John Bowman Wins Main Event at Harrah's Cherokee
North Carolina native collects gold ring and $250K in first cash
Juan Mendoza locks up Casino Championship title
Successful debut WSOP Circuit stop in North Carolina comes to thrilling conclusion
If ever there was a poker fairytale with a storybook ending, it happened tonight at the Harrah's Cherokee Casino and Resort, nestled in the majestic Smoky Mountains.
The first-ever World Series of Poker Circuit ever held in North Carolina ended in spectacular fashion on Monday evening as John Bowman won the top prize of a quarter-of-a-million dollars to go along with Harrah's Cherokee's Main Event Championship. He stunned the poker world, his competitors, and even himself with the unexpected victory.
Remarkably, this was the first major poker event Bowman as ever played. He qualified for a seat into the $1,675 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em championship by winning a seat given away in a satellite, which took place two nights before the tournament began. Bowman not only played in the biggest poker event of his life, he made the money, then made the final table, and ended up winning a memorable debut event.
“I never could have imagined this would happen to me,” Bowman said afterward. “I would have have had the chance to come and play in the World Series. So, I'm fortunate the Circuit came here for the first time and this gave me a chance to come and try to make something out of it. I never expected it would all come to this.”
Bowman was cheered to victory by several friends and supporters in the crowd. He was embraced by his wife, who was in tears afterward.
“This is such a big deal to me,” Bowman confided. “Money is tight for us right now, so to play in the Main Event and then get all the way up here is just unimaginable.”
Bowman collected the handsome sum of $250,380. He also slipped on his first WSOP Circuit gold ring. To go along with the honor of being North Carolina's first-ever home state champion, Bowman also earned a prepaid seat into the WSOP National Championship scheduled for New Orleans next month. He will also get to play in the WSOP Main Event Championship in Las Vegas this summer. So, he'll have two shots at a gold bracelet. Not bad for a 30-year-old part-time recreational poker player who just hoped to get a chance to play in a gold ring event.
Bowman works in roofing. He lives in Hickory, NC with his wife and 2-year-old son.
What may have been most impressive about Bowman's victory was the manner in which he staged the biggest of upsets. He was a non-factor during the early stages of the final table and gradually fell behind his rivals. It seemed he might just be satisfied with moving up a few places on the money ladder.
Bowman even looked to be too far behind at one point. But the player with nothing to lose and everything to gain never gave in and managed to reverse whatever disadvantages that existed by experience. He took the chip lead when play became three-handed and never faced any serious danger from that point forward.
Daniel Weinman finished as the runner up. He's a 25-year-old poker pro from Atlanta, GA. Third place went to Raymond Weaver who had a shot to become the oldest WSOP Circuit Main Event winner in history, at age 69.
Among the bigger names who cashed in the Main Event were Carter Myers (18th), Cary Marshall (26th), Greg Raymer (29th), David Nicholson (43rd), and Kyle Cartwright (54th).
The tournament generated a prize pool totaling $1,284,000. The top 90 finishers collected prize money. The final table finishers were as follows:
1 John Bowman Hickory, NC $250,380
2 Daniel Weinman Atlanta, GA $154,772
3 Raymond Weaver Mcdonough, GA $113,968
4 Kory Kilpatrick Athens, GA $85,052
5 George Zinaty Charlotte, NC $64,303
6 James Kinney Charlotte, NC $49,241
7 Hugh Henderson Belton, SC $38,186
8 Jonathan Moseley Woodstock, GA $29,891
9 Jerry Monroe Columbus, GA $28,431
More About the Final Table Players
9th place went to Jerry Monroe, a real estate investor from Columbus, GA. He won the 2011 Main Event Championhip at IP Biloxi. This was his fifth Main Event Circuit event.
8th place went to Jonathan Moseley, a 29-year-old poker pro from Acworth, GA. He now has nearly $150,000 in live tournament winnings. This was his second final table appearance here at Harrah's Cherokee after finishing 6th place in Event 5.
7th place went to Hugh Henderson, Jr. who arrived on the final day with the chip lead. He took third place in a WSOP event last year in Las Vegas in addition to several other major cashes. Henderson has been playing full time for about six years. He resides in Greenville, SC.
6th place went to James Kinney, a 49-year-old performance coach from Charlotte, NC. He's taken first place in a few majors and second at a previous WSOP Circuit stop (Tunica).
5th place went to George Zinaty, a Lebanese-born salon owner from Charlotte, NC. He's better known as “Salon George” and used to be a hair stylist.
4th place went to Kory Kilpatrick, a 23-year-old poker pro from Athens, GA. He has more than $2 million in combined live and online tournament cashes.
3rd place went to Raymond Weaver, a 69-year-old retiree from McDonough, GA. He formally worked as a train conductor.
2nd place went to Daniel Weinman, a poker pro from Atlanta, GA. The consolation prize amounted to $154,772.
1st place went to John Bowman from Hickory, NC in his first-ever major live tournament appearance. First place totaled $250K plus the coveted WSOP Circuit gold ring.
Juan Mendoza Locks Up Casino Championship Title
Juan Mendoza officially won the Casino Championship title for Harrah's Cherokee. He cashed three times here at this series, including two second-place finishes. Mendoza earns a seat in the WSOP National Championhip to be held next month in New Orleans.
The top 90 finishers from this event received points which applies to the WSOP National Championship sponsored by Southern Comfort 100 Proof. All players who cash in gold ring events still have a chance at one of the 60 at-large National Championship bids to be awarded to the top-point earners throughout the season. Three more Circuit stops remain this season. More information on the points system is available on WSOP.com.
This completes the 2012-13 WSOP Circuit at Harrah's Cherokee. The next stop is at Council Bluffs, Iowa. Action began there last week and runs through April 22nd.