Cherokee, N.C. (April 27, 2015) -- A hometown hero was crowned on Monday evening at the World Series of Poker Circuit Harrah’s Cherokee Main Event, as North Carolina native Ryan Jones took down the title. The 24-year old Jones earned $235,804 for the win – nearly doubling his lifetime earnings – while also claiming his first WSOP Circuit ring. In addition, Jones secured himself a seat in the season-ending National Championship event in late July, where he’ll compete against top-tier poker talent for part of up to $2 million guaranteed prize pool. Even better, Jones gets to return to the scene of his most important poker accomplishment, as the National Championship will be held right here at Harrah’s Cherokee.
Playing a few hours from his hometown of Burlington, Jones emerged from a 786-runner field that featured most of the local poker scene’s big names, along with several prominent pros. Jones entered Day 3 action sitting second in chips behind David Williams – who he eventually defeated after a heads-up duel that lasted less than an hour. He put on a clinic throughout the final table, steadily accumulating chips by three-betting preflop much more often than any of his opponents. Jones also enjoyed the support of several friends on the rail throughout the final table, each of them sporting custom On A Draw clothing to support one of Jones’ business interests.
“Winning at home was pretty special for sure,” Jones said about the win. “It feels pretty good. I’ve had a couple deep runs and couldn’t close the deal, so it felt good to finally get it done. I’d like to thank my mom and my grandma for taking care of me all my life, and now I get to pay it back.”
One of those deep runs occurred in January, as Jones finished 4th in the Borgata Winter Poker Open $560 buy-in series opener. That event featured a $1 million guaranteed prize pool, and Jones added $119,582 to his bankroll. With a big win now added to his résumé, Jones moved to just under $500,000 in reported live earnings.
“I started playing for quarters when I was young,” Jones said when asked about his progression in poker. “Had a big score in January, now this, so it’s been a good year so far. I can’t complain. I’m excited for a chance to play with the best (in the National Championship).”
Day 3 was action-packed from the start, and Jones did his part by sending Erik Gorman to the rail in 11th place – doing so in style with pocket aces against the latter’s fours in the hole. Armed with a big stack to work with, Jones then took Martin Roberts out in 7th place, flopping a set of sixes to win a coin flip after the two got their money in before the flop. From there, Jones picked his spots wisely and let Williams do the heavy lifting in terms of eliminations, before a cooler during heads-up play settled things in dramatic fashion. Both players flopped a pair on the , with Williams holding and Jones . When the peeled off on the turn, a raising war erupted and Jones was the last player left standing.
In addition to Jones’ win on home turf, there were two other stories of note taking place during final table action. Tony Sewell locked up the title of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Champion – earning a berth in the National Championship – before he headed out in 6th place. Diana Dinser made a run at becoming just the second woman ever to win a WSOP Circuit Main Event title, just one week after Michelle Chin did so at the Council Bluffs stop, but she ultimately fell short with a 5th place finish.
The Harrah’s Cherokee Main Event boasted a $750,000 guarantee that was easily surpassed, as 203 entries were recorded on Day 1A, and 583 more during the second starting flight. The 768-player field generated a total prize pool of $1,179,000. Several notable names made the money, including 3-time bracelet winner David Bach (65th), ring winner Steve Karp (52nd), Nicholas Palma (41st), bracelet winner Michael Gracz (24th), local basketball icon Tommy Burleson (23rd), and Ralph Massey (17th).
Final table results:
1st: Ryan Jones - $235,804
2nd: David Williams - $145,371
3rd: Clifford Billups - $107,171
4th: Adam West - $79,877
5th: Diana Dinser - $60,329
6th: Tony Sewell - $46,158
7th: Martin Roberts - $35,759
8th: Peter Vitantonio - $28,048
9th: Garry Simms - $22,271
Full results are available at WSOP.com.