Solo Las Vegas Circuit on the 2021-22 schedule awards 19 gold rings, including strong showing from international presence.

4 April 2022 (Las Vegas, NV)The World Series of Poker Circuit successfully squeezed in one home-turf tournament series for the 2021-22 season. Over the past two weeks and change, 19 WSOP gold rings were awarded to players as the Bally’s Las Vegas Circuit ran its course.

Being an eclectic city of tourists and locals alike, the Las Vegas-based Circuit encompassed plenty of international presence. Not only did international players show up to play, a handful rose to the top, coming away with some momentous victories. In all, six competitors, born from six different countries claimed a Bally’s Circuit gold ring.

To kick things off, Event #1: $250 No-Limit Hold’em featured two separate Day 1s and a $50,000 guarantee. The multi-flight event drew 454 entrants, creating a near-$100,000 prizepool. By the end of Day 2, it was Ireland’s David O’Callaghan capturing his first gold ring and $17,366.

Coincidently, all other multi-flight events at Bally’s were also topped by international players. Next up was David Baba out of Toronto, Ontario in Canada. Baba defeated a field of 394 entries in Event #8: $400 No-Limit Hold’em Monster Stack to win $26,701 and his debut gold ring.

Another multi-flight event was scheduled for the end of the Bally’s Las Vegas series. However, a last-minute amendment split Event #17: $250 No-Limit Hold’em into two separate ring events, Event #17A and Event #17B, both of which finished in just one day.

Keith Boniface, originally from Great Britain, closed out Event #17A, winning his first gold ring. Then, Austrian Manuel Lang was the one to take down Event #17B. The 26-year-old was on holiday in Las Vegas while also seeking out WSOP glory, which he found in his first gold ring.

The most prolific international winner of them all, as well as the biggest winner during the entire Circuit, was Italy’s Anrea Buonocore. Buonocore, a high-stakes cash game pro who now resides in Las Vegas, skillfully made his way through three days of tournament poker, and ultimately conquered the Bally’s Circuit Main Event for $143,229 and his first Circuit gold ring.

Event #17: $1,700 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event drew a total of 468 entrants, generating a $709,020 prizepool that paid out the top 71 finishers. A slew of WSOP gold bracelet winners lined the tournament, including 2015 Main Event World Champion Joe McKeehen, 2013 Main Event World Champion Ryan Riess, and two-time bracelet winners Jim Collopy (4th place – $47,875) and Eric Baldwin (2nd place – $88,498).

To cap things off, a Panama native, Jose Gutierrez-Marengo closed out the final tournament of the Circuit series, Event #18: $250 No-Limit Hold’em Bounty.

Other notable ring recipients included multi-ring winners who added to their Circuit gold count. Steve Foutty successfully captured his 7th gold ring, while Robert Chow and Carlos Loving each grabbed a 4th gold ring, and picking up a 2nd gold ring was Justin Matecki and Greg Hughes.

Aside from their WSOP hardware and respective first-place cash prizes, all 19 winners also earned an automatic bid to the 2022 Tournament of Champions. This $1,000,000 freeroll event will feature a field of all the ring winners from the 2021-22 season and bracelet winners from the 2022 WSOP and will run after the conclusion of the next WSOP in Las Vegas.

Completed Events

Event #1: $250 No-Limit Hold'em - David O'Callaghan defeats 454 players to earn $17,366.
Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event #2: $250 No-Limit Hold'em - Hamid Hosseinpour outlasts 178 entrants to earn $8,855.
Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event #3: $250 No-Limit Hold'em - Justin Matecki defeats 173 players to earn $8,705.
Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event #4: $400 NLH Double Stack - Christopher Paolino outlasts 235 entrants to earn $17,871.
Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event #5: $400 Omaha 8 or Better - Max Thain defeats 149 players to earn $12,792.
Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event #6: $400 No-Limit Hold'em Black Chip Bounty - Lucas Wiggins outlasts 149 entrants to earn $8,919.
Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event #7: $400 H.O.R.S.E. - Robert Chow defeats 156 players to earn $13,494.
Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event #8: $400 NLHE Monster Stack - David Baba defeats 394 players to earn $26,701
Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event #10: $400 Pot-Limit Omaha - Steve Foutty defeats 104 players to earn $9,880
Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event #12: $2,200 NLH High Roller - Andrew Rodgers defeats 98 players to earn $57,001
Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event #13: $1,700 NLH Main Event - Andrea Buonocore defeats 468 players to earn $143,229
Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event #14: $600 NLH Double Stack - Carlos Loving defeats 168 players to earn $21,741
Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event #15: $400 No-Limit Hold'em - Greg Hughes defeats 137 players to earn $12,056
Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event #16: $400 O/E (Omaha 8 and Stud 8) - Dan Gannon defeats 83 players to earn $8,299
Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event #17A: $250 No-Limit Hold'em (1 Day) - Keith Boniface defeats 76 players to earn $4,761
ReportWinner Photo | Results

