Former WSOP Main Event Stars Make Final Table – with Jonathan Tamayo Besting John Dolan and Thomas Manning

Scott Davies Cashes for 18th Time this Season – Sets New WSOP Circuit Record

New Orleans, LA (May 15, 2012) – The most recent World Series of Poker Circuit final table was something special.  Three players who all cashed in the WSOP Main Event Championship two years ago, and who all made deep runs, sat together for the first time.  At stake was a gold ring.

The finale included John Dolan, who finished sixth in the 2010 world championship.  He pocketed nearly $1.8 million for that noble achievement and has since cashed in several WSOP and WSOP Circuit events.  However, this time -- Dolan could do no better than seventh place.  

Also in the mix was Thomas Manning – who finished 51st in the 2010 Main Event against 7,319 players.  He ended up in eighth place.

Then, there was Jonathan Tamayo.  He is perhaps best known for his 21st-place finish in the 2009 Main Event.  He also cashed in the 2010 championship, finishing in the top 350.  Tamayo bested his former world championship rivals and several other talented adversaries en route to his first live major tournament victory.

Tamayo received $28,168 in prize money, plus the gold ring.  He also made a giant leap forward in his quest to qualify for the WSOP Circuit National Championship.  But the first thing Tamayo said following his victory was how thrilled he was to finally get the monkey of non-victories off his back.

Indeed, Tamayo had come close to victory several times before – mostly notably in a Circuit event held at Caesars Palace, where he finished third.  Tamayo also finished fourth in a gold bracelet event at the WSOP.

With this feat, Tamayo now has six WSOP Circuit cashes to go with his 13 WSOP (Las Vegas) in-the-money finishes.  His earnings in WSOP events now exceed $700,000.  Not bad for a college graduate to had trouble finding a decent-paying job a few years ago, and instead decided to start playing poker seriously to earn income.

Tamayo, now age 26, lives in Humble, TX, which is north of Houston.  He earned a degree in hotel management from Cornell University.

Given his strong record and proven ability to win following this breakthrough victory, once can expect bigger things ahead for Tamayo, who plans to play in several WSOP events this summer.  No doubt, he may run into rivals Dolan and Manning again, in addition to tens of thousands of other players all pursuing the same dream.

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Somewhat lost in all the excitement was Scott Davies, from Las Vegas, who finished in tenth place.  With this cash, Davies set a new record for the most cashes in a season – with 18 (and counting).  Davies’ numbers are truly astonishing, given that he missed the first three months of this season (about a third of the WSOP Circuit).  His first cash was in December at Harrah’s Atlantic City.  Davies’ strong run this year includes four final tables, with fifth place as his best showing.  

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The fifth of a dozen gold ring tournaments began on Monday with Event #5 – a $355 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em competition.  The tournament attracted 440 entries – which was a sizable turnout given the early mid-week start.  The total prize pool came to $132,000.  The top 45 players were paid.  All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points.

A full list of all players who cashed in Event #5 can be seen here.

The tournament was played over two consecutive days.  Slightly less than ten percent of the starting field -- 40 survivors -- took seats on the second day of action, played on Tuesday.

Following four initial hours on Day Two, the final table was set.  The final table featured only one former WSOP Circuit gold ring winner – Thomas Manning (Harrah’s Rincon – 2012).

The final table including the following players and chip counts:

Seat 1 – Gloria “Zarah” Whimper with 219,000 in chips
Seat 2 – David Smith with 245,000 in chips
Seat 3 – John Dolan with 1,000,000 in chips
Seat 4 – Thomas Manning with 578,000 in chips
Seat 5 – Megabob Cote with 689,000 in chips
Seat 6 – Dennis Crowley with 450,000 in chips
Seat 7 – Christy Pham with 190,000 in chips
Seat 8 – Justin Fossen with 217,000 in chips
Seat 9 – Jonathan Tamayo with 633,000 in chips
Seat 10 – Scott Davies with 202,000 in chips

The final playing session began at 7:30 pm local time.  Play finished at 2 am making the total duration about 6.5 hours.  The official order of finish was as follows:  

10th Place – Scott Davies was the first player to bust out, finishing in tenth place.  He is a 31-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas.  Davies has been the WSOP Circuit marathon man, setting a new record for number of cashes in a single year.  This was Davies 18th time to finish in-the-money in a Circuit event, with half a dozen events till to be played.  Davies locked up a seat in the National Championship some time ago, and deserves a round of applause for what has been an outstanding year playing tournament poker.

