Joseph Casella, from Royal Palm Beach, Wins WSOP Circuit Gold Ring at Palm Beach Kennel Club


West Palm Beach, FL (February 23 2012) – The World Series of Poker Circuit at the Palm Beach Kennel Club has reached the midway point.

With six gold rings tournaments now complete (of 12), the final week of action promises to be a thrilling run down the homestretch.

The latest tournament champion is Joseph Casella, from Royal Palm Beach, FL.  He is a 49-year-old firefighter.  Casella has proudly served for 25 years with Palm Beach County Fire and Rescue.

Casella collected $23,315 in prize money.  For his victory, he was also presented with the coveted gold ring, which is the ultimate token of achievement for winning a WSOP Circuit tournament.  

This extraordinary performance marked his first time ever to cash in a WSOP-related event.

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Officially listed as Event #6 -- the $345 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament attracted 353 entries – a nice field size considering this was played during the middle of the week.  The total prize pool came to $101,373.  The top 36 players were paid.  All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points.

Among those who cashed and finished in the top ten were two former WSOP Circuit gold ring champions – Jamey Johnson (4th) and (Natasha Barbour (10th).

David Sidler also cashed in this tournament (19th), becoming one of only two players with three cashes at this WSOP Circuit, thus far.

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

The first day’s action resulted in the elimination of ninety percent of the starting players.  There were only 19 survivors who resumed action on Day Two.  After another few hours of play, the field was trimmed down to the final table.  The nine finalists and their starting chip counts were as follows:

SEAT 1:  Chris Ashley (Augusta, GA) – 124,000 in chips
SEAT 2:  Aaron Berman (West Palm Beach, FL) – 316,000 in chips
SEAT 3:  Doug Lang (Delmar, NY) – 277,000 in chips
SEAT 4:  Austen Johnson (Greensboro, NC) – 221,000 in chips
SEAT 5:  Jamey Johnson (Waycross, GA) – 477,000 in chips
SEAT 6:  Christopher Choy (East Brunswick, NJ) – 287,000 in chips
SEAT 7:  Steven Tabb (Newton, PA) – 579,000 in chips
SEAT 8:  Joseph Casella (Royal Palm Beach, FL) – 547,000 in chips
SEAT 9:  Yonisander Ramirez (Miami, FL) – 705,000 in chips

The final table included only one previous gold ring winner – Jamey Johnson, from Georgia.  The chip leader at the start of play was Yonisander Ramirez, from Miami.

The finalists were eliminated as follows:

9th Place – Chris Ashley was the first of the nine finalists to be eliminated.  He lost to a set and quickly hit the rail in ninth place.  Ashley is a 33-year-old poker pro from Augusta, GA.  This marked his third time to cash in an event on the WSOP Circuit. 

8th Place – Christopher Choy ended up in eighth place.  He suffered two late beats and went out about an hour into the action.  Choy is a 20-year-old college student currently attending Boston University.  He is studying economics.  His previous poker accomplishments include a tournament win at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino.

7th Place – Doug Lang went out during the third hour of play and finished in seventh place.  Lang works as an online equity analyst and resides in Delmar, NY.  This was his sixth time to cash on the WSOP Circuit and was also his best finish.  Lang also cashed in an event at last year’s WSOP in Las Vegas.

6th Place – Yonisander Ramirez finished in sixth place.  He is a 28-year-old poker pro from Miami, FL.  Ramirez went out during the third hour of play.  He previously served in the U.S. Army for eight years.  His previous poker accomplishments include an in-the-money finish at the Rock n’ Roll Poker Open, last year here in South Florida.

5th Place – Austen Johnson ended up as the fifth-place finisher.  He is a 29-year-old poker pro from Greensboro, NC. 

4th Place – Jamey Johnson was the fourth-place finisher.  He is a 29-year-old poker pro from Tifton, GA.  Johnson previously won a WSOP Circuit gold ring last month at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles ($1,000 buy-in event), in addition to having several additional cashes at other tournaments.  His quest to become a two-time ring winner fell short as he was eliminated about four hours into play.  

3rd Place – Steven Tabb finished in third place, after a long two-hour battle with the poker trio.  He is a 24-year-old poker pro from Newton, MA with a degree in economics and finance.  Tabb has an impressive record of tournament success.  This marked his eighth time to cash on the WSOP Circuit this season.  He also has five cashes at the WSOP in Las Vegas.  This in-the-money finish pushes him over the $200,000 mark in WSOP-related winnings.

2nd Place – Aaron Berman endured the mixed emotions of a second-place finish.  He played well but came against a cooler on the final hand of the tournament when his pocket eights were steamrolled by Joseph Casella’s pocket aces.  Berman is the 30-year-old owner of an advertising business.  He is a local part-time poker player from West Palm Beach.  Second place paid $14,414.

1st Place – Joseph Casella, a 49-year-old firefighter from Royal Palm Beach, FL won his first WSOP Circuit gold ring and $23,315 in prize money.

