TODD MERCER AND ERIK GORMAN DOMINATE AT HARRAH’S CHEROKEE

Erik Gorman wins Main Event title; Todd Mercer wins two events and cashes four times for over $100,000 to become Casino Champion

Cherokee, NC (December 9, 2019) -The World Series of Poker Circuit $1,700 Main Event at Harrah’s Cherokee accumulated exactly 1,000 entries for a prize pool of $1,515,000 and it was 43-year-old Erik Gorman who took the title. He earned $260,480 for his first WSOP Circuit ring and denied Hannah Guthrie her first career ring in the process. Gorman has made Day 3 in this event a remarkable three times, with two of them being final tables. He finally got the job done this time around though and booked his biggest career cash in the process.

Coming into Day 3, Gorman was last in chips of the 15 final players but quickly turned that around early in the day. “It was the second hand of the day and the fourth hand of the day,” explained Gorman. He went from 750,000 to 3.2 million in chips in no time, with one of the notable hands being a big double with aces versus the pocket nines of eight-time Circuit champion Kyle Cartwright.

Gorman defeated a worthy heads-up opponent in Hannah Guthrie, who took home $160,978 after booking her first ever WSOP cash and just her fourth one overall. She came into Day 3 as the chip leader and dominated a tough final table with many WSOP champions on it. The hand that turned the tides in Gorman’s favor while heads up was when Guthrie made a flush on a paired board and the two players got their chips in the middle on the turn. Gorman held a pair of sevens, but the dealer completed the board with a third four to give him fours full of sevens to double up.

As it turned out, the very next hand after that ended up being the final one of the tournament. Gorman opened the pot and Guthrie jammed her stack in the middle with ace-three suited. Unfortunately for her, Gorman held ace-queen and flopped a pair of queens to take the lead and eventually lock up the pot.

Harrah's Cherokee Main Event Final Table Results:

1st: Erik Gorman - $260,480 + Circuit ring + 2020 GCC Seat
2nd: Hannah Guthrie - $160,978
3rd: Michael Kassem - $120,700
4th: Ryan Jones - $91,459
5th: Fikret Kovac - $69,920
6th: Kyle Cartwright - $53,968
7th: Marshall White - $42,058
8th: Ken Aldridge - $33,098
9th: Randall Rothwell - $26,304

This Circuit stop saw four players becoming multiple ring winners with Todd Mercer winning his second and third rings in four days, Leif Force winning his third (in addition to his gold bracelet), and both Josh Johnson and Ricardo Eyzaguirre winning their second rings.

First-time ring winners included the likes of Main Event winner Erik Gorman, Lenol Clark, Ray Langston, Sam Cynamon, Carol Porter, Joey Fabre, Aria Homayounnejad, Taylor Williams, Jaeyoung Wi, and Michael Gunning.

And finally, the title of Casino Champion belongs to Todd Mercer in a race that wasn’t very close at all. Mercer won Event #4: $600 No-Limit Hold’em for $42,907, followed by a win in Event #8: $1,125 No-Limit Hold’em for $62,282. These wins were rings two and three for Mercer for a total of $106,421 across four cashes.  The three-time Circuit champion has now won himself a seat into the 2020 Global Casino Championship next August.

More information on the points system is available on WSOP.com.  


Casino Champion Update

Todd Mercer is the Harrah's Cherokee Casino Champion with 105 points. He took down Events #4 and #8 with four cashes for a total of $106,421. Mercer now has three World Series of Poker Circuit rings and a seat into the 2020 Global Casino Championship.


  
 


Completed Events
 

Event #1: $250 No-Limit Hold'em Double Stack - Lenol Clark topped a field of 323 entries to win $14,378
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #2: $400 No-Limit Hold'em Multi-Flight - Ray Langston topped a field of 2,249 entries to win $96,921
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #3: $400 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo - Sam Cynamon topped a field of 552 entries to win $35,304
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Seniors Event I - Carol Porter topped a field of 1,006 entries to win $34,534
Winners Photo | Results

Event #4: $600 No-Limit Hold'em - Todd Mercer topped a field of 393 entries to win $42,907
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #5: $400 No-Limit Hold'em 6-Max - Josh Johnson topped a field of 634 entries to win $40,330
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #6: $600 Pot-Limit Omaha - Joey Fabre topped a field of 287 entries to win $33,387
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #7: $400 No-Limit Hold'em Monster Stack - Leif Force topped a field of 1,193 to win $97,676
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #8: $1,125 No-Limit Hold'em - Todd Mercer topped a field of 267 entries to win $62,282
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #9: $400 No-Limit Hold'em - Aria Homayounnejad topped a field of 333 entries to win $24,330
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #10: $1,700 Main Event - Erik Gorman topped a field of 1,000 entries to win $260,480
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #11: $400 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo - Taylor Williams topped a field of 350 entries to win $25,184
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #12: $400 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo - Jaeyoung Wi topped a field of 438 entries to win $29,755
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Seniors Event II - Michael Gunning topped a field of 576 entries to win $22,057
Winners Photo | Results

Event #13: $400 No-Limit Hold'em Double Stack - Ricardo Eyzaguirre topped a field of 471 entries to win $31,386
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results


Meet the Winners


Event #1: Lenol Clark
After two days of play, Lenol Clark is the winner of the opening event at Harrah’s Cherokee for $14,378 and his biggest career win. “It feels very, very good. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been coming to Cherokee forever and ever and ever, coming three times a year and practicing. It feels good to finally get there,” smiled Clark.

