For 11 days, it looked like Art Harb might be the subject of this story. The 50-year-old Chicago police sergeant had grinded out three cashes and two final tables over the course of the series, building a total of 70 points to cling to the top spot on the leaderboard entering the final day. Harb knew he had to fade a big Monday, though, a day in which four rings would be awarded and a lot of points were up for grabs. He didn't initially realize he had to worry about Ravi Raghavan.
Raghavan began the final day with just 2.5 points, and he wasn't even on the radar as a threat to challenge for the crown. He had other things on his mind anyway, like winning the Main Event. The $1,675 Main had drawn a field of 1,308 entries, making it the seventh-largest in the Circuit's 13-year history. Raghavan had a monster Day 1A, bagging up 328,500 chips to begin Sunday's Day 2 in second place. He was still alive when that day concluded, sitting in 21st place with 28 players remaining in contention for the top prize of nearly $350,000.
The surviving Day 3 field was trimmed quickly on Monday, and Raghavan was one of the early casualties. He was eliminated in 16th place, running pocket sixes into Zach Rieselman's pocket eights for his last 20 big blinds. That run was worth close to $20,000 and another 20 points, neither of which likely seemed likely to change the Casino Champion race at the time.
There was, however, one event still running. The $5,300 High Roller had begun the previous day, an event that Raghavan typically would have played if not for being otherwise occupied in the Main Event. Late registration was still available until the Day 2 restart at 3:00 PM, though.
Raghavan busted the Main at about 2:58, and by the time his elimination hand was posted to the live updates at 3:02, he was already in the High Roller field with a fresh stack of 20 big blinds -- the second-to-last player to sneak in before registration closed with 83 entries. Only Jean Gaspard got in after Raghavan, and Gaspard was the first player out on Day 2. Raghavan would not be eliminated at all.
Ten hours later, 98 of the 99 tournament tables in the room were empty, and only a few custodians were milling around, tidying up the unnecessaries in the cavernous tournament theater. In a far corner, Raghavan and Keven Stammen were the last two players in action, battling back and forth in a light-hearted heads-up match for the series’ final gold ring.
Raghavan closed it out with a victory, defeating Stammen to put the exclamation point on his remarkable day. He collected about $133,000 for the win, but perhaps more importantly, another 50 points to steal the points title of Casino Champion away from Art Harb at the last moment.
Raghavan edged Harb at the tape to earn the Casino Champion honors for Horseshoe Hammond, locking up a seat in the 2017 WSOP Global Casino Championship. He cashed three times to finish with 72.5 points, winning his first Circuit ring and a combined total of $152,225 in cash. The big day also moves Raghavan across another career milestone; he now has more than $3 million in live tournament earnings.
Here's the breakdown of his results from the series:
Event #1: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Re-entry - 152nd place - $808 - 2.5 points
Event #9: $1,675 Main Event - 16th place - $18,619 - 20 points
Event #12: $5,300 High Roller - 1st place - $132,798 - 50 points