Corey Cutrell Defeats William Berman in Four-Hour Heads-Up Showdown

Rincon Reservation, CA (March 22, 2012) – The latest World Series of Poker Circuit tournament held at Harrah’s Rincon included three distinct stages.

First, there was the initial 12-hour playing session during Day One when a modest-sized field was trimmed from 139 starters down to nine finalists.

The second stage was the final table, which began with nine finalists.  After just three hours of play, seven players found themselves eliminated, leaving just two players in the heads-up showdown.  Some observers thought the tournament would end in lightning-fast time.

But in the real show, and the real test, had only begun.  The third and final stage was undoubtedly the most intense, with two very skilled finalists playing heads up.  In fact, the duel turned into one of the longest heads-up match of the current season, clocking in at more than 120 hands played over a 4-hour and 20-minute duration. 

Relative newcomer to the live tournament scene Corey Cutrell, from Seattle, was up against William Berman, an attorney from Carlsbad, CA.  When the final match started neither player could anticipate a duel that would last multiple hours, which was longer than the time to took to trim the field from nine down to two.

In a sense, this outcome is what all major poker tournaments should be about and how they should end.  As the anticipation of the finish line and victory approaches, players should be put to the test.

There’s no question that Cutrell was put to the test.  And, he passed the exam with flying colors.  The 21-year-old aspiring poker pro defeated his final adversary with an ace-high straight on the final hand of the tournament to take down $18,500 in first-place prize money.  He was also presented with his first WSOP Circuit gold ring – just three months after he became legal age to play in (most) Circuit events.

Cutrell’s victory came five days after his close friend Dean Buchanan (Kirkland, WA) won his own gold ring victory.  Cutrell decided to join Buchanan and two other colleagues who made the trip down the Pacific Coast Highway 1,500 miles to the south.  Their journey certainly paid off.

Cutrell worked in a restaurant for four years before saving enough money to go on the road and try and make it as a poker pro.  He noted the poker games in the Seattle area where he lives are not as good as games elsewhere, which motivates him to travel.  Cutrell expects to travel to many more WSOP Circuit events and other tournaments in the months to come.  A top priority will be to accumulate enough points to qualify for a seat in the National Championship, coming in July.


The eighth of a dozen gold ring tournaments began on Wednesday with Event #8 – a $555 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em competition.  The tournament attracted 139 entries.  The total prize pool came to $67,415.  The top 15 players were paid.  All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points.

A full list of all players who cashed in Event #8 can be seen here.

The tournament was played over two consecutive days.  The final table was played on Day Two.  William Berman arrived among the final nine as the chip leader.  But two rivals – Corey Cutrell and John Lee -- were close on his heels.
1    Corey Cutrell    Seattle, WA                317,000       
2    William M. Berman    Carlsbad, CA                343,000       
3    Branden Rupp    Oceanside, CA                216,500       
4    Andrew R.    San Diego, CA                156,000       
5    Jonas Mackoff    Vancouver, BC                109,000       
6    Brian Mintz    Pengrove, CA                55,000       
7    Leroy Spires    Las Cruces, NM                86,500       
8    Chris Parsons    Mentor, OH                70,000       
9    John Lee    Suwanee, GA                313,000       

The final table included one former WSOP Gold ring winner – Jonas Mackoff, fresh off his win in Event #6, which concluded just two night earlier.

The final playing session began at 3 pm local time.  Play finished at 10:50 pm making the total duration nearly eight hours.  The official order of finish was as follows: 

9th Place – Leroy Spires finished in ninth place.  He is a 35-year-old engineer from Las Cruces, NM.  Spires finished third in the WSOPC Main Event held at the Bicycle Casino, two months ago.  Also of note, Spires cashed in the 2008 WSOP Main Event Championship.

8th Place – Chris Parsons was the eighth-place finisher.  He is a 25-year-old poker pro from Mentor, OH.  Parson’s is enjoying an all-star season on the WSOP Circuit.  He is currently ranked second points, by virtue of seven cashes and five final table appearances.  Parsons has yet to win a gold ring, but based on his success and talent, a victory seems only a matter of time.

7th Place – Brian Mintz came in seventh place.  He is a 32-year-old professional poker player from Penngrove, CA.  This was his first time to cash on the WSOP Circuit.  However, Mintz does have two previous in-the-money finishes at the WSOP in Las Vegas.

6th Place – Jonas Mackoff ended up in sixth place.  He is a 25-year-old poker pro from Vancouver, BC (Canada).  Mackoff won his first WSOP Circuit gold ring in an identical event, which ended just two night earlier.  He had a chance to become the seventh multiple event winner this season, but ran into trouble during the middle of the final table.  Nonetheless, Mackoff rocketed into the top spot in the “Best All-Around Player” race for this tour stop.  He has two cashes – including a first and a sixth and will be the player to catch heading into the final weekend of the series.
5th Place – John Lee exited in fifth place.  He is a 37-year-old self-employed businessman from Suwanee, GA.  This was only the second WSOP Circuit event Lee has played. 
4th Place – Andrew Rowland was the fourth-place finisher.  He is a 29-year-old internet marketing consultant from San Diego.

3rd Place – Branden Rupp came in third place.  He is a 28-year-old racecar driver from Oceanside, CA.  Rupp has only played in two WSOP Circuit events, so this was quite a performance.

2nd Place – William Berman was the runner up.  He is a 41-year-old attorney from Carlsbad, CA.  This marked his first-ever cash in a WSOP-related tournament.  His relative inexperience certainly did not show.

When heads-up play began, Berman enjoyed nearly a 3 to 1 chip advantage over Cutrell.  But the shorter stack managed to double up early with a heart flush, making the chip count close to even.  That set the stage of a back-and-forth knock-down drag out battle that would last more than four hours.  During the first two hours which included Cutrell’s incremental comeback, there were no huge hands or pots, other than the initial double up.  Cutrell simply took a pot here and at one point enjoyed about a 2 to 1 edge.

A backbreaking hand for Berman took place late when he won a monster-sized pot with ace-high.  That set the stage for the final hand, which was dealt as follows:

Cutrell –    
Berman –    
Flop –      
Turn –  
River –  

Berman was low on chips after losing two late hands and had to make a play for the blinds with a weak hand.  Cutrell made a no-brainer call with a strong ace and ended up winning the tournament with a straight.

1st Place – Corey Cutrell became the eighth WSOP Circuit champion crowned this year at Harrah’s Rincon.  He won $18,500 for the victory.  He was also presented with his first gold ring.  This marked his fifth time to cash this season on the WSOP Circuit.

With his victory, Cutrell moved into contention as one of 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
EVENT #7:  Josh Evans (Dallas, TX) defeated 164 players in $345 6-HANDED
EVENT #8:  Corey Cutrell (Seattle, WA) defeated 139 players in $345 NLHE

With the eighth tournament wrapped up, there are only four 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 visit 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.