Every sport seems to have its fair share of friendly rivalries, but in the poker world, we seem to be coming across more and more friends turned rivals at the tables. Last year it was former roommates Russell Thomas and Jesse Sylvia at the Main Event final table.  This year, we had roommate Joseph LaPinta and Joseph Wertz playing heads-up for a ring and a six-figure payday in the Harrah's Atlantic City $1,675 buy-in Circuit Main Event.  In the end, LaPinta was able to defeat Wertz to win the $182,070 in first-place prize money as well as the gold ring and the seat to the National Championship.
Coming into the final table, the question on most Circuit fans' minds was whether or not Horseshoe Hammond Main Event winner James Dorrance could pick up his second Main Event title of the season. Like Wertz, Dorrance started Day 3 action with one of the biggest stacks, but he actually made one of the earliest exits of the day, busting out in eighth place.

Despite coming into the final table in the eighth overall chip position, LaPinta was able to overcome the field to seize a victory. LaPinta spent a majority of play during the day remaining patient and picking his spots well. As the table lost players, LaPinta ramped up the aggression and found himself in a dominating position for heads up play.

When play began, the chip leader was Fabrizio Sarra. Coincidentally, it was Sarra's fall in fifth place that sparked LaPinta's surge up the counts. LaPinta picked up aces at just the right time, eliminating Sarra.  Then, LaPinta proceeded to eliminate every other player at the table, knocking out Foxwoods Circuit Main Event final tablist Keith Donovan in fourth, John Jones in third, and his friend Wertz in second place.

The win is the first six-figure score for LaPinta, whose previous results were limited to four-figure scores in small events around the Atlantic City area.  The practice should come in handy for the New Jersey player, who won't have to travel far at all when he plays for the bracelet in the National Championship next May.

This year's Main Event drew a field of 578 players, making for a prize pool of $867,000.  As usual, the event drew a ton of top talent from the East Coast area, including a host of bracelet winners, Circuit regulars, and notable names.  Moreover, several other players were able to take their shot in the event for a fraction of the price thanks to online satellites on the newly-launched New Jersey real money poker site

The top 63 finishers made the money in this year's event. Some of the notables who cashed included bracelet winner Jeff Papola (49th), bracelet winner Loni Harwood (39th), John DiBella (36th), bracelet winner Chris Tryba (35th), last year’s champ in this event, Adam Teasdale (24th), and bracelet winner Arkadiy Tsinis (11th).

Here are the final table results from the Harrah's Atlantic City Main Event:

1st: Joseph LaPinta - $182,070
2nd: Joseph Wertz - $112,615
3rd: John Jones - $82,384
4th: Keith Donovan - $61,106
5th: Fabrizio Sarra - $45,977
6th: Jeremy Wien - $35,070
7th: Melad Marji - $27,120
8th: James Dorrance - $21,259
9th: Kevin Kernan - $16,889