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Monday, November 6, 2017 3:24 AM Local Time
Circuit standout ties Maurice Hawkins for all-time lead
The battle at the top of the WSOP Circuit’s all-time rings list has been hotly contested over the past several seasons. The current lead is 10, which, until Monday morning, was held alone by Maurice Hawkins.
Valentin Vornicu matched Hawkins’ number, though, winning his own 10th ring. The victory came in a $365 one-day event at Harveys Lake Tahoe, where Vornicu outlasted185 entries to win the top prize of $14,429.
Vornicu, 34, is originally from Romania, and he’s lived in San Diego for the last 11 years. His first Circuit victory came in 2011 in what was just his third-ever live event. He’s gone on to win many more since.
The Circuit’s two brightest stars share a similar reputation. Both Vornicu and Hawkins are outgoing, talkative players who find ways to get under the skin of their opponents. They tend to speak with their stacks, too; both employ an aggressive style. They’re both known for their ability to win and lose large amounts of chips in short amounts of time.
Their stat sheets are remarkably similar, too. Vornicu and Hawkins have each cashed 55 times on the Circuit, and each has won 10 rings. Hawkins has a remarkable five Main Event victories, though, giving him a considerable edge in the earnings column.
Still, Vornicu has accumulated close to a half million dollars in winnings himself. He hasn’t had much success in Lake Tahoe until now, though.
“I’ve been coming to this stop for six years,” he said, “and I’ve never made a final table. This is literally my worst stop.”
This result could easily have been a poor one, as well. Vornicu said he was down to three big blinds right before registration closed, but he managed to run up a stack and avoid another re-entry. A few hours later, he was the winner.
“Obviously, you want to win tournaments as much as possible,” he said of the rings race. “It feels great to be back as number one again. Until, Maurice… this is never going to end. It’s always going to be…” he trailed off. “There are a lot of good players right there with eight or nine.”
Vornicu cited strong competition from the likes of Vincent Moscati (7 rings), Robert Hankins (8), and Alex Masek (9). Vornicu still has more than them all, though.
“It feels good to complete the hands,” he said, holding up 10 fingers.
Sunday, November 5, 2017 11:51 PM Local Time
With 11 players left, there's a knockout at each table, and the final nine players are combining around the final table for Event #12. Here's the lineup:
Seat 1: Nicolas Rock - 1,034,000
Seat 2: Duy Ho - 620,000
Seat 3: Janet Fitzgerald - 280,000
Seat 4: Mackenzie Boyd - 51,000
Seat 5: Valentin Vornicu - 580,000
Seat 6: Ian Steinman - 407,000
Seat 7: Tiffany Yan - 440,000
Seat 8: Charles Moore - 80,000
Seat 9: Daniel Lowery - 549,000
There are implications beyond just the ring and the top prize of $14,429, too. Both Daniel Lowery and Ian Steinman have won events at this series, and both are in contