Loni Harwood Collects Her Second WSOP Circuit Title, After First Win at Palm Beach in February

Another Close Call for Peter Mavro, Who Finishes Second

New Orleans, LA (May 14, 2012) – Loni Harwood is emerging as one of the breakout stars of the 2011-2012 World Series of Poker Circuit season.  The 22-year-old New Yorker just won her second gold ring, with the most recent prize coming at Harrah’s New Orleans.

Remarkably, Harwood has only attended two WSOP Circuit stops this season – and has triumphed at both.  That makes her two for two.  Harwood’s first victory took place at the Palm Beach Kennel Club (West Palm Beach, FL) in February.  That $30,000 tournament win was historic, namely for the fact that for the first time in history, three women took each of the top three spots in a major poker tournament.  At the time, one wondered whether Harwood would return to the tour sometime later and potentially match her previous victory.

Three months went by – with no sign of Harwood.  Then, here at Harrah’s New Orleans she appeared from nowhere, entered the opening event, and managed to cash in 37th place – out of 945 entrants.  Two days later, Harwood blitzed through a tough field stacked with WSOP Circuit regulars, many of whom are in New Orleans making one last drive to get points to qualify for seats in the National Championship.  Displaying an attitude that made it seem victory was pre-destined Harwood took care of business, ultimately earning $23,090 for her success.

Last year, Harwood graduated from State University of New York-Albany with a degree in finance.  She is uncertain about her future plans, but certainly plans to play more poker.  She also plans to attend this year’s WSOP in Las Vegas.  Harwood confided that she expects to get a “real” job at some point.  But at least for now, she appears to be enjoying life and doing well quite in poker, particularly given her limited investment of time and money.

The runner up was Peter Mavro, from Las Vegas.  He’s been snake-bitten for quite some time in his quest for what would be his first gold ring victory.  This was Marvo’s 21st time to cash on the WSOP Circuit and seventh final table appearance.  No doubt, Mavro’s time as a poker champion will eventually come, but he’ll have to wait a bit longer for the moment.

Mavro could take some satisfaction however in picking up more than enough ranking points to qualify for a seat in the million-dollar WSOP Circuit National Championship.  Oddly enough, the winner Harwood still has some work to do.  Even with two victories, she has cashed just three times and will need to get into the money at least once more to have any shot at the opportunity to play in the championship.  So, in a sense – Harwood and Mavro both won, with more pressure now shifting to the latest champion as she tries to cash in at least one more event to earn a National Championship seat.


The fourth of a dozen gold ring tournaments began on Sunday with Event #4 – a $355 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em competition.  The tournament attracted 345 entries.  The total prize pool came to $103,500.  The top 36 players were paid.  All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points.

A full list of all players who cashed in Event #4 can be seen here.

The tournament was played over two consecutive days.  Less than ten percent of the starting field – just 20 survivors -- took seats on the second day of action, played on Monday.

Following three more hours of play on Day Two, the final table was set.  The finale featured only one former WSOP Circuit gold ring winner – Loni Harwood.  She also enjoyed a slight chip lead when play began.  Harwood lost her edge at one point, but still managed to be the definitive force during most of the final playing session.  The starting lineup of players was as follows:

Seat 1 – Russell Sartin with 258,000 in chips
Seat 2 – Loni Harwood with 790,000 in chips
Seat 3 – Peter Mavro with 705,000 in chips
Seat 4 – Tommy Mosier with 221,000 in chips
Seat 5 – Randolph Reynolds with 133,000 in chips
Seat 6 – Dominic Gabaldon with 536,000 in chips
Seat 7 – Long Boutchantharas with 73,000 in chips
Seat 8 – Jonathan Biddle with 218,000 in chips
Seat 9 – Dr. Dale Archer with 282,000 in chips
Seat 10 – Paul Phillips with 244,000 in chips

Perhaps fittingly, the two biggest-stacked players (Loni Harwood and Peter Mavro) ended up finishing 1-2.  

The final playing session began at 5 pm local time.  Play finished at midnight making the total duration nearly seven hours.  The official order of finish was as follows:  

10th Place – Dr. Dale Archer was the first player to be eliminated, ending up in tenth place.  He is a 55-year-old psychiatrist and successful author from Lakes Charles, LA.  Dr. Archer finished 11th in the 2004 WSOP Main Event Championship.  He is also the author of a best-selling book titled, “Better than Normal:  What Makes You Different Can Make you Exceptional.”

9th Place – Jonathan Biddle, from Bay St. Louis, MS took ninth place.  He is 28-years-old and works in management.  

8th Place – Paul Phillips finished in eighth place.  He is a 40-year-old mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service.  Phillip’s dreams of victory were cancelled out early in the finale, but he did manage to make his deepest run yet in a WSOP tournament with this finish.

