Durant, OK (January 17, 2012)The World Series of Poker Circuit events continued at Choctaw Casino Resort with the conclusion of Event 4, $345 No-Limit Hold’em. The most recent champion is 30-year-old Jason Simon.

Simon is a semi-professional poker player from Lewisville, Texas. He graduated from the University of Texas-Austin with a degree in accounting and now works for a small government consulting company. He typically reserves weekdays for his professional life and dedicates weekends to poker – often times playing as many as 20 to 30 hours in two days. This week, Simon made the decision to take some time to himself to give the Circuit a try.

That decision turned out to be the right one.

The win adds a WSOP cash and final table to his growing tournament resume. He received $31,934 in prize money.

The $345 buy-in tournament drew a sizeable field of 515 entrants. The $148,515 prizepool paid the top 54 players. Notable in-the-money finishers include two-time Circuit champion, Felicia Johnico (38th) and 39-time WSOP and WSOPC casher, Roland Israelashvili (8th).

More than 90 percent of the field was eliminated on Day 1, leaving only 38 players to battle it out for first place.

Cody Johnson began the day with 495,000 and more than a 100,000-chip cushion on second place Cory Smith.

The final table proved to be a formidable test of poker skill. The likes of Israelashvili and the 1,521,000-chip stack of Cody Johnson were not about to go down without a fight. 

Seat 1 ROLAND ISRAELASHVILI (New York, NY) 900,000 in chips

Seat 2 JOSHUA “BEAST MODE” HARTMAN (Tyler, TX) 400,000 in chips

Seat 3 JASON SIMON (Lewisville, TX) 559,000 in chips

Seat 4 DANIEL HERNANDEZ (Round Rock, TX) 413,000 in chips

Seat 5 JEFF WILCOX (Caddo Mills, TX) 262,000 in chips

Seat 6 CHRIS SWAN (San Jose, TX) 450,000 in chips

Seat 7 JIM HILL (Rockwall, TX) 435,000 in chips

Seat 8 CODY JOHNSON (Tuttle, OK) 1,521,000 in chips

Seat 9 RANDY “HUGO” HUSTON (Oklahoma City, OK) 232,000 in chips

Ninth Place: Randy “Hugo” Huston was the first elimination at the final table. This was his third WSOPC cash and second final table. His run at gold came up short when he moved all in and left the tournament in ninth place for $2,963.

Huston is 55 years old and lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 

Eighth Place: With 38 career WSOP cashes, two Circuit rings and almost $1 million in earnings, Roland Israelashvili was far and away the most experienced player at this final table. But in poker, like any game, experience can only take you so far. A third ring wasn’t in the cards for Israelashvili, as he finished eighth. He earned $3,723.

Israelashvili is a 54-year-old poker player born in the Republic of Georgia. He now lives in New York.

Seventh Place: With seven players remaining Jeff Wilcox moved all in with    and was called by the    of Swan. The window card was the  , and Wilcox improved to a pair of aces. No-Limit Hold’em, volatile and unforgiving as it is, gave Wilcox little time to revel in what could be, as the   fell on the turn, propelling Swan into the lead with a set of Jacks. Wilcox went on to be eliminated in seventh. He earned $4,745.

He is a 48-year-old contractor from Caddo Mills, Texas. This was his first WSOPC final table.

Sixth Place: Holding pocket fours on a flop of    , Daniel Hernandez quadrupled up with six players remaining. Unfortunately, it was all for naught as Hernandez found himself short stacked again soon after. He was eliminated in sixth, earning $6,134.

Hernandez is 26 years old and lives in Round Rock, Texas. He is a personal trainer and also wrestles. This was his first WSOPC in-the-money finish.

Fifth Place: Cody Johnson began Day 2 as the outright chip leader and kept his lead going into the final table. A streak of bad cards and some loose play left Johnson in unfamiliar territory – nursing a short stack and looking to double up. He was eventually eliminated at the hands of the Simon, who then found himself neck-and-neck in a race for the chip lead with only four players remaining.

Johnson is a 25-year-old restaurant manager from Tuttle, Oklahoma. He earned $8,041 for his first-ever WSOP cash.

Fourth Place: The tournament’s fourth place finisher was Joshua Hartman. Hartman was born in Wichita, Kansas, but now resides in Tyler, Texas where he works as a car salesman and lives with his wife and two children. 

He earned $10,692.

Third Place: Chris Swan’s third place finish marked his third final table of the 2011-2012. Unfortunately, the third time was not the charm, as Swan was sent home without gold. He received a $14,422 consolation prize.

His poker ambition is to win enough money to buy a house.

Second Place: Neither player took their foot off the gas when we reached heads-up play. Almost every button was raised and neither were about to back down. The final hand came when Jim Hill moved all in with    and was called by the ace high of Simon. The flop brought a red ace, and Hill never regained the lead.

He left the tournament in second, earning $19,742. Hill is 52 years old and self employed.

First Place: Jason Simon considers himself a cash game player, but with almost $75,000 in tournament winnings in the past two months, one might expect him to be warming up to the tournament felt. But while his latest victory helps him appreciate the tournament grinders, he isn’t quite ready to identify with them yet.

“When you get down to the end (of a tournament), there are a lot of really good players and the decisions are really tough,” Simon said. “Tournament players doing this day in and day out for 12 hours a day is insane. I can’t imagine that.” 

Simon plays poker primarily to complement his weekly salary at work. He is 30 years old and was born in Columbia, Missouri. He now lives in Lewisville, Texas.

His first-ever WSOPC cash was good for $31,934 and a gold ring. 

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This is the fourth of 12 scheduled ring events taking place at Choctaw Casino Resort. WSOP Circuit events continue through January 23. The Main Event will take place January 21st. Winners of all ring events will receive a Circuit gold ring, first-place prize money and ranking points toward the $1,000,000 Circuit National Championship taking place in Las Vegas this spring. In addition, the winner of the Main Event will receive an automatic bid into the National Championship.

Choctaw Casino Resort is located in Durant, Oklahoma and received extensive renovations over the last few years, not the least of which is the addition of the 330-room Grand Tower. The resort now boasts more than 400 rooms and 110,000 square feet of gaming space.

Like all Choctaw Casinos, a portion of the proceeds from Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant go to fund healthcare, education and housing for Choctaw Tribal Members.

The WSOP can be followed on Twitter @WSOP or “liked” on Facebook at www.facebook.com/worldseriesofpoker.

For more information, contact Lukas Willems, WSOP media coordinator

Email: lukasmwillems@gmail.com