Los Angeles, CA (January 10, 20112) – Freddy Deeb added to his illustrious list of poker accomplishments tonight by winning the most recent World Series of Poker Circuit Championship, held at The Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles.

Deeb put on yet another masterful performance in a career filled with numerous maestro moments.  He collected $171,810 in prize money for his victory, which remarkably was his first-ever cash in a WSOP circuit event.  Deeb was also presented with his first WSOP Circuit gold ring, to go along with his two WSOP gold bracelets.

Deeb is perhaps best known to the world for winning the 2007 WSOP H.O.R.S.E. Championship, which had a whopping $50,000 buy-in.  He earned a priceless memento for the triumph, which has since been renamed the “Chip Reese Memorial Trophy.”  While no gold ring could possibly compare to the self-satisfaction of defeating the game’s very best players on the biggest stage of the year, this battle some four years later was every bit as tough.

Deeb arrived at the final table as chip leader.  But if anyone expected Deeb to waltz easily through another finale, they were in for a surprise and a long wait.  Deeb lost this chip lead on at least two occasions, and was ranked fourth in chips when play was four-handed.  He was also dead last in chips when play was three handed.  At one point, he was all-in and needed to pair the board to survive.  He caught his card, proving that even the game’s best need occasional fortuitous instances of good luck.

But Deeb can never be counted out, either when it comes to playing great poker in poker’s most prestigious events or in providing entertainment value to those who follow the game.  Deeb was his usual amusing self, constantly talking about anything on his mind.  At first glance, one may have thought it was Deeb’s Thursday night home poker game.  All that was missing were the beer and the pretzels. 

While Deeb rightfully stole the spotlight, the player who very well could have written just as exciting a headline was Alexandru Masek, the runner up.  Masek, a recent law school graduate from San Diego, came within a razor-thin margin of tying the record for most WSOP Circuit wins.  Only 26-years-old, Masek already has four wins – ranking second along with Men “the Master” Nguyen.  A victory in this event would have given him a fifth win, putting the youthful grad into a tie with Mark “Pegasus” Smith, who stands alone as the Michael Jordan of the WSOP Circuit.

Masek played outstanding poker, but lost a backbreaking late race against Deeb and had to settle for the runner up spot.  Certainly, there was no shame for Masek by finishing second – especially to one of the game’s greatest players.  No doubt, Masek has an incredible future in poker, should he decide to dedicate more time to the game.

Meanwhile, the new champion pretty much summed up a day in the life of Freddy Deeb when he announced that he had absolutely no time to celebrate victory.  Deeb, who recently opened up a new Lebanese restaurant in Claremont, conveyed that he has been working 50-60 hours a week in his new business.  He broke away long enough to play a little poker however, winning another ho-hum six-figure score.

“I’m exhausted!” Deeb said just moments after his victory.  “Right now, I’m going to bed!  I’ll do interviews tomorrow!  Good night!”

With this victory, 56-year-old Deeb now has more than $3.5 million in overall career tournament winnings.  Aside from his H.O.R.S.E. victory, Deeb’s other gold bracelet was achieved in 1996 when he won the Deuce-to-Seven Lowball championship.

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The first World Series of Poker Circuit ever held in Los Angeles concluded today at The Bicycle Casino, located in Bell Gardens. 

Aside from an exciting Main Event and Deeb’s victory, among the other highlights of The Bike’s series were:

La Sengphet Becomes All-Time Female Wins Leader – Poker history was made at The Bike where La Sengphet became the first woman ever to win three open tournaments on the World Series of Poker Circuit.  Sengphet, who travels regularly around the country playing in major poker tournaments, has become one of the Circuit’s most popular players.  She achieved what many would consider to be her most impressive tournament victory in Event #5, defeating 377 players.  Sengphet also finished fourth in last season’s televised WSOP Circuit National Championship, which paid $100,000.

Michael Rosenbach Wins His Third Gold Ring this Season – If the 2011-2010 season were to have an official “Player of the Year” -- aside from the pending winner of the National Championship coming at season’s end -- the title might very well be already locked up.  Michael Rosenbach, a 29-year-old poker pro from Santa Rosa, CA won this third WSOP Circuit gold ring in less than two month’s time.  With fresh memories of his two wins at the WSOP Circuit held at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe in November, Rosenbach rolled into Los Angeles some 45 days later and completed the trifecta.  With his victory, Rosenbach’s tournament record this year includes three wins and a fifth-place showing.  He already qualified for the National Championship by virtue of his designation as “Best All Around Player” at Lake Tahoe.

