CHESTER, PA - Since state legislators gave the OK to allow table games in Pennsylvania casinos back in 2010, a poker renaissance of sorts has taken place in the state as many players have taken to card rooms across PA. This intrastate boom is evident at the annual World Series of Poker where entries from Pennsylvania players have increased over 41% since 2009.

Not only are Pennsylvanians playing more poker, they are playing better poker as the number of cashes from the state are up 57% since 2009. During the 2011 WSOP, Pennsylvania had the third-highest cash rate among US states at 11%, up from 9% in 2010.

While players here in PA can now enjoy around-the-clock cash games and daily and weekly tournaments at area casinos, many especially look forward to the arrival of a major tournament series like the World Series of Poker Circuit Events, where they can put their skills to the test in large-size fields.

208 players did just that Thursday in WSOP Circuit Ring Event #1 at Harrah’s Philadelphia as each vied for their piece of a $60,528 prize pool and the coveted WSOPC gold ring.

The winner of Event #1 was Kurt Magalski, a 38-year-old physical therapist and recreational player from Lancaster, PA. Magalski, who had some time off from his job rehabilitating people, took full advantage of his personal time and earned himself $15,741. This was his first-ever major tournament cash finish.

13 players remained when day one play ended Friday at 2 am and returned 12 hours later to finish out the tournament. About an hour into day two play, it was down to the final table.




Chip Count

Kurt Magalski

Lancaster, PA



Nick Gorman

South Lake Tahoe, CA



Spyros Malkotsis

Merrick, NY



Morgan Clark

Wilmington, DE



Michael Sheldon

Abington, PA



Charles P. Bailey

Philadelphia, PA



Sai Wang

Drexel Hill, PA



Tim Faro

Glen Burnie, MD



Yechiel Mesika

Glen Mills, PA



9th PlaceUnable to do much with his short stack, Spyros Malkotsis suffered the first elimination of the day. Malkotsis is a 48-year-old construction project manager from Merrick, NY. The married father of two has had previous tournament cashes in Atlantic City where he plays regularly. His first WSOP-related cash finish earned him $1,416.

8th PlaceSai Wang was the eighth place finisher in this event. The amateur player from Drexel Hill, PA made his first ever major tournament cash here at Harrah’s Philadelphia, taking home $1,775.

7th Place The seventh place finisher was Yechiel Mesika, another amateur player who hails from Glen Mills, PA. Like Wang, Meskia earned his first-ever major tournament cash finish with his performance at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Seventh place paid $2,261.
6th Place – After making his first in-the-money finish here in Event #10 of the inaugural Harrah’s Philadelphia WSOP Circuit Events in 2011, Wilimington, DE banker Morgan Clark improved on last year’s result with a sixth place finish in this year’s opening event, earning him $2,927.
5th PlaceFormer middle school math and social studies teacher turned poker pro Nick Gorman was the fifth place finisher. Gorman, who hails from South Lake Tahoe, CA began playing poker online and has enjoyed moderate success since making his first major tournament cash last July. His efforts tonight earned him $3,851.
4th PlaceMichael Sheldon was eliminated in fourth place. Sheldon is a 29-year-old youth counselor from Abington, PA. He is a recreational poker player who’s best tournament finish came back in 2010 where he won a WPT preliminary event. His fourth place finish here at Harrah’s Philadelphia was worth $5,155.

A critical hand developed three handed with all three players all-in after a     flop. Faro hoped to complete a straight and triple up his short stack after tabling    while the Magalski looked to put an abrupt end to the tournament, drawing to a flush with   . Bailey was ahead of both players with pocket aces. After a   turn, the river came down the  , making Faro’s straight and tripling him up. Bailey raked in the side pot, leaving Magalski with the short stack.

Magalski fought his way back from the ropes however and after taking a huge pot from Faro, before busting him a few hands later. Faro is a 26-year-old carpenter and amateur poker player from Glen Burnie, MD. Faro cashed in the 2011 WSOP Main Event, finishing in 147th place for $55,000. He added $7,019 to his total tournament earnings with his third place finish here at Philadelphia.

Heads up was between Bailey and Magalski. Although the final two players had comparable stacks, the duel did not last long. A few hands into play, the two were all in after Magalski flopped two pair holding   . Bailey was drawing to a straight, which he completed on the turn, but suffered another disastrous river that filled Magalski’s boat, leaving him as the runner-up. 

Bailey is a 34-year-old music recording artist and producer from Philadelphia, PA. Bailey’s second place here at Philadelphia marked his first WSOP-related cash finish.

“This was very exciting,” said Magalski after the win.

With the win, Magalski takes an early lead in the Casino Champion point race for Harrah’s Philadelphia.  

The Casino Champion is the player who earns the most points through the 12 events at Harrah’s Philadelphia. This player will earn an automatic seat to the $1 million WSOP Circuit National Championship to be held in late May. More information about the WSOPC National Championship can be found here. An explanation of the points system can be found here.

Still to come are 11 events. See the complete Harrah’s Philadelphia Circuit schedule and event results here. The WSOP Circuit Events at Harrah’s Philadelphia runs through May 7th. You can find the complete 2011/2012 WSOP CIRCUIT SCHEDULE here.


Harrah’s Philadelphia is a casino and racetrack located in Philadelphia, PA -- about 15 minutes south of Philadelphia International Airport. It is the 16th (of 17) WSOP Circuit host properties. Harrah’s New Orleans is the last remaining stop of the 2011-2012 WSOPC season.

This marks the second season that the WSOP Circuit has visited Harrah’s Philadelphia.

Harrah’s Philadelphia first opened in 2007, offering slot games and horse racing. Table games were introduced to the casino in 2010 after they were legalized by the state of Pennsylvania.

Harrah’s Philadelphia originally opened as Harrah’s Chester, but is currently in the process of rebranding itself as Harrah’s Philadelphia, which is expected to be complete on May 1st.

Harrah’s Philadelphia’s “12 Rings in 12 Days” series is taking place April 25-May 7.  Tournaments are held in the ballroom located on the second floor of the casino. Cash games can be found in the poker room next to the race book also located on the second floor.

Each Ring Event Final Table will be streamed live from the final table stage area in the ballroom. The live stream can be accessed at: http://www.wsop.com/2011/circuit/live-video/. Because final table start times are tentative, viewers should follow the WSOP on Twitter @wsop to be notified when live streams begin. 

Media Contact:

Alan Fowler

WSOP/Caesars Interactive Entertainment