Weekend opener goes in the record books as the second largest tournament in Circuit history.

Bowen earns $122,567, his first gold ring and takes the Casino Championship lead.

Durant, OK (January 13, 2014)Chris Bowen etched his name in the poker history books Monday evening at Choctaw Casino Resort by besting 2,867 in the $365 re-entry ring event. The almost-3,000-player field marks the second largest tournament ever held in the Circuit’s 10-year history behind only Horseshoe Hammond’s 3,001-entrant event in 2011.

“It feels amazing,” Bowen said following his win. “I’m still in shock, really.”

Bowen, an amateur from Tyler, TX, earned his first gold ring, $122,567 and 50 points toward the Casino Championship – a contest he now leads with first and fifth-place finishes at Choctaw.

The re-entry tournament, recognized as Event 3 on the schedule, began Friday at 12 p.m. with the first of four starting flights. The opening flight drew 638 and was followed by a 503-entry 5 p.m. flight. With two flights still to go, the event was already on pace to be record breaker.

On Saturday, Dallas area grinders and Circuit regulars from all over the country blew the doors off Center Stage arena at Choctaw Casino. The 968-entry noon flight pushed the three-flight total to well over 2,000 putting the pressure squarely on the evening’s final flight.

As you’ve heard, it didn’t disappoint.

Flight D topped out at 758 entries, catapulting the event well into second place on the all time attendance list, surpassing two $1 million guarantees at Palm Beach Kennel Club and two Horseshoe Hammond re-entry events.

Bowen, a chief financial office and partner in an electronics company, came to Choctaw Casino with three of his friends for what he says is an annual trip. The group plays home tournaments, the occasional cash game and, of course, takes one trip a year to play a Circuit event.

This year, they chose Choctaw, and Bowen didn’t let the group down. When the last river card hit the felt, though, something was missing. Bowen was all by himself. No rail to leap into and no well wishes from a cheering section.

“They’re all broke and home. I have no gallery,” Bowen said with a laugh.

As inferred from Bowen’s ribbing, his friends haven’t enjoyed the same success he has over the last week. Bowen began the series with a fifth-place finish in the 483-entry opening $365 event. He covered the cost of his trip and then some with the $8,657 score and decided to try his luck in the re-entry. Four days later he earned a six-figure score and somehow avoided becoming complacent.

“The great thing about poker is that a 54-year-old bald-headed guy, if he’s running good with the luck variance, can hang out with the pros,” Bowen told the WSOP.

Bowen’s WSOP resume now boasts two cashes and more than $130,000 in earnings. He’s 54 years old and married with one child.

The $122,567 first prize represents more than 335 times his buy-in.

Notables to join Bowen in the money include two-time ring winner Stephen Hesse (sixth), three-time ring winner Sam Panzica (15th), 2013 Choctaw Casino Champion Andrew Robinson (20th), gold bracelet winner Chance Kornuth (29th), three-time ring winner La Sengphet (62nd) and gold bracelet winner Bryan Campanello (100th).

Event 3 was the third of 12 gold ring events on the WSOP Circuit schedule at Choctaw Casino Resort. The $365 No-Limit Hold’em Re-Entry tournament attracted 2,867 entries generating an $860,100 prize pool. The top 297 players were paid.

Final table results:

1st: Chris Bowen - $122,567
2nd: Cyrus Jannesari - $75,749
3rd: Matthew Batoon - $58,091
4th: James Gonzales - $45,000
5th: Dwight Sellars - $35,333
6th: Stephen Hesse - $27,704
7th: Joe Berry - $21,872
8th: Bryan Fleming - $17,383
9th: Badr Imejjane - $13,985

Full results available on WSOP.com.