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Blair Hinkle Wins High Roller for Fifth Circuit Ring; Jonathan Poche Wins Main Event

Tulsa, OK (March 25, 2018) - The second annual WSOP Circuit stop at the Hard Rock Tulsa wrapped up Monday night in dramatic fashion - Blair Hinkle (pictured) added to his already illustrious Circuit career, earning his fifth ring, and his first outside of the Horseshoe Council Bluffs, when he won the High Roller event for $50,319. Of Hinkle's five rings, three are from Main Events, and now one is from a High Roller.

Read more about Hinkle's victory here.

Across the tournament room, the final ten players played down to a winner in the Main Event, and when the last card was dealt, Jonathan Poche held all the chips. This is Poche's second career ring, and his first was also in a Main Event. He earns $216,307 for his victory.

Read more about Poche's win here.

 Completed Events

Event #1: $365 Monster Stack - J.W. Lorett tops 422 entries to win $27,853
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #2: $365 NLH $250K - Yordanos 'Yoyo' Mebrahtu tops 1,458 entries to win $75,454
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #3: $365 No-Limit Hold'em 1-Day - Nick Koliastasis tops 278 entries to win $20,018
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #4: $365 NLH Double Stack - Josef Tittjung tops 345 entries to win $23,806
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #5: $365 NLH Black Chip Bounty - Askia Ingram tops 125 entries to win $6,998
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #6: $365 No-Limit Hold'em - Shawn Sparks tops 164 entries to win $13,284
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #7: $580 Pot-Limit Omaha - John Richards tops 125 entries to win $17,499
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #8: $365 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Handed - Kevin Eyster tops 289 entries to win $22,538
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #9: $1,675 MAIN EVENT - Jonathan Poche tops 721 entries to win $216,307
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #10: $365 No-Limit Hold'em (1-Day) - Rodney Spriggs tops 135 entries to win $11,341
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #11: $365 No-Limit Hold'em (1-Day) - Shane Ogburn tops 177 entries to win $14,336
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

Event #12: $2,200 High Roller - Blair Hinkle tops 74 entries to win $50,319
Results | Official Report | Winner's Photo

 Casino Champion Race

On the last night of the series Mashir Khan moved into the lead in the Casino Champion race, overtaking Josef Tittjung. Khan finished in third place in the Main Event - it was his fourth cash and third final table of the series. That finish gave him 102.5 points, and he is now the Casino Champ!

The winner of the Casino Champion race, along with the winner of the Main Event, will receive entry into the 2018 Global Casino Championship in August. 

About the Winners

Event #1: J.W. Lorett
Supported by a massive rail behind him, J.W. Lorett took down the $365 Monster Stack in his hometown in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is Lorett’s biggest score worth $27,853, along with his first ever Circuit ring. “It feels great. I really started playing poker when the Hard Rock opened (2009). Ever since, I have never left. Except to go to Choctaw and some other big tournaments.”

Lorett has made many final tables in his time but he said to a couple of other players: “This is the hardest final table I’ve ever been on.” He came in to the final table with one of the top stacks and managed to hold on. “It was very tough. I was down and then back up, down and then back up again. It was done on a lot of instinct. I’ve always said, any two cards can win” exclaimed a smiling Lorett.

Event #2: Yordanos 'Yoyo' Mebrahtu
The winner of Event #2: $365 No-Limit Hold’em with $250,000 guaranteed is Yordanos ‘Yoyo’ Mebrahtu. The local poker player is a regular on the tournament scene and booked her biggest career win for $74,454 and her first Circuit ring. “It feels good. It’s a lot of pressure” admitted Mebrahtu.

The final table was full of tough opponents, but Mebrahtu said “I’ve played with all of them – I’ve played for years. It was a lot of pressure.” Mebrahtu was soft spoken, but clearly a fan favorite with a big rail cheering her on the whole time.

Event #3: Nick Koliastasis
Nick Koliastasis has taken down Event #3 at Hard Rock Tulsa for $20,018, booking his biggest career win. This may have been his biggest win, but it was also his 12th, making him no stranger to the tournament scene. When asked what his secret was, Koliastasis smiled and said, “I'm too old. I have a little experience!”

Coming into the final table, Koliastasis was in the middle of pack but he spun his way to the top. Koliastasis said he didn’t have a set plan. “Just play like everybody else and just get lucky. I started to play the players - that's all!” exclaimed Koliastasis. The newly-crowned champ plans on playing everything this week with the hopes of snagging a second ring.

Event #4: Josef Tittjung
Josef Tittjung is a regular poker player in Oklahoma and has competed in tournaments with Scotty Nguyen. He finally won his first WSOP Circuit ring in one of his home casinos and couldn’t be happier. “This stuff is great, you know. I love it. I love the challenge - there's some super players here.” Tittjung won the Double Stack for his second-biggest score worth $23,806. He defeated three-time Circuit ring champion Justin Gardenhire.

Tittjung is a veteran of the game and started playing five and seven-card stud back in the day. “I was in Vegas in the early part of the 70's and I was walking around these tables and thought, what the heck? What's with these community cards?” laughed Tittjung. He eventually became accustomed to the game and the rest is history. The newly-crowned champion is now a regular in these parts and hopes to continue his winning streak the rest of the week. “I love that challenge. It's a mind game” continued Tittjung.

