Seattle pro scores his first gold ring and a berth in the season-ending National Championship.

Stateline, Nev. (November 10, 2014) - Jesse Wilke earned his first World Series of Poker Circuit gold ring Monday night in the Harveys Lake Tahoe Main Event. The Seattle pro claimed his trophy at the hands of a 380-entry field and pocketed $125,401 and a National Championship berth for his efforts. Like many in the poker community, Wilke, previously an online pro, was forced to adapt his game to the live felt after the events of Black Friday. It was a hard transition and he watched as many of his online counterparts left the country to continue their virtual careers.

“It’s been too difficult to do what a lot of my friends have done where they’re moving out of the country,” Wilke said. “All of my friends and family are [here]. My husband’s career is in Seattle, so for me I’ve mostly been playing live cash games.”

Wilke added the title ‘live tournament pro’ to his repertoire recently and has enjoyed some success on the felt over the last couple years. Toward end of last season he final tabled the Caesars Palace Circuit Main Event and parlayed his confidence into a deep run in this past summer’s WSOP Main Event. He even held the chip lead in the money on Day 4 but sputtered and busted short of Day 5.

“[The ring] is a big deal,” Wilke said of his Harveys Lake Tahoe victory. “I’ve had kind of a rough year. I had the chip lead of the Main Event on Day 4 in the money and didn’t make Day 5. It means a lot to finally connect the dots between online and live play and show a little success on the live circuit, too. […] I have a symbol that my hard work actually paid off.”

The $1,675 Main Event began last Friday with the first of two starting flights. The opener drew 166 entries that paired with the 214 of Saturday’s flight to create a total field of 380 entries. The prize pool topped out at $570,000 and paid the top 45 finishers. Day 2 began Sunday at 12 p.m. with 72 players remaining and notables like three time ring winners La Sengphet and Dan Lowery, the Bike’s 2013 Casino Champion Nathan Bjerno and bracelet winner Sean Drake still in the hunt. Wilke began the day 28th in chips and watched as Bjerno hit the rail shy of the money.

Of the above notables, Sengphet carded the deepest run finishing 14th for $7,877. Lowery (35th, $2,839) and Drake (20th, $5,523) also joined her in the money.

Complete results from the tournament are available on

Those unable to play their way to a cash included bracelet winners Loni Harwood, Phil Hui, Robert Cheung and Howard “Tahoe” Andrew, five-time ring winner Valentin Vornicu, five-time National Championship qualifier Charles “Woody” Moore, Casino Championship leader Steve Foutty and 44-time Circuit casher Rex Clinkscales.

By the time play sheared itself to the final nine, Wilke held the chip lead and set the pace over the likes of Dan Stir who was second in chips, Gerald Cohen and Richard Fitzgerald. In the end, the Day 3 short stack Barry Kay proved to be Wilke’s toughest opponent. Kay chipped up during the early stages of final table play and became a force to be reckoned with after his pocket tens doubled at the hands of Wilke’s   . The pot moved Kay over 1,000,000 chips and he rode his hot streak all the way to a heads-up berth. It wasn’t until Kay turned the bottom the end of a straight and Wilke the top end that the pair’s battle came to an end and Wilke emerged victorious.

“I know a lot of people think you can’t think about [winning] or picture that because it will affect how you play,” Wilke said. “I actually think it’s important to visualize the fact you could win. I think you have to let yourself enjoy that even if it sucks more when you bust out. I think it’s important to accept the fact that’s a possibility […] That is still your goal, ultimately.”

Wilke is a 32-year-old professional poker player from Seattle, Wash. The Main Event victory marks his 10th WSOP-related cash and moves him over $240,000 in career earnings.

Final table results:

1st: Jesse Wilke - $125,401
2nd: Barry Kay - $77,492
3rd: Gerald Cohen - $56,624
4th: Jasthi Kumar - $42,043
5th: Dan Stir - $31,703
6th: Allen Hickman - $24,265
7th: Richard Fitzgerald - $18,844
8th: Yotam Shmuelov - $14,843
9th: Robert Donahue - $11,856

The Harveys Lake Tahoe series has concluded, but Circuit action starts up again this Thursday at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. More on that series is available on