North Dakota Poker Pro Adam Laskey Wins Latest Gold Ring Title

St. Louis, MO (April 17, 2012) – With all due respect to every other player in the latest World Series of Poker Circuit tournament, it’s fitting that Adam Laskey ended up in a showdown against Chip Ervin, with both players battling it out for a gold ring in the waning moments of the competition.

The two full-time professional poker players were equally motivated to accumulate enough ranking points to qualify for a seat in the WSOP Circuit National Championship, coming at season’s end.  As things turnout out, one player – the winner Laskey – catapulted himself into a qualifying position (based on today’s rankings) while the runner up Ervin still appears to be just short of a guaranteed seat.  Such are the rewards and costs of finishing first versus second.

For his victory, Laskey collected the handsome sum of $23,449 in prize money.  He was also awarded his first WSOP Circuit gold ring, the token prize for winning an event on the nation’s biggest poker tour.

Laskey has been playing poker seriously since he was in college.  He graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in accounting.  Since the events of so-called “Black Friday,” which took place a year ago, Laskey has been playing a lot more live games and tournaments, mostly in the Midwest.  However, he plans to move to Phoenix in the coming months in order to have more poker playing options.

Laskey, age 25, now has seven WSOP Circuit cashes, all of which have come this season.  His best previous showing was a fifth-place finish in an event three weeks ago at Council Bluffs, IA.

Chip Ervin also deserves some credit and respect for his strong finish.  He won a WSOP Circuit gold ring earlier this season at Harrah’s Tunica and just missed what would have been a second victory.  Ervin still has some work to do however, needing at least another cash or two to qualify for the National Championship contest.

With this event, the WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s St. Louis has now reached the midway point.  Six more gold ring events remain.


The sixth of a dozen gold ring tournaments began on Monday afternoon with Event #6 – a $355 buy-in Turbo No-Limit Hold’em competition.  The tournament attracted 355 entries.  The total prize pool came to $103,305.  The top 36 players were paid.  All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points.

A full list of all players who cashed in Event #6 can be seen here.

The tournament was played over two consecutive days.  Only 22 survivors took seats on the second day of action, played on Tuesday.

The final table featured only one former WSOP Circuit gold ring winner – Chip Ervin.  He began final table play as the chip leader.

Seat 1 – Andrew Wright with 478,000 in chips
Seat 2 – Drew Woodke with 342,000 in chips
Seat 3 – Jeff Gaines with 500,000 in chips
Seat 4 – David Horton with 300,000 in chips
Seat 5 – Paul Fehlig with 137,000 in chips
Seat 6 – Adam Laskey with 444,000 in chips
Seat 7 – Charles Belcher with 268,000 in chips
Seat 8 – Boulos Estafanous with 93,000 in chips
Seat 9 – Chip Ervin with 676,000 in chips
Seat 10 – Charlie Ussery with 408,000 in chips

The final playing session began at 5 pm local time.  Play finished at 10 pm making the total duration about five hours.  The official order of finish was as follows: 

10th Place – Charles Belcher finished in tenth place.  He is a 62-year-old part-time poker player from Dallas, TX.  This was his eighth WSOP Circuit cash and fourth appearance in the top ten. Belcher took third place in the Seniors Championship held on Sunday.

9th Place – Ossama Estafanous came in ninth.  He is an Egyptian-born accountant now living in Chicago, IL.  Estafanous now has four WSOP Circuit cashes and three WSOP in-the-money finishes.  He cashed in the 2010 WSOP Main Event.

8th Place – Jeff Gaines was the eighth-place finisher.  He is a 46-year-old Illinois State Trooper from Godfrey, IL.  This marked Gaines’ first time to cash in a WSOP event.

7th Place – Andrew Wright took seventh place.  He is a 26-year-old part-timer poker player from Columbia, MO.  This was Wright’s first time in the money at a WSOP tournament.
6th Place – David Horton was the sixth-place finisher.  He is a 44-year-old Police Sergeant with the St. Charles Police Department.  Horton has several previous cashes in small tournaments played in the area. 
5th Place – Paul Fehlig came in fifth place.  He is a 33-year-old former poker dealer from St. Louis, MO.  Fehlig has cashed six times at the WSOP in Las Vegas.  This was his second time to cash at this series in St. Louis.
4th Place – Charlie Ussery ended up in fourth place.  He is 67-years-old and lives in Lee’s Summit, MO.  This was his first time to cash in a WSOP-related tournament.

3rd Place – Drew Woodke came in third.  He is a 30-year-old poker player and real estate agent from Omaha, NE.  This was his 15th WSOP cash, and fifth final table in a WSOP event.  He has five cashes alone this season, including three final table appearances.

2nd Place – Chip Ervin was the runner up.  He is a 33-year-old poker pro from Tuscaloosa, AL.  Ervin won a gold bracelet in January at the WSOP Circuit event held in Tunica, MS.  He has also won events at the Gulf Coast Poker Classic as well as a second-place finish at a WPT event held in Biloxi.  Ervin is married with two children.  He holds a degree in education from the University of Alabama. 

When heads-up play began, Laskey enjoyed close to a 3 to 1 chip advantage over Ervin.  The final hand came about 20 minutes into the duel and played out as follows after Ervin was all in before the flop:


Laskey’s small pair was ahead the entire way.  He has Ervin essentially drawing to an ace.  A four on the river added an exclamation point to the victory.  Laskey was declared the new champion.

1st Place – Adam Laskey became the sixth WSOP Circuit champion crowned this year at Harrah’s St. Louis.  He won his second-biggest payout ever – totaling $23,449 for the victory.  He was also presented with his first gold ring.

With his victory, Laskey moves up near the top of the standings as one of the leaders in this WSOP Circuit’s “Best All-Around Player” race.  However, he ranks behind current leader Shain Matthews.

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 (Savoy, IL) won $57,139 in $355 NLHE (Re-Entry)
Event #5 – William Byrnes (St. Charles, MO) won $19,025 in $355 Turbo NLHE
Event #6 – Adam Laskey (Fargo, ND) won $23,449 in $355 NLHE

With the first six tournaments now wrapped up, there are still six 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.