November 6, 2017 (Stateline, Nev.) — The WSOP Circuit just wrapped up its annual visit to Harveys Lake Tahoe, a property that's hosted the tour in each of its 13 seasons. Twelve gold rings were handed out during this trip to the California-Nevada state line, with four of them going to previous Circuit winners.

Max Young is one of those previous winners. Young collected his first ring in January in West Palm Beach, and he added another big victory this week in Lake Tahoe.

The 32-year-old pro from Oregon outlasted a field of 458 entries in the Main Event, claiming the series' most-cherished ring and the top prize of $147,699. It's a new career-best result for Young, and it brings his total career earnings across the half-million-dollar mark.

Daniel Lowery made his impression on the series, too. Lowery arrived midway through the week, just in time to enter Event #7. The $365 one-day event drew 174 entries, and the Arkansas pro beat them all. The victory was his fifth on the WSOP Circuit, moving him into a tie for 13th place on the all-time list.

Lowery wasn't content with that result, though, indicating that he had his sights set on the Casino Champion title. Two days later, he made another push for it in the $365 Monster Stack.

That one, Event #8, drew one of the largest fields of the series with 379 entries. Lowery made it all the way to heads-up play, where he'd have been the more accomplished player against nearly anyone in the field.

Vinny Moscati is an exception, though. Moscati is one of the 12 players who have won more rings than Lowery has, and he added another one to his total. The 33-year-old from New York beat won the heads-up match to claim the seventh ring of his own career, moving into a tie for eighth place overall.

The Circuit's all-time wins leader is Maurice Hawkins with 10, and his crown came under threat during the series' closing weekend.

Valentin Vornicu has been in and out of the lead during the past few seasons, and he arrived in Lake Tahoe in second place with nine rings. He departed with 10, now sharing that lead with Hawkins.

Vornicu did his damage in Event #12, the series' final ring event. It was another $365 one-day event, and it culminated in a stacked final table. Ring winners Janet Fitzgerald and Ian Steinman were joined by Vornicu and, of course, Lowery, who was once again in the hunt for a sixth ring.

In the end, Vornicu was too much, and his victory keeps the game of leaderboard leapfrog going. The result was equally significant for Lowery, though, who earned another 25 points to all but lock up the Casino Champion honors he'd shot-called earlier in the week.

Other notable ring winners from Lake Tahoe included Robert Angeleri (who joined his wife, Iris, as a Circuit winner), Steinman (the reigning Online Player of the Year), and Jasthi Kumar (who went on to finish in third place in the Main Event).

More information about each of the 12 ring winners can be found below.


All Ring Events

Event #1: $365 No-Limit Hold'em Re-Entry
Winner: Shane Gonzales ($30,814)
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #2: $365 Pot-Limit Omaha
Winner: Mike Sneideman ($8,063)
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #3: $365 No-Limit Hold'em
Winner: Robert Angeleri ($11,089)
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #4: $365 No-Limit Hold'em
Winner: Ian Steinman ($10,709)
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo


Event 5: $365 No-Limit Hold'em
Winner: Jonathan Libiran ($12,516)
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #6: $365 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Handed
Winner: Dustin Fox ($15,248)
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo


Event #7: $365 No-Limit Hold'em
Winner: Daniel Lowery ($14,096)
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo


Event #8: $365 MONSTER STACK
Winner: Vincent Moscati ($25,011)
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo


Event #9: $365 No-Limit Hold'em
Winner: Jasthi Kumar ($28,502)
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #10: $1,675 MAIN EVENT
Winner: Max Young ($147,699)
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo


Event #11: $365 No-Limit Hold'em
Winner: Mike Fernandez ($13,122)
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo


Event #12: $365 No-Limit Hold'em
Winner: Valentin Vornicu ($14,429)
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo


Casino Champion


As is the case for all stops on the WSOP Circuit, there were two seats for the Global Casino Championship up for grabs. Max Young claimed one with his Main Event victory, and the other went to the player who accumulated the most points over the 12 ring events — the Casino Champion.

Daniel Lowery made it his mission from the beginning, and he delivered on his promise. Lowery cashed three times, making the final table each time, and he won Event #7 on his way to claiming the Casino Champion crown for Harveys Lake Tahoe.

Here are his results for the series:

Event #7: 1st place ($14,096)
Event #8: 2nd place ($15,458)
Event #12: 6th place ($2,683)

Lowery accumulated a total of 110 points and $32,237 in earnings, in addition to his fifth WSOP Circuit ring.

