Las Vegas, Nev. (July 31, 2017) – The 13th season of the World Series of Poker Circuit wraps up next week with the 2017 Global Casino Championship at Harrah’s Cherokee in Cherokee, North Carolina. At the same time, the 14th season will be getting underway with the first stop of the 2017/2018 season, which is also at Harrah’s Cherokee. The 14th season will be the biggest tour in the Circuit’s history. It will feature at least 24 domestic stops and 10+ international stops. This year’s Circuit will include three new venues on the domestic tour. The Circuit will be visiting Thunder Valley Casino Resort twice, Seminole Hard Rock and Seminole Coconut Creek.
The 13th season of the Circuit will be one to remember because of the major milestones hit and the records set. Maurice Hawkins became the first player to reach double digit career gold rings. He won three gold rings over the course of Season 13, including two Main Events, to bring his career total to 10 gold rings.
For the first time in the WSOP Circuit’s history, a player won four gold rings in a single season. Not only did one player accomplish this feat, but two players managed to top four Circuit events to break the record for most rings won in a single season. Nate Bandy and Robert Hankins both won four gold ring events.
Bandy was the first to accomplish the feat. Bandy is an ex-professional football player and business owner. This was his first year playing the Circuit semi-regularly to regularly. Prior to this breakout year, Bandy had two WSOP Circuit cashes on his resume, neither resulting in a ring. He won three gold rings in the first half of the season, two of which came at the S. Indiana Horseshoe stop. He went on to win Casino Champion at S. Indiana for his dominating performance and locked up a seat to the Global Casino Championship. Bandy captured his fourth gold ring a few months later at the Rio Las Vegas Circuit stop. Bandy finished the season with four gold rings, eight cashes and over $136,000 in tournament earnings.
Hankins was the other player to score four gold rings last season. The Circuit regular won four gold rings to double his career total and catapult him to a tie for 4th on the all-time gold rings leaderboard. He shares owning eight gold rings with Chris Reslock and Ari Engel. Just like Bandy, Hankins won two gold rings at the Horseshoe S. Indiana stop early in the season. Bandy won Casino Champion, but Hankins locked up a Global Casino Championship seat because he won the Main Event at Horseshoe S. Indiana for $142,560. It was Hankins’ first career Circuit Main Event victory.
Hankins didn’t pick up any rings during the mid-part of the season, but he did rack up a ton of cashes, including a 6th place final table finish for $37k in the Horseshoe Tunica Main Event. Hankins finished the season strong to match Bandy at four gold rings. He won the Harrah’s Cherokee Six-Handed event in late April and followed it up with another victory at Horseshoe Baltimore in early May. The victory in Baltimore capped off what would be one of the best seasons in Circuit history. Hankins finished the 2016/2017 tour with four gold rings, 18 cashes and $297,518 in tournament earnings.
Despite similar years of success, Hankins and Bandy have very differing WSOP career resumes. Bandy is a relative newcomer to the Circuit whereas Hankins has been one of the longest and most consistent grinders the tour has ever seen. Hankins has 58 career Circuit cashes, which puts him 8th on the list for all-time Circuit cashes. Hankins has cashed at least four times in every season since the 2012/2013 season.
Hankins and Bandy will be joining the other Global Casino Championship qualifiers Tuesday, August 8th for the start of the 2017 Global Casino Championship where the winner will take home a six-figure payday and a WSOP Gold Bracelet. The Global Casino Championship Bracelet remains as one of the most prestigious Bracelets to win because of the tough field. Hankins and Bandy will be two of the top players and will both be searching for their first career Gold Bracelets.
The Global Casino Championship will be live reported from start to finish. Follow the updates on WSOP.com and see who takes home the gold.