Samuel Taylor is officially the first WSOP Circuit Main Event winner of the 2015-2016 season. Taylor won the Main Event at Foxwoods Monday evening, earning his first WSOP Circuit ring and $149,020. It’s the biggest live tournament cash of Taylor’s career.
Taylor plays poker professionally as he’s going to college. He’s an economics major with one semester left, and he appreciates the flexibility poker affords him as he pursues his education. “Poker’s good because it lets you play poker and go to school,” he said.
Taylor felt like winning this event was destined. “I had the sickest feeling about this tournament,” he said after securing his victory. He also credits help from his friend and mentor Chris Leong. Leong is himself a two-time ring winner. He played in this event, too, making Day 2 but finishing short of the money.
The final day started at noon on Monday with 10 players remaining out of a field of 461 entries. Taylor started the day in second place behind then-chip leader Mitch Garshofsky, who eventually went on to finish in third place ($67,232).
They didn’t play 10-handed for long, though. The first player was eliminated on just the second hand of the day, when Je Wook Oh – who started the day as the short stack became the 10th-place finisher. Nine-handed play didn’t last long either, as Joseph Tieri was eliminated just two hands after Oh. Both bustouts occurred within the first 10 minutes of play.
That fast pace of play continued with two more bustouts in the next hour: Chris Tryba in eighth place and Matt Buonomo in seventh. Buonomo became this tournament’s Cinderella story. He finished Day 1 with just 23,000 in chips, and started Day 2 in 91st place out of 91 players. But he didn’t go quietly, building his stack and making it all the way to the final table.
After Buonomo’s elimination, the pace of play slowed considerably. It took another three hours and 100 hands until the next bustout, Jeremy Meacham in sixth place. And it was almost another 90 minutes until Soukha Kachittavong was eliminated on the last hand before dinner.
After the dinner break, the fast pace of play resumed. Brandon Miller was eliminated on the first hand back, and Mitch Garshofsky – the start-of-day chip leader – hit the rail on just the fourth hand after dinner.
At that point, only Taylor and runner up Johanssy Joseph remained. Joseph had dominated play early on Monday, winning seemingly countless small pots to take over the chip lead, which he held for most of the day. After Garshofsky’s elimination, though, it was the Samuel Taylor show. He controlled heads-up play, and after just 20 hands, he held all the chips.
The tournament started with Day 1A on Friday, which garnered a total of 171 entries. Another 260 took their seats on Saturday for Day 1B. Only 91 survived their Day 1 flights to advance to Day 2.
The 54 finishers out of the 461 entries made the money. The money bubble burst early on Day 2. Those finishing in the money include Ted Driscoll (31st), Bryan Leskowitz (20th place), and James Magner (15th). Magner is making a habit of running deep. He is fresh off a strong performance in the WSOP Main Event last month, in which he finished 27th.
The last elimination on Day 2 was Tim Reilly (11th place - $11,159). Reilly and his wife Ness also both ran deep in the WSOP Main Event. They were the unofficial last couple standing, as Tim finished in 360th place, and Ness in 244th.
In addition to the first-place prize money and WSOP Circuit ring, Samuel Taylor also becomes the first player to officially earn his seat into the 2016 WSOP Global Casino Championship. That invitation-only tournament has a minimum prize pool of $1,000,000, and free seats are given to Circuit Main Event winners, Casino Champion winners, and the top players on the season-long leaderboard.
Live updates from the event are available here.
Here are the final-table finishers. Click here for full results.
1 - Samuel Taylor - $149,020
2 - Johanssy Joseph - $92,184
3 - Mitch Garshofsky - $67,232
4 - Brandon Miller - $49,904
5 - Soukha Kachittavong - $37,428
6 - Jeremy Meacham - $28,556
7 - Matt Buonomo - $22,180
8 - Chris Tryba - $17,328
9 - Joseph Tieri - $13,881