WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s Rincon Reaches Midway Point

Rincon Reservation, CA (March 20, 2012) – Once upon a time, online poker pros were a major force in American poker tournaments.  Back in the freewheeling Internet poker days, young twenty-something poker pros pretty much destroyed the upper ranks of the tournament scene, proving once and for all that the game has indeed entered a new era.

However, following the events of last April and so-called “Black Friday,” online poker players have gradually become co-mingled into the live poker scene.  Not that their presence isn’t still felt.  But many thousands of former online pros have had to make major adjustments in their lives.  Most have either had to leave the United States (to play online elsewhere) or convert to live-action games and tournaments.

Jonas Mackoff found himself caught in a time-warp.  He wasn’t affected at all by the online poker shutdown, except for the prey he lost as predator.  The 25-year-old Vancouver, BC (Canada) based poker pro continues to play poker online, since he’s has the good fortune of living in a country where the game is considered to be perfectly legal.  But grinding out a profit in front of a computer has its limitations.

So, Mackoff has begun to play in more live tournaments, choosing to go south of the border because, that’s where the action is.  He found plenty of action at the most recent World Series of Poker Circuit event, currently being held at Harrah’s Rincon, near San Diego. 

Indeed, Mackoff found more than action.  He also discovered a load of cash and a gold ring.

Mackoff won the $345 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament, overcoming a decent-sized midweek competition en route to his most prestigious poker victory yet.  Mackoff, who has played in several WSOP events in the past always seemed just a break or two away from a major win, and now he has something to demonstrate his superiority as a player.

Mackoff collected $14,555 in prize money, plus his first gold ring.  He toasted the occasion with a bottle of Heineken, along with a few high-fiving friends. 

Meanwhile, three former gold ring winners and nearly 200 other dreamers were left in the dust, humbled and defeated.  For them, there is always tomorrow.  There is always another tournament.  Trouble is, players like Mackoff and other winners are going to be entering those as well, making the path to victory all the more challenging.


The sixth of a dozen gold ring tournaments began on Monday with Event #6 – a $345 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em competition.  The tournament attracted 197 entries.  The total prize pool came to $57,327.  The top 22 players were paid.  All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points.

A full list of all players who cashed in Event #6 can be seen here.

The tournament was played over two consecutive days.  The final table was played on Day Two.  Jonas Mackoff arrived among the final nine as the chip leader and held onto his position most of the way.  But several talented players, including three previous winners, were close on his heels.

1    Habib Khanis    San Diego, CA                78,600
2    Gary Bousquet    San Diego, CA                134,000
3    Michael Souza    San Diego, CA                88,500
4    Jeff Coddington    Concord, CA                277,000
5    Scott Belander    El Cajon, CA                268,000
6    Alan Ho    San Diego, CA                229,500
7    Jonas Mackoff    Vancouver, BC                492,000
8    Patrick Wilmes    Mor. Val., CA                392,500
9    Everett Carlton    St. Paul, MN                116,000

The final table included three former WSOP Gold ring winners – Michael Souza, Habib Khanis, and Everett Carlton.  But none of the three former champions made much of an impact on what happened during the final hours.  The final playing session began at 2 pm local time.  Play finished at 8 pm making the total duration about six hours.  The official order of finish was as follows: 

9th Place – Habib Khanis exited in ninth place.  He is a 55-year-old man from San Diego who was born in Iran.  Khanis won a gold ring here at Harrah’s Rincon three year ago.  

8th Place – Michael Souza was the eighth-place finisher.  He is a poker grinder from San Diego.  Souza owns three WSOP Circuit gold rings – Paris/Bally’s (2005), Harrah’s Rincon (2009) and Caesars Palace Las Vegas (2010).  Souza hoped to join an exclusive club of only two players who have won four gold rings, but fell short of the goal.  Nevertheless, Souza does now have 24 career WSOPC cashes, placing him in the top-20 all time.  He also have four cashes in the WSOP Main Event Championship.

7th Place – Alan Ho took seventh place.  He is the 46-year-old owner of a tea shop.  Ho is originally from Hong Kong and now resides in San Diego.  This was his fourth time to cash on the WSOP Circuit, with all of his previous finishes here at Rincon San Diego.

6th Place – Gary Bousquet was the sixth-place finisher.  He is a 43-year-old civil engineer from San Diego, CA.  This marked Bousquet’s first time to cash in a WSOP tournament.
5th Place – Jeffrey Coddington finished in fifth place.  He is a 29-year-old food clerk at Safeway from Concord, CA.  Coddington cashed for the second time in a WSOP Circuit event.  He also has two cashes at the WSOP in Las Vegas. 
4th Place – Everett Carlton ended up in fourth place.  He is a middle-aged poker pro from St. Paul, MN.  Dressed in his trademark black, horned-rim glasses, and his perfect coiffeur, Carlton was making his third final table appearance this year, after 5th- and 3rd- place showings in recent months.  Carlton has almost $300,000 in WSOP-related earnings including a gold ring victory two years ago at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.

