Tulsa, Oklahoma (20 March, 2023) -
Day 3 of the Tulsa Main Event began at 12 noon with five players remaining and in less than one hour of play there was a fresh new champion who emerged with the $145,876 grand prize.
John Lopez went from short stack to champion in the span of one hour as he conquered the Main Event field of 476 to win his first ring as well as a by far best career tournament cash result.
Lopez hails from Springfield, MO and afterwards talked about his poker prowess. "I mainly play cash games in the Springfield/Joplin area and usually play about 3-4 tournaments per year." he said. When asked if he now planned to play more tournaments thanks to this victory he said "Yeah maybe so. It's more of a time thing than anything, but if I can find the time I definitely will"
Lopez's run to the ring was a wild one as he ended Day 1 as the huge chip leader as he had over a million in chips, which was much more than any other stack. He made it down to the final table as a middle stack but ended Day 2 as the short stack which he then turned into gold with the first place win.
Day 3 began with five remaining. Lopez was all in and at risk in one of the first hands of the day. But he was able to win a flip with king-jack vs the pocket nines of start of day chip leader Eric Bunch. A king would come on the flop to save Lopez and begin his spin up.
Kasey Mills was the first player to hit the rail on the day as she was eliminated by Lopez to finish in fifth place.
Bunch was the chip leader to start but he would find himself exiting in fourth place when he ran pocket jacks into the pocket aces of Lopez which gave Lopez the big chip lead.
Brandon Elmore went out shortly afterwards to make for a memorable third place finish for the Raymore, MO native.
Richard Gebhart was going for his second ring of the series and after Elmore's elimination went into heads up play which would be a battle of two players who went wire-to-wire as Lopez and Gebhart were the two largest stacks in the entire field after Day 1 and rode that all the way to the final two.
Heads-up play looked poised to be a battle as Lopez held about a 60/40 % chip advantage with the effective stack still being 75 big blinds deep. But that battle would end up only taking about five hands as Gebhart used his preflop aggression to find himself dominated by ace-king which would hold for Lopez to take the title.