[Final standings] (will update Tuesday morning)


About the Winners


Shane Gonzales

Event #1: Shane Gonzales ($30,814)

Gonzales, 47, is a man of many talents from Concord, California. “I don’t really have a job,” he said. “Mostly just hustle poker and golf.”

Golf season is fading away with the autumn, though, and Gonzales and his buddies roll out the poker tables for a weekly home game. And when the WSOP Circuit comes to town, Gonzales always drops by to take a few shots.

“This is the only place I really play tournaments,” he said. “I don’t have the patience for them. But I run really good here.”

That’s a fact. Gonzales made two final tables at the stop last season, earning a third- and a sixth-place finish. He also cashed in the re-entry the year prior, but he didn’t have to settle for anything less than a win this time.

This one was mostly an uneventful tournament from Gonzales’ perspective. He was fourth in chips with 42 players left at the start of Day 2, and he had moved comfortably into the top spot by the time he reached the final table.

Stephen Bierman had been the chip leader to begin the day, and he ended up as the last man standing in Gonzales’ way. Despite entering the duel at a disadvantage, Gonzales pushed his way to the win, defeating Bierman to snag the ring that had been so elusive in the past.


Michael Sneideman

Event #2: Mike Sneideman ($8,063)

Sneideman, 47, is a native of Virginia and the proud parent of a nine-year-old son, Jonah. They now make their home in Oceanside, California, where Sneideman plays the game full time. Or mostly full time.

“Poker pro, basically,” he explained his line of work. “I go broke every few months and [drive for] Uber. That kind of poker pro.”

Despite the occasional setback, Sneideman clearly knows his way around the felt. He’s earned more than a half-million dollars playing online, and his live earnings are approaching that mark, too. Though significant, this score is not even among his top ten results.

Sneideman faced some stiff competition at the final table, facing off against two-time ring winner Cary Marshall and recent first-timer Roger Bailey. Early on Day 2, the eventual champ found himself heads-up with Marshall for the title.

The battle was a swingy one, with both men holding a commanding chip lead at different points. The pendulum swung in Sneideman’s direction at the end, though, and he defeated Marshall to add his own name to the Circuit’s list of winners.

Robert Angeleri

Event #3: Robert Angeleri ($11,089)

Angeleri, 41, is a part-time player from Kelseyville, California. He and his wife, Iris, buy and sell houses among other entrepreneurial pursuits. They play poker for fun, and they’ve found some good success at it, too.

Almost to the day, Robert’s victory comes four years after his wife’s first Circuit victory in the same building. The two were just married in May, but they’ve been together for more than a decade.

“Every time we come here, we seem to do good in tournaments,” Angeleri said after his win. “Every year, we seem go back with more than we came with.”

That’ll be the case once again this year, as Angeleri collected $11,089 for his day of work.

Angeleri was the chip leader with 18 players left in this event before dropping down to the shortest stack in the field. With 10 players left, though, he won a huge double knockout pot with pocket tens, surging back into the chip lead.

He did not relinquish it again. Less than an hour later, Angeleri was posing for winner’s photos with his new piece of jewelry and his wife by his side.

They’re both WSOP Circuit winners now.


Ian Steinman

Event #4: Ian Steinman ($10,709)

Steinman, 28, is a professional poker player from Carson City, Nevada — just down the mountain from Lake Tahoe. He’s been playing the game full time since he was came of age to do so legally.

Steinman played exclusively online last year, grinding around 7,000 tournaments on his way to claiming POY honors in Nevada. But he’s focusing more his efforts on the live realm these days.

“I just got sick of playing online, honestly,” Steinman said. “So I’ve been trying to travel more.”

It’s a pretty significant transition for someone who’s had as much online success as he has, but Steinman is most comfortable playing the game face to face.

“I love to talk to people,” he explained. “I love to try to get live reads. I played online for a long time, but it’s starting to come back to me. I just love people. I’m so interested in them and what they have to say.”

Saturday’s brick-and-mortar performance was an impressive one, with Steinman only at risk one time during his run to victory. The instance occurred in three-way clash at the final table, and his pocket kings held against two opponents, one of whom had him covered.

That was the pot that propelled the eventual champ into the driver’s seat, and he didn’t waste any time sealing the deal. The entire event took just about eight hours to run from start to finish.