3rd Place – Patrick Wilmes finished in third place.  He is a 50-year-old casino manager from Moreno Valley, CA.  Wilmes runs the Lake Elsinore Casino.  This was his third time to cash in a WSOP-related tournament.  

2nd Place – Scott Belander, from El Cajon, CA came in second place.  He is a 23-year-old emergency room dispatcher, which means he’s no stranger to high-pressure situations.  Belander played great poker for two days and nearly took the chip lead at one point.  But he was unable to overcome his final adversary.  When heads-up play began, the two finalists were neck-a-neck in chips.  Mackoff proved up to the challenge and prevailed after a half-hour battle. 

1st Place – Jonas Mackoff became the sixth WSOP Circuit champion crowned this year at Harrah’s Rincon.  He won $14,555 for the victory.  He was also presented with his first gold ring.  This marked his third time to cash on the WSOP Circuit this season.  Mackoff also has five WSOP cases in Las Vegas, including a final table appearance in a Pot-Limit Omaha event (eighth place), held last year.

With his victory, Mackoff now shares the top spot alongside previous event winners as the leaders in this WSOP Circuit’s “Best All-Around Player” standings.  The player who accumulates the most overall points in Harrah’s Rincon’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 March 24-26).

Here is the list of winners from Harrah’s Rincon, so far:

EVENT #1:  Randy Paguio (San Diego, CA) defeated 331 players in $345 NLHE
EVENT #2:  Dean Buchanan (Kirkland, WA) defeated 155 players in $555 NLHE
EVENT #3:  Patrick Schulze (Glendora, CA) defeated 100 players in $345 NLHE
EVENT #4:  Dan Natarelli (Simi Valley, CA) defeated 487 players in $345 NLHE
EVENT #5:  Delbert Ramos (Montebello, CA) defeated 159 players in TURBO
EVENT #6:  Jonas Mackoff (Vancouver, BC) defeated 197 players in $345 NLHE

With the sixth tournament wrapped up, there are still six more gold ring events remaining in what is being billed as a “12 rings in 12 days” poker series.  The WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s Rincon continues through March 26th.  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 poker room



The Harrah’s Rincon Casino and Resort, nestled in the cool mountains 45-miles away from sunny San Diego, is jointly owned and operated by the Rincon San Luiseno Band of Indians and Caesars Entertainment.

Harrah’s Rincon has been one of only three flagship Caesars Entertainment properties which have hosted a tour stop during each and every season, since the WSOP Circuit was launched back in 2005.

This year’s “12 Rings in 12 Days” series is taking place March 15-26.  As has been the case for all previous major poker events, all action is held inside an expansive grand ballroom located on the first floor, adjacent to the main casino.

Harrah’s Rincon is widely considered to be one of most upscale properties on the WSOP Circuit.  The casino and poker room draws mostly from the Los Angeles and San Diego areas.  The hotel has 662 rooms and a 21-story tower.  The casino has 1,600 slot machines and 51 gaming tables – including a poker room located on the second floor.  The hotel and resort includes a health spa and the Woods Valley Golf Club.

This will be the 14th out of 17 stops of the 2011-2012 World Series of Poker Circuit season.  Just two months ago, The Bicycle Casino (Los Angeles) became the second California casino to partner with the WSOP Circuit, following Harrah’s Rincon’s lead, years earlier.

Harrah’s Rincon is an easy drive from just about anywhere in Southern California.  The luxury resort is located north of San Diego off of Interstate 15 and is about a two-hour drive from Downtown Los Angeles.  Las Vegas is about a four-hour drive.  The casino is located close to the cities of Temecula and Escondido (CA).  Harrah’s Rincon is about an hour away from the San Diego International Airport.  Multiple direct flights are available from just about anywhere in the country.  As a major hub of Southwest Airlines, San Diego offers many bargain airfares.

Poker players with spouses and friends are encouraged to consider Harrah’s Rincon as the ideal destination to mix poker with many leisurely resort activities.  San Diego, with 70-degree weather, is one of America’s most popular tourist destinations.

With the current season now winding down, there's a lot at stake for poker players who make their way to Harrah’s Rincon.  Not only are a dozen gold rings up for grabs, lots of prize money will also be awarded to those who cash.  All players who finish in the money will also earn ranking points, which are used to determine finalists for the season-ending WSOP Circuit National Championship.
Since the season began in September, all tournament players have been in the running for 100 guaranteed pre-paid seats in the $1 million WSOP Circuit National Championship finale – which will be a WSOP gold bracelet event to be played in Las Vegas – July 6-7 (final table to be played July 11th)..

To see the complete Harrah’s Rincon tournament schedule, please click here.

Stay tuned to for the latest reports and updates from Harrah’s Rincon. will carry a LIVE VIDEO STREAM of every final table, starting most afternoons.