03 March 2020 (Hammond, Illinois.) The World Series of Poker Circuit made it’s final scheduled stop at Horseshoe Hammond (Chicago area) marking its 14th since its inaugural dating back to 2008.

The stop held $1,950,000 in prizepool guarantees and was scheduled to run 15 ring events in a matter of 12 days. A total of 6,937 entries were logged during the tournament series, which was highlighted by Illinois/Indiana native winners and an exciting, points-fueled Casino Champ race.

Kicking things off was a multi-flight event. Five starting flights saw a 2,169-player field, take their shot at gold but in the end, it was Illinois native Sudheer Some taking down the first event, claiming his first WSOP gold ring and his largest live-tournament cash $103,923.

Lena Zhao was the next person to be crowned after she took some time off from work to capitalize some Circuit gold for the first time. The first event she played in was Event #2: $250 No-Limit Hold’em Double Stack where she secured her largest victory of $21,031, along with 50 casino points to begin her hunt for casino champion.

The next four ring events saw Illinois natives win their first rings after Brad LaPayne took down Event #4 fourth nabbing $12,685 for his first-place finish, while Emanuel Manioudakis won $22,053 in Event #5, Lukson Matthew tamed the Monster Stack for $37,748 and then Dragan Culafic took down Event #7 for $9,806.

The next Event would see Brandon Nicholson capture his first ring along with $8,593 after he outlasted 86 entries in Event #9: $400 H.O.R.S.E while David Hengen closed out the Six-Max to win his third Circuit ring along with $24,364 and climbed to the top for Casino Champion.

Hengen would continue making deep runs after making another final table appearance in Event #11: $1,125 No-Limit Hold’em. It was here though, where the actual Casino Champion Guillermo Vargas would rise to the top. Vargas went into the final table with a game plan to knockout everybody ahead of him on the leaderboard to jump ahead of him.

Vargas did just that and run through a 179-entry field to claim his first ring along with his largest career cash $45,048. Vargas was able to close out the win after his seventh-place finish in Event #1 and added 50 casino points to shoot him to the top with 82.5.

The Circuit kept on rolling awarding first-time ring winners after Andy Rogowski took down Event #8: $250 Multi-Bag Bonus, Sergey Sergeev’s victory in the $2,200 High Roller and Artem Zverkhovskyy after taking down the final ring event.

Each player was awarded 50 circuit points for their first-place finishes, but it wouldn’t matter because when the Circuit dust finally settled, Vargas’s four total cashes were enough to seal the deal with 82.5 points.

Attached to the honors is an automatic bid to the 2020 Global Casino Championship, effectively a $10,000 seat. The other player securing a seat at the series was the Main Event Champ, Shiva Dudani. Dudani topped a 989-entry field to capture his first Main Event title, winning $258,078 along with his second WSOP Circuit gold ring at his home casino.


Completed Events

Event #1: $400 No-Limit Hold'em Multi-Flight - Sudheer Some claims first ring along with $103,923.
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #2: $250 No-Limit Hold'em Double Stack - Lena Zhao defeats 541 entries to win first ring along with $21,031.
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #3: $400 No-Limit Hold'em Seniors - Simon Philip locks down second Seniors ring in back-to-back years.
Official Report | Winners Photo| Results

Event #4: $400 No-Limit Hold'em Bounty - Brad LaPayne claimed 13 bounty chips to go along with his $12,685 first-place prize and first gold ring.
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #5: $600 Pot-Limit Omaha - Emanuel Manioudakis took down the four-card game to win his first ring along with $22,053.
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #6: $400 No-Limit Hold'em Monster Stack - Lukson Matthew slays Monster Stack largest cash to go with his first Circuit ring.
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #7: $400 Omaha 8 or Better - Dragan Culafic secures first Circuit ring and cash for $9,806 in one swoop. 
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #8: $250 No-Limit Hold'em Multi-Bag Bonus - Andy Rogowski claims gold on last day of the Circuit Series at Hammond. 
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #9: $400 H.O.R.S.E. - Brandon Nicholson wins first ring along with 8,593.
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #10: $600 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Max - David Hengen secures third ring to go along with $24,364.
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #11: $1,125 No-Limit Hold'em - Guillermo Vargas secures first win after coming up short in Event #1.
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #12: $1,700 No-Limit Hold'em Main Event - Shiva Dudani scores largest career cash to go along with his second Circuit ring.
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #13: $400 No-Limit Hold'em Seniors #2 - Ken Baime scores second Circuit ring along with $14,467.
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #14: $2,200 No-Limit Hold'em High Roller - Sergey Sergeev defeats 80 High Roller's to win first ring along with $49,518
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Event #15: $400 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo - Artem Zverkhosvkyy ends Circuit with first ring along with $14,566.
Official Report | Winners Photo | Results

Casino Champion Update

Guillermo Vargas holds strong with 82.5 points to win Casino Champion. 



About the Winners

Event #1 - Sudheer Some's road to victory was a long and arguably grueling one but the 40-year-old found a way to capture his first ring in his first ever final table appearance.