Jamey Johnson Goes from “Worst” to “First” in Event #7 – Jamey Johnson came to Los Angeles all the way from the small town of Tifton, Georgia – traveling more than 3,000 miles -- to earn the biggest victory of his poker career.  He posted what was indisputably the comeback performance of The Bike series, roaring back from a ninth-place ranking when the final table began all the way to a gold ring victory.  Remarkably, it was his first time ever to cash in a WSOP-related tournament.

Numbers:  748 For Opener and 549 for Main Event – It’s been an unwritten rule never to try and run poker tournaments during major holidays.  For the first time ever, a major tournament was held on New Year’s Day, which is normally a tough sell to potential poker players who have other engagements.  Despite a New Year’s Day start, there were still 748 entrants for the opener at The Bike.  The following week, the Main Event also drew a nice crowd as 549 players entered the Main Event.  It appears that the WSOP Circuit has a bright future in Los Angeles.

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The Main Event (officially listed as Event #10) was a three-day $1,500 (+100) No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which attracted 549 entrants.  This was the third-largest Main Event of the WSOP Circuit season, so far.

Play began on Tuesday at noon and concluded on Thursday night.  The total prize pool came to $798,795.  The top 54 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.

Among those who cashed were Steve Brecher ($2.3 million in overall tournament earnings), Thor Hansen (two WSOP gold bracelets), and Alec Torelli (more than $700,000 in WSOP earnings).  A full list of all players who cashed in Event #10 can be seen here.

The first day resulted in the elimination of more than half of the field.  There were 244 survivors who resumed action on Day Two.  After another 14 hours of play, the field was trimmed event further, down to 17 players who returned for Day Three.  The last two tables then played down to the final table, which commenced play on inside The Bicycle Casino’s “Special Events Center.”  The finale was broadcast from start to finish over the Internet via “Live at the Bike.”  The nine finalists and their chips counts were as follows:

SEAT 1:  Tsung Lu (Flushing, NY) – 457,000 in chips
SEAT 2:  Vincent Cardella (Los Angeles, CA) – 307,000 in chips
SEAT 3:  Tong Le (Garden Grove, CA) – 2,069,000 in chips
SEAT 4:  Leroy “Ty” Spikes (Las Cruces, NM) – 1,963,000 in chips
SEAT 5:  Freddy Deeb (Los Angeles, CA) – 2,355,000 in chips
SEAT 6:  David Singontiko (Chatsworth, CA) – 878,000 in chips
SEAT 7:  Julie Franks-Shozi (North Tustin, CA) – 1,564,000 in chips
SEAT 8:  Alexandru Masek (San Diego, CA) – 475,000 in chips
SEAT 9:  Brandon Crawford (Los Angeles, CA) – 945,000 in chips


The final table featured two former WSOP gold bracelet winners (Freddy Deeb and David Singontiko).  The finale also featured two former WSOP Circuit gold ring winners (Alexandru Masek and Tsung Lu).

When cards flew in the air, Deeb enjoyed a sizable chip advantage, in addition to far more experience competing in championship-level events.  No doubt, Deeb was the clear favorite to win, despite some formidable competition and the always unpredictable nature of final table play.

The final session began at 4 pm local time.  Play finished at 2:30 pm making the total duration about 10.5 hours.  The official order of finish was as follows: 

9th Place – Vincent Cardella, a 45-year-old teacher from Los Angeles, taught his opponents a thing or two over the three-day duration of the tournament.  However, he was the first player to bust out of the finale, which resulted in a $15,935 payout.  Cardella had never played in a WSOP-related tournament until this event.  So, he can now boast of making the final table in ever WSOP event he’s entered.

8th Place – Julie Franks-Shozi, a respiratory care practitioner from North Tustin, CA came in eighth place.  She earned $20,025 in prize money.  Franks-Shozi, who is a mother to three and grandmother to one, appeared in good position to possibly win her first gold ring, given her healthy chip count when play began.  But she faded within the initial few hours and ended up with the mixed blessing of a strong finish to go along with the disappointment of not lasting a bit longer.  This was the first WSOP-related in-the-money finish for Franks-Shozi.  However, she has previously cashed at the California State Ladies Poker Championship in addition to making several LIPS final table appearances.

7th Place – Tsung Lu (.a.k.a. Patrick Lu), a 35-year-old former poker dealer, ended up in seventh place.  He was born in Taiwan and now lives in Flushing, NY.  Lu collected $25,520 in prize money.  This was Lu’s third time to cash at this series (The Bicycle Casino).  His other in-the-money finishes included 11th- and 17th-place showings.  Lu’s tournament record includes a gold ring victory at the WSOP Circuit event held at Harrah’s Atlantic City, last season.

