Cash game grinder records first three cashes of his tournament career in St. Louis, punches ticket to National Championship.

St. Louis, Mo. (March 6, 2015) — Jesse Watson, a cash player from Canton, Ill., made the 200-mile trek from his hometown to Lumiere Place in St. Louis with the intent to play in the property’s cash room. With him, he brought a pocket full of money and a tournament resume that included no major victories and a total of zero cashes. On a whim, Watson entered Event 2 of the World Series of Poker Circuit, a $365 re-entry event, and finished 41st. The $855 payday wasn’t anything to get excited about, but the deep run gave Watson the tournament itch. Less than a week later, he scratched that itch to the tune of Lumiere Place Casino Champion honors and a ticket to the season-ending WSOP National Championship.

In addition to his 41st-place finish in Event 2, Watson carded a gold ring victory in Event 5, a $365 six handed tournament, and scored $45,916 following a fourth-place finish in the Main Event. In all, he earned 95 points toward the Casino Championship, a full 20 better than second place Mark Fledderman.

“I came down here just planning on playing cash games. I played the re-entry and had fun so I decided to play the six handed, too,” he told the WSOP after his Event 5 victory.

In addition to a gold ring and a National Championship berth, Watson left Lumiere Place with more than $60,000 in earnings. While no one can take his trophy away from him, the crowning achievement of the 12-day series came in the $1,675 Main Event. Watson maneuvered his way through an in-the-money field that included bracelet winner Tom Franklin (43rd), 2012 WSOP Main Event 23rd place finisher Yuval Bronshetin (41st), Yossi Azulay (29th), Michael Sanders (28th), three-time ring winner Josh Reichard (25th) and two-time ring winners Chris Conrad (19th) and William Byrnes (10th). Watson finished fourth, pocketing better than $45,000 along with 40 points. From there, his 95-point total left him virtually no sweat as players in Event 11 and 12 — which played out alongside the Main Event — were unable to make a run of any significance.

For the title, Watson earns a seat in the WSOP National Championship set to play out after this summer’s Series at a yet-to-be-determined location. There, he’ll compete along the Lumiere Place Main Event champion, Josh Turner, for his share of an up-to $2 million prize pool and a gold bracelet.

Watson’s cashes at Lumiere Place mark his only reported tournament earnings on any circuit.

More information on the National Championship as well as a look at the national points leaderboard is available on

Here’s a glance at Watson’s Lumiere Place in-the-money finishes:
  • Event #2: $365 no-limit hold’em re-entry with 792 entries - 41st place, $855 + 5 points
  • Event #5: $365 no-limit hold’em six handed with 187 players - 1st place, $15,428 + 50 points
  • The Main Event (Event #9): $1,675 no-limit hold’em with 415 entries - 4th place, $45,916 + 40 points