Clark topped a field of 323 entries in Event #1: $250 No-Limit Hold’em Double Stack after coming back from a massive deficit heads up. “It is the highest cash that I’ve had. I basically practice and learn to read the other opponents.”

After the Circuit stop at Cherokee in August, Clark drove his motor home to Las Vegas for two months and played in as many tournaments as he could. “I played tournaments in 12 different casinos. I did better in the high denomination tournaments than going over and playing with all of the tourists,” laughed Clark. “I went out there, played for eight weeks to practice, enjoyed and came back. I got lucky here a few times, and here we are.”

Event #2: Ray Langston - After two long days of poker, and a lengthy heads-up match, Ray Langston is victorious in Event #2: $400 No-Limit Hold’em for $96,921 and his first ever tournament win. “Oh man, it’s great! I’ve been playing about eight years at the WSOP in Tunica and here (Cherokee) – the only two stops I go to. This is the second final table I’ve made,” explained Langston.

This win increases Langston’s overall earnings by more than four times, and is his first World Series of Poker Circuit ring. “Other than having grand kids, this is probably number one,” smiled Langston.

With just a handful of cashes, Langston has been practicing with friends and it has certainly paid off. “What helped me lately is to quit playing small, home game tournaments. I started playing at a friend of mine’s tournaments, and it’s for bigger money with better players, and you’re just not getting in there with the same small hands.” 

Event #3: Sam CynamonAfter a 12-hour grind, Sam Cynamon is the latest winner at Harrah’s Cherokee, taking down Event #3: $400 No-Limit Hold’em with $100,000 guaranteed. He topped a field of 552 entries, earning $35,304, his biggest career cash and just his second live recorded result.

“Oh my God, it’s amazing. It’s a lot of fun. I do dream about winning tournaments like this,” smiled a proud Cynamon. The newly crowned champion has been playing poker for the better part of 20 years, mostly playing recreationally. “We have a weekly house game that we play. We play two-table tournaments, but to win this is fun.”

“After all the bad beats I’ve taken in my lifetime, I think it paid off finally, and it just went my way tonight,” laughed Cynamon. As for the money, he plans on sharing the wealth when he gets home. “My wife will have a little bit of say into that, but for the most part it’ll be well spent.” 

Event #4: Todd MercerAfter two days of play, Todd Mercer is victorious in Event #4: $600 No-Limit Hold’em for $42,907 and his second career World Series of Poker Circuit ring. This is far from Mercer’s biggest tournament cash, but was arguably one of the more memorable moments based on his massive rail.

“It feels excellent!” laughed Mercer. “I just appreciate everybody supporting me,” said an emotional Mercer. Specifically, the newly crowned champion is overly appreciative of his wife for her support, as well as his brother-in-law Hunter for being on his rail the entire final table.

Mercer has been playing poker for a long time, but the reason he got into poker is similar to many. “Obviously the Chris Moneymaker effect - just watching it (poker), and just the competition and all.” As poker has gotten tougher, Mercer has worked on his game and focused on situational play. “Just playing a bunch and watching a bunch,” explained Mercer.

Event #5: Josh JohnsonWith a supportive rail behind him, Josh Johnson has won his second career World Series of Poker Circuit ring after taking down Event #5: $400 No-Limit Hold’em 6-Max. Johnson pocketed $40,330 for the win, locking up his biggest career cash and almost doubling his overall earnings.

“It feels good. I was down to one one thousand chip in this tournament. The blinds were 300/600. It was early on, and I just kept grinding. Kept pushing, kept believing. Here it is, and I’m lookin’ for another one,” smiled Johnson.

Johnson runs his own business, but considers himself a part-time professional poker player. As for the game itself, Johnson prefers to do things his own way. “I don’t read, I don’t study. I play my own game and it works. I like to win. I’m an athlete and I like to win. There’s a lot of competition in this game.”

Event #6: Joey FabreAfter a hard-fought battle, Joey Fabre is the winner in Event #6: $600 Pot-Limit Omaha for $33,387 and his first ever tournament win. “It feels good,” said Fabre. “I just ran good early and that was it, I guess.” This was far from his biggest cash, as he went deep in the 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event, finishing in 72nd place for $108,745.

Fabre is a recreational poker player with three daughters and hails from Florence, Kentucky. Most of his scores are from playing No-Limit Hold’em, but his first win comes from playing with four cards. “I play Hold’em and PLO – tournaments and cash. My first time playing (pot-limit Omaha) I won, so I just played it a little bit here and there,” explained Fabre. 

