Nghia Hong Le Collects Gold Ring at Horseshoe Bossier City

Women Take Three of Top Four Spots in Latest Open WSOP Circuit Event

WSOP Circuit Continues at Horseshoe Bossier City – 264 Entrants for Event #5

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

Bossier City, LA (September 12, 2011) – When the most recent final table at Horseshoe Bossier City was down to the final four players, one confused spectator casually walked into the tournament room, glanced at the lineup of remaining players and asked, “Is this finals of the Ladies Championship?”

Think again.

Make no mistake.  Women are continuing to make their mark on poker.  Their numbers may still be small compared to the number of men that enter poker tournaments.  But based on what has occurred during the first week of the new season on the 2011-2012 WSOP Circuit, one must ask if we are beginning see a new class of players who are emerging on the tournament scene, particularly in the prestigious yet affordable WSOP Circuit series, which has just started a new season.

Want evidence?  Consider that one woman has already won a gold ring.  Felicia Johnico won the H.O.R.S.E. championship played at Bossier City.  The previous tournament which concluded yesterday, had another female finish as the runner up, as Becky Makar nearly won herself a gold ring.  Then, on this Monday evening, three of the top four finishers in the latest open event were female players.

Nonetheless, it was Nghia Hong Le who stole the show and seized the most recent WSOP Circuit gold ring.  He put on a masterful performance and was the party killer to what was the largest gallery of spectators of any finale, so far.  Dozens of spectators, mostly cheering for one of the three ladies who made it to the final four, had their hopes dashed by a very tough 28-year-old poker pro from Suwanee, GA.

Le collected $18,489 in prize money, which was his best career payout ever.  He was presented with his first WSOP-related token of achievement, the gold ring.  He also won points towards the National Championship series.

The fifth tournament of the new season was a $345 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event.  There were 264 entries, about what was expected for the Sunday-Monday competition.  The total prize pool came to $76,824.  The top 27 players were paid.  All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points.

Among the more notable finishers was Howard “Tahoe” Andrew, a two-time WSOP gold bracelet winner.  Andrew is best known as the player who has played the most consecutive years at the WSOP.  His active streak dates all the way back to 1974.  Andrew ended up as the 14th-place finisher in this event.

A full list of all players that cashed in Event #5 can be seen at WSOP.COM

The tournament was played over two consecutive days at the tail end of an enormously busy weekend on the shores of the Red River, which divides Bossier City and Shreveport.  The previous four gold ring events averaged more than 300 players.  With cash games and second-chance tournaments going constantly, every poker table has been full since the WSOP Circuit began a week ago.

After most of the starting field was eliminated on Day One, only 17 survivors from the starting field of 264 returned for Day Two action.  

When the nine finalists took seats at the final table, Bev Cheney, a longtime poker player and sometime tournament official, had the chip lead.  Another notable player among the final ten was former WSOP gold bracelet winner Vince Burgio.

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

Seat 1:  Gene A. Hueber (Van, TX) – 145,000 in chips
Seat 2:  Doug “Texas Dougie” Freiss – 161,000 in chips
Seat 3:  Jennifer Parrish (Alma, AR) – 363,000 in chips
Seat 4:  Felicia Johnico (Hutto, TX) – 345,000 in chips
Seat 5:  Nghia Hong Le (Suwanee, GA) – 580,000 in chips
Seat 6:  Bev Cheney (Granbury, TX) – 456,000 in chips
Seat 7:  Miguel Monrreal (Ft. Worth, TX) – 91,000 in chips
Seat 8:  Vince Burgio (West Hills, CA) – 234,000 in chips
Seat 9:  Lane LeBlanc (New Iberia, LA) – 207,000 in chips
Seat 10:  Michael Hall (Ft. Worth, TX) – 72,000 in chips  

Final table play began at 4 pm and ended at 12:30 am – making the total duration about 8.5 hours.  The official order of finish was as follows:

Tenth Place:  The first player to be eliminated was Miguel Monrreal, from Ft. Worth, TX.  He is a 40-year-old postal worker.

