Maurice Hawkins picked up the largest score of his poker career today, winning $183,498. He also collected his fourth WSOP Circuit ring in one of the biggest events of the season. He defeated local poker dealer Juan Restrepo heads-up, overcoming a 2:1 chip lead in the process. Juan earned $114,224 for second place.

It was a great event for Hawkins to win too, as he triumphed in one of the largest fields of the season to take one of the biggest paydays outside of the Circuit Main Events.  The $580 buy-in opening event at the Palm Beach Kennel Club Circuit series boasted a $1 million guarantee that the site, once again, easily surpassed thanks to a grand total of 2,531 entries and a prize pool of $1,265,500.

It all started six days ago with the first of five starting flights. Hawkins played Flight A and at the end of the day was second in chips behind six-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Ari Engel. He then had three days off before Day 2 began on Sunday. The five starting flights over four days drew a total of 2,531 entrants, only 318 of whom made it to Day 2. By the time the fifth and final starting session wrapped, Hawkins ended up sixth overall in chips.

When they reached the final table late on Day 2, Hawkins was in a similar position as the previous night--sixth of the remaining nine players with only 1.46 million — fewer than 15 big blinds. Juan Restrepo was the massive chip leader with 11.7 million — more than one-third of all the chips in play.

"I was money jumping at first," Hawkins said. "Picking my spots," and letting other players bust out, so he could move up the pay scale. But he was, "always in it," he said. He caught a couple of key double-ups, then busted 5th place finisher Jermie Anderson in a coin-flip with pocket 9s against Jermie's K-T offsuit. That hand put him in good shape with 7 million chips.

After Restrepo dispatched their other two opponents, they were heads up with Juan holding a 2:1 chip lead, 20 million to Hawkins' 10 million. It took less than an hour with the blinds at 80k/160k and Hawkins chipping away at Restrepo's lead. On the final hand, the flop was A-Q-9 and Hawkins shoved. Restrepo called, showing A-8 for top pair. Hawkins had him beat with A-Q for top two pair. The turn was an 8 giving Restrepo a second pair and glimmer of hope, but the river was a 6 and it was over.

In addition to the prize money and ring, Hawkins also earned 50 points in the Casino Champion race and toward the National Leaderboard. He takes the lead here at Palm Beach Kennel Club and plans to take the Casino Champion title. His next event will be Event 6 tomorrow, the $365 Six Max NLHE event.

Hawkins graduated from college with a major in biology and minor in chemistry and had been accepted to medical school out of the country, but he had a new son and didn't want to leave. He decided to give poker a try, since he could always go to medical school later. All these years later, he is "still paying the bills with the game I love". This is his largest single career win and puts his lifetime earnings over $1 million.
 
The decision to pick poker over medicine has boded well both monetarily and when it comes to Hawkins' jewelry collection.  One of the top Circuit performers in the tour's history, Hawkins' fourth ring puts him in the company of other notable four-time winners Men Nguyen, Peter Ippolito, Caufman Talley, and Michael Souza.

The 2,531 entries in this event created a prize pool of $1,265,500, well over the $1 Million Guarantee. The final 279 players got paid. Maurice Hawkins was the only player at the final table to already own some WSOP hardware. Other notable finishers in the money were Ralph Massey – 19th, Jonathan Tamayo – 40th; Cary Marshall – 47th; Ari Engel – 126th; and Loni Harwood – 155th.

Here are the final table results from the PBKC $580 buy-in Event 1. We'll have continued coverage from all of the Palm Beach events on our WSOP Circuit Blog:

1st: Maurice Hawkins - $183,498
2nd: Juan Resrepo - $114,224
3rd: Michael Manticoff - $86,965
4th: William Navarro - $67,147
5th: Jermie Anderson - $52,227
6th: Michael Amato - $40,939
7th: Jon Godwin - $32,346
8th: Jesse Fulmer - $25,753
9th: Joseph Klima - $20,678