Durant, OK (January 21, 2012) Raja Kattamuri won the first-ever Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em WSOP Circuit event at Choctaw Casino Resort on Friday night. He has now recorded two gold ring victories and a runner-up finish in the last week.

Heads-up events have been a staple at the World Series of Poker for some time now, but the format had never made an appearance on the Circuit tour. The addition of Event #8, $555 No-Limit Hold’em Heads Up, was a first, and it went off without a hitch.

In all, 173 players registered, creating a prizepool of $83,905. Kattamuri was awarded $23,475 for the win, which marks his second at Choctaw this year. His first came earlier this week in Event #3 when he beat WSOP bracelet winner, Tex Barch, heads up for $37,293. Kattamuri also recorded a runner-up finish in Event #6, a disappointment considering it started out looking as if he would run over the final table. His opponent overcame a more than 2-to-1 heads-up chip disadvantage and denied Kattamuri ring number two. 

It didn’t take him long to get back on his feet.

In order to call himself champion, Kattamuri had to win eight heads-up matches -- four on Day 1 and four on Day 2. The chip stacks increased with each match, as did the starting blinds. The conclusion of Day 1 marked the bursting of the money bubble and all 16 remaining players were paid prize money.

A full list of the players who cashed in Event #8 can be seen HERE.

With eight players remaining, Kattamuri was splitting his time between Event #8 and Event #9, $345 Pot-Limit Omaha. As he stared down his Event #8 opponent, the tournament director announced all remaining players in Event #9 had made the money -- You know you’re running good when you’re abandoned stack is finishing better than 90 percent of the field.

After two more heads-up victories, Kattamuri’s final match was scheduled to take place at 9 p.m. local time. Both Kattamuri and his opponent, Dustin Schoonover, agreed to move the match up to 8:15 to accommodate Event #9’s dinner break.

The final match saw a roller coaster of chip stacks. Kattamuri struck first, winning a couple medium-sized pots with ace queen and pocket jacks, but Schoonover came back with an upper cut and won a monster flip holding    versus Kattamuri’s   . The players got all their chips in on that hand, and it knocked Kattamuri down to about 600,000 and he was then a 3-to-1 chip underdog.

“I’m usually very calm and collected,” Kattamuri later said about the hand. “I rarely go on tilt. It didn’t bother me at all.”

Obviously it didn’t because he doubled up soon after holding    against the    of Schoonover.

From then on it was all Raja, all the time.

He relentlessly raised pots and continually tabled the winning hand. Schoonover was noticeably annoyed with Kattamuri’s aggressive style and it wasn’t long before the two played their final hand.

At the 20,000/40,000 level, Schoonover limped from the button and Kattamuri checked from the big blind. The flop came     and Schoonover checked. Kattamuri bet out 100,000 and Schoonover called. The turn brought the   and Schoonover checked again. Kattamuri bet, this time a little higher, and Schoonover quickly raised all in over the top. Just as quickly as Schoonover raised, Kattamuri called, tabling    for the king-high flush. Schoonover flipped over his two pair,   , in disgust and forfeited the pot even before the meaningless   fell on the river.

Schoonover is a 30-year-old oil and gas broker from Frisco, Texas. This was his first WSOPC cash. Second place awarded him $14,516.

Kattumri (understandably) ran to Event #9’s final table before WSOP staff could get a winner’s shot or an interview, but he was gracious enough to give staff a few minutes at the next break.

“I enjoy (winning) a lot, but I’ve got business to care of,” Kattamuri said about going from one final table to another. “After that, trust me, we’re going to have a lot of fun. I’ve got a lot of friends and well wishers and supporters.”

Kattamuri’s remarkable performance has all but guaranteed him a seat at the $1,000,000 Circuit National Championship scheduled to take place this spring.

This is the eighth of 12 scheduled ring events taking place at Choctaw Casino Resort. WSOP Circuit events continue through January 23rd. 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.

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For more information, contact Lukas Willems, WSOP Media Coordinator, at lukasmwillems@gmail.com.