“I’m really lost for words,” stated Some. “This was my first final table I have made and am just really excited to win my first ring.”

The $103,923 victory marks the largest of Some’s career and he adds a shiny new piece of hardware to go along with it.

Event #2 - Lena Zhao came out on top of the 541-player field in the double stack event and took home the first-place prize of $21,031, 50 points towards the 2020 Global Casino Championship and her first World Series of Poker Circuit gold ring.

This two-day tournament was a true grind, with play continuing for a little over 10 hours and Zhao didn't let the length wear her down.  

Zhao came into the final day with the chip lead but went to the final table as one of the shortest stacks with only 820,000, but after a long grind at the final table couple, she got the hands she had been waiting for to seal the deal.

“I work a full-time job so I don’t get to play as much as I want to,” Zhao continued, “I only get to play the events that come through here so it feels so good to win my first ring.”

Zhao has a pretty rough work schedule but intends to continue the Circuit stop at Hammond and earn some points towards the 2020 Global Casino Championship.

Event #3 - Simon Philip navigated his way through 275 seniors to win his second WSOPC ring in back-to-back years at Horseshoe Hammond.

Event #4 - Brad LaPayne bounty hunted through 154 players in Event #4: $400 No-Limit Hold'em at the Horseshoe Hammond Circuit series. The win saw LaPayne bank $12,685 and collect 50 Casino Championship points to go along with his new piece of WSOP gold.

“I don’t really go out and play much poker,” LaPayne stated. “I normally just play on Monday nights with around 10 to 40 people, but I’ve only traveled to the series over the summer a few times.”

LaPayne’s lack of hitting the felt may have something to due with the 25 years he put into being a full-time firefighter while working as a panoramic photographer on his days off for the past 15 years.

The non-stop work life for the past 15 years has been a blessing for the 65-year old retiree, as his hard work and dedication took him to the top stages of the sports world as LaPayne states, “I rose to a level in the photography world that amazed even myself.”

Picking up his second job as a panoramic photographer lead to dream gigs for many, as he has shot 10 NFL Super Bowls, 12 NBA Finals, 8 MLB World Series, multiple of college sports and his photographs can be found at lapayne.com.

LaPayne has took his hard work/dedication to the felt, achieving his largest victory in his first WSOPC final table, earning his first ring and he hopes to continue his success.

“My wife reluctantly lets me play,” LaPayne stated with a smile on his face.

“When you look at it from perspective, I haven’t made too much money playing but I’ll take the day off tomorrow to go home and give my wife some money... then I’ll be back out here.”

Event #5 - Emanuel Manioudakis grabbed a piece of World Series of Poker gold on Monday, at the Horseshoe Hammond Circuit series. The cash game specialist outlasted 167 players in the $600 Pot-Limit Omaha to score not only his first Circuit cash but also claim his first WSOP gold ring.

“I don’t really get to play Circuit tournaments that often,” Manioudakis stated. “I’m a nosebleed cash game player but I had the opportunity to either play this or the $5-$5 cash game and now here we are.”

Even though Manioudakis’s doesn’t get out to play tournaments that often, doesn’t mean that he’s not involved in the poker community.

“Whenever I have the opportunity to play a tournament I do but I’m just so involved in the poker community as I work for Chicago Charitable Games alongside (runner-up) Ken Kaulen who is actually the owner of CCG so basically every weekend I’m working at KJ and I’m totally fine with that .”

“For a lot of us that play poker, the money means nothing. We can all burn through $20,000 no problem, it comes down to this ring because anyone who truly loves this game knows that it’s what really a holds the crown,” stated Manioudakis.

Event #6 - Lukson Matthew grabbed his first piece of World Series of Poker gold on Tuesday at the Horseshoe Hammond Circuit series. Matthew battled through 540 players in Event #6: $400 No-Limit Hold’em Monster Stack to score not his largest cash in his second ever live tournament.

 “I woke up Monday morning and out of the blue decided to come play this tournament and WOW, no one is going to believe me this is so unbelievable,” Matthew said after his win. 

 Matthew's voyage to Horseshoe Hammond has proven profitable for Matthew so far as not only does this mark his first/largest career cash, he added 50 casino points for the 2020 Global Casino Championship.

Event #7 Dragan Culafic outlasted 104 players in Event #7: $400 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or better, a game he very much enjoys.

“It feels pretty good.” Culafic stated after his win. “I’m not really a tournament player but winning the ring definitely feels nice.”

Culafic went into the final near the bottom of the pack but grinded his way the heads-up battle where he way a 4:1 underdog against Mariia Levseieva. The chip disadvantage didn’t discourage Culafic as he stayed focused and picked his spots collecting all the chips to earn his first career WSOPC ring.

Event #8 - Andy Rogowski navigated his way through a 1,039-player field in the $250 No-Limit Hold’em Multi-Bag Bonus and earned $39,827 for his first-place finish.

“It feels really good to close one out,” Rogowski stated after his win.

Rogowski has WSOP results dating back to 2012, when his first WSOP cash happened right here when he bubbled Event #3 final table.

