Twelve gold rings awarded and Two standout players make for heated Casino Champion race.
October 10, 2017 (Elizabeth, Indiana) -- The World Series of Poker Circuit stop at Horseshoe Southern Indiana in Elizabeth, Indiana reached a conclusion Monday night. A total of twelve WSOP gold rings were handed out during the series. Majority of the rings were earned by first-time winners, a few players added to their collection, and two players stood out among them all.
One of the two competitors that took the Southern Indiana series by storm was Danny Lawson. The small-town Virginian got things rolling with a victory in Event #1: #365 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo on the very first day. It was no ordinary triumph though.
Following the loss of an all-in pot, Lawson was left with a single, 5,000 denomination chip, good enough for one ante. Against the odds, the 45-year-old surged back to an average stack and ultimately prevailed as the last man standing, completing a true “chip and a chair” storyline.
The improbable achievement granted Lawson a debut gold ring, $12,474 payday, and 50 points toward the race for Casino Champion. In the few days following his win, Lawson went on the score a min-cash in the re-entry event, earning 2.5 more points.
Josh Reichard, a notable, WSOP pro who laid claim to seven gold rings before the Circuit began, was the other player to go on a successful rampage at the series. Reichard arrived at in Elizabeth, Indiana a little later than Lawson, but instantly began to make his mark.
The 26-year-old from Wisconsin cruised through Event #4: $365 No-Limit Hold’em with ease. However, he fell just one spot shy of his eighth Circuit title. Finishing as the runner-up, Reichard earned $6,334 and 37.5 Casino Championship points.
Then came Event #6, the Six Max. It was during the same day as his second-place cash that Reichard registered for the six-handed tournament. Once again, his skill and experience drove him to a final table and Day 2 berth with five players remaining. Reichard was poised to possibly overtake the points lead, but lo and behold, Danny Lawson also remained among the advancing players.
This was the first, and only, time the two rivals directly met on the felt. The Six Max final table was chock-full of accolades. Along with Reichard and Lawson, there was five-time gold ring winner, Kurt Jewell, and one-time gold ring winner, Austin Reilly.
The only player in the final five without a ring was Simon Samokovski. Motivated by the adversity, Samokovski faced his decorated opponents head on and ultimately wound up as the Six Max victor, winning $14,849 and a gold ring of his own.
Lawson ended up placing fifth in Event #6, and Reichard, coming close to a ring again, finished in 3rd. After the points were added up from their respective cashes, Lawson’s total rose to 77.5 and Reichard was not far behind with 67.5 points.
During Day 1 of the Six-Max excitement, there was another tournament going on simultaneously, Event $5: $365 No-Limit Hold’em. The tournament was scheduled as a two-day endeavor, but finished in just one. Topping a 127-player field was none other than Mark “Pegasus” Smith.
Smith had not graced the winner’s circle in almost six years. However, the Circuit legend, came to his favorite stop and conquered, winning his sixth WSOP gold ring. “Obviously the old boys still got it,” Smith said during his post-win interview.
The 50-point victory actually boosted Smith to the top spot on the venue leaderboard with three cashes, including two final tables, worth 72.5 points all together. Of course, the ranking was short-lived, as Lawson recorded his Six Max cash the next afternoon.
Lawson remained ahead in the race for a while, but it seemed to only be a matter of time before Reichard was raking in more points. Sure enough, when the Monster Stack rolled around, Reichard made yet another final table appearance, his third in four days at the series.
This time around, Reichard made no mistakes. The Wisconsinite took down Event #8: $365 No-Limit Hold’em Monster Stack to win $21,024 and his eighth career gold ring, putting him only two Circuit titles behind the all-time ring leader, Maurice Hawkins.
Aside from adding to his golden hardware collection, Reichard also banked another 50 points toward the Casino Championship. The addition catapulted Reichard to the top of the leaderboard with a total of 117.5 points. It would be a tall order for Lawson to catch the young gun.
There was no quit in the poker pro from Appalachia, Virginia though. Lawson tried his hand in Event #11 and astoundingly came away with another first-place finish, winning his second Turbo of the series.
“I wanted it. Every time I turned it on, it was about Josh. I wanted to go back,” Lawson expressed after his second interview with the WSOP reporter.
The second, gold-ring accomplishment was indeed enough to put Lawson back on top. He edged out Reichard by 10 points (127.5 vs. 117.5). There was still more to the story though.
Both players, riding their waves of success, survived Day 1 of the Horseshoe Southern Indiana Main Event. Lawson bagged in Flight A, and Reichard bagged in Flight B. The Casino-Champ rivals each had a marginal stack going into Day 2 of Event #10.
A total of 64 players returned for the second leg of the Main Event. Only the top 45 finishers were to receive a WSOP cash (and points). Reichard needed to catch Lawson by finishing 27th, or higher, and Lawson was looking to fend off Reichard with a cash of his own.
In the end, both competitors secured a cash. However, Reichard went out in 41st, which was not sufficient to pass Lawson, who finished in 23rd. Their respectable, Main Event runs shut the door on a Casino Championship for the ages.
Becoming Casino Champion, by accumulating the most points at a given Circuit stop, grants a player an automatic seat in the 2018 Global Casino Championship. There are also at-large bids up for grabs for players with a top-50, points total at the end of the entire Circuit tour. Lawson has secured a seat for his achievement.
Another individual who received an automatic berth to the GCC was Justin Boggs who was the last man standing in the Horseshoe Southern Indiana Main Event. The 30-year-old Health and Fitness teacher meandered through three days of tournament poker and 424 entrants to win $139,920 and his first WSOP gold ring.
Boggs held the chip lead going into Day 2 and Day 3 of the signature tournament. The consistent stack of chips led him all the way to a heads-up match against Wendy Freedman, owner of one gold ring. The two adversaries had clashed many times during play. It was Boggs who delivered the final knockout blow though.
The Ohio native was overly grateful for the win and deemed it a tribute to his late father.