6th Place – Brandon Crawford, a 29-year-old event planner from Los Angeles, finished in sixth place.  He earned $32,990.  Crawford has two previous WSOP (Las Vegas) cashes.  Of the seven previous major tournament cashes he’s achieved this was Crawford’s highest finish, to date.
   
5th Place – Five-handed play lasted more than three hours.  The unfortunate next victim to fall was Tong Le.  He lost a race to Freddy Deeb on his final hand and was eliminated in fifth place.     Le earned a nice payout totaling $43,245.  Le was born in Vietnam and now lives in Garden Grove, CA.  He plays poker full time.  This was his first WSOP-related in-the-money finish.  However, he has more than 25 major cashes elsewhere, mostly at LA-area tournaments accumulated over the past ten years.

4th Place – Fourth place went to David Singontiko, from Chatsworth, CA.  He was eliminated during the eighth hour of play, resulting in a $57,505 payout.  Singontiko is a 21-year-old student at Loyola Marymount University.  He burst upon the poker scene last year which was his first year of eligibility to play at the WSOP.  He won a gold bracelet in the $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha event.  Singontiko now has more than $300,000 in WSOP-related winnings, a figure that is almost certain to increase as he plays more events in the future.

3rd Place – Leroy “Ty” Spikes almost pulled off a monster surprise.  He was up against two very accomplished rivals and actually took the chip lead very late in the event.  He was up to nearly a 2 to 1 chip lead over Masek, leaving Deeb a distant third.  But Spikes lost a series of pots and was finally wiped out when he made a flush on the turn, which was topped by Deeb who has flopped a set, which improved to a full house.  Spikes played a marvelous tournament and collected $77,570 in prize money.  This was the first-ever WSOP-related cash for the college student attending New Mexico State University.

2nd Place – Alexandru Masek, a four-time WSOP gold ring winner was denied a chance to make poker history.  He came within a hand of winning a record fifth WSOP Circuit title.  Masek os a 26-year-old law school graduate.  He is schedule to take his bar exam next month.  As runner up, Masek’s consolation prize amounted to $106,185.

When heads-up play began, Deeb enjoyed about a 2 to 1 chip advantage over Masek.  The final hand came about an hour into the duel and proceeded as follows:

Deeb:     
Masek:     
Flop:       
Turn:   
River:   

Deeb won the final showdown, which pitted Masek’s two overcards against a powerful pocket pair.  No ace nor king came, giving Deeb the victory.

1st Place – Freddy Deeb added to his illustrious list of poker accomplishments and finished in first place.  He won his first career WSOP Circuit gold ring.  Deeb collected $171,810 in prize money.

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Deeb was awarded one of the two pre-paid seats into the one-million dollar guaranteed 2011-2012 WSOP Circuit National Championship -- to be held in Las Vegas at the end of this season. 

The other pre-paid seat was awarded to Huy Quach, a local pro from Los Angeles.  He accumulated the most overall points as the “Best All-Around Player” at The Bike series.  Quach, who ended up with 67.5 points gained his 1st and 8th place showings, finished reasonably far ahead ahead of his closest rival, who had 55 points.

Here’s the final list of champions from all the Bicycle Casino gold ring events played at this WSOP Circuit stop:

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
Event #10 – Freddy Deeb defeated 549 players ($1600 NLHE) and won $171,810
Event #11 – James Paul Williamson defeated 217 players ($345 NLHE) and won 416,412
Event #12 – Cho Mu Myun defeated 192 players ($345 NLHE) and won $17,345


Coming next, the WSOP Circuit is off to Choctaw (Durant), Oklahoma – which runs its tournament series from January 12-23, 2012.  There’s another exciting event ready to begin at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, which is hosting it’s “12 gold rings in 12 days” series from January 19-30, 2012.

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A LOOK BACK (FREDDY DEEB’S 2007 WSOP HORSE VICTORY – OFFICIAL REPORT)

Tournament Report

The winner of the $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. World Championship was Freddy Deeb, from Las Vegas, NV. This was Deeb's second World Series of Poker victory. He won a gold bracelet previously, back in 1996.

Deeb was born in Lebanon. He fled his homeland during the 1970s while his nation was in the midst of a civil war. Deeb was unable to secure legal residency and obtain a work permit inside the United States. So, he turned to gambling to make a living. He has been playing poker successfully for more than 30 years.

Deeb is married and has four children.

Deeb has now cashed 22 times at the WSOP. He owns two WSOP gold bracelets. His first win was for Deuce-to-Seven Lowball. The H.O.R.S.E. championship was his biggest career win by far. "When I won my first bracelet, I was mostly a cash game player so it didn't really matter that much to me," Deeb said. "But this one – it means everything to me. They are the toughest players in the world. It has the highest buy-in. Except for the $10,000 buy-in (main event) this is the bracelet that means the most of any of them."

