TUNICA, MS. – While poker is a primary source of income for a lot of players on the Circuit trail, there are many more who take to the game for the unmatched entertainment that it provides. However, don’t get it twisted. Like their professional counterparts, money is still the motive for these weekend warriors, but they also find value in the unique experience of playing in a live tournament or cash game.
The Circuit Events at Harrah’s Tunica is a prime example of this dichotomy as it draws a sizable number of recreational players and with them, the sharks who have their sights set on what they see as a golden opportunity to pad their bankrolls.
The conclusion of Circuit Event #6, the $345 buy-in, No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed Event however, saw an amateur crowned king for a day as Michael Urbaniak, a 43-year-old construction company owner from O’Fallon, MO emerged victorious after beating out 343 opponents to take first place prize, worth $24,929 and the coveted WSOP Circuit Gold ring.
“This is pretty cool,” said Urbaniak after the win. “I’ve been playing poker for about five years now and this is the first deep run I’ve ever made. There was some very tough competition at the final table, so I feel very fortunate to have pulled it off.”
Event #6 generated a $98,754 prize pool of which 46 players claimed a piece. Despite taking the lion’s share of the cash, Urbaniak is not wide-eyed at all over his newfound poker success.
“This is all for fun. I run a construction company and that’s my bread and butter,” he said. “I may get lucky and win another tournament down the road, but this is a recreational thing for me.”
24-year-old college student Matthew Weber, who steamrolled his way to victory in Circuit Event #4 at Harrah’s Tunica was the third place finisher in this event ($11,256) and with that takes a dominating lead in the Harrah’s Tunica Casino Champion points race.
The Casino Champion is the player who earns the most points through the 12 events at Harrah’s Tunica. This player will earn an automatic seat to the $1 million WSOP Circuit National Championship to be held at a date later to be determined. More information about the WSOPC National Championship can be found here. An explanation of the points system can be found here.
With a sixth place finish in Event #6, Owensboro, KY Real estate investor, Charlie Dawson continued to build on his WSOPC record of player with the most final tables (12) without a Circuit Event win.
As cool a customer one could find out on the WSOP Circuit trail, Dawson easily shrugged off his latest final table departure.
“Aaah, oh well. What are you gonna do?” he said with a smile as he headed off to the payout table to collect his sixth place prize, worth $4,823.
Other final table finishers in event #6 were Frank Smith, a 58-year-old lineman from Hazel Green, AL who finished in 5th to take home $6,302 and William “Wild Bill” Phillips of New Orleans, LA who finished in 4th place ($8,357). Phillips is the co-owner of the poker website Gulfcoastpoker.net.
The runner-up in this event was 26-year-old Ben Kramer of Terre Haute, IN. Kramer, the winner of Circuit Event #7 at Horseshoe Southern Indiana, was denied a second piece of WSOPC hardware and was forced to settle for second place prize, worth $15,404.
Still to come are 6 events. The WSOP Circuit Events at Harrah’s Tunica runs through February 13th.
Patrick Collins – Regional Public Relations Manager
Alan Fowler – Digital Media Manager
WSOP/Caesars Interactive Entertainment
About the WSOP
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the largest, richest and most prestigious gaming event in the world awarding millions of dollars in prize money and the prestigious gold bracelet, globally recognized as the sport's top prize. Featuring a comprehensive slate of tournaments in every major poker variation, the WSOP is poker's longest running tournament in the world, dating back to 1970. In 2010, the event attracted 72,966 entrants from 117 different countries to the Rio in Las Vegas and awarded over $187 million in prize money. In addition, the WSOP has formed groundbreaking alliances in broadcasting, digital media and corporate sponsorships, while successfully expanding the brand internationally with the advent in 2007 of the World Series of Poker Europe. The WSOP Circuit Tour is entering its seventh season in 2010-11, and will feature 12 stops throughout the U.S., plus for the first ever, a stop in South Africa. For more information on the World Series of Poker, please visit www.WSOP.com.
About Harrah’s Tunica
Harrah’s Tunica is located 20 minutes south of Memphis, Tennessee and was originally opened in 1996 as Grand Casino. On May, 23, 2008 Paula Deen cut the official grand opening ribbon at Harrah’s Tunica featuring the first of its kind Paula Deen Buffet and an interactive gaming floor that is the largest in the region. Spanning over 2,000 acres Harrah’s Tunica features the Links at Cottonwoods championship golf course designed by Hale Irwin, Willows Sporting Clays and Hunting Center, the Mid-South Convention Center offering over 65,000 square feet of indoor meeting space, three elegant hotels totaling 1356 hotel rooms, the 200-space Mid-South RV Resort, Bellissimo Spa and Salon, and a 2,400 seat event center that features headline entertainment
About Caesars Entertainment:
Caesars Entertainment Corporation is the world's largest casino entertainment company. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada, more than 70 years ago, Caesars has grown through development of new resorts, expansions and acquisitions, and now operates casinos on four continents. The company's resorts operate primarily under the Harrah's®, Caesars® and Horseshoe® brand names. Caesars also owns the World Series of Poker® and the London Clubs International family of casinos. Caesars Entertainment is focused on building loyalty and value with its guests through a unique combination of great service, excellent products, unsurpassed distribution, operational excellence and technology leadership. Caesars is committed to environmental sustainability and energy conservation and recognizes the importance of being a responsible steward of the environment. For more information, please visit www.caesars.com.