-Limit.  It’s a great poker game.  It can be fun and exciting.  No-Limit ignited the fuse of the poker boom which continues to this day. 

Nevertheless, the WSOP and WSOP Circuit understand that it’s in the greater interest of the game and poker’s future to offer as many options as possible to poker players.  For this reason, playing in WSOP-related events remains as the ultimate test of all-around poker skill.

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Horseshoe Bossier City’s first-ever WSOP Circuit stop continued with a busy weekend of poker action.  The third tournament of the new season was a $345 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event.  There were 119 entrants, which is about what was expected.  The first two gold ring tournaments (No-Limit Hold’em) attracted five times the number of players who showed up to play in this H.O.R.S.E. tournament.  But the H.O.R.S.E. players enjoyed the opportunity to play a tournament that is rarely seen anywhere else, except at the WSOP.

The two-day weekend tournament generated a total prize pool of $34,629 in prize money.  The top 12 players were paid.  All players that cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points.

The season’s newest poker champion is Felicia Johnico, from Hutto, Texas.  She is a 40-year-old former poker dealer who admits to being unemployed at present.  So, this victory comes at a perfect time.

“I was working as a dealer at the Windstar Casino (in Oklahoma),” Johnico said.  “But I lost my job there a month ago.  This win could not have come at a better time.”

Johnico made poker history at 1:15 am on a late Saturday night inside a packed Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City.  She became only the fourth female in the eight-year history of the WSOP Circuit to win multiple gold ring victories.  The first female to do so was another Texan, Daphne “Tweety” Taylor from Houston, who accomplished the feat three years ago. 

Johnico proved to be the superior player in the tournament and at the final table.  She never had the chip lead until heads-up play.  However, she was always a force and applies constant pressure to her opponents whenever she was involved in a hand.  She also overcame a chip disadvantage when playing heads-up and beat a tough competitor named John Evans, from Canada. 

Johnico’s previous WSOP Circuit gold ring victory took place last year at Harrah’s St. Louis.  She also won the Oklahoma State Ladies Poker Championship in 2010.  Johnico collected $9,985 in prize money for yet another impressive tournament victory.

Interestingly, Johnico revealed afterward that she prefers mixed games to No-Limit Hold’em.  She stated that she had entered only four H.O.R.S.E. events in the past, but had managed to make the final table in three of them.

Among those who also played in this event was 1998 world poker champion Scotty Nguyen.  “The Prince of Poker” made a surprise visit to Horseshoe Bossier City.  He appeared on two local television shows and then played three WSOP Circuit gold ring events while staying in Shreveport.  Nguyen seemed to spend more time shaking hands and signing autographs than playing poker.  He remains a fan favorite wherever he travels.

A full list of all players that cashed in EVENT #3 can be seen here.

The tournament was played over two consecutive days.  After most of the starting field was eliminated 35 survivors from the starting field of 119 players returned for Day Two action.  Final table play began on a late Saturday afternoon.  The finale included three former WSOP Circuit gold ring winners – David Clark, Dan Sztenderowicz, and Felicia Johnico. 

The eight finalists and their starting chip counts were as follows:

Seat 1:  David Key (Baton Rouge, LA) – 203,000 in chips
Seat 2:  Felicia Johnico (Hutto, TX) – 137,500 in chips 
Seat 3:  James Cooper (Dallas, TX) – 227,000 in chips
Seat 4:  John Evans (Hamilton, ON Canada) – 294,000 in chips
Seat 5:  Sami Hamid (Corpus Christi, TX) – 54,000 in chips
Seat 6:  David Clark (Dallas, TX) – 80,700 in chips
Seat 7:  Dan Sztenderowicz (Philadelphia, PA) – 63,100 in chips
Seat 8:  Seth Foster (Shreveport, LA) – 118,000 in chips


Final table play began at 6 pm and ended at 1:15 am – making the total duration slightly more than seven hours.  The official order of finish was as follows:

Eighth Place:  Poker tournament veteran David Clark (a.k.a. John David Clark) was the first player to be eliminated from the official final table (eight players in HORSE).  He won a WSOP Circuit gold ring last year at Durant (Oklahoma).  Clark is a 32-year-old poker pro from Dallas.

Seventh Place:  Seventh place went to James Cooper.  He is a 34-year-old business owner from Dallas.  He was formally the president of a trade school which trained aviation personnel.  This marked Cooper’s first time to appear at the final table of a WSOP-related event.

Sixth Place:  Sixth place went to 24-year-old poker pro Dan Sztenderowicz, from Philadelphia, PA.  He is a former poker dealer who now plays full time.  Sztenderowicz was eliminated during the Razz round.  He is a former WSOP Circuit gold bracelet winner, having won an event last year at Harrah’s St. Louis.  He also cashed in the 2011 WSOP Main Event (326th).  Sztenderowicz is now 2 for 2 in Bossier City tournaments.  He took 29th place in Event #1.

Fifth Place:  Sami Hamid took fifth place.  He is a 33-year-old poker pro from Dallas.

Fourth Place:  David Key, from Baton Rouge, LA finished in fourth place.  He is a 26-year-old former financial advisor who is now playing poker full time.  This was Key’s first time to cash in a WSOP Circuit gold ring event.  He was paid $3,191.

Third Place:  Seth Foster ended up as the third-place finisher.  He is a graduate student majoring in religious studies.  Foster previously worked in retail management.  This was Foster’s best WSOP-related finish to date.  He collected $4,393 in prize money.

Second Place:  John Evans finished as runner up.  He is a 48-year-old poker pro from Hamilton, ON (Canada).  Evans is the founder of the National Pub Poker League.  He has numerous tournament cashes and final table appearances.  He probably would have won his first WSOP Circuit gold ring had it not been for a very strong performance by his final adversary.

The final duel of the tournament began with John Evans enjoying nearly a 2 to 1 chip advantage over Felicia Johnico.  But Johnico, who was one of only four ladies to win a gold ring in an open event last year, proved to be the most formidable foe imaginable.  Heads-up play lasted almost two hours, during which Johnico drew close to even and then gradually put Evans on the brink of elimination.  In fact, she had Evans all in four times before finally delivering the knockout punch.

The final hand was dealt when Johnico enjoyed a substantial chip lead during the Omaha High-Low Split round.  Here’s how the last hand played out:

Evans –        
Johnico –        
Flop –      
Turn –  
River –  

Evans picked up a huge draw on the flop, with an open-ended straight draw and a (straight) flush draw.  He had even more outs on the turn, drawing to more straight cards with a low.  But Johnico ended up scooping the final pot of the tournament with an almost unbelievable hand in Omaha High-Low.  A lowly pair of fours ended up as the winning hand.  Things got worse on the flop when Overton picked up a straight draw to go along with his better hand.  Evans finished as runner up and Johnico was declared the winner.

First Place:  Felicia Johnico became the second champion of the new WSOP Circuit season.  She earned her third major tournament victory and second career WSOP Circuit gold ring with an impressive win at Horseshoe Bossier City.  First place paid $9,985.

With her victory, Johnico joins Jeff Overton (Event #1 champion) as the early chip leaders on every WSOP Circuit Leaderboard.  They are the point-leaders here at the Horseshoe Bossier City series.  Johnico and Overton are also the national co-leaders – at least for another day until someone posts a high finish for the second time. 

The player who accumulates the most overall points in the twelve 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.

There are ten more gold ring events remaining in what is being billed as a “12 rings in 12 days” poker series.  The WSOP Circuit at Horseshoe Bossier City continues through September 19th.  This year’s schedule includes not only 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 Horseshoe Poker Room.
 
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