Deeb is one of the most popular players on the poker tournament trail, with peers and fans alike. Deeb is routinely talkative, engaging, and humorous while he is playing. He often wears vibrant colored shirts, including at this final table when he wore what was termed his "lucky shirt."

When play was at four-handed, Deeb was all-in on a critical Omaha High-Low hand. He managed to scoop the pot and survive. That propelled Deeb back into the match. However, Deep was the shortest stack during much of play in the finale, yet still managed to outlast his final opponents in the end.

The final table lasted 14.5 hours. This finale ranked as the fourth-longest recorded final table in WSOP history.

First place paid $2,276,832. Deeb was presented with his gold and diamond bracelet as well as a custom-designed wristwatch made by luxury watchmaker Corum.

"I have a very (loose) reputation as a poker player," Deeb said in a post-tournament press conference. "When I bet out, I know I am going to get called. So, I adjust my play and it works in my favor."

"When I sit down to play, I do not ask anyone what is the game," Deeb said when asked about the mix of poker games in H.O.R.S.E. "I just play whatever the game is dealt….You see what level they are at, and you go a level higher. That's how you win."

This event is generally regarded as the ultimate test of all-around poker skill. Five poker games are played in rotation – Hold'em, Omaha High-Low, Razz, Seven-Card Stud, and Stud Eight-or-Better. The tournament was played over a five-day period.

Eli Elezra had the chip lead after Day One. He began the second day with 561,000 in chips (he did not cash). Day One eliminated 21 players as 127 survivors continued for Day Two.

The chip leader at the end of Day Two was John Hansen (who ended up with third place). Toto Leonidas was close behind in second place. Eli Elezra ranked third. Nearly two-thirds of the field was gone, as 52 players returned for Day Three.

The chip leader at the end of Day Three was Amnon Filippi (ended up fourth). Last year's champion, David "Chip" Reese busted out just short of reaching the money.

The chip leader at the end of Day Four going into the final table was Amnon Fillipi. Only one player made a repeat performance in the final eight from the previous year – David Singer.

Thor Hansen started out with the lowest stack – just 40,000 in chips. With betting limits at 50,000-100,000 all Hansen could play is one hand in the finale. He went out just four minutes into play and pocketed $188,256 for eighth place.

Barry Greenstein was the next lowest in chips and promptly went out in seventh place. The two-time WSOP gold bracelet winner and "Robin Hood of Poker" collected $259,296.

The final table was not a pleasant experience for David Singer. Hopeful of getting his first WSOP win, Singer sang the blues by going out in sixth place. Most people would be content with $337,440 in prize money. But to the highly-competitive former environmental lawyer from New York-turned poker pro, the end result was a disappointment.

Kenny Tran, from Arcadia, CA went out in fifth place. He earned $444,000 in prize money. Tran donates ten percent of his poker winnings to charities in his native Vietnam,

The early chip leader was Amnon Filippi. In fact, he was the chip leader for more than two days. Unfortunately, Filippi went card dead when it mattered most and lost most of his stack in the middle stage of the final table. He ended up as the fourth place finisher – good for $586,080 in prize money.

Three-handed play lasted for about six hours. Finally, John Hansen busted out and collected $852,480. Hansen is a high-stakes cash game player who plays in private games around New York City.

The runner up in this tournament was Bruno Fitoussi, from Paris, France. Fitoussi is France's poker pioneer. He was responsible for introducing and promoting many poker games and tournaments in Paris. He currently hosts and manages The Aviation Club in Paris, which is one of the most luxurious cardrooms in Europe. Second place paid a very respectable $1,278,720.

This year's H.O.R.S.E. World Championship attracted 148 entries, up slightly from last year's inaugural number of 143.

Gabe Kaplan, the actor and comedian ("Welcome Back Kotter) finished ninth. Kaplan has nine WSOP cashes on his poker resume.

Three-time WSOP gold bracelet winner (and runner-up in the main event two times) Dewey Tomko was short-stacked throughout the tournament. He still managed an impressive 10th-place finish. Tomko also took 7th place in this event last year.

2004 world poker champion Greg "Fossilman" Raymer busted out in 14th place.

Chris Reslock, from Atlantic City, NJ continues to play phenomenal poker. He won the Seven-Card Stud World Championship two weeks ago and took 15th place in this event.

Mike Matusow's continuous record of eight straight years making at least one WSOP final table is now in serious jeopardy. He busted out in 16th place.

ESPN taped heavily during most of the five-day event. The network plans to make the HORSE championship a five-part series as part of its 2007 WSOP coverage. The shows are expected to air later in the year.