9th Place – Gloria Whimper, a.k.a. “Zarah,” came in ninth place.  She is a student originally from New Orleans, who is now living in Atlanta.  Zarah has now cashed two times at this series, after coming in 33rd in a 945-player field in the opener.

8th Place – Thomas Manning (a.k.a. James Manning) went out in eighth place.  He calls himself a “high risk investor,” which is another way of saying he plays poker for a living.  The 26-year-old Waco (Texas) resident is a graduate of Baylor University.  In addition to his three WSOP cashes and seven WSOP Circuit in-the-money finishes, Manning has a gold ring, which he won earlier this year at Harrah’s Rincon (San Diego).

7th Place – John Dolan came in seventh place.  He was a November Nine finalist two years ago and has accumulated close to $3 million during his relatively short poker career.  Dolan, a 26-year-old poker pro from Bonita Springs, FL came in second in one of the gold ring events held earlier this year, at the IP Biloxi.  He also finished second in a World Poker Tour event, held recently in Jacksonville, FL.
 
6th Place – David Smith was the sixth-place finisher.  He is a 68-year-old retiree from Walls, MS.  Smith came in second in a WSOP Circuit event held earlier this season.  This was his third time to cash this season.  Smith also made the money last year in an event at the WSOP.  In addition to being a fine poker player, Smith can also boast being a Platinum Life Master in bridge.  
    
5th Place – Dennis Crowley finished in fifth place.  He is a 65-year-old retiree from Pearland, TX.  This was Crowley’s eighth time to cash on the WSOP.  All of his in-the-money finishes have taken place in Louisiana – two at Bossier City and (now) six in New Orleans.  Five of those cashes have been final table appearances.
 
4th Place – Justin Fossen took fourth place.  He is a 26-year-old officer in the U.S. Air Force who is living in Cheyenne, WY.  This marked Fossen’s first time ever to cash in a WSOP-related tournament.

3rd Place – Christy Pham was the third-place finisher.  She is a tax accountant from Lake May, FL.  Pham was born in Vietnam.  She enjoyed the biggest crowd support, which shared her third-place finish as a mixed blessing.  This marked Pham’s fourth time to cash on the WSOP Circuit and was her highest finish, to date.  Third place paid $12,719.

2nd Place – Robert “Megabob” Cote finished as the runner up.  He is a 30-year-old bar manager from Cypress, TX.  Cote put up a good fight, outlasting all but one player.  This was Cote’s second deep run here in New Orleans.  Just two nights ago, he finished third in the Pot-Limit Omaha event.  That places him in first place in the “Best All-Around Player” race, with a 2nd and 3rd, so far.  In fact, Cote is now in good position with 67.5 points from this series.  But just about everyone who has been grinding away on the Circuit will be here during the closing week, which means he likely will need another cash or two to lock up the top prize and win his National Championship seat.  Second place paid $17,407.

When heads-up play began, Tamayo enjoyed slightly more than a 3 to 1 chip lead.  The final hand came about 20 minutes into the duel:  

Tamayo:        
Cote:     
Flop:       
Turn:    
River:    

Cole moved all in pre-flop and was called instantly by Tamayo.  Cole was drawing slim, holding a dominated hand.  He picked up a straight draw on the turn, but missed the river and ended up in second place.  Tamayo was declared the new champion.

1st Place – Jonathan Tamayo from Humble, TX became the fifth WSOP Circuit champion crowned this year at Harrah’s New Orleans  He won $28,168 for the victory – which pushes him over the $700,000 mark in career WSOP earnings.  Tamayo was also presented with his first gold ring.

Nearly half 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
Event 5 – Jonathan Tamayo (Humble, TX) defeated 440 players in $355 NLHE


With his victory, Tamayo moves into serious contention as one of the leaders in this WSOP Circuit’s “Best All-Around Player” standings.  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.  Once again, Megabob Cote leads all players at this time.

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 fifth tournament wrapped up, there are still seven 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.

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MORE ABOUT THE WSOP CIRCUIT AT HARRAH’S NEW ORLEANS AND THE WSOP CIRCUIT NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP


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.