Event #7: Leif Force - He is the latest winner at Harrah’s Cherokee after taking down the $400 No-Limit Hold’em Monster Stack for $97,676 and his third career World Series of Poker Circuit ring, in addition to his gold bracelet. “It feels so great. I’m so excited about it!” exclaimed Force.

Force made an epic comeback after being down to 1/5th of a big blind earlier in the day. “I lost tens versus ace-ten to get down to 10,000 in chips when the big blind was 50,000. I had just gotten through the blinds, so I waited maybe four hands and went all in and doubled up the next four hands in a row and was up to 500,000 right away,” explained Force. The rest is history as he came into the table with a healthy stack and spun it up to victory.

Now that Force has a gold bracelet and a few rings, he commented on what might be the next big achievement in his poker career. “I don’t really go for any milestones. I love to play,” said Force. “I’ve been playing since when I was home schooled. I learned math through poker. I was playing blackjack at age two.”

Event #8: Todd Mercer Another day, another win for Elon, North Carolina’s Todd Mercer. The now three-time World Series of Poker Circuit ring winner topped a field of 267 entries to win $62,282. This is his second ring in four days after he took down Event #4 for $42,907 and over $100,000 across the two events.

“It feels amazing. Amazing. Totally amazing,” smiled an emotional Mercer. “I came in as chip leader. It was definitely a tough final table having Michael Wang to my left. He straight played position the whole final table. He’s very calculated in his decisions – a great poker player. He was definitely, to me, the toughest opponent at the table,” explained Mercer.

Mercer was clearly emotional over winning yet another ring, and was supported by yet another massive rail. “I’m very thankful and blessed. Again, I thank the wife for all her support and family and friends that railed me

Event #9: Aria HomayounnejadAfter two days of play, Aria Homayounnejad is the winner of Event #9: $400 No-Limit Hold’em with $50,000 guaranteed. The newly crowned champion booked his first ever tournament win and biggest career cash for $24,330. “It feels good. I’ve been playing for about six years now,” he explained.

Homayounnejad topped a field of 333 entries, tripling his lifetime earnings. “I play cash games for a living – not tournaments.” He explained that he is drawn to tournament for the bigger money available up top, but is predominantly a cash game professional.

Heads-up play lasted around 90 minutes, and Homayounnejad battled with Danial Castle to come back from a deficit to win the ring and the title. Castle settled for $15,037 and Homayounnejad took home the bulk of the $109,890 prize pool.

Event #11: Taylor Williams - Another turbo wrapped up in the late hours of Friday night and it was Taylor Williams who took the title. He topped a field of 350 entries to win $25,184 and his first World Series of Poker Circuit ring. “It’s great. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been coming up here for a number of years grinding. I fired a lot of bullets this week and it’s the only one that got through,” explained Williams.

While this is not Williams’ career, he certainly still takes the game seriously. “I have a full-time job, but I supplement my income with this,” said Williams. The 33-year-old made a final table 10 years ago and finally feels like a weight has been lifted after playing poker for 12 years.

Poker has been getting tougher with the addition of many training sites and solvers. Williams has taken his own path though. “Just putting the time in alone, studying hand histories with friends. I spend a lot of time on forums, on Reddit, just reading, studying, talking. Basic stuff. I don’t do anything special.”

Event #12: Jaeyoung Wi - After 12 hours of poker, Jaeyoung Wi is victorious in Event #12: $400 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo for $29,755. This is his biggest career cash and first ever live tournament win. “It feels like it’s been a long time coming,” said Wi. “I got lucky in some spots and played well in some spots – it felt natural.”

The 33-year-old copywriter from Atlanta has been playing poker for about seven years, but only plays around 10 tournaments a year. “It feels good to see that everything’s been kind of paying off,” smiled Wi.

When talking about how he keeps himself sharp when it comes to poker, Wi chooses to do his own thing. “I just to keep things fresh. I dabble in watching it (poker) on YouTube and stuff, but mostly playing with friends.”

Event #13: Ricardo Eyzaguirre - After two days, Ricardo Eyzaguirre is the winner of the final official ring event at Harrah’s Cherokee. The poker pro from Orlando took down Event #13: $400 No-Limit Hold’em Double Stack for $31,387 and his second World Series of Poker Circuit ring.

“It feels good. I’ve been grinding for a long time to get and it’s finally here. I’ve been playing for 12 or 13 years, but the Circuit and tournaments maybe five years,” explained Eyzaguirre. This win is far from his biggest cash, but it brings his total career live earnings to just shy of $500,000. Eyzaguirre plays a good mix of both cash games and tournaments but has been yearning for a second ring.

“I’ve always been pretty competitive my whole life, so when I encountered poker it caught me right away and I started getting better, and better and better as time passed and I began to love it,” said Eyzaguirre. “There’s a lot of different methods to get better. So, I just try to do whatever I can and study as much as I can and when I am playing, I do my best.”