California poker professional wins $365 No Limit Hold’em and earns ninth career WSOP Circuit ring to extend his lead on the all-time ring list.
Los Angeles, CA. (December 10, 2015) — Winning a poker tournament usually results in a fist-pump and some sort of celebration before smiling ear-to-ear for a photo.
This wasn’t the case for Alex Masek, however.
Masek topped a field of 143 players on Thursday afternoon to win his record-extending ninth career WSOP Circuit ring in the $365 No Limit Hold’em at the Bicycle Casino, taking home $12,000 in the process. But it wasn’t celebrations and smiles for the 30-year-old professional poker player after the final card was dealt. It was a few minutes of somber thought about his bad call and suckout on the final hand of the tournament.
Masek’s eighth ring came in March of 2014 at Lumiere Place in St. Louis. Since then, he has had many close calls for his next title with two fourth place finishes, a third place, and four runner-up spots, including just missing out on his first bracelet, falling to Loni Harwood in last season’s National Championship at Cherokee.
He was determined to finish the job this time.
“When we were heads-up, I was thinking to myself that I’m not going to be results oriented and if I get second I can’t be disappointed,” said Masek after his win. “But I have to be completely happy with my play and I have to make every right decision. So I got lucky on the last hand, but I need to make every right decision and I was actually very disappointed in myself for making the bad call there and that’s why I decided to walk around for a couple minutes.”
Masek defeated Erick Lee heads-up to take home his ninth Circuit title. On the last hand he is referring to, he flopped top pair against Lee’s bottom two-pair. Masek bet and called a shove on the turn. He needed help, but found a third ace on the river to eliminate Lee in second.
“I needed to kind of forget about that and think about the fact that I won it. I wasn’t happy with myself. I don’t like making the wrong decision for all of the chips heads-up.”
After a few minutes of walking around, Masek cleared his mind, moved on and had a smile on his face, realizing what he accomplished.
“It definitely doesn’t get old,” said Masek about winning rings. “The last three or four times I got heads-up, I lost, so this one maybe actually means ore to me than any of my other ones just to be able to finally get back into this spot and win.”
Masek might be unknown to some of the more casual poker fans, but he has amassed one of the most impressive resumes in Circuit history. Along with his nine titles, He’s amassed $607,288 over his 47 career Circuit cashes.
Other players that have had his type of success on the Circuit have moved on and started playing some of the bigger events. That isn’t Masek’s plan. With fiancé at home and two dogs in Irvine, CA, the former University of San Diego law student doesn’t plan on heading all over the place to play in bigger events.
“For me for the most part, it’s just about that I don’t like traveling that much for poker,” said Masek. “I just play everything in L.A. Whether that is a good $300 or $500 or $1,000 tournament here or the LAPC main, which I’ve played the last five years, or the Legends of Poker main here. For me, it’s just about everything that is good in L.A. I’m going to play and then Vegas in the summer.
“I don’t see myself traveling too much. I’m engaged now and we have a couple puppies, so I got enough on my hands at home.”
Day 1 wrapped up in the early hours of Thursday morning with Masek near the bottom of the chip counts with seven players remaining. Masek came out of the proverbial gates quick on Thursday afternoon though, and quickly propelled himself back into contention.
“I was actually second in chips with about 20 minutes to go at the end of the night yesterday with like 300,000 and then lost every pot,” said Masek about the end of Day 1. “I won the first three hands today and that pretty much put me second din chips. After that, I won pretty much every flip which was nice. I didn’t really get short again after that and I won the flips that I needed to.”
Aside from the hardware and the record extension, Masek earns 50 points and immediately becomes a force to be reckoned with in the Casino Championship. Wendy Freedman currently leads the race with 75 points and Alan Myerson is on her heels with 60 points. Masek moves into a tie for third with Nadim Shabou, Phillip Penn, Dave Banerjee, Dale Beaudoin and Stuart Pfeifer, who all won events earlier on the stop. The winner of that title, along with the winner of the main event earns an automatic bid into the Global Casino Championship (previously called the National Championship).
This is the seventh of 12 gold ring events on the WSOP Circuit schedule at the Bicycle Casino. The $365 No Limit Hold’em attracted 143 players. The total prize pool came to $42,900. The top 15 finishers were paid.
The tournament began Wednesday, December 9 at 12 p.m. and after 21 scheduled levels of play, the field was trimmed down who the final seven players, with the final table being reached at about 10:30 p.m. and chips being bagged at 2 a.m. The final seven players came back on Thursday at 1 p.m. to play down to a winner. The final card was dealt at about 2:40 p.m. making the total duration of the finale table five hours.
Complete results for this event can be found on WSOP.com
Here is the list of gold ring winners from the Bicycle Casino:
EVENT #1: Dave Banerjee defeated 368 players ($365 NLH Monster Stack) for $24,265
EVENT #2: Alan Myerson defeated 140 players ($365 NLH Bounty) for $7,830
EVENT #3: Stuart Pfeifer defeated 1,000 players ($365 NLH Re-Entry) for $55,110
EVENT #4: Dale Beaudoing defeated 153 players ($365 NLH) for $12,395
EVENT #5: Nadim Shabou defeated 115 players ($580 NLH) for $17,255
EVENT #6: Phillip Penn defeated 124 players ($365 Omaha 8 or Better) for $10,400
EVENT #7: Alex Masek defeated 143 players ($365 NLH) for $12,000
The player who accumulates the most overall points during the Bicycle Casino’s 12 combined gold ring tournaments earns the title of Casino Champion and receives automatic entry into the WSOP Global Casino Championship. Additionally, all players who cash in ring events earn points that apply toward the season-long race to claim one of 60 expected at-large Global Casino Championship bids awarded to the top point earners throughout the season. More information on the points system is available on WSOP.com.
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