The Main Event at the Harrah’s Rincon Circuit stop was a power-packed affair. The field was filled with bracelet winners, ring winners, and Circuit regulars, not to mention a former November Niner and a Poker Hall of Famer. At the end, though, it was a local gas station owner who gathered all the chips, as Shahin Edalatdju won first prize of $116,325.
Edalatdju and second-place finisher Steve Firestone engaged in a fierce heads-up battle that lasted nearly five hours. It was an impressive display of strategic and cautious play from both players, with neither willing to yield chips easily. Firestone entered heads-up play with a substantial chip lead. He then extended it, soon out-chipping his opponent 6-1. However, Edalatdju mounted a slow and steady comeback, soon taking over the lead, and eventually getting Firestone on the ropes. Edalatdju had Firestone down to eight big blinds, but he was unable to knock him out. Firestone mounted a comeback of his own, retaking the chip lead late in the night. Soon, the players had nearly even stacks when Edalatdju four-bet all in with   , and Firestone called with   . Edalatdju’s pocket eights held up, and he just barely had Firestone covered. Firestone finished second for $71,924, and Edalatdju earned the victory, the ring, and the seat into the 2014 WSOP National Championship in Atlantic City next May.
Edalatdju immigrated to the U.S. from Iran in 1984, and he literally had $20 in his pocket when he got here. Now he is a successful small business owner. He has two gas stations in the San Diego area. He’s been playing tournament poker for about two years, and this victory is by far the largest cash of his career. His previous best cash was for $5,300.
When the final table started at noon on Monday, Edalatdju was right in the middle of pack, in fifth place with 630,000. The action started with a bang – the first bustout occurred on the fourth hand of the day. Sean Burson was eliminated when he lost a coinflip, his    losing to Craig Francis’s    when an ace fell on the river.
Francis, who was appropriately attired for both the location and season with a San Diego Chargers-themed Santa hat, started the day with extremely aggressive play. He entered the final table with the shortest stack, but before long was able to take over the chip lead from Chris DeMaci, who started the day with the big stack. Francis and DeMaci then battled quite a bit, until Francis was eventually eliminated in sixth place. He busted out in a three-way all-in pot just before the second break of the day. Edalatdju won that hand, catapulting him into the chip lead for the first time in the tournament. DeMaci eventually finished fourth, and after Erle Mankin exited in third, Firestone and Edalatdju began their heads-up battle.
The tournament was a star-studded affair. At the beginning of Day 2, one table featured four bracelet winners: Brent Hanks, Eric Baldwin, Sam Stein, and Robert Cheung. Former November Niner Soi Nguyen also made Day 2, as did 1983 WSOP Main Event Champion Tom McEvoy, who was recently inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. Alexandru Masek finished the Main Event in 25th. Earlier at the Rincon Circuit stop, Masek won his seventh career ring, which ties him for first place on the all-time rings list. There were also several bracelet winners who entered the tournament but failed to make Day 2, including Leo Wolpert, Dana Castaneda, Howard “Tahoe” Andrew, and three-time bracelet winner Jeff Madsen.
There were a total of 330 entries across two starting days, generating a prize pool of $495,000. The top 33 finishers earned payouts. Several notables finished in the money. In addition to Masek’s 25th-place finish ($3,757), Soi Nguyen finished in 16th ($5,960), and Dan Alspach finished 26th ($3,757).
Here are the final table payouts. For full results, click here.
1. Shahin Edalatdju - $116,325
2. Steve Firestone - $71,924
3. Erle Mankin - $52,237
4. Chris DeMaci - $38,585
5. Paul Sokoloff - $28,967
6. Craig Francis - $22,092
7. Mary Anne Madruga - $17,112
8. Robert Mather - $13,454
9. Sean Burson - $10,737