Durant, Okla. (January 19, 2015) - Jose Montes navigated through a field of 1,363 players to win the largest Circuit Main Event of the 2014-15 campaign. Montes takes home $352,669 for his first place finish in the Choctaw Durant Main Event. Along with the top prize, Montes secures a berth to this year’s National Championship.

This marks the New York native’s fourth ever WSOP cash and first gold ring. While the cash and the ring are satisfying, it was not an easy ride for the 29-year-old poker professional. With the large field and massive first place prize, there were plenty of Circuit grinders and other top pros who came to take their shot at Circuit glory. Montes battled at the final table with two-time ring winner Ben Reason, ring winner Ryan Tepen and defeated ring winner Ben Keeline heads-up for a ring of his own.

The gold ring that comes along with the victory is something Montes was especially excited about.

“I can show my son one day,” said Montes about the gold ring. “Look at what dad won.”

Montes has an 11-month-old boy at home who shares the same birthday as Montes. He also has another boy on the way. He has been looking at homes for his family for the past few months. According to Montes, part of his prize money will go toward buying his family a new home.

Montes’ road to victory was well deserved. While he found his fair share of luck, Montes wielded his big stack like a true pro. He entered the final table as the chip leader and used his stack to continue to collect chips throughout the day. He was aggressive three-betting throughout the entire day and was one of the more active players at the table.

Montes’ aggressiveness got him into a tough spot with four players remaining. He opened the pot and then called a three-bet against Nancy Nguyen. Montes check raised all-in on a 10-9-8 board with A-7 suited and was called by Nguyen holding Q-Q. A 6 landed on the river giving Montes a straight and one of the biggest pots of the day. Nguyen was eliminated and Montes took that momentum to victory.

“Tournament poker is so tough. You get so close and it hurts when you lose. Still winning money and it still hurts. You want to win. I am a competitor; competitors want to win every time. I want to play every time and I never want to bust out. I want to win every time.”

Montes is a regular at tournaments on the East Coast, and this wasn’t an event he planned on playing. He decided last minute to make the trip to Oklahoma with a friend and they flew out of Atlantic City at 7 a.m. They landed in Oklahoma a few hours later and bought into Day 1A without much rest.

Montes finished Day 2 in the middle of the pack with regards to chips, finishing in seventh out of 16 players. He was guaranteed to earn at least $18,953 at that point and the pay jumps were starting to get big. He had no intention of worrying about the pay jumps though. He was playing for the gold ring.

“Don’t think about money, and play as good as I could,” said Montes about his mentality coming into the final day of play.

That mentality worked out great for Montes. It helped him play aggressively, fearless and for the win. It is ultimately what lead him to victory in one of the toughest Circuit tournaments of the season.

The Main Event was the eleventh of twelve events on the Choctaw Durant schedule. The $1,675 No Limit Hold’em tournament created a massive prize pool of $2,044,500. As expected, this tournament drew some of the top players in the game. TJ Cloutier, 2013 November Niner David Benefield, Jose Serratos, Maurice Hawkins, 1996 WSOP Main Event runner-up Bruce Van Horn and Nipun Java all earned cashes of varying degrees.

Cloutier, a six-time bracelet winner, was coming off of a runner-up finish for $122,040 in the largest tournament in Circuit history, a $365 No Limit Hold'em with 4,053 runners. He lost heads-up to Ray Henson, who also fired two bullets in the Main Event.

Other notables who played the event included Kevin Eyster, 2005 WSOP Main Event third place finisher Tex Barch, David “ODB” Baker, and Bracelet winner Bryan Campanello.

With Montes’ victory comes the conclusion of the Choctaw Durant Circuit series. The WSOP Circuit will continue at Horseshoe Tunica starting Thursday.

Choctaw Durant final table results:

1. Jose Montes - $352,669
2. Benjamin Keeline - $218,762
3. Douglas Fusella - $160,309
4. Nancy Nguyen - $121,873
5. Marc Maxey - $92,779
6. Benjamin Reason - $71,455
7. Mohammad Arani - $55,672
8. Alex Greenblatt - $43,875
9. Ryan Tepen - $34,981