Jonathan Libiran

Event #5: Jonathan Libiran ($12,516)

Libiran, 50, is a California native by way of The Philippines. He was disabled on the job, so he has a little unexpected free time to play poker. He’s always in attendance when the Circuit comes to Tahoe.

Curiously, Libiran was playing this event on a complete freeroll after winning a promotional tournament hosted by a Bay Area real estate company. His prize was an entry into this event, and he parlayed that into a career-best score.

“I always do good in Lake Tahoe,” Libiran said after his win. “Every time I come down here, I finish fifth, second… and now first!”

All five of Libiran’s career WSOP cashes have come at Harveys Lake Tahoe, and three of them have culminated in final table appearances. This result, though, is the one he was waiting for.

Dustin Fox

Event #6: Dustin Fox ($15,248)


The last time Dustin Fox was heads-up at Harveys Lake Tahoe, Chris Ferguson beat him to win his own third WSOP Circuit ring. A lot has changed in the last decade, though.

On Monday, Fox finally got the redemption that was 10 years in the making. He took down the $365 six-max event, collecting $12,516 and the previously elusive gold ring.

Fox, 35, is a golf pro and an avid poker player from Lake Tahoe. He’s just one little cash away from a half-million dollars in live tournament earnings, with the vast majority of that coming in the Reno/Tahoe area.


Daniel Lowery

Event #7: Daniel Lowery ($14,096)


By definition, Daniel Lowery is not a professional poker player — he runs a sawmill in Arkansas and only plays the game on a part-time schedule. His tournament results would be the envy of a fair amount of full-time pros, though.

On Tuesday night, Lowery became the WSOP Circuit’s newest five-time winner, taking down the $365 one-day event at Harveys Lake Tahoe.

Lowery outlasted a field of 174 entries on his way to claiming the top prize of $14,096. Two of his five wins have come at Lake Tahoe, and this one moves him into a tie for fifth-most on the Circuit’s all-time list.

Lowery, 43, is a full-time business owner and husband to his wife, Krista. The two make their home in Peter Pender with their four children; Christian (20), Jenna (17), Reagan (12), and August (17 months).

“Little Gus is the reason I’ve been off the road,” papa Lowery said.

He’s been playing less poker during the last 17 months, but he credits a renewed focus for an impressive string of results. And his new son, too.

“Everyone calls him Baby Rungood,” he said.

Lowery has posted more than $1.1 million in total tournament earnings over the course of his career, with close to $700,000 of that coming on the WSOP Circuit. Only 12 players have won more times than him, and he’s one of the few recreational players anywhere near the top of the list.

Lowery late-registered the tournament with 25 big blinds and “never looked back,” as he put it. He was second in chips by the time he reached the final table, and it took less than three more hours for him to complete the victory.

The win is nice, but Lowery indicated that he has even loftier goals for this trip to Lake Tahoe: “I told Krista I was going to win Casino Champ before I came out here.”


Vincent Moscati

Event #8: Vincent Moscati ($25,011)

Moscati, 33, is a professional poker player from Westchester County, New York. He’s been playing the game full time for most of his adult life, starting as an online grinder back in his college days.

Black Friday forced Moscati to pursue the career of a live pro, though, and the changeover wasn’t immediately successful.

“I didn’t really transition well into live (poker),” Moscati said. “But now it’s coming around, and we’re having some fun.”

Coming around, indeed. The victory is Moscati’s seventh on the Circuit, moving him into a tie for eight place on the all-time list. He’s earned just shy of $400,000 on the traveling tour.

This run began on Moscati’s first day in Lake Tahoe, arriving just in time to enter the Monster Stack. A day later, he found himself heads-up with five-time ring winner Daniel Lowery, who’d just won the one for his thumb a day prior.

Moscati had the lead for most of the final table, but Lowery did briefly pull in front during the final duel. Moscati was too much in the end, though, taking the last of Lowery’s chips to seal his own victory.

Although Moscati’s name is on the list of elite Circuit grinders, he has his sights set on a larger WSOP prize. “I want to win a bracelet,” he said of his long-term poker goals. Doesn’t everyone?


Jasthi Kumar

Event #9: Jasthi Kumar ($28,502)

Kumar, 51, is an IT manager originally from the south of India. He now makes his home in the Bay Area of California where he’s become a part of the local poker scene. Originally cutting his teeth in tournament chess, Kumar has been playing poker for about seven years.

