Defending National Champ Sam Barnhart Finishes Sixth, While Alexandru Masek Falls Short of a Fifth Gold Ring Victory

St. Louis, MO (April 18, 2012) – Nikolas Stone catapulted himself into first place in the “Best All-Around Player” points race today, by winning the latest World Series of Poker Circuit gold bracelet event.  The $355 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament was held at the Harrah’s Riverboat Resort and Casino, in St. Louis.

Stone collected $21,770 in prize money for the victory.  He was also presented with his first WSOP Circuit gold ring, which is the top prize awarded for winning an event on the national tournament series.

This was Stone’s second final table appearance this week.  He previously finished sixth in the opening event played at Harrah’s St. Louis.  With this victory, Stone is the player to catch in the race to earn an automatic seat into the National Championship, which is played as season’s end.   Amazingly, this is the first WSOP Circuit stop Stone has attended.  It’s remarkable that he is on pace to earn the top player title in his debut effort.

Stone was absolutely thrilled with his victory.  He is a 29-year-old professional poker player from Auburndale, WI.  He has been playing full-time for about five years.  Stone stated that he wished to dedicate the win to his ultra-supportive girlfriend, Brittnee Robus.

The runner up was Adam Geiger, a talented web designed and part-time poker player from Regina, SK (Canada).  Stone overcame Geiger’s decisive chip advantage late in the tournament and won what will be characterized as a surprise comeback victory.  

Also of note was Sam Barnhart’s sixth-place finish.  The defending WSOP Circuit National Champion (2010/2011 season) is trying to accumulate enough points to return to Las Vegas in July and defend his title.  He is inching closer to an at large bid with this cash.  Barnhart, who lived in Little Rock, AR prior to his move to Las Vegas, cashed for the seventh time this season.

Another storyline from this event was the 15th-place finish by Alexandru Masek.  He now has ten WSOP Circuit cashes, this season.  Masek fell short of what would have been a fifth gold ring victory, potentially tying all-time wins leader Mark “Pegasus” Smith.  As things turned out, Smith can breathe a little easier, once again.  Smith is also playing in events here at Harrah’s St. Louis trying to add to his legacy as the wins champ.

Meanwhile, noticeably silent from cashing at this series so far is Doug “Rico” Carli, who holds the record as the all-time WSOP Circuit cashes leader.  He has ten cashes this season and 60 for his career.  But Carli has yet to crack the money here in St. Louis.


The seventh of a dozen gold ring tournaments began on Tuesday afternoon with Event #7 – a $355 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em competition.  The tournament attracted 323 entries.  The total prize pool came to $93,993.  The top 33 players were paid.  All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points.

A full list of all players who cashed in Event #7 can be seen here.

The tournament was played over two consecutive days.  Only 19 survivors took seats on the second day of action, played on Wednesday.

The final table included seven players (Note that Six-Handed NLHE final tables actually begin at seven-handed).  The final session featured only one former WSOP Circuit gold ring winner – Sam Barnhart.  Adam Geiger enjoyed a sizable chip lead over the finalists when play began.  This was also the first final table to include more than one female player.  Two ladies made the top seven.

Seat 1 – Scott Hall with 427,000 in chips
Seat 2 – Nik Stone with 350,000 in chips
Seat 3 – Adam Geiger with 1,300,000 in chips
Seat 4 – Stephanie Belk with 222,000 in chips
Seat 5 – Sam Barnhart with 242,000 in chips
Seat 6 – Jennifer Reel with 239,000 in chips
Seat 7 – Adam Zschau with 429,000 in chips

The final playing session began at 6 pm local time.  Play finished at 10 pm making the total duration about four hours.  The official order of finish was as follows:  

7th Place – Stephanie Belk was the seventh-place finisher.  She is a general services supervisor from Midland, TX.  Belk has one tournament victory, which took place in New Mexico a few years ago.  This marked her first time to appear at a WSOP Circuit final table.
6th Place – Sam Barnhart came in sixth.  He is the defending WSOP Circuit National Champion.  Barnhart holds both a gold bracelet and a gold ring.  He also took 17th place in the 2011 WSOP Main Event Championship, capping off a stellar breakthrough year.  Barnhart is now struggling to earn enough points to qualify for a return to Las Vegas in an attempt to defense his title.  With this cash, he now appears close to getting one of the at-large bids.
5th Place – Adam Zschau took fifth place.  He is a 31-year-old manager from Bloomington, IL.  This was his second time to cash on the WSOP Circuit.  He has also made the money a few times at the Chicago Poker Classic, played each February at Horseshoe Hammond.
4th Place – Jennifer Reel was the fourth place finisher.  She is a 40-year-old poker player from DuQuoin, IL.  She now has four WSOP Circuit cashes over the past two seasons – including three final tables (4th, 5th, and 6th).  Reel was disappointed she did not win and says she is determined to eventually win what would be her first a major title.

3rd Place – Scott Hall came in third place.  He is a 52-year-old electrician from Maryland Heights, MO (same location as Harrah’s St. Louis).  This marked Hall’s first time to cash in a WSOP Circuit event, after three attempts at making the money.  He earned $9,777 in prize money.

2nd Place – Adam Geiger was the runner up.  He is a 26-year-old web designer and entrepreneur from Regina, SK (Canada).  He is looking to play poker more seriously and was on the cusp of victory late in the tournament.  But Geiger missed a draw on his final hand and had to settle for a consolation prize in the amount of $13,461.  

When heads-up play began, Geiger had Stone covered by a substantial margin.  But the underdog made a determined comeback and seized the chip lead.  The final hand came about an 40 minutes into the duel and proceeded as follows:


Geiger pushed all-in with his flush draw.  Stone snap called with top pair (jacks) and top kicker.  Geiger missed his heart draw which meant Stone was declared the new champion.

1st Place – Nik Stone became the sixth WSOP Circuit champion crowned this year at Harrah’s St. Louis.  He won his biggest payout ever – totaling $21,770 for the victory.  He was also presented with his first gold ring.

With his victory, Stone took the lead in this WSOP Circuit’s “Best All-Around Player” race.  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
Event #7 – Nikolas Stone (Auburndale, WI) won $21,770 in $355 6-HANDED NLHE

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