Event #17B: $250 No-Limit Hold'em (1 Day) - Manuel Lang defeats 108 players to earn $6,121
Report | Winner Photo | Results

Event #18: $250 NLH Bounty - Jose Gutierrez-Marengo defeats 133 players to earn $5,406
Report | Winner Photo | Results

About the Winners

David O'Callaghan - “I used to play professionally back in 2005, but haven’t played in sixteen years until January this year. I came here for a festival, and this was the first tournament I played,” said the winner.

A large field of 454 players entered the tournament, but only 23 of them remained at the start of Day 2. O’Callaghan had an average stack of 160,000 that he gathered from Flight B. He eventually found himself heads-up against Taiwan’s Chun Chiu.

“That guy was really good, and it has been sixteens years since I last played heads-up in a tournament, and I felt really rusty heads-up. I actually think he outplayed me, but I got really lucky,” said the humble Irishman.

The intense heads-up match lasted for over two hours, with a series of lead changes both players at-risk multiple times. Eventually O’Callaghan was able to take it down to win his first ring, couple with a WSOP Circuit ring and a seat into the Tournament of Champions.

“Frankly, he should have won it. I feel bad for him. He played way better than me and I sucked out on him a number of times. But, you know, that’s poker!,” said the latest WSOP Circuit Champion.

Hamid Hosseinpour - “I ran better than I played, honestly. It’s just one of those things, I ran very well,” Hosseinpour described his journey to victory.
Hosseinpour is a father of two daughters and works as a dealer, and does not usually play tournament poker. However, he decided to enter the WSOP ring event after being convinced by his friend – a decision that paid off.

“I’m not a tournament player. I just played today because my buddy wanted to play the series, and I came with just to mess around and ended up winning it. I ran very well,” said the happy winner.

The run-good continued heads-up against Japan’s Maaku Tanaka, a heads up match that lasted less than thirty minutes. Hosseinpour shoved his pocket-nine’s pre-flop and Tanaka called and tabled aces. After no help on the flop, nor turn, the nine of spades peeled on the river to give Hosseinpour the victory.

Hosseinpour outlasted a field of 178 entrants to earn $8,855 and his first WSOP Circuit gold ring. He also earns a seat in the Tournament of Champions, held in Las Vegas in the summer of 2022.

Justin Matecki - Justin Matecki took down the third event of the Bally's Casino World Series of Poker Circuit. The win was the New Jersey native's second in less than a month after taking down the $600 No-Limit Hold’em Mystery Bounty at the Isle Casino Pompano Park WSOP Circuit in February.

When asked about his sudden success, Matecki attributes it to quitting his job as a financial analyst to focus full-time on poker.

“I just recently quit my job and started playing full-time. This is the first time that I have been able to go out and grind these Circuits. It’s been going well. I have been focusing on my short stack ranges, and my blind versus blind play. And it has been working out for the most part,” said Matecki. 

173 players entered the one-day event, but only 9 remained six hours into Day 1. Washington’s Patrick Holl was the first player to get eliminated, and John Burke, out of California, joined him shortly after. Matecki eventually found himself heads-up against veteran player Frank Kearns.

“I was running well and kept catching hands that had good enough equity to continue bluffing with. He played great, I am not trying to knock him,” said Matecki when asked if felt like he had an edge on his heads-up opponent.

Christopher Paolino - “It feels good, I have never had a ring before. I had a monster stack the whole way and ran pretty good, to be honest. I kept running hot at the final table and was able to take it down,” Paolino summarized.

236 players entered the $400 Double Stack, but only 15 remained at the start of Day 2. Paolino had accumulated a massive stack of 1,500,000 in Day 1, almost half a million more than his closest competitor. The 39-year-old held on to the lead for all of Day 2, and eventually found himself heads-up against bracelet winner Dana Castaneda. 

Paolino came to Las Vegas in November after winning a $50 satellite to earn a 2021 WSOP Main Event seat. His Main Event adventure lasted until Day 3, and although he finished outside the money, the experience made him stay in Las Vegas to pursue poker full-time.

