Las Vegas (10 March 2016) – Monday night, Cory Waaland added to his impressive list of accomplishments this season on the World Series of Poker Circuit. He earned the title of Casino Champion at the Bally’s Las Vegas Circuit stop. In the process, he cashed three times, made two final tables, won a Circuit ring, and locked up his place in the 2016 WSOP Global Casino Championship.
Waaland secured the title in dramatic fashion, winning an event on the final day at Bally’s to jump ahead of 20 competitors for the crown. That victory almost represented Waaland’s second ring of the Bally’s series. He had a final table in another event about a week earlier, but ended up finishing just short of the ring in second place.
This victory is the third ring of the season for Waaland, and the seventh of his Circuit career. He is therefore now at the heart of two separate races for ring records: the all-time record and the single-season record.
No one has ever won four Circuit rings in a single season. Before this season began, Waaland set a goal for himself to break that record, and he wants to do it emphatically. “Initially my goal was to win four,” he said after his victory at Bally’s. “But I wanted to crush it. I decided I wanted to win six. So the way I look at it, I still need to win three more for this season to be a success.” He’s in a tight race to be the first to four. Two other players – Cody Pack and Clayton Jiang – also have three rings this season. The three of them have six more Circuit stops to try to win more.
Waaland’s seventh career ring ties him for second place on the all-time list. Ari Engel, Val Vornicu, and Chris Reslock also have seven. The leader is Alex Masek, who stands clear of the field with nine rings.
For most of the 12 days at Bally’s, David Aker stood atop the leaderboard. Aker won Event #6: $580 No-Limit Hold’em for his first ring, then later that day nearly final tabled a turbo event. Along with one previous cash, those results catapulted him into the lead with 65 points.
Aker remained the leader nearly until the end of the series, but the last two days saw dramatic movement on the leaderboard. First, Clayton Jiang finished in 28th place in the Main Event. He had previously won a ring at Bally’s, and had two other cashes. His result in the Main Event pushed him up to 75 points, ahead of Aker. At that point, Richard Mullen was still alive in the Main Event. Mullen also had a ring victory at Bally’s, and he could pull ahead of Jiang if he made the official final table of the Main Event. He fell just short Monday afternoon, finishing in 11th place, and he ended up with 70 points.
When Mullen was eliminated, Waaland was still at the final table of Event #13: $365 No-Limit Hold’em. He would need to finish runner up or better to pull ahead of Jiang. At about 5:30 p.m., he emerged victorious, pumping up his total to 92.5 points. Three events were still in progress, but no one remaining in those tournaments would be able to catch Waaland.
At both his final tables at Bally’s, Waaland used his trademark card protector, a large glass stone with an eye on it. After winning a ring back in November, Waaland explained it had been a gift from his father, who’d been having health problems at the time. “I had lost my card protector,” Waaland said. “So for my birthday, he got me a gift, and it was this. ‘Use it in your next tournament,’ he tells me. ‘It’s me keeping an eye on you at the tables.’” And now it tops his cards at every final table.
The Casino Champion winner earns a free seat (valued at $10,000) into the 2016 WSOP Global Casino Championship (dates TBA). This invitation-only event will feature a minimum prize pool of $1,000,000 and a field of 100 qualifiers who earn free entries. And an additional group of players have the option to buy in for $10,000.
Here are Waaland’s full results from Bally’s Las Vegas: