Bell Gardens, California (March 11, 2023) - What was supposed to be the second of three days of play before crowning a champion here in the Bicycle Casino WSOP Circuit $1,700 Main Event turned into an early coronation for Tae Gon Kim of Los Angeles, who took home the title in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Kim came out on top of the 338 entry field to earn a career-best tournament score of $111,075, a prestigious WSOP Circuit ring, and entry into the WSOP Tournament of Champions this summer at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

After 15 hours of play, Kim quickly finished off runner-up Santiago Cortijo in a short heads-up match to claim his first major tournament title in just his 2nd tournament cash, the first of which came at the 2021 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas when he cashed for $2,625 in the Closer event.

With his massive score, the L.A. cash scene regular is excited to play in more tournaments.

“Yeah, definitely! How could I not play more tournaments after this one.”

Though when asked if he had any big plans with the money, Kim was quick to remember his poker roots.

“It’s probably going to be donated back to the cash game pool in Los Angeles,” Kim joked. “Hopefully not, but yah that’s where it’s going, cash tables.”

Final Table Results

1. Tae Gon Kim - $111,075
2. Santiago Cortijo - $68,655
3. Peter Cross - $49,410
4. Mats Gavatin - $36,115
5. Ari Shin - $26,810
6. Andy Ghebre - $20,220
7. Sean Yu - $15,500
8. Travis Tachibana - $12,075
9. Michael Ung - $9,565

Day 2 Action

The day began with a very pleasant surprise for the 54 returning players who thought they would have to play a short bubble to get into the money with 51 left.

However, tournament staff decided to surprise them by announcing at the start of play that they had adjusted the payout structure of the $512,070 prize pool and that all of them would be in the money immediately.

With a $2,415 min-cash locked up without the stress of a bubble, eliminations came fast and furiously from the get-go. By the time the first break was reached after two hours of play, 20 players had already been eliminated, including maybe the most high-profile name in the field, Phil Laak, who fell in 38th place for $2,485.

One of the biggest stacks to start the day, Day 1A chip leader Kyle Prior fell just before the three-table redraw, and the biggest stack at the start of the day, Marc Weinstein was eliminated at an even more significant milestone as he bubbled the unofficial final table, busting in 11th place for $7,705.

Once the final table was set, it was Kim who held the chip lead, thanks in part to a couple of large pots with two tables remaining, as he busted Ed Alikhani and Liya Gerasimova en route to having a million chips more than his next closest opponent among the final ten.

From there, Kim continued to play the role of executioner, scoring four of the first five eliminations at the final table, including that of eight-time Circuit ring winner Sean Yu.

The end of level 26 was reached with five players remaining, and while that was the scheduled stopping point for the night, tournament staff allowed the players to continue in hopes of finishing up a day early.

It was at this point that the rollercoaster began for the eventual champion, as Kim lost his chip lead and actually fell to the short stack at one point during a lengthy stretch of four-handed play.

Kim persevered though and eliminated Mats Gavatin in 4th place to regain his chip lead, and then extended it before Cortijo felted Peter Cross in 3rd place.

From there, Kim made short work of Cortijo heads-up to win the title.

This concludes our coverage of the Main Event here at the Parkwest Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, California. Keep your browsers close to WSOP.com for upcoming coverage of the WSOP Circuit stop next week from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma.