WSOP Circuit Continues at Caesars Palace – Events Running through Month’s End

Las Vegas, NV (January 26, 20112) – The World Series of Poker Circuit continued at Caesars Palace Las Vegas with the conclusion of another exciting poker event.

Blake Kelso – a 29-year-old poker pro from Las Vegas -- won his first gold ring, following more than a dozen close finishes in WSOP-related tournaments over the past five years.  He now has eight WSOP cashes and seven Circuit cashes, good for more than a quarter-million in earnings.  No doubt, Kelso earned this victory in more ways than one.

Aside from paying his dues with many high finishes in the past, this was undoubtedly his shining poker moment in Las Vegas.  Kelso plowed through a tough field and faced at least two formidable final obstacles en route to victory.  The final table lasted nearly nine hours, capped by an exciting showdown between the three finalists which included the WSOP Circuit National Champion from last season.

However, Sam Barnhart could not muster enough of that old magic to overcome two thorns in his side, one in the form of Kelso, the ultimate champion and the second by the name of Ho Suk Lee, the eventual runner up.

In fact, just as impressive as Kelso’s victory was Lee’s tenacious ability to survive on a short stack for what amounted to hours.  He was close to the felt many times during heads up play, and forced Kelso to earn every chip.  Indeed, every hand and every decision was a grind, illustrated by the late hour the tournament finished, which was 4 am.  To Lee’s credit, any lesser opponent might have been eliminated hours earlier.

But in the end, the spotlight belonged to Kelso, who will be remembered for his debut victory on the WSOP Circuit – which he hopes is a sign of more good things to come.

Kelso collected a payout, totaling $23,583 in prize money.


Event #7 was a two-day $500 (+60) No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which attracted 187 entrants.  Play began on Tuesday at 5 pm and concluded Thursday during the early morning hour.

The total prize pool came to $90,695.  The top 21 finishers were paid.  All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points – used to 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 #7 can be seen here.

The runner up was Ho Suk Lee, from Honolulu, HI.  He is 37-years-old and is self-employed.  This was the first WSOP Circuit Lee has played, and he played marvelously.  Second place paid $14,567.

Third place went to the defending WSOP Circuit National Champion, Sam Barnhart – from Little Rock, AR.  He is unquestionably the Circuit’s most successful player of the past year or so, having won the Main Event in Tunica, a gold bracelet in the national Championship, and then a stupendous run in the WSOP Main Event, where he finished 17th.  This was Barnhart’s first cash this season.  He plans on playing in many more upcoming Circuit stops, hoping for the chance to quality for the opportunity to defend his championship.  

Fourth place went to Dave Curre, from New York.  He is a 29-year-old poker pro, originally from South Korea.  This was Curre’s fourth time to cash in a WSOP event and second final table appearance.

Fifth place went to Oliver Feldmann, from Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany.  This marked his first time ever to cash in a WSOP-related tournament.  Feldmann usually plays poker in casinos in both Wiesbaden and Mainz.  

Sixth place went to Brian Bumpas, a salesman from Long Beach, CA.  He’s played several WSOP Circuit events in the past and now has two deeps runs on his record, including third place in an event at last year’s Circuit stop at Caesars Palace.

Seventh place went to George Saca, from Sacramento, CA.  He has a lengthy resume of poker accomplishments, including three WSOP cashes.  This marked his sixth time to cash on the WSOP Circuit and fourth final table appearance.

Eighth place went to Jeremy Burleson, who won a WSOP Circuit gold ring in the Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event last month at Harrah’s Atlantic City.  He is from Charlotte, NC.

Ninth place went to Barry Washington, an account manager from Beaverton, OR.  He is a graduate of Oregon State University.

With his victory, Kelso moved up alongside previous champions as the leaders in this WSOP Circuit’s “Best All-Around Player” standings.  The player who accumulates the most overall points in Caesars Palace’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. 27-30).

