Maurice Hawkins wins his 3rd gold ring and second Main Event of the month.

Cherokee, N.C. (April 25, 2016) – WSOP Circuit history has just been made at Harrah’s Cherokee. Maurice Hawkins became the first player in the 12 year history of the tour to win back-to-back Circuit Main Events and that is only the start of Hawkins’ impressive run. Since April 7, Hawkins has won three gold rings, reached four Circuit final tables and earned $431,561. To put his run into perspective, Hawkins has earned more money on the Circuit this month alone than anyone else has all season long.

Hawkins defeated a 1,008 player field to earn the top prize of $279,722 and his seventh gold ring. This marked Hawkins’ largest ever tournament score. Hawkins moved up to a tie for fifth on the all-time gold rings list. He is tied with Cory Waaland and is now only two gold rings behind all-time leader, Alex Masek. He also became only the third player to win three gold rings this season.

“I am all about trying to put out my best performance and doing the best I can do,” said Hawkins.

Hawkins took a much different path to victory this time than in his Main Event victory just two weeks ago in Council Bluffs, Iowa. In Council Bluffs Hawkins emerged has a huge chip leader midway through Day 2 of the tournament and ended up heading to the final day of play second in chips. On the final day of play he traded the chip lead back and forth with Ryan Phan. Although Hawkins entered heads-up play against Phan with a chip disadvantage, he overcame it to win the tournament and $113k top prize.

This time Hawkins was the short stack through much of the tournament. Day 3 began with 20 players left and Hawkins sat 16th in chips. He remained short for most of the start of the day. When the unofficial final table of 10 was reached, he was eighth in chips and only had 18 big blinds. He ended up chipping down to about 9 big blinds before the “Maurice Hawkins Show” began. With nine players remaining Hawkins found a double up with pocket kings against third place finisher, Chip Ervin’s, pocket queens. It was all Hawkins from that point forward.

The last five eliminations of the tournament came in quick succession with Hawkins eliminating three of the final five players. The last five players were eliminated within an hour of each other and the faster players were eliminated, the more steam Hawkins was picking up. Hawkins found himself with about 75% of the chips in play three-handed. Runner-up finisher Leif Force closed the gap a little when he eliminated Ervin in third place, but didn’t last long against Hawkins’ towering stack in heads up play. Force ended up taking home $172,943 for his runner-up finish.

Earlier this week Hawkins finished runner-up to Christopher Carey in Event #4 - $365 No-Limit Hold’em. It was the first time in Hawkins’ career that he had finished runner-up in a WSOP event and he didn’t like it one bit. Hawkins said that after the event was over he thought about the loss in his room and how much he hated finishing second. He told himself that he would never let it happen again.

Hawkins said that he plans to go and play the entire New Orleans stop, which is the next stop and the final stop on the 2015-2016 Circuit season.

“I love the Circuit, so I am going to be traveling on it a little bit more next year,” said Hawkins.

Hawkins already had a 2016 Global Casino Championship seat from winning the Council Bluffs Main Event. He was not eligible to win a second seat, so that seat gets added to the at-large qualifiers pool. Instead of 50 seats for the top pointer earners on the season, there are now 52 seats. Valentine Vornicu also opened up an extra seat for the at-large qualifiers earlier this season. Joining Hawkins right back here in Cherokee in August for the 2016 Global Casino Championship will be the man who beat him out of ring earlier this week. Carey went on to win the final event of the series to clinch the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Championship and the Global Casino Championship seat that came along with it. Carey cashed five times over the course of the 12-event series and won two gold rings.

A total of 1,008 players turned out to play this Main Event, which was two entries down from the November field, but still the second largest Main Event ever at the property. Flight A drew 405 entries and Flight B drew 603.

Notables cashing in this event included gold bracelet winner, Force (2nd), Hamid Izadi (9th), who finished 9th in the Main Event here last November and Jason Sandling (14th), who won this Main Event two years ago. Other notables included Mike Gracz (34th), Orlando Romero (35th) Juan Mendoza (36th), Ryan Tepen (50th), Rex Clinkscales (57th), Carey (61st), Ralph Massey (63rd), Zal Irani (65th), Aditya Prasetyo (66th), Justin Liberto (69th), Richard Seymour (93rd), and Kyle Cartwright (101st).

Final table results:

1st: Maurice Hawkins - $279,722 + WSOP Circuit gold ring
2nd: Leif Force - $172,943
3rd: Chip Ervin - $128,520
4th: Karthik Ramakrishnan - $96,617
5th: Randy Lowery - $73,468
6th: Brannon Cashion - $56,519
7th: Corey Bierria - $43,984
8th: Marty DeBruhl - $34,625
9th: Hamid Izadi - $27,579