William Brynes wins WSOP Circuit Turbo Event at Harrah’s St. Louis

St. Louis, MO (April 17, 2012) – William Byrnes knows a thing or two about winning under pressure.

The 40-year-old attorney from Wentzville, MO won the latest World Series of Poker Circuit tournament, held at the Harrah’s St. Louis Riverboat Resort and Casino.  He topped a sizable field of 277 players en route to his first major tournament victory.  His trial resulted in a settlement worth $19,025 in prize money.  He also received damages in the form of a gold ring, the ultimate token of achievement for winning a WSOP Circuit event.

This marked Byrnes second time to cash at this series.  In fact, he barely missed the money in the other two events he entered, which means he’s finished in the top 20 percent of all four of the WSOP Circuit events that’s he’s entered.  So, Byrnes is way ahead of the game so far, cashing in half of his events, with one victory already to show.

Byrnes was thrilled with the victory.  He made several phone calls afterward to friends and relatives who wished him well.  Byrnes is married and has three children – ages 12, 9, and 3 months.

He is originally from right here in St. Louis.


The fifth of a dozen gold ring tournaments began on Sunday afternoon with Event #5 – a $355 buy-in Turbo No-Limit Hold’em competition.  The tournament attracted 277 entries.  The total prize pool came to $79,257.  The top 30 players were paid.  All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points.

A full list of all players who cashed in Event #5 can be seen here.

The tournament was played over two consecutive days, although the event was initially intended as a one day affair.  The large turnout mandated a second day.  The final table players took seats on the second day of action, played on Monday.

The final ten players were as follows:

1 -- Chris Campbell with 326,000 in chips
2 – Dan Maassen with 80,000 in chips
3 – Karl Pirkopf with 100,000 in chips
4 – A. P. Phahurent with 276,000 in chips
5 – Pradeep Buddharaju with 312,000 in chips
6 – Eli Loewenthal with 547,000 in chips
7 – William Byrnes with 340,000 in chips
8 – Aaron Massey with 179,000 in chips
9 – Aaron Duczak with 394,000 in chips
10 – Sean Burson with 218,000 in chips

Eli Loewenthal came to the finale with a commanding chip lead.  The final table featured no former WSOP Circuit gold ring winners.  Hence, a first-time champion was guaranteed.  A few of the players were experienced professionals who had enjoyed previous tournament success.  But virtually all of the nine finalists were searching for their first live major tournament win.

The final playing session began at 2 pm local time.  Play finished at 5 pm making the total duration about three hours.  The official order of finish was as follows: 

10th Place -- The tenth place finisher was A.J. Phahurat, from Rogers, AR.  He is a 22-year-old poker pro who previously attended Oklahoma State University.  Phahurat finished second in an event last season played at Harrah’s New Orleans.

9th Place – Karl Pirkopf finished in ninth place.  He is 33-years-old and resides in Denver, CO.

8th Place – Pradeep Buddharaju ended up as the eighth-place finisher.  He is 31-year-old IT professional from Houston, TX. 

7th Place – Dan Maassen came in seventh.  He is a 30-year-old warehouse worker from nearby St. Charles, MO.  He is an amateur poker player who hopes to play in the WSOP Main Event shi coming year.
6th Place – Aaron Massey took sixth place.  He is perhaps best known as the “Snuggies” player from last year’s WSOP Main Event.  Massey dressed in a Snuggie during the tournament and got some airtime on ESPN.  The 27-year-old poker pro from Chicago is better known as “Stallone.”  Go figure.  He now has 11 WSOP Circuit cashes and is a lock to compete in this year’s National Championship event.  Massey has big dreams and is determined to win his first WSOP gold bracelet this year.
5th Place – Sean Burson has taken some tough beats at his last two WSOP Circuit final tables.  He got aces cracked his last time, at Harrah’s San Diego.  On this occasion, Burson got squashed holding pocket kings.  The 42-year-old contractor from Hidden Valley, CA now has four cashes this season, and two top six showings. 
4th Place – Eli Loewenthal endured the mixed blessing of a high finish, but also a relatively disappointing end to what began as chip leader.  He is a 25-year-old poker from Indianapolis, IN.  Loewenthal has now cashed five times this season on the WSOP Circuit.

3rd Place – Aaron Duczak finished in third place.  He is a 30-year-old poker pro from British Columbia (Canada).  Duczak has now cashed four times this year on the WSOP Circuit.