“This was my first ever WSOP ring event. My roommate convinced me to play. I’m a cash grinder and don’t really play tournaments that often. But I’m happy I did,” Paolino said after grabbing his first ring.

Max Thain - “I’ve had no positive results in my career as a tournament player, and then my first win gives me a ring! This thing is amazing and I get to play in the Tournament of Champions at the World Series. It’s incredible, I can’t wait to play that tournament,” said the happy winner.

Thain maneuvered a field of 149 entrants on his road to victory. The event attracted several previous ring winners, including Jorge Alba, three-time ring winner Allen Kessler, and eight-time ring winner Roland Israelashvili.

With the victory, Thain adds $12,791 to his career earnings, coupled with his first WSOP Circuit gold ring. He also earns a seat in the Tournament of Champions, held in Las Vegas in the summer of 2022.

Thain, out of Texas, plays poker for a living and just became a father. Luckily, he was able to come to Vegas to take a stab at the Circuit ring.

“I just had a child, so it is hard to get time to play. But my wife is amazing and let me come out here for a couple of days, and now I got the W. But now, I will obviously be here for the Tournament of Champions, I can’t wait,” said the latest World Series of Poker Circuit Champion.

Lucas Wiggins - “It feels good and reliving. I was pretty nervous because I usually don’t make it this far. I usually play $1-3 cash, so this is a lot bigger than what I’m used to,” Wiggins said after earning his fist tournament victory. 

Wiggins is born in Forth Worth, Texas, and worked as a middle school teacher before deciding to move out to Vegas to pursue his poker dream.

“I was a middle school teacher in Texas and quit that to take a shot at poker and grind low stakes. I might go back to teaching some day, but I’m just doing this for now,” said the winner.

Foutty ended up finishing in fourth place, and Mai joined him at the rail shortly after. Wiggins eventually found himself heads-up against Terry – a battle that lasted for under 30 minutes before Wiggins could take it down.

“He was good. He applied the pressure and I felt like he ran bad while I kept flopping big hands. So yeah, he was good and I felt lucky,” said the humble winner.

Robert Chow - “It’s been a while, and I’m really happy. I have been playing a lot of mixed games and I have been really practicing on my mixed game. So I’m really happy that I got my first ring that is not a hold’em,” said the happy winner.

Chow’s earned his first ring after winning the $1,600 Main Event at the Horseshoe Hammond Casino in 2011. The top prize of $393,583 is still to this day one of the largest cashes in the WSOP Circuit history. 

Many years have gone by since his first win, and Chow admits that the game have changed a lot since then.

“The game is tougher across the board nowadays. Everything has got tougher. Way back when, when I started playing, it was always five-six people at the table that did not know that much. Nowadays, you’re lucky to find one person that doesn’t know how to play. It is harder to play now, and that is why it’s more satisfying to actually win it,” Chow explained.

David Baba - David Baba emerged victorious in the $400 No-Limit Hold'em Monster Stack event at the Bally's Casino World Series of Poker Circuit. 

“This was my first live poker win, it feels awesome. I have come close to winning before, I got second in a Circuit event in Montreal. I finished second in a High Roller, I was really close, and I was really disappointed, so I’m really happy now,” said the happy winner.

Baba was born in Toronto, Canada, but spends a lot of time in Las Vegas playing poker full-time. After his second-place finish ($89,361) in the WSOP International Circuit in Montreal, the Canadian decided to dedicate some time to improve his heads-up play, to avoid another disappointing runner-up heartbreak. 

“I have been studying heads-up quite a bit lately because I don’t want to finish second again. So I thought to myself that ‘I better improve that part of my game’,” the winner explained. 

The dedication seemed to pay off, as Baba was able to beat Moody after less than thirty minutes of heads-up action to earn his first ring. After the win, the Toronto native wanted to give credit to his supportive family back home.

“I want to thank everyone who has supported me, especially my parents. They have been very supportive with my chosen path, and that has helped me a lot,” said the latest WSOP Circuit champion.

Steve Foutty - Steve Foutty took down the $400 Pot-Limit Omaha event at the Bally's Casino World Series of Poker Circuit. The win was the circuit phenom’s seventh WSOP victory, and twenty-fifth final table of his career.

“I do not have a recipe for success. I put in a lot of volume. I don’t think I’m that good, but I don’t think I’m bad either,” Foutty said.