Over the last few years, Rogowski’s volume has picked up and he began to put up more consistent results. He has four Circuit final tables in the past year which includes a 2nd place finish at Potawatomi.

“I was the short stacked all day but I grinded it out up until three-handed action where I went on a heater to win and it feels great.”

Event #9  - Brandon Nicholson won his first career World Series of Poker Circuit ring Wednesday night at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond. Nicholson outlasted 86 players in Event #9: $400 H.O.R.S.E. to score his largest cash of $8,593 to go along with his shiny new piece of hardware.

“I’m a hobbyist player,” stated Nicholson, “I only play poker once a year so I took this week off from work to come play because I love playing mixed games and the only time you can play this game is when the Circuit is in town.”

A total of 19 players returned for Day 2 action with Nicholson coming into the day second from the bottom with only 22,000 and he debated on whether he should even return with such a short stack.

“I went back home to Fort Wayne last night and almost didn’t come back,” said Nicholson, “I only had two big blinds to play but I came back to run it up and it was a great decision.”

Nicholson did just that as he ran his 22,000 up to 407,000 to take the chip lead into the final table that also featured 12-time ring winner Josh Reichard who sat second in chips with 195,000.

“I went on what you call a heater,” Nicholson said with a smile on his face, “I mean to play heads-up against a guy who has won 12-rings was just unreal and I feel extremely lucky to have won this ring, I know a lot of my friends are going to be jealous.”

Event #10 - David Hengen secured his third World Series a Poker gold ring Wednesday evening, after he took down Event #10: $600 No-Limit Hold'em Six-Max at the Hammond Circuit series.

The two-day tournament registered 190 entrants generating a $97,850 prize pool. Along with the gold ring, Hengen pocketed $24,364 pushing his WSOP earnings to just shy of $250,000.

“It feels really good. I came into this series with really high goals because I just won a RunGood event two weeks ago, so I feel really good winning this third ring,” Hengen stated after his win.

“I just want to thank both my wife and mother-in-law for their support. I love and appreciate them very much for that,” said Hengen in his closing statement.

Event #11 - Guillermo Vargas defeated an extremely tough field of 179 entries to take him $45,048 and his first World Series of Poker Circuit gold ring.

"I feel pretty good,” Vargas said after his win, “This was my first Circuit series I decided to grind, and it was really a good learning experience.”

“I had a game plan going into the final table,” Vargas stated, “I learned about the Venue leader board and set goals with the first being to win, while the second was to eliminate player’s in a particular order that had more points than me.”

“I’m moving cities and my girlfriend is coming tomorrow so we are going to Chicago to look at places and I won’t be coming back so hopefully I’ll hold,” stated Vargas who continued to say,  “I just want to thank all of my poker buddies, they know who they are, for helping me learn and helping me to get here.”

Main Event -Shiva Dudani ended his ten year drought since winning his first Circuit ring back in 2010 in Louisville after he conqured 989 enties in Horseshoe Hammond's Main Event for $258,078.

The victory was marked his largest WSOP cash after he defeated Casey Carroll heads-up, who fell just short again after finishing third in the Main Event here at Horseshoe Hammond lats October.  

I thought it would take a long time. He's a good player. I thought it was going to be a very long match, so I thought, 'Let's get comfortable,' and try to give myself the best shot to win." Dudani stuck to his game plan, and though it was a grind, he eventually wore down the talented Michigan native Carroll to notch the victory.

"I'm so excited, it's so nice to win a tournament, especially as big as this one, and in Chicago, it means a lot to me." Dudani, who has resided in Chicago for the last eight years, said about the victory.

Dudani, who described himself as a PLO specialist to WSOP officials, spoke about the difference between playing PLO and tournaments.

"It's more adjusting to the table, here. I had aggressive players to start on my left, so I thought I should play tight to start. Then I had a big chip lead, and I wanted to play as aggressively as I could. In tournaments, the momentum keeps changing, things keep changing."

With the victory, Dudani earned him a $10,000 seat into the 2020 Global Casino Championship.

Event #13 - Ken Baime wins $14,467 to go along with his second Circuit ring after he beat 171 seniors. 

High Roller - Sergey Sergeev defeated an extremely tough field of 80 entries to take him $49,518 and his first World Series of Poker Circuit gold ring. 

"I was very lucky," said Sergeev. "It feels incredible."

Event #15 - Artem Zverkhovskyy 

showed up on the last day of the series to try luck in the final event in which he came out on-top of the 174-player field to claim his first gold ring along with $14,566.

Zverkhovskyy didn’t have any plans on playing the Circuit but a few friends (Nadya Magnus & Sergey Sergeev), made it through to Day 2 so he decided to give it a shot.

“My wife {Mariia Levseieva) finished 2nd in Event #7 and after she saw the ring, she wanted to come back and try to win one,” Zverkhovskyy stated after his win.

The victory comes just a few hours after Sergeev took down the $2,200 High Roller and Zverkhovskyy was motivated to win his first ring after falling just short in Event #11.

“This was my second final table of the series and it feels very good to close it out and get my first ring in this casino, it’s really where I play most of my events.”