Five-Time Champion Alexandru Masek!

Recent Law School Graduate Now in Three-Way Tie for Most Career Gold Ring Victories

San Diego Poker Pro Wins Harrah's Rincon Opener

Defending Champion Randy Paguio Finishes Second

Valley Center, CA (December 7, 2012) – The WSOP Circuit at Harrah's Rincon opened in historic fashion on Friday night when one of the tour's most accomplished players in recent years won his record-tying fifth gold ring.

Alexandru Masek, the 27-year-old law school graduate from San Diego, won the $365 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em tournament, classified as Event 1.  His fifth career victory moves him into a three-way tie for most victories in the nine-year-history of the WSOP Circuit.  Masek currently shares the lofty plateau with Mark “Pegausus” Smith and Kyle Cartwright.

Masek's victory, which came a few minutes after midnight on a Friday night in North San Diego County was watched closely in many other parts of the country, most notably in Atlantic City wherSmith was observing.  Prior to the start of the final table, Smith event went to far as to send Masek a text message, encouraging him to play his best and win what amounts to a historic victory.

“I feel really good.  I feel like I'm on cloud nine right now,” Masek said moments after his victory.  “I feel like I got close quite a few times (to winning the fifth), and that's tournament poker.  Now, it's great to finally get number five to come out.”

Of all Masek's accomplishments, this may have very well been the most impressive.  He overcame a field size of 205 players, but the greatest challenge was outlasting his opponents at a nine-hour final table, which included the defending champion from this same event last year.

Indeed, Masek would ultimately defeat last year's gold ring winner Randy Paguio heads-up.  But the route to victory was filled with some scary moments, including at least two occasions where Masek needs some help from the deck in order to survive.  Masek managed to pull a rabbit out of the deck on those two occasions, winning what amounted to one of the most crowd-pleasing victories in the long history of poker events at Harrah's Rincon.

Masek collected the sum of $15,989 in prize money, but the nice financial windfall seemed to be the last thing on the mind of Masek, as practically everyone on the tournament room with any experience playing Circuit events came over to congratulate the cordial young man who grew up in St. Louis, and now resides about 30 miles away in San Diego.

“When I won before, I don't think back then I realized how hard it is to win,” Masek said.  “[The drought of not winning] made me realize just how good I ran when I was winning.”

The next chapter in the Masek-Smith-Cartwright race has yet to be written.  No doubt, each of these three champions and poker ambassadors has plenty of poker ahead, and the potential for even more victories.  Several other players also could emerge with a hot run in the coming second half of the current WSOP Circuit season.

But at least for now, Masek can take this moment and enjoy the view from the poker mountaintop.  He's earned every right to celebrate his moment, and take a bow.

If he listens carefully, he will hear the grinders of the poker world clapping for what amounts to a great personal and professional achievement.
We spoke with Masek after his victory and caught up with Mark Smith, who offered his congratulations