The event was scheduled to be a two-day adventure, but the field of 104 players quickly dwindled down to final table six hours into Day 1. Foutty started heads-up play with a convincing 4 to 1 chip lead and was able to hold onto it for the win.

Foutty cashed his first WSOP event in 2008 and has become a seasoned veteran with 90 WSOP cashes over the years, and he admits that the game is evolving fast and that he needs to work hard to evolve with it.

“Everything is different. They game is evolving every day, every minute, and every hour. And I have to make myself fit in between all of it. I’m trying to rely on my live reads, and I know that the players that play better fundamental poker than I do will have more success long-term, but I like my chances at any tournament,” said the winner.

Andrew Rodgers - The largest buy-in tournament at the World Series of Poker Circuit at Bally’s Las Vegas reached a champion late Sunday night. It was Andrew Rodgers has who conquered a skilled field of 98 entrants in Event #12: $2,200 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller to win his first gold ring, cash prize of $57,001, and a seat in the Tournament of Champions.

Rodgers was pretty reserved throughout the High Roller’s totality. But, when the final card was dealt, he let out a burst of enthusiasm and for good reason.

“It’s the biggest tournament I’ve ever won in my life, so I was excited,” said Rodgers who has only recently delved into the professional poker lifestyle.

“I lost my job about two months ago and moved to Vegas. I’ve been playing for about two months now. I was going to give it a six month try and see how it goes,” explained Rodgers.

Taking down the largest payday of his career, and up against some heavy hitters, nonetheless, bodes very well for Rodgers’ career change so far.

Andrea Buonocore - The 2021/2022 World Series of Poker Circuit has crowned a new champion at Bally's Las Vegas in the $1,700 Main Event as Andrea Buonocore emerged victorious, claiming him first WSOP Circuit Ring and the top prize of $143,229 along with a seat in the tournament of Champions.

Buonocore started from the bottom but has climbed the ladder and now play high stakes cash games regularly. He has been rarely playing tournaments, but he decided to take a shot at the Main Event last minute after his game went down.

"It feels amazing. I haven't played tournaments in a long time. I've been only playing cash games. I was playing my regular 100/200 game in Bobby's room. It wasn't really a good game and the game broke, so I wasn't sure what to do next. I checked online and saw they had this tournament, so I registered very late. I went deep and everything went my way."

It wasn't a smooth ride to the top for the experience professional. Indeed, he started the final day sitting in the middle of the pack of the five finalists and dropped to the bottom not long after taking his seat when he doubled Baldwin up with a flopped set against Baldwin's flopped straight. He wouldn't give up without a fight though and claimed his chips back from Baldwin not long after. He eventually took over the lead after making a great read to eliminate Jim Collopy in fourth place with ace-high and a flush draw, after Collopy shoved on the turn with a straight flush draw.

"I made a good call. I called with ace-high and a flush draw after he shoved on the turn two times the pot. I was pretty sure about what he had because I saw him play hands earlier, so I put him on a big draw. Of course, if I lost the pot, I wouldn't have been left with much but I knew that I was ahead with my ace."

Carlos Loving - A multi-ring winner added to his World Series of Poker gold count on Wednesday at the Bally’s Las Vegas Circuit. Carlos Loving, three-time gold ring winner, topped 168 entries in Event #14: $600 No-Limit Hold’em Double Stack to claim his fourth Circuit title and $21,741. The tournament took two days to reach a conclusion and, all in all, Loving had a stress-free ride to the top.

Loving, originally from Florida, is now living in Las Vegas. The Poker Pro has two gold-ring victories in his home state, one at Ameristar in Missouri, and now a Circuit title from his new residence. Additionally, his recent win was a bit more meaningful than the rest.

“This one is very special to me because I wanted to win it for my grandmother. She just passed, and today is my grandfather’s birthday,” mentioned Loving.

Greg Hughes - Greg Hughes has seized his second World Series of Poker Circuit gold ring and $12,056 Wednesday evening by taking down Event #15: $400 No-Limit Hold'em. The tournament drew 137 entries and finished in just one day in the Bally's poker room.

Hughes now lays claim to two Circuit titles, both of which have come from turbo-style tournaments in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Arizona native won his first gold ring back in 2020 at the Rio Las Vegas Circuit. The second achievement brought confirmation to Hughes.

“It’s validation. It’s the second one so, you know, it’s kind of like you worry about that first one being a fluke,” explained Hughes. “The second one kind of gives you that ‘ok I got two now.’ But yeah, it feels good, feels great.”