Event #5: Askia Ingram
A proud Askia Ingram has taken down the Black Chip Bounty event for $6,998 and his very first ring. He defeated a tough competitor in Will Berry and said, “he’s a beast, man.” Ingram came in to heads up play down six-to-one in chips and clawed his way back. “I've been searching for a win for a while. I used to watch all these guys on TV and figured I could do it too” said a confident Ingram.

When talking about his strategy, Ingram said he spoke with a good friend and player about it. “I talked to one of my friends, kind of pow-wow chatted with him. Hand ranges and stuff. I do very well in tournaments. The other cashes were bigger, but this means the most because it's a ring” explained Ingram. He mostly plays cash games, but is in the hunt for more points and more rings.

Event #6: Shawn Sparks

Shawn Sparks completed a dominating performance on Wednesday to earn the first World Series of Poker Circuit ring of his career. Sparks entered Day 2 of Event #6 ($365 No-Limit Hold’em) at the Hard Rock Tulsa with a substantial chip lead, and made short work of his remaining opponents to earn the title and the $13,284 first-place prize.
With four players left to start Day 2, Sparks had nearly half the chips in play, and he eliminated each of the other three players to secure the victory. The win was extra sweet, as he was here for his birthday weekend. He actually entered the tournament thinking that it was a one-day event, and it nearly was, since he made short work of the competition on Day 2. This is not only Sparks’s first Circuit ring. It’s also his first recorded WSOP cash. He remained humble in victory, acknowledging a few cards fell his way. "I got lucky twice to win this tournament, yesterday was KQ vs QQ. Smashed the turn with the joint. Today I got it in with 6-4 behind and hit the turn."

Event #7: John Richards

John Richards became the latest three-time winner on the WSOP Circuit today, after winning the $580 Pot-Limit Omaha event at the Hard Rock Tulsa. Richards earned $17,499 for his victory.

It wasn’t an easy road to the ring for Richards. He said after the event that he fired seven bullets into this re-entry tournament. But it turned out to be a good investment. And it didn’t get any easier for Richards once the re-entry period ended. When the tournament was down to two players, he had to face off against six-time Circuit ring winner Daniel Lowery, who entered heads-up play with a 3-2 chip lead. But Richards overcame the deficit to earn his third ring and first-place prize money.

Event #8: Kevin Eyster

Kevin Eyster is adding another piece of hardware to his trophy case – he just won the $365 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Handed event at the Hard Rock Tulsa WSOP Circuit, earning his third career Circuit ring (to go with his WSOP bracelet) and $22,538.

Eyster is a six-max specialist, and many of his signature victories over the years have come in this format. After two today, two of his three Circuit rings have come in six-handed tournaments – the first was also in Oklahoma, at Choctaw Durant over five years ago. And his WSOP bracelet came in the $5,000 six-handed event in 2014.

Event #9: Jonathan Poche:

Jonathan Poche is the latest World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event champion after an impressive performance that saw him lead virtually wire to wire. Poche won the Main Event at the Hard Rock Tulsa, earning $216,307 and his second career Circuit ring.

Poche led the event after Day 1A. The tournament had three starting flights, and Flight A had by far the smallest field with 91 entries. In comparison, Flight B hand 230, and Flight C had 400. It’s unusual for a relatively small starting flight to produce the overall chip leader heading into Day 2, but Poche put on a dominating performance, and no one from the later flights could catch him.

Event #10: Rodney Spriggs

Rodney Spriggs earned his first WSOP Circuit ring Saturday night when he won Event #10: $365 No-Limit Hold’em (One Day) at the Hard Rock Tulsa. He earned $11,341 for the victory.

 This achievement was a long time in the making for Spriggs, who has had his fair share of deep runs and has come close in the past, but until this tournament had always come up short. “I’ve made multiple final tables,” he recalled securing his victory. “A couple years ago I had back-to-back seventh places, so I’ve wanted to win one of these[rings] for a while. Now I just need to find a way to get a bracelet."

Event #11: Shane Ogburn

Shane Ogburn became the latest WSOP Circuit ring winner Sunday. Ogburn won Event #11: $365 No-Limit Hold’em (One-Day) at the Hard Rock Tulsa, earning $14,336.

Ogburn, a 31-year old finance manager from nearby Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, became a member of the Circuit ring club in only his second career WSOP cash. His first came earlier this series in the Double Stack event, where he also made the final table. The two performances put him near the top of the Casino Champion leaderboard, but he was narrowly edged out for the title.

Event #12: Blair Hinkle

One of the brightest stars in the history in the history of the World Series of Poker Circuit put his stamp on another event Monday evening. Blair Hinkle won the fifth Circuit ring of his illustrious career, tying him for 15th on the all-time rings list. His victory came in the $2,200 High Roller event at the Hard Rock Tulsa, and he earned $50,319 for his first-place finish.

For the full schedule of events here at Hard Rock Tulsa and/or for more information on the WSOP Circuit, please use the links below.