Dominic Gabaldon Locks Up “Best All-Around Player” Prize

Record-Breaking 2011-2012 WSOP Circuit Season Comes to a Close


New Orleans, LA (May 21, 2012) – The 2011-2012 World Series of Poker Circuit season came to a thrilling close in New Orleans tonight with the conclusion of the Main Event Championship.

The $1,600 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament attracted the largest turnout in the eight-year-history of championships, with nearly 700 players.  The prize pool exceeded one million dollars.

The new champion is Justin Truesdell, a 30-year-old local poker pro from New Orleans.  He collected $204,747 in prize money.  Truesdell was also presented with his second career gold ring, after winning an event in 2009, held in Tunica, MS.  Truesdell’s tournament resume now includes nine Circuit cashes and five in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.  His combined WSOP-related earnings now total nearly $400,000 in prize money.

Truesdell’s victory also included two bonus prizes – an automatic seat into the WSOP Circuit National Championship, to be played in six weeks.  He also won an entry into the 2012 WSOP Main Event.

Truesdell won a four-day tournament filled with tough players.  The tournament series was record-setting in several ways – including the largest overall turnout, largest tournament in New Orleans history, as well as the largest Main Event ever held here.

The runner up was Andrew “Winners” Nguyen, a poker pro from Dallas.  He cashed for the fifth time this season, but failed to qualify for a National Championship seat, just missing the cutoff in points.  Nguyen could still take pride in a nice consolation prize, amounting to $126,693.

In other news, the “Best All-Around Player” title for the New Orleans series went to Dominic Gabaldon, a school teacher from Iowa City, IA.  His three final table appearances – including 5th, 5th, and 7th – topped a highly competitive field of challengers who showed up for the dozen gold ring events.  

Gabaldon’s feat was arguably the most challenging of any player this season, given the higher caliber of players who showed up at the final WSOP Circuit stop of the season, in an effort to accumulate desperately-needed points.  Indeed, he was competing among stacked fields with many of the top ranked players from the season, which makes his accomplishment all the more impressive.   

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HARRAH’S NEW ORLEANS SERIES HIGHLIGHTS

The Harrah’s New Orleans Circuit stop was held over the past 12 days.  This series included several memorable moments, including the following highlights:

Largest Poker Tournament in New Orleans History – Everyone knew the season’s World Series of Poker Circuit finale would be huge.  But no one could have predicted the astonishing turnout at Harrah’s New Orleans for opening day.  The first of a dozen gold ring events -- $355 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em (Event #1) -- attracted a record-smashing 945 entrants.  The attendance figure set a new record as the largest poker tournament ever held in New Orleans.  The previous record was set on May 18, 2005 during the height of the so-called poker boom, in what was the first WSOP Circuit event ever held in the city’s history.  That event seven years ago drew 833 players, paltry by comparison to this year’s huge turnout.

Scott Davies Sets New Record for Most Cashes in a Season -- With Scott Davies’ tenth-place finish in Event #5, he set a new record for the most cashes in a season – with 18.  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 included four final table appearances. 
 
Loni Harwood Wins Second Gold Ring – Loni Harwood emerged as one of the breakout stars of the 2011-2012 World Series of Poker Circuit season.  The 22-year-old New Yorker won her second gold ring at Harrah’s New Orleans.  Remarkably, Harwood attended only two WSOP Circuit stops this season – and triumphed at both.  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.  However, one disappointment for Harwood was bubbling the Main Event (finishing 73rd out of 694 players).

Record Turnout for Main Event Championship – 694 entrants was a record figure for the New Orleans championship event.  The huge turnout obliterated last year’s figure, which was 382 players in the same Main Event.  These figures represent an 81 percent increase from the previous year.

Sam Barnhart Fails to Qualify for WSOP Circuit Championship – Sam Barnhart was unquestionably the biggest breakout star of the 2010-2011 season.  He not only won the Main Event held at Tunica, he also was victorious in the inaugural National Championship.  Barnhart went on to finish in 17th in the WSOP Main Event.  His overall winnings exceeded $1 million.  Barnhart managed to cash seven times this season, but fell just short in the point race and did not have enough points to qualify.  Everyone at the WSOP Circuit congratulates Barnhart for his great year in poker and for representing the game with such class as the first-ever national champion.  

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MISCELLANEOUS

The Main Event was a $1,600 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em competition which took place over four days.  The tournament attracted 694 entries – which began play in two starting flights.  The total prize pool came to $1,008,770 (including a $10,000 entry into the 2012 WSOP Main Event Championship).  The top 72 players were paid.  All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points.

A full list of all players who cashed in Event #9 can be seen here.

Third place went to Anthony Vidmer, from Nashville, TN.  He is perhaps best known within the poker world for his role as writer-director of the film biography of the late Stu Ungar, titled “High Roller.”  Vidmer is soon introducing a new poker site, as well -- which will likely appeal to thousands of poker players (he’ll make the announcement soon).  Vidmer arrived at the final table as chip leader, but ran into trouble late at the final table.  Nonetheless, Vidmer could certainly be proud of what amounted to his highest finish ever in a WSOP-related event.  This marks his seventh time to cash in a WSOP Circuit event, which was worth $92,925.  

The fourth place finisher was Daniel Lowery, from Peter Pender, AR.  He is a sawmill owner.  Lowery cashed ten times this season and easily qualified for a seat in the National Championship.  Lowery had two runner-up finishes this year, including second place in both the Main Event at Choctaw (Oklahoma) and Harvey’s Lake Tahoe.  His combined WSOP Circuit earnings this season amounts to more than $300,000.  Fourth place paid $69,104.

Dominic Gabaldon took fifth place, which was good enough to lock up the “Best All-Around” title for the Harrah’s New Orleans series.  He is a teacher from Iowa City, IA.  This was Gabaldon’s third final table appearance at this series, which was the most of any player.  He earned $52,085 in prize money.

Michael Hallen was the sixth-place finisher.  He is a 26-year-old pro poker player from Tampa, FL.  This was his fifth time to cash this season.  Hallen also cashed six times at last year’s WSOP in Las Vegas.  $39,781 was the payment for sixth place.

Seventh place went to Shane Smith, from Hiram, GA.  He works in construction.  This was Smith’s third time to cash this season.  He received $30,782 in prize money.

George Miro, from Royal Palm Beach, FL was the eighth-place finisher.  He is a helicopter and airplane pilot with Jet Blue Airways.  Miro is also an Air Force veteran who proudly served in Vietnam.  Prior to flying as a pilot, Miro was a New York City police officer.  Eighth place paid $24,130.

Ninth place went to Ramon Martinez, from Diamondhead, MS.  He is a meteorologist and oceanographer with the U.S. Navy.  In fact, he has served 24 years in the U.S. Navy as an officer.  Martinez is also a veteran of the Gulf War (1991), where he was on a ship that struck a sea mine.  Martinez earned $19,156 in prize money.

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GOLD RING WINNERS

The Harrah’s New Orleans series has completed.  Here are all of the event winners:

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
Event 6 – Alex Foxen (CSH, NY) defeated 335 players in $355 buy-in Six-Handed NLHE
Event 7 – Jimmy Calcagno (San Antonio, TX) defeated 395 players in $355 buy-in NLHE
Event 8 – Jacob Naquin (New Orleans, LA) defeated 232 players in $1085 buy-in NLHE
Event 9 – Justin Truesdell (New Orleans, LA) defeated 694 players in $1600 buy-in Main Event NLHE
Event 10 – Michael Schneider (Covington, SC) defeated 337 players in $355 buy-in NLHE
Event 11 – Justin Gardenshire (Ponca City, OK) defeated 246 players in $355 buy-in NLHE
Event 12 – Joe Phelps (Diamondhead, MS) defeated 171 players in $355 buy-in TURBO NLHE

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DOMINIC GABALDON WINS BEST ALL-AROUND PLAYER RACE

Two players from this tournament series qualified for the WSOP Circuit National Championship, which is classified as a WSOP gold bracelet event.  

Dominic Gabaldon accumulated the most overall points in Harrah’s New Orleans’ twelve combined gold ring tournaments.  Accordingly, he received a pre-paid entry into the 2011-2012 WSOP Circuit National Championship.

The other automatic qualifier was Justin Truesdell, the winner of Main Event Championship.

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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 took place at Harrah's New Orleans, conveniently located right next to the famous French Quarter.  This year’s tournament series ran 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.
   
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.
 
The final official list of 100 players who qualify will be announced shortly, at WSOP.COM.