23 January 2017 (Durant, Okla.) – Grant Hinkle has just added another piece of hardware to his poker trophy case. Already a World Series of Poker bracelet winner, Hinkle earned his first WSOP Circuit ring today by winning the Circuit Main Event at Choctaw Durant. He bested a field of 1,451 entries – easily the biggest Main Event field of the season – to win $375,427.
“It feels awesome,” Hinkle said after the tournament. “It’s a great event. I’ve been staring at the banners of past winners. And I have a friend up there who was looking down on the table. It was really exciting and a lot of fun.”
This is Hinkle’s biggest live tournament payout since he won his bracelet in 2008.
It wasn’t an easy road to victory for Hinkle. “Coming into the final table I had just lost a big pot and didn’t have a lot of chips,” he recalled. “So I was just looking for any spots where I saw weakness. I was just trying to pick up chips and eventual I got a big double up and started rolling from there.”
With this victory, Grant Hinkle surpasses $1 million in WSOP and Circuit earnings. Despite his successes, Hinkle considers himself an amateur player. He has a full time job as a GRC consultant, and chooses his occasional poker tournaments based on where he can easily drive to from his home in Kansas City.
Grant Hinkle is part of one of poker’s most successful families. His brother Blair also has a WSOP bracelet. In fact, Grant and Blair earned their bracelets the same year, becoming the first siblings to accomplish the feat. Blair also has three Circuit Main Event rings (all from the Horseshoe Council Bluffs). Grant now has a ring of his own in this rivalry. “I was at zero,” he said of his ring count. “It’s nice to get one on the board.”
Hinkle was followed by John Patterson in second place ($232,886) and Shino Fujiwara in third ($170,650). The past two weeks have been remarkably successful for Fujiwara and those close to her. She had three cashes total here, including her deep run in the Main Event. And her significant other, Nathanael Kogel, won Casino Champion honors here at Choctaw. He won two rings and cashed in a third event for over $51,000.
The tournament began with a total of 1,451 entries, making it the largest WSOP Circuit Main Event so far this season, and the fifth largest in Circuit history. There were 557 entries on Friday’s Day 1A, then another 894 on Day 1B on Saturday. The massive field generated a prize pool of $2,176,500, and the top 153 players made the money.
Of the 1,451 entries, 289 advanced to Day 2 (100 players from Day 1A, and another 189 from 1B). The money bubble burst midway through the third level of Day 2. When Day 2 came to a close Sunday night, only 31 players remained.
The opening minutes of Day 3 set a manic pace for Monday’s finale. Within 13 minutes, four of the 31 players had been eliminated. Four more were gone before the end of the first hour, including Rocky Le (27th place, $12,058), who had finished Day 1 as the overall chip leader. By the first break – just two hours into the day – only 17 players remained.
After another hour, the field had been whittled down to 11, and just 20 minutes into the fourth level of the day, they were down to the unofficial final table of 10. At that point, action slowed a bit. The final table was hard-fought, and no one gave up their chips easily. Hinkle didn’t secure his victory until almost 2:30 a.m., almost 12 hours after the final table began.
There was a bit of a buzz in the room on Day 1A, as reigning WSOP Main Event champion Qui Nguyen took his seat here at Choctaw. Other bracelet winners in the field included TJ Cloutier, Kevin Eyster, Ben Keeline, Mike Cordell, Adrian Buckley, Jonathan Hilton, and Ian Gordon. Of this group, only Cordell, Eyster, and Gordon advanced to Day 2, and only Gordon made the money (20th place, $16,824). However, he did not advance to Day 2.
Players who finished in the money include Abraham Araya, who won the Circuit Main Event here in 2012 (112th place), James Dorrance (110th), Joshua Reichard 90th), Nancy Nguyen (83rd), Joshua Turner (56th), Salvatore DiCarlo (49th), Jason Gooch (30th), Ray Qartomy (28th), and Will Berry (9th). Berry finished in fourth place here a year ago, and made the final table for the second year in a row.
Here are the final table results. Full results are available here:
1 – Grant Hinkle - $375,427
2 – John Patterson - $232,886
3 – Shino Fujiwara - $170,650
4 – DeJuante Alexander - $129,741
5 – Austin Peck - $98,770
6 – Viet Vo - $79,069
7 – Allan Hedin - $59,266
8 – John Richards - $46,708
9 – Will Berry - $37,240