Durant, OK (January 21, 2014) — Early Tuesday morning, a new name joined the ranks of Circuit Main Event winners. Tyler, TX native Tyler Morris outlasted a field of 1,428 entries to win the Choctaw Durant Main Event, which was the fourth largest Main Event in Circuit history. The 27 year-old poker earned $369,503 in first-place prize money as well as a gold Circuit ring and a seat in the season-ending WSOP National Championship.

“I started feeling good with five people to go,” Morris said. “Everyone at the final table was so cool. It really helped out play and made decisions easy.”

The final day of play began with 16 hopefuls returning to the felt with the dream of becoming the next Circuit champion. The field whittled down to the final table rather quickly as players like start-of-Day 2 chip leader Nathanael Kogel hit the rail.

After over two hours of nine-handed play, the final table saw its first casualty when Julie Walker fell in ninth place. Walker, the last woman standing in the field, lost a race when her pocket tens were outrun by ace-king. She collected a $36,650 payday.

From there, Morris watched as players continued to fall. Circuit regular Michael Sanders was eliminated in eighth place and Jesse Capps followed him out the door in seventh. Two-time Circuit ring winner Joshua Evans was denied a third piece of jewelry when he was eliminated from play in sixth place.

Jeff Gibralter was looking not only for his second Circuit ring, but also his second Main Event victory. Unfortunately for the 2012/2013 Bossier City Main Event champion, that dream would not come true in Durant. He was eliminated in fifth place and forced to settle for a $97,204 prize.

From there, Preston Harwell was eliminated in fourth and Clyde Walters in third, leaving Penka and Morris to play for the top prize. Their heads-up match lasted several hours with tension mounting with each all in, double up and the occasional chopped pot.

“We played the whole final table together so we were comfortable with each other’s play,” Morris said of Penka. “He was comfortable playing back at me, I was comfortable playing back at him. In the long run I got the best of him. He was a great player, that’s why he got second.”

Morris can now boast that he is the champion of one of the largest tournaments ever held on the Circuit. He outlasted a positively stacked field that had the likes of bracelet winners David “ODB” Baker, Bryan Campanello, Larry Wright, and Eric Baldwin.

The $369,503 first prize won’t only come in handy for the professional’s bankroll, but for the young girl he and his wife are expecting in the coming months.

The Main Event was just the icing on the cake for what was a tremendously successful series at Choctaw Casino. The 12-day festival opened with a $365 no-limit hold’em re-entry event that drew 2,867 entries, making it the second-largest tournament in the Circuit’s 10-year history.

That event, won by the eventual Casino Champion, Chris Bowen (also a Tyler, TX resident), awarded a first prize of $122,567.
The Main Event was the 11th of 12 gold ring events on the WSOP Circuit schedule at Choctaw Casino Resort. The $1,675 No-Limit Hold’em tournament attracted 1,428 entries generating a $2,142,000 prize pool. The top 153 players made the money.

Final table results:

1st: Tyler Morris - $369,503
2nd: Shelby Penka - $229,194
3rd: Clyde Walters - $167,954
4th: Preston Harwell - $127,685
5th: Jeffrey Gibralter - $97,204
6th: Joshua Evans - $74,863
7th: Jesse Capps - $58,327
8th: Michael Sanders - $45,967
9th: Julie Walker - $36,650

Full results available on WSOP.com.