Here are the seven winners from Caesars Palace’s WSOP Circuit gold ring events, which have been completed so far:

Event #1 – Dan Di Zenzo defeated 482 players ($350 NLHE) and won $30,151
Event #2 – Aaron Klausman defeated 887 players ($350 NLHE) and won $50,329
Event #3 – Gregory Hartwick defeated 207 players ($560 NLHE) and won $26,106
Event #4 – Gary Bolden defeated 120 players ($350 PLO) and won $26,106
Event #5 – Jeff Dobrin defeated 203 players ($350 ANTE-NLHE) and won $15,357
Event #6 – Beaudoin defeated 349 players ($350 6-NLHE) and won $10,888
Event #7 – Blake Kelso defeated 187 players ($560 NLHE) and won $23,583

With the first seven tournaments wrapped up, there are still five more gold ring events remaining in what is being billed as a “12 rings in 12 days” poker series.  The WSOP Circuit at Caesars Palace continues through January 30th.  

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 Caesars Palace poker room



This marks the seventh consecutive year that Caesars Palace Las Vegas is hosting the widely-popular World Series of Poker Circuit, which is currently in the midst of its most successful season.  Attendance is currently running about 20 percent ahead of last year (which set a record).

Caesars Palace is already home to many of the game’s most popular and exciting poker events – including the Caesars Classic, NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship, and last year’s inaugural WSOP Circuit National Championship.  However, between the dates of January 19-30, the primary focus will be on 12 gold ring tournaments with the $1,600 buy-in Main Event coming January 27-30.

“Caesars Palace has always carried with it a special aura -- whether we’re talking about gambling, entertainment, or poker,” said Andy Rich, Director of Poker Operations for Caesars Palace.  “We’ve always been the ‘where it’s at” in Las Vegas.  Over the next 12 days, we’re rolling out the red carpet for thousands of poker players who are expected enter our events and play for a gold ring.  As the saying goes, ‘you can’t get a hit if you don’t stand up to the plate and take swing.”  

This marks the first time ever that the WSOP Circuit has come to Las Vegas so early in the season.  In previous years, WSOP Circuit events have taken place in April.  However, with so many exciting activities happening in Las Vegas early in the year, more players than ever before will have the opportunity to participate in a WSOP Circuit event, many for the first time.

To encourage more players to give the WSOP Circuit a try, Caesars Palace is offering $70 buy-in Turbo Super Satellites, with $50 re-buys each morning starting at 10 am.  These Turbo Super Satellites will be held prior to the start of gold ring events (most of which start at noon).  The dailies will guarantee at least ten seats to be given away for that day’s event.  In short, it’s a less expensive way for many players to come in early and win a seat for a gold ring event at a fraction of the cost.

In addition, daily No-Limit Hold’em tournaments (non-gold ring events) take place most days at 9 am ($70 entry fee, with 3,000 in starting chips), 7 pm ($110 entry fee, with 10,000 in starting chips) and 10 pm ($85 entry fee, with 7,500 in starting chips).  The bottom line is – no poker room in Las Vegas (or anywhere for that matter) will host more tournaments over the next 12 days.  Moreover, cash games will be running inside the poker room around the clock.

Caesars Palace boasts one of the most luxurious poker rooms in the game.  The multi-million dollar facility located adjacent to the world-famous sportsbook and Pure nightclub has a special tournament room, which is adorned with the portraits of many of poker’s most legendary players.    

This is the ninth WSOP Circuit stop of the season, following previous tournaments held in several other locations throughout the U.S.  The 2011-2012 season includes a total of 18 WSOP Circuit stops.

All tournament players become eligible to compete in the WSOP Circuit National Championship, which takes place at season’s end.  The top 100 players who qualify based on a points system will compete in a nationally-televised championship, which is expected to be played in late May.  Two guaranteed seats will be awarded at Caesars Palace and will go to the “Best All-Around Player” and the Main Event champion.

In previous year’s, some very notable names have won gold rings at Caesars Palace and added to their legacy as the best players in the game.  Previous WSOP Circuit Main Event Champions crowned at Caesars Palace include:

2006 – John Spadavecchia
2007 – Cory Carroll
2008 – Allen Cunningham
2009 – Justin Bonomo
2010 – Andrew Lichtenberger
2011 – Christopher Johnson

The complete WSOP Circuit schedule at Caesars Palace can be seen here.  Special room rates for players are available.