7th Place – Dominic Gabaldon was the seventh-place finisher.  He is a 49-year-old teacher of biology and chemistry from Iowa City, IA.  Galbadon was eliminated when he missed a flush draw.  This was Galbadon’s first time to participate in a WSOP-related tournament, which makes his high finish all the more impressive.   
6th Place – Randolph Reynolds ended up as the sixth-place finisher.  He is a 26-year-old archeologist from Jacksonville, FL.  This was Reynolds’ second final table appearance this season, following a third-place finish at the IP Biloxi.
5th Place – Thomas Mosier finished in fifth place.  He is a pro poker player from Bloomington, IN.  Mosier has an interesting background as a gamesman.  He is a top-ranked Monopoly player.  He also toured the country playing a card game called Euchre.  This was Mosier’s sixth time to cash this season, and third final table appearance.  However, he still needs points to make the cut for the National Championship.
4th Place – Long Boutchantharaj came in fifth place – which may have actually been the most impressive showing of anyone, given his position at the start of play.  He is a 36-year-old part-time poker player from Fort Worth, TX.  Boutchantharaj, who was born in Laos, began play with the shortest stack – by far.  So, moving six places up the money ladder was quite an accomplishment.  This was his sixth time to cash this season.  But he still needs to accumulate points in order to qualify for the National Championship.
3rd Place – Russell Sartin came in third place.  He is from nearby Slidell, LA.  He was eliminated after a long three-way table battle between the top three finishers.  This marked Sartin’s first time to cash in a WSOP-related tournament.  

2nd Place – Peter Mavro has posted some monster numbers, and done especially well this season.  He now has 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 8th place showings to go with eight cashes since last September.  He’s one of only a handful of player with more than 20 career WSOP Circuit cashes.  But the 32-year-old Las Vegas poker pro remains ringless.

Mavro has a shot to win, and could have done so except for a bad beat he took late in the tournament.  He had Harwood all-in and covered at one point, which his K-Q dominating her K-7.  But a seven flopped, giving Harwood new life.

The heads-up duel lasted more than three hours, one of the longer battles in quite some time on the Circuit.  The two players battled back and forth, with Harwood finally winning with a full house.  She had Mavro covered and drawing to three outs when all the money went in, and then improved to a boat – tens over threes.  Mavro’s consolation prize amounted to $14,275.

1st Place – Loni Harwood, from Staten Island, NY became the fourth WSOP Circuit champion crowned this year at Harrah’s New Orleans.  She collected $23,090 for the victory, plus her second gold ring.  Harwood first win took place at West Palm Beach in February 2012.

One third of the Harrah’s New Orleans series has now been completed.  Here are the winners from the first four events:

Event 1 – Andy Hwang (Houston, TX) defeated 945 players in $355 buy-in NLHE
Event 2 – John Fagg (Terre Haute, IN) defeated 320 players in $565 buy-in NLHE
Event 3 – John Harris (Dallas, TX) defeated 167 players in $355 buy-in PLO
Event 4 – Loni Harwood (Staten Island, NY) defeated 345 players in $355 NLHE

With her victory, Harwood moves into the top spot (barely) as the early leader in this WSOP Circuit’s “Best All-Around Player” standings.  This is because she now has one win and two cashes.  The (one) player who accumulates the most overall points in Harrah’s New Orleans’ twelve combined gold ring tournaments receives a pre-paid entry into the 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 May 19-22).

With the fourth tournament wrapped up, there are still eight 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 New Orleans continues through May 21st.  



The 17th and final World Series of Poker Circuit stop of the 2011-2012 season is taking place at Harrah's New Orleans, conveniently located right next to the famous French Quarter.  This year’s tournament series runs May 10-21.

New Orleans has become a favorite destination for poker players and regulars on the WSOP Circuit.  For each of the past eight seasons, Harrah’s New Orleans has been the last waltz of a long poker symphony.  This year, New Orleans wraps up seventeen WSOP Circuit event stops, which have attracted tens of thousands of poker players from all over the United States, and beyond.  

The current season began last September at Horseshoe Bossier City (Shreveport), and now comes full circle back to the state of Louisiana for what promises to be a thrilling conclusion to what has been a record-breaking poker tour.
There's a lot at stake for poker players who will make their way to the Crescent City over the next two weeks.  Not only are nearly a dozen gold rings up for grabs, as well as lots of prize money.  What seems to be driving attendance is the wildly-popular WSOP Circuit National Championship rankings.  New Orleans is the last chance players will have to earn points to qualify for this year’s National Championship.
Since the season began, all tournament players have been in the running for 100 guaranteed pre-paid seats in the $1 million WSOP Circuit National Championship finale.  In a sense, every National Championship seat is valued at $10,000 -- since that’s the proportion of the million dollar-plus prize pool each player represents.  Another 100 players are eligible to buy into the tournament (top ranked players from each of the past two WSOPs in Las Vegas), which means the event will cap out with well over a million dollars at stake.

This marks the second straight season that the WSOP Circuit has utilized a national ranking system based on accumulated points.  All players earned their points by finishing in-the-money in one or more of the 204 total gold ring tournaments which are being offered this season.

What awaits the fortunate 100 players who will advance to the National Championship?  First, there is the chance to win a lot of money.  Second, is the opportunity to appear on national television, since the tournament held at the Rio Las Vegas will be broadcast nationally on ESPN – one of only three events this year to be covered in full by the network.  Third, all players will be competing for the most coveted prize in the game of poker – the WSOP gold bracelet.  This is the second time that a gold bracelet has been tied to the WSOP Circuit.  Last year, Sam Barnhart, from Little Rock, AR won the inaugural WSOP National Championship title.
So, the final opportunity for most players to be crowned the 2012 “WSOP Circuit National Champion” will take place at Harrah’s New Orleans.  Over 12 consecutive days – through May 21st – tournament players will be jockeying for position in what will be the final chance to earn ranking points.  

At the conclusion of the Harrah’s New Orleans tour stop – on May 21st -- the final official list of 100 players who qualify will be announced.