After 12 events at Foxwoods for the World Series of Poker Circuit, Randal Sklar emerged as Casino Champion with three final table performances, including his first Circuit ring. The accomplishment represents vindication for Sklar who came agonizingly close to Casino Champion honors in the past.

Four months ago, Sklar, a 26-year old from Boston, felt like he had Casino Champion in his grasp, only to have it snatched away from him by the cruel whims of the poker gods. At the Council Bluffs stop on the WSOP Circuit in April, Sklar made two final tables, but bowed out in fifth both times. He recalled, “I was five-handed in two separate events and had aces cracked for about half the chips in play in both of them.” The unfortunate turn of the cards cost Sklar a chance at his first ring and a shot at Casino Champion.

At Foxwoods, Sklar’s story was equally exciting, though it eventually had a different ending. It was a tight race for Casino Champion that came down to the wire, and Sklar didn’t secure his lead until the final day of the series. James Watt took the early lead by winning the first event at Foxwoods. Soon, though, Mike Nye jumped ahead of him on the strength of two final table performances, a 3rd place and a 6th place, giving him 52.5 points. Then James Watt regained the lead by finishing 5th in Event #8: $365 No-Limit Hold’em. His two final tables earned him 75 points.

The next day, Sklar jumped into the mix. He won the $580 No-Limit Hold’em event, earning his first WSOP Circuit ring and 50 points for the leaderboard. Combined with the 15 points he got for his 9th place finish in the $580 Re-entry event a few days earlier, the win vaulted Sklar into 2nd place behind Watt with three events still to be played, including the Main Event.

As those three events played down to their winners, three competitors emerged for Casino Champion. Watt still held the lead, and tried unsuccessfully to add to his point total. Bob Lauria had a 2nd-place finish and another cash, giving him 42.5 points prior to a deep run in the Main Event. And Sklar matched his effort with a deep run of his own in Event #11: $365 No-Limit Hold’em. Sklar would need to finish 11th or better to match Watt’s point total, but Watt held the tie-breaker based on money earned. So Sklar really need to make the final table to take over the lead.

That’s exactly what he did, and as the last day of action at Foxwoods got underway, Sklar returned eighth in chips out of nine players, and Lauria was seventh in chips out of 15 players in the Main. Lauria ended up bowing out in 13th, putting his point total at 62.5. That effectively gave Sklar the lead, although anyone who started the day with 50 points or more could still overtake him by winning the last event, the $365 Turbo. None of the contenders ran deep in the Turbo, though, and Sklar emerged atop the leaderboard with 82.5 points. He likely could have had event more points, too. On his final hand, he was all in against two players. He held pocket queens against jacks and nines. A nine on the river knocked him out of the tournament in 8th. But unlike his bad beats a few months ago at Council Bluffs, this wasn’t enough to keep him from walking away as Casino Champion. The close competition was a mix of emotions for Sklar. “It was exciting, suspenseful, stressful,” he said after his victory was official. “And it’s pretty rewarding at the end when you see your name up at the top.”

More information and full points standings for the year-long race are available on

Sklar’s Foxwoods cashes:

Event #5: $580 No-Limit Hold’em Re-Entry, 352 entries – 9th place
Event #9: $580 No-Limit Hold’em, 176 entries – 1st place
Event #11: $365 No-Limit Hold’em, 197 entries – 8th place