With his victory, Casella moves near the top of the leader board in this WSOP Circuit stop’s “Best All-Around Player” standings.  The current leader is Charles Flett, who currently has two deep runs -- second and seventh place finishes – good for the highest point total.  Here are all the gold ring winners, so far: 

EVENT #1 – Anh Lu defeated 2,607 players in NLHE and won $183,750
EVENT #2 – Loni Harwood defeated 500 players in NLHE and won $30,994
EVENT #3 – Jason Reep defeated 247 players in HORSE and won $17,270
EVENT #4 – Adam Cook defeated 413 players in NLHE and won $26,142
EVENT #5 – Jake Schindler defeated 391 players in 6-HANDED NLHE and won $24,736
EVENT #6 – Joseph Casella defeated 353 players and won $23,315


The player who accumulates the most overall points in the PBKC’s 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 Jan. Feb. 25-27).

With the first five tournaments wrapped up, there are still seven more gold ring events remaining in what is being billed as a “12 rings in 12 days” poker series.  The WSOP Circuit at the Palm Beach Kennel Club continues through February 27th.  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

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MORE ABOUT THE WSOP CIRCUIT AT PALM BEACH KENNEL CLUB

This marks the second consecutive season that the Palm Beach Kennel Club (PBKC) has hosted a WSOP Circuit stop.  Last year’s attendance and prize pool figures were so strong, that the decision to return once again to sunny South Florida once again was inevitable.

Indeed, PBKC continues to distance itself from the other dogs in Florida’s highly-competitive poker race.  This year, PBKC will be hosting 12 WSOP Circuit gold ring poker tournaments over a two-week period.  Tournaments officially began on Thursday, February 16th with Event #1 – which included a one-million dollar guarantee.  This marked the first time in history that any tournament of that size ($500 buy-in) offered a guaranteed million-dollar payout.

The following 12 days are sure to be packed with multiple tournaments and around-the-clock cash-game action.  The poker festival concludes on February 28th with the final table of the $1,600 buy-in Main Event Championship.
 
“Florida poker has officially arrived and partnering with the World Series of Poker is as special as it gets," said Noah Carbonne, Director of Poker Operations for the Palm Beach Kennel Club.  "We're thrilled to be involved with the Rolls Royce of poker – which is the WSOP.  For all of us here at the Palm Beach Kennel Club, the State of Florida, and most importantly the thousands of poker players here in the southeast as well as those attending from around the country, we are ready to make history – especially with our million-dollar guarantee, which has never been offered before for an event of its size.”

Gold ring tournaments are only a fraction of what’s on the poker menu at the Palm Beach Kennel Club.  Second-chance No-Limit Hold’em tournaments will be running from day one.  The deep-stack tournaments will cost $235 to enter and begin nightly at 7 pm.  Satellites for all gold ring tournaments will also be going regularly inside the poker room.  Several mega-satellites for the Main Event Championship will also be offered.

The PBKC initially opened in 1932, making it one of the oldest pari-mutual racetracks in the country.  Owned and operated by the famous Rooney Family (which also owns the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers), the track has been a popular attraction and a leisurely way to spend an afternoon for locals and visitors alike.  Known for its live greyhound racing and simulcasts from numerous racetracks all over the country, PBKC jettisoned into a new era last year when it expanded its poker facility, which is now one of the largest poker rooms in Florida.

About a year ago, PBKC expanded its poker operations to include 64 tournament tables.  PBKC is the first dog track to ever host a WSOP-related tournament.  Each final table takes place in a premium location near the main grandstand, which enables everyone close to the poker action to cheer on the greyhounds, as well.  Naturally, betting windows will be close by for those who want to mix in some racing action with poker playing.  Dog races take place most days starting at 1 pm.  There are also dog races nightly on weekends.
 
PBKC is conveniently located just steps away from the West Palm Beach international Airport, which offers direct flights from all over the country.  Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is also close by.  Several hotels are situated near the dog track and poker facility, to accommodate all budgets.  The cardroom offers regular shuttle service to and from at least three nearby hotels.  Special hotel rate packages for poker players are available.
 
It’s not too late to be part of the biggest poker event in Florida history.  West Palm Beach is well-known for its sandy white beaches, luxury hotels, fine restaurants, great shopping, and plenty of sunshine.  And now, there will be great poker action around the clock at the PBKC.  The complete schedule and structure sheets for all events can be viewed at WSOP.COM
 
PBKC is the 11th of 17 WSOP Circuit stops this season.  All players over age 21 are eligible to compete for a seat in the $1 million freeroll event which crowns the WSOP Circuit National Championship point race.  This season's top 100 players who qualify will compete in the first-ever nationally-televised championship, which will take place in Las Vegas, in May 2012.  The winner of that extraordinary event will receive the most coveted prize in all of poker, a WSOP gold bracelet.