Tunica, MS (February 6, 2014) — The Harrah’s Tunica Circuit series began January 23 and concluded this past Monday with the crowning of the Main Event champion. One of the Circuit’s longest-standing events, the Mid-South festival drew some of the WSOP’s brightest stars including bracelet winner Jonathan Taylor, 2013 WSOP Player of the Year contender Loni Harwood and 2008 November Niner Dennis Phillips. Past Tunica Main Event champion and five-time ring winner Mark Smith was also on site looking for a follow-up gold ring.

It took the full 12 days, but this long list of headliners took a back seat to Longmont, CO resident Aaron Frei. Frei recorded four cashes earning 85 points easily taking Casino Championship honors over second place Charles Hopkins with 65.

Frei’s four cashes came in the form of second, fourth, 11th and 28th-place finishes. What’s more, his poker prowess was showcased by the fact his two final tables came in different variations — no-limit hold’em and pot-limit Omaha. He began the series with a fourth-place finish in Event 1 and followed it up with a deep run in the 1,448-entrant re-entry event. He went on to finish runner-up in Event 9 and headed to the 12th and final event with a cushion — albeit a small one.

Frei held 75 points heading to the one-day turbo finale and lead 13-time Circuit final tablist Charlie Dawson by just 12.5. He took his seat in the last of the ring events only to find himself staring directly at Dawson across the felt. Rather than a long, drawn out battle between title contenders, the pair butt heads right off the bat.

Frei held a flush and was up against Dawson’s straight. They got it all-in and according to Frei, the dealer counted down the stacks to discover he had Dawson covered by a single green 25 chip. The hand sent one of his biggest competitors to the rail and gave Frei a head of steam in a crucial event.

He leveraged his fortune into a deep run and eventually an 11th-place finish that awarded 10 additional points. In the end, the cash held no bearing on the outcome of the race, but padded his cushion and put an exclamation on the Casino Championship run.

Frei's solid play earned him a seat in the National Championship set to take place this spring in Atlantic City. There, he'll compete with the Harrah's Tunica Main Event winner, Jonathan Gaviao, for his share of an up-to $2 million prize pool and a gold bracelet.

More information on the season-long contest is available on

Top 10 Harrah’s Tunica Casino Championship point earners:

1. Aaron Frei - 85 points
2. Charles Hopkins - 65 points
3. Charlie Dawson - 62.5 points
4. Daniel Rivera - 60 points
5. Joseph Hebda - 60 points
6. William Byrnes - 55 points
7. William Stanford - 52.5 points
8. Justin Brown - 52.5 points
9. Carter Myers - 50 points
10. Robert Richardson - 50 points

Full overall points standings available on