"Outside of my job, I try to play poker as much as possible,” Kumar said. "It’s sort of a passion for me.”

His passion has turned the game into a rather successful hobby. He’s already cleared the half-millon-dollar mark in career tournament earnings, including a 58th-place finish in the 2016 WSOP Main Event for a six-figure payout.

All that is well and good, but Kumar has now achieved one of his major goals on the felt.

“Finally,” he said in the moment after his victory. “Finally a ring.”

Max Young

Event #10: Max Young ($147,699)

Max Young is becoming something of a standout on the WSOP Circuit. Young put on another impressive performance this weekend at Harveys Lake Tahoe, outlasting a field of 458 entries to win the Main Event. The victory is his second in as many seasons on the traveling tour.

Young, 32, is a professional poker player from Portland. He initially moved to the coast of Oregon for its world-class surfing, but he eventually headed into the city once poker became more of a serious pursuit.

“I played poker just for fun, just to be social,” Young spoke of his background. “Some people noticed my game, and they encouraged me to keep working on it. And I have.”

The efforts are paying off so far. This result moves him well over a half million dollars in tournament earnings, with most of that coming during the last two years. “It’s just been unreal,” he said.

Young’s first win came in January in West Palm Beach on a rare trip to the east coast. Despite cashing five times in that series, he lost his grip on the Casino Champion title during the final event, finishing second in the race. This win in Tahoe gives him that seat to the WSOP Global Championship that eluded him the last time around.

Mike Fernandez

Event #11: Mike Fernandez ($13,122)


Fernandez, 40, is a data collection manager for the Federal Reserve Bank. That’s the day job, but he does play a fair amount of poker on the side. He’s been dabbling in the game for 10 years or so, during which he’s recorded about $40,000 in tournament earnings.

Fernandez’s work schedule restricts his ability to play often, so the Circuit’s new single-day format is perfect for people like him. “I don’t get a lot of time to play tournaments,” he said. “Especially big ones. So most of the events I do get a chance to play are one-day [events].”

He and his wife, Maria, spend most of their free time traveling, and this trip brought them to Lake Tahoe for a poker vacation. Maria was on the rail as Mike won the tournament.

“I was actually cruising along pretty well, but I took some hits at the final table,” Fernandez recalled. “It was such a grind.”

The grind culminated in a heads-up duel against the gregarious Duy Ho, an accomplished tournament grinder. Fernandez put a beat or two on him during the run to the win, including a suckout with ace-deuce against ace-three.

“When I got the deuce against Duy, I knew it was my ring,” he said. All’s fair in poker, and Fernandez ended up as the winner after less than 12 hours of play.


Valentin Vornicu

Event #12: Valentin Vornicu ($14,429)


Vornicu, 34, is originally from Romania, and he’s lived in San Diego for the last 11 years. His first Circuit victory came in 2011 in what was just his third-ever live event. He’s gone on to win many more since.

The Circuit’s two brightest stars share a similar reputation. Both Vornicu and Maurice Hawkins are outgoing, talkative players who find ways to get under the skin of their opponents. They tend to speak with their stacks, too; both employ an aggressive style. They’re both known for their ability to win and lose large amounts of chips in short amounts of time.

Their stat sheets are remarkably similar, too. Vornicu and Hawkins have each cashed 55 times on the Circuit, and each has won 10 rings. Hawkins has a remarkable five Main Event victories, though, giving him a considerable edge in the earnings column.

Still, Vornicu has accumulated close to a half million dollars in winnings himself. He hasn’t had much success in Lake Tahoe until now, though.

“I’ve been coming to this stop for six years,” he said, “and I’ve never made a final table. This is literally my worst stop.”

This result could easily have been a poor one, as well. Vornicu said he was down to three big blinds right before registration closed, but he managed to run up a stack and avoid another re-entry. A few hours later, he was the winner.

“Obviously, you want to win tournaments as much as possible,” he said of the rings race. “It feels great to be back as number one again. Until, Maurice… this is never going to end. It’s always going to be…” he trailed off. “There are a lot of good players right there with eight or nine.”

Vornicu cited strong competition from the likes of Vincent Moscati (7 rings), Robert Hankins (8), and Alex Masek (9). Vornicu still has more than them all, though.

“It feels good to complete the hands,” he said, holding up 10 fingers.