Dan Gannon - A new winner was crowned on Friday at the Bally's Las Vegas Circuit series. Dan Gannon was the player to close out Event #16: $400 O/E, which had 83 entrants, to win his first World Series of Poker gold ring, $8,299, and a seat to the Tournament of Champions.

“I’ve always wanted to win some more trophies, in general. And one of my good friends [Patrick Lacey] won a ring last year and I think I’m better at poker than him, so I wanted to catch him,” Gannon said with a smile.

The tournament took two days to finish and entailed two games, Omaha 8 or Better and Seven Card Stud 8 or Better. Mixed game ring events are rare to see on Circuit schedules. Although Gannon proclaimed his strongest game is still No-Limit Hold’em, the 32-year-old can clearly hold his own in alternate, poker game types.

“I really enjoy the non-Hold’em tournaments. I try to come out for them. There’s so few,” Ganon stated. “I enjoy getting these opportunities to practice these other games. I think I’m pretty good at them, but I have a long way to go.”

The achievement marked Gannon’s 21st cash with the WSOP, putting his earnings just over $130,000. Although Gannon is now spending most of his time focusing on his career in Data Science, the Chicago native used to play poker for a living and still finds time to hit the felt when he can.

Keith Boniface - Event #17: $250 No-Limit Hold'em (2 Flights) at the World Series of Poker Circuit series at Bally’s Las Vegas underwent an alteration after a small field showed up for what was supposed to be the first of two starting legs. An official ruling split the two Day 1s into two separate, one-day tournaments instead, creating Event #17A and #17B.

A small group of 76 players registered for Event #17A and by the end of the night it was Keith Boniface scoring his first WSOP gold ring in the impromptu one-day tournament. The 67-year-old from England also took home $4,761 and earned a seat to the 2022 Tournament of Champions.

The switch to a one-day event was welcomed by Boniface who moved to Henderson, Neveada about six years ago.

“I’m quite happy with a one-day event. Being old and senile, I struggle to play 12, 14 hours,” said Boniface.

The day still went long for Boniface who focuses a bit more on his poker game now that he is retired.

Manuel Lang - Austria’s Manuel Lang recorded his first World Series of Poker victory Saturday night at the Bally’s Las Vegas Circuit series. The 26-year-old from Vienna ultimately conquered a field of 108 entrants in Event #17B: $250 No-Limit Hold'em to win the first-place prize of $6,121, a seat to the Tournament of Champions, and his first WSOP gold ring.

“I was making a bit of holidays here,” said Lang following his achievement. “I came here mainly because of the glory, the ring. It’s a cool tournament and I like the WSOP tournament formats. I’m hanging out in Vegas for a while,” he added.

Lang is a gambler at heart and enjoys card games. These passions led the young gun to play poker for a living briefly, and mostly online. It has also led him to a new, mobile-based venture that he has recently embarked on.

“I was professional for two years. Now, I kind of moved in a different direction, having an own company,” explained Lang. “It’s also card games, on the mobile apps. It’s mainly Austrian card games. It’s a really, really old game. It’s from the 18th century and it’s called Schnopson.” - Schnopson Cash

Jose Gutierrez-Marengo - Jose Gutierrez-Marengo rose in celebration as the final card of the final event at the Bally’s Las Vegas Circuit was dealt. The Panama native, now living in Las Vegas, hit an ace on the river to seal his victory, winning his first-ever World Series of Poker gold ring.

“I think it’s so meaningful because I’ve been playing quite a bit,” said Gutierrez-Marengo. “I can think I can play, but I didn’t know I could go all the way, so it’s just surreal at the moment.”

Gutierrez-Marengo moved to Las Vegas to delve into the poker world. However, after a rough go at the 2021 WSOP, he embarked on some alternate careers. The 40-year-old now works three different jobs. Luckily Event #18 fit into his scheduled so Gutierrez-Marengo could claim victory because he has still been putting in the effort to excel at poker.

“I’ve just been watching all these grinders,” Gutierrez-Marengo mentioned, referring to studying he has pursued to improve his game. He added some of his thought process too. “As long as I just keep learning and get out of my bad ways, I think that I can do something.”

Through meticulous final-table play, solid lay downs, and of course a string of good luck, Gutierrez-Marengo reached the WSOP winner’s circle. Along with the gold ring, Gutierrez-Marengo pocketed the top prize of $5,406, and earned an automatic seat in the 2022 Tournament of Champions.