CHESTER, PA – Sean Burson, a 42-year-old contractor from Hidden Valley, CA is the latest WSOP Circuit Champion here at Harrah’s Philadelphia. The amateur poker player beat out 132 competitors to stake his claim on $18,063 first place prize money and his first WSOP Circuit Gold Ring.

In addition to the money and the ring, Burson picked up 50 points in his bid for a WSOP National Championship seat. With 107.5 total points after the win, Burson is in a good position to play under the ESPN spotlight in July at the Rio. However, with scores of poker pros competing at the Events here at Harrah’s Philadelphia and waves more anticipated to play in the 12 events scheduled next week at Harrah’s New Orleans, 107.5 is far from a safe number.

The $555 buy-in, No-Limit Hold’em Event generated a total prize pool of $64,505. It was one of two Thursday-start No-Limit Hold’em Events held that day in the Ballroom at Harrah’s Philadelphia. The other was a $345 buy-in six max event that began later that evening.

Two notable pros joined Burson at the final table, Kyle Cartwright of Bartlet, TN and Las Vegas pro Bryan Devonshire.

Cartwright, who burst onto the live poker scene just over a year ago at the Harrah’s Tunica WSOP Circuit Events at 2011 has proven himself to be a poker phenom, having already won four WSOPC gold rings.

Cartwright was on the heels of making poker history with his sights set on that record #5.

Devonshire is a notable pro who made a deep run in the 2011 WSOP Main Event, finishing in 12th place. Those two along with popular local pro, Gordan Eng, would make for a monster of a challenge for Burson.




Chip Count

Sean Burson

Hidden Valley Lake, CA



Kevin McColgan

Douglasville, PA



Cliff Goldkind

Potomac, MD



Dylan Blank

Baltimore, MD



Gordon Eng

Cliffside Park, NJ



Rick Austin

Lansdale, PA



Nicholas Salimbene

Brick, NJ



Bryan Devonshire

Henderson, NV



Dean Buchanan

Kirkland, WA



Kyle Cartwright

Bartlett, TN



9th PlaceNicholas Salmibene and Kevin McColgan were the first to hit the rail in 10th and 9th places. The two area poker pros earned $1,322 and $1,631, respectively.

8th Place Las Vegas pro Bryan Devonshire made the trip to Harrah’s Philadelphia to lock up some National Championship points. He was able to accomplish this here in Event #8 with an eighth place finish worth $2,044. With the 17.5 points earned with his finish, Devonshire broke the qualifying points threshold and now sits at 107.5.

7th Place Kyle Cartwright is a poker phenom here on the WSOP Circuit trail. The 24-year-old graduate of Finance from Memphis University only began his poker career two years ago after making the decision to first earn his bachelors degree.

In his short time, Cartwright has already won four WSOP Circuit gold rings and has amassed over $350,000 in WSOP-related career earnings. Cartwright came to today’s final table on the hunt for a record fifth WSOPC gold ring, which would have tied him with current record holder, Mark “Pegasus” Smith. Cartwright fell well short of his goal however, finishing 7th place. He collected $2,601.
6th Place Gordon Eng was eliminated in sixth place. The former pharmaceutical financial analyst’s 10th Circuit cash, here in Event #7 earned him $3,365.
5th Place
Dean Buchanan, a 22-year-old former Army Reservist from Kirkland, WA was the fifth place finisher. Buchanan scored big back in February with a Ring victory at Harrah’s Rincon. He was unable to duplicate this feat tonight, but picked up 25 points toward the WSOP National Championship, putting him well in contention for a seat with 115 points. Fifth paid $4,426.
4th PlaceThe fourth place finisher was Clifford Goldkind, a 24-year-old student from Potomac, MD. After years of playing online, this was one of Goldkind’s first live tournaments. He fared well, picking up his first WSOPC cash, worth $5,921.

3rd Place Three-handed play lasted a whopping three and a half hours. In the critical hand of the night, Burson was able to take the chip lead after doubling up in all-in show down vs. Richard Austin and never looked back. While Ryan Blank watched his two foes battle in a number of all-in showdowns, he eventually tangled with Austin in one of his own, holding    vs. Austin’s   . Unfortunately for Blank, the board did not go his way and he was eliminated.

Blank is a 27-year-old diamond salesman from Baltimore, MD. He took home $8,058 for third.

Heads up, Burson had just over a 3-2 lead over Austin. Play would not last much longer as the two were soon heads up with Burson tabling    vs. Austin’s [Kd . The final board of the night came down      , giving Burson the victory and forcing Austin to settle for second place.

Austin is 53 years old and owns several paint stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He took home $11,163 for second place.

For the victory, Burson was awarded his first WSOPC Gold Ring and $18,063 in prize money.

Burson was visibly emotional after the win.

“This wasn’t about poker tonight,” said Burson. “My dad has always been my biggest supporter, even when I didn’t know it. I was a rough kid, but got older and realized my dad was always right about things.”

Burson, who builds homes in California, took a big hit when during the foreclosure crisis and owed money to his father who was his financier.

“I spoke to my dad before the final table and he didn’t even bring up the money, he just told me to get (the ring).”

“This is for him.”

Burson joins five previous Ring Event winners in second place for the Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino Championship. Ryan Gentry, winner of Event #4, sits at the top of the points leader board at 60 after cashing in another event.

The Casino Champion is the player who earns the most points through the 12 events at Harrah’s Philadelphia. This player will earn an automatic seat to the $1 million WSOP Circuit National Championship to be held in late May. More information about the WSOPC National Championship can be found here. An explanation of the points system can be found here.

Still to come are 5 events. See the complete Harrah’s Philadelphia Circuit schedule and event results here. The WSOP Circuit Events at Harrah’s Philadelphia runs through May 7th. You can find the complete 2011/2012 WSOP CIRCUIT SCHEDULE here.

*100 top WSOP and WSOP Europe qualifiers have been invited to buy into the WSOP National championship, resulting in a potential prize pool of upwards of $2,000,000. More info at:


Harrah’s Philadelphia is a casino and racetrack located in Philadelphia, PA -- about 15 minutes south of Philadelphia International Airport. It is the 16th (of 17) WSOP Circuit host properties. Harrah’s New Orleans is the last remaining stop of the 2011-2012 WSOPC season.

This marks the second season that the WSOP Circuit has visited Harrah’s Philadelphia.

Harrah’s Philadelphia first opened in 2007, offering slot games and horse racing. Table games were introduced to the casino in 2010 after they were legalized by the state of Pennsylvania.

Harrah’s Philadelphia originally opened as Harrah’s Chester, but is currently in the process of rebranding itself as Harrah’s Philadelphia, which is expected to be complete on May 1st.

Harrah’s Philadelphia’s “12 Rings in 12 Days” series is taking place April 25-May 7.  Tournaments are held in the ballroom located on the second floor of the casino. Cash games can be found in the poker room next to the race book also located on the second floor.

Each Ring Event Final Table will be streamed live from the final table stage area in the ballroom. The live stream can be accessed at: Because final table start times are tentative, viewers should follow the WSOP on Twitter @wsop to be notified when live streams begin. 

Media Contact:

Alan Fowler

WSOP/Caesars Interactive Entertainment