Ninth Place:  Gene Hueber, from Van, TX finished in ninth place.  He is a 38-year-old consultant.  This marked Hueber’s second time ever to cash in a WSOP Circuit event.  He previously finished in the money last year at Choctaw, held in Oklahama.  

Eighth Place:  Doug Freiss, a.k.a. “Texas Dougie” finished in eighth place.  He is a 50-year-old poker pro from Katy, TX – near Houston.  Freiss has numerous cashes and final table appearances, mostly at tournaments throughout the South.  

Seventh Place:  Former WSOP gold bracelet winner Vince Burgio took seventh place.  He made the final table of the Main Event (4th place in 1994) and currently has 28 career WSOP cashes (placing him in the top 100).  Burgio has played in many WSOP Circuit events in recent years.  This was his first trip to Bossier City.

Sixth Place:  Michael Hall finished in sixth place.  He is a 27-year-old lease operator from Fort Worth, TX.  This was Hall’s first time to cash in a WSOP-related tournament.  

Fifth Place:  Lane LeBlanc, from New Iberia, LA took fifth place.  He is a 64-year-old self-employed man who has enjoyed some previous tournament success.  He took second place a few years ago at South Lake Tahoe’s WSOP Circuit event.    

Fourth Place:  Felicia Johnico finished in fourth place.  Two days removed from her gold ring victory in Event #3, she nearly became the first female in WSOP Circuit history to win three Circuit-related events.  She won the Ladies Championship event held last year, at Harrah’s St. Louis.  Johnico is on fire at the moment and is certainly the player to watch during the final week of the Circuit at Bossier City, and beyond.   

Third Place:  Bev Cheney has been a familiar face at poker tournaments for many years.  She not only has played and cashed in multiple events, she has also worked a number of major events.  Cheney, from Lake Granbury, TX hoped to win her first gold ring, but came up short in what was a fine effort.  She had the chip lead, but lost a late race for most of her chips with A-K, which lost to pocket queens.  Cheney accepted third place, which paid $8,255.

Second Place:  Jennifer Parrish finished as runner up.  She is a poker player and mother from Alma, AR.  In fact, Parrish is expecting her third child, which is due in a few months.  Parrish has previously cashed in major events held at the Beau Rivage and Gold Strike.  This was her best WSOP-related performance.  Second place paid $11,425.  

The final duel of the tournament began with Nghia Hong Le in control of the table, as the chip leader.  Heads-up play lasted about 90 minutes, during which Parrish took the chip lead for a short time.  She had her opponent all-in a few times, but Le was able to win both hands and then made a comeback.  

After being down to the felt, Le gradually increased his stack and finally dealt out the fatal blow at past midnight.  The final hand was dealt when Le enjoyed a substantial chip lead.  Here’s how the last hand played out:

Le –    
Parrish –    
Flop –      
Turn –  
River –  

Le won the final hand with a pair of sixes.  Parrish had a shot to scoop the pot, but she failed to hit either a jack or a queen.  Hence, Parrish finished as runner up and Le was declared the winner.

First Place:  Nghia Hong Le won his first major tournament victory and first WSOP Circuit gold ring with an impressive win at Horseshoe Bossier City.  First place paid $18,489.

With his victory, Le moved up into the top five on the new WSOP Circuit point leaderboard.  He is among the point-leaders here at the Horseshoe Bossier City series.  They are also the national co-leaders for the moment – at least for another day until someone posts more high finishes.

At present, Felicia Johnico -- with two premium cashes, including a win -- is the player to catch in the points race.  She now has a first-place finish and a fourth-place finish.  Given the sizes of the fields so far at Bossier City, it will be quite a challenge for anyone to surpass her point total.

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 seven 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.

Note:  An explanation of the WSOP Circuit National Championship point system can be viewed here.