2nd Place – Chris Campbell was the runner up.  He is a 27-year-old poker pro from Chicago, IL.  Campbell is coming off two impressive cashes at the Chicago Poker Classic, where he took fourth in one event and second in the Main Event.  This time, he took second again, which paid $11,755 in prize money.  This was only the second WSOP Circuit event Campbell has played.

When heads-up play began, Byrnes enjoyed a slight chip lead over Campbell.  The duo played only about ten minutes before the final fateful hand was dealt as follows:


Campbell pushed with his ace, and Byrnes re-raised with his pocket pair.  That left Campbell essentially drawing to an ace.  Campbell was able to avoid the three-outer on each street and was declared the new champion.

1st Place – William Byrnes became the fifth WSOP Circuit champion crowned this year at Harrah’s St. Louis.  He won his biggest career payout ever – totaling $19,025 for the victory.  He was also presented with his first WSOP Circuit gold ring.

With his victory, Byrnes moves near the top of the standings as one of the leaders in this WSOP Circuit’s “Best All-Around Player” race.  At present, Shain Matthews – with a win and two cashes -- is the point leader.

The player who accumulates the most overall points in Harrah’s St. Louis’ twelve combined gold ring tournaments receives a pre-paid entry into the $1 million 2011-2012 WSOP Circuit National Championship.  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 Main Event championship (to be held April 21-23).

Here is the list of gold ring winners at Harrah’s St. Louis, so far:

Event #1 – Shain Matthews (Marysville, CA) won $29,306 in $355 NLHE
Event #2 – Jerry Ard (Monticello, MS) won $32,147 in $565 NLHE
Event #3 – Kevin Balsman (St. Louis, MO) won $11,844 in $355 PLO
Event #4 – Roy Riley won $57,139 in $355 NLHE (Re-Entry)
Event #5 – William Byrnes won $19,025 in $355 Turbo NLHE

With the first five tournaments now wrapped up, there are still seven more gold ring events remaining in what is being billed as a “12 rings in 12 days” poker series.  The WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s St. Louis continues through April 23rd.  This year’s schedule includes not only all the gold ring events, but multiple second-chance tournaments, single table and mega satellites, plus cash games going around the clock inside the action-packed poker room



Harrah’s St. Louis is a casino-resort located in Maryland Heights, MO -- about a 35-minute drive from Downtown St. Louis.  The international airport is even closer, just 15-minutes by car or shuttle.  In fact, the shuttle bus is free for hotel guests.  For poker players residing throughout the Midwest, the casino can be reached easily, which is located right off Interstate-70.

Harrah’s St. Louis is the 15th (of 17) WSOP Circuit host properties.  The 2011-2012 season is rapidly winding down, with only three more stops remaining on the schedule.  Harrah’s St. Louis is the Midwest’s final destination this season.  The other two remaining WSOP Circuit stops are at Harrah’s Chester (Philadelphia) – April 26 to May 7 and Harrah’s New Orleans – May 10 to May 21.

This marks the third straight season that the WSOP Circuit has visited Harrah’s St. Louis.  Previous tournaments played here drew large turnouts and generated big prize pools.  This year’s series appears to be no different based on heavy registration for the first few events.

Harrah’s St. Louis first opened in 1997 and has been one of gaming’s flagship properties in the Midwest ever since.  The hotel offers 455 deluxe rooms and 47 luxury suites.  Special hotel rates for players are available.  The property also has several fine restaurants at all price levels.  See WSOP.com for more information.

Harrah’s St. Louis’ “12 Rings in 12 Days” series is taking place April 12-23.  All the poker action takes place right on the main casino floor.  The final table is stationed right in the center of the floor, a highly-anticipated destination for every poker player. 

There's a lot at stake for poker players who will make their way to Harrah’s St. Louis over the next two weeks.  Not only are a dozen gold rings up for grabs, lots of prize money will also be awarded to those who cash.  All players who finish in the money will also earn ranking points, which are used to determine finalists for the season-ending WSOP Circuit National Championship.

Since the season began in September, all tournament players have been in the running for 100 guaranteed pre-paid seats in the $1 million WSOP Circuit National Championship finale – which will be a WSOP gold bracelet event to be played in Las Vegas, around the time of the World Series of Poker Main Event.