Considering how many notable pros flocked to the Horseshoe Hammond this month for the Circuit's annual pilgrimage to Chicagoland, it is only fitting that this year's Horseshoe Hammond Casino Champion is a name many poker fans are familiar with. In a contest that came down to the wire, Mike Leah of Toronto prevailed over the thousands of Hammond players to grab the honor and an automatic seat into the 2013 WSOP National Championship presented by Southern Comfort 100 Proof.
Leah got off to a fast start , making back to back final tables in Events 4 and 5 taking third and fourth place respectively. Leah followed that up with a deep run in the Main Event, then took 13th place in the final event of the series to clinch the honor. Leah did have a sweat though, as Zal Irani made it all the way to the final table of the Main Event and could have beaten Leah in the tiebreaker had he managed to finish in second place. Irani made an impressive run, but came up short of that, taking fifth place.
So, Leah becomes the eighth player and the first non-American to earn a trip to New Orleans in may for the $1 million freeroll. The accomplishment is the latest in a long line of poker achievements for the pro. His career earnings are in excess of $1.5 million and are more than twice that when you factor in what he has won playing online for several years. He will have a chance to add a six-figure payday to that tally now that he will be part of the Natioanl Championship field.
Leah spoke with WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla about his experience at the Horseshoe Hammond series and what it means to be Casino Champion: