Bass bests 958 at the Palm Beach Kennel Club to claim $95,000 first prize and the season’s first Circuit gold ring.

Defending Palm Beach re-entry champion Maurice Hawkins makes deep run but comes up shy of follow-up title, finishes fourth.

West Palm Beach, Fla. (August 3, 2014) — The Palm Beach Kennel Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. kicked off the 2014/2015 Circuit season last Wednesday with the first of five flights in the season-opening event, a $580 re-entry tournament. The tournament attracted some of the South’s top poker brass and saw headliners like defending re-entry winner Maurice Hawkins and 2006 WSOP Main Event champion Jamie Gold rise to the occasion. In the end though, the spotlight belonged to Florida’s Avery Bass who outlasted the 958-entry field to earn a $95,000 first prize, 50 points toward the Casino Championship, and of course, his first Circuit ring.

“It feels great, man,” a stunned Bass said after his win.

The stars began aligning for the 34-year-old amateur on Day 1 when he hit running cards to give him a flush and keep his hopes alive in the event. Fast-forward to Day 2 and he’d parlayed his unlikely river card into a heads-up berth and found himself staring down at pocket nines. The board read     and Bass lead into Brian Locklear. Locklear, who held    for trips, raised to 1,500,000 and Bass instantly moved all-in. Locklear announced “call” and proudly tabled his hand leaving Bass scratching his head.

“I thought it was over. I thought that was it,” Bass remembered.

As luck would have it, the dealer revealed the   on the river, one of just two remaining cards Bass could hit to stay alive. The pot left Locklear with barely 500,000 chips and all but won the tournament for Bass.

In addition to Locklear, Bass bested a difficult field that included the aforementioned Gold who made his presence known before ultimately finishing 17th. One opponent that proved to not be so easy a task, though, was Hawkins. Hawkins bagged a top 10 stack on Day 1 and kept his hot streak going all the way to the final table.

“He’s an excellent player,” Bass said of Hawkins. “You can tell he knows how to play the game. He was very competitive and it just didn’t go his way this time.”

As Bass alluded to, Hawkins’ run at defending his title came up just shy, finishing fourth. The deep run marked his 33rd WSOP-related cash and moved him over the $300,000 mark in career earnings on the Circuit. For Hawkins though, it will always be remembered as the time his fifth Circuit gold ring got away from him.

The PBKC Circuit stop is just the first of 22 set for the upcoming season. For the first time in the Circuit’s 11-year history three properties will host multiple Circuit series – PBKC, Foxwoods and Harrah’s Cherokee. As in years past, each stop hosts 12 gold ring events and awards two seats to the National Championship – one to the Casino Champion and one to the Main Event champion. For PBKC, it dolls out seats beginning this Friday when the $1,675 Main Event begins.

“All the people here are great, especially a lot of the locals,” Bass said of the property. “Everything is handled with excellence. It’s a great atmosphere.”

Event 1 was the first of 12 gold ring events on the WSOP Circuit schedule at PBKC. The $580 no-limit hold’em re-entry event attracted 958 entries. The prize pool totaled $500,000 and the top 99 players were paid.

Final table results:

1st: Avery Bass - $95,000
2nd: Brian Locklar - $58,760
3rd: Howard Darnold - $43,370
4th: Maurice Hawkins - $32,450
5th: Jason Reep - $24,585
6th: Devon Shalmi - $18,860
7th: Richard Davis - $14,645
8th: Joseph Dipascale - $11,515
9th: Brandon Newsome - $9,160

Full results available on WSOP.com.