Tesfaldet Tekle Wins First WSOP Circuit Gold Ring

Los Angeles, CA (January 10, 20112) – The World Series of Poker Circuit headed into the homestretch today at The Bicycle Casino, located in the Bell Gardens section of Los Angeles.  The ninth of 12 gold ring events concluded with the crowning of a new champion.

The latest tournament winner is Tesfaldet Tekle, from Seattle, WA.  He is better known as “TT,” due to his unusual name.  TT, now age 31, was born in Eritrea, which is located in East Africa.  He immigrated to the United States at the age of two.  TT owns his own business, but also plays poker in his free time.  This marked his first major tournament victory.  In fact, this was his first time to cash in a WSOP-related event.

TT collected $21,025 in prize money for the win. 


Event #9 was a two-day $300 (+45) No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which attracted 295 entrants.  Play began on Monday at noon and concluded on Tuesday night.  The total prize pool came to $85,845.  The top 27 finishers were paid.  All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points – used to potentially qualify for a seat in the season-ending championship, to be played in Las Vegas.

A full list of all players who cashed in Event #9 can be seen here.

The first day resulted in the elimination of 282 players.  There were 13 survivors who resumed action on Day Two and then played down to the final table, which commenced play on inside The Bicycle Casino’s tournament room.  The finale was broadcast over the Internet via “Live at the Bike.”  The nine finalists and their chips counts were as follows:

SEAT 1:  Cory “Gunz” Zbinden (Chicago, IL) – 30,000 in chips
SEAT 2:  Clint Powell (San Diego, CA) – 309,000 in chips
SEAT 3:  John Yom (Walnut, CA) – 242,000 in chips
SEAT 4:  Adel Panvanehgohar (Chandler, AZ) – 250,000 in chips
SEAT 5:  Stuart Pfeifer (Los Angeles, CA) – 424,000 in chips
SEAT 6:  Tesfaldet Tekle, a.k.a. “TT” (Seattle, WA) – 418,000 in chips
SEAT 7:  Alfonse Ayala (Pomona, CA) – 254,000 in chips
SEAT 8:  Andrew “Chiseler” Barber (Sacramento, CA) – 511,000 in chips
SEAT 9:  Samuel Fayzakov (Phoenix, AZ) – 244,000 in chips

The final table featured no former WSOP Circuit gold ring winners, guaranteeing a first-time champion.  Incredibly, six of the final table players – including the ultimate winner – were enjoying their first-ever cash in a WSOP event.

Andrew “Chiseler” Barber had extra motivation to go deep, since he came in with a shot to overtake Huy Quach in the “Best All Around Player” points race.  A second-place or better showing would have given Barber the lead.

When cards flew in the air, the chip lead belonged to Barber, who was the player to beat.  He enjoyed a slight lead over Tesfaldet Tekle and Stuart Pfeifer.

Final table play began at 3 pm local time.  Play finished at 9:15 pm making the total duration a little more than six hours.  The official order of finish was as follows: 

9th Place – Adel Panvanehgohan, who is originally from Iran and now resides in Chandler, AZ was the first player to bust out from the final table.  He went about 90 minutes into play.  This marked is first time to cash in a WSOP-related tournament.

8th Place – John Yom, from Walnut, CA, went out about three hours into play.  He began with an average-sized stack, but went card dead late and was forced to the rail.  This was Yom’s fourth major tournament cash and first time in-the-money at a WSOP event.

7th Place – Stuart Pfeifer, a business reporter for the Los Angeles Times, enjoyed a nice run in this tournament.  He finished in seventh place, which was his first WSOP Circuit cash.  Pfeifer has previously cashed twice at the WSOP in Las Vegas.  He has accumulated more than 20 overall cashes and in excess of $50,000 in tournament winnings.  This was only the second Circuit event Pfeifer has entered.

6th Place – Alfonso Ayala, from Pomona, CA finished in sixth place.  He is a 22-year-old part-time poker player.  This was his first time to cash in a WSOP-related tournament.
5th Place – Andrew Barber, a graduate of Cornell University and current student from Sacramento, CA finished in fifth place.  This marked his second final table appearance at The Bike, and third time to cash.  With this finish, Barber moved into second place on the “Best All-Around Player” rankings. 

4th Place – Samuel Fayzakov, originally from Uzbekistan, came in fourth place.  He now resides in Phoenix, AZ.  This was his first time to cash in a WSOP-related tournament.

3rd Place – Corey “Gunz” Zbinden, from Chicago, IL ended up as the third-place finisher.  This was his first time to cash in a WSOP-related tournament.

2nd Place – Russell Powell, a painting contractor from San Diego, CA finished as the runner up.  He has a number of major tournament cashes, including three in-the-money finishes in WSOP Circuit events played at Caesars Palace.  Powell suffered a bit of bad luck late in the tournament.  Otherwise, he might have won instead of TT.  He ended up with a consolation prize amounting to $21,025.

The turning point during heads-up play came when Powell was dealt A-8.  He has his opponent all-in and well-covered.  Trouble was, rival TT held pocket aces.  The monster hand held up, which then put Powell at a severe disadvantage.  The final hand came a few minutes later as follows, when TT won the last showdown with a pair of sevens:


1st Place – Tesfaldet Tekle (a.k.a. “TT”), from Seattle, WA, finished in first place and won his first career WSOP Circuit gold ring.  He collected $21,025 in prize money.

With his victory, TT joins the previous tournament winners on the leader board in this WSOP Circuit’s “Best All-Around Player” standings.  The player who accumulates the most overall points in The Bike’s twelve combined gold ring tournaments receives a pre-paid entry into the $1 million 2011-2012 WSOP Circuit National Championship -- to be held in Las Vegas at the end of this season.  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 The Bicycle Casino’s Main Event championship.

Here are the nine winners from The Bike’s WSOP Circuit gold ring events, so far:

Event #1 – Huy Quach defeated 748 players ($345 NLHE) and won $44,663
Event #2 – Stephen Graner defeated 191 players ($550 NLHE) and won $25,020
Event #3 – Adam Bishop defeated 313 players ($345 NLHE) and won $20,958
Event #4 – Michael Rosenbach defeated 171 players ($345 Six-NLHE) and won $22,035
Event #5 – La Sengphet defeated 377 players ($345 NLHE) and won $25,242
Event #6 – John Coon defeated 289 players ($555 NLHE) and won $34,340
Event #7 – Jamey Johnson defeated 164 players ($1,000 NLHE) and won $42,975
Event #8 – Gebrehiwet Goitom defeated 389 players ($345 NLHE) and win $14,300
Event #9 – Tesfaldet “TT” Tekle defeated 295 players ($345 NLHE) and won $21,025

With nine tournaments now wrapped up, there are only three more gold ring events remaining in what is being billed as a “12 rings in 12 days” poker series.  The WSOP Circuit at The Bicycle Casino continues through December 12th.  This year’s schedule includes not only a dozen gold ring events, but multiple second-chance tournaments (at 5 pm and 8 pm most days), single table and mega satellites, plus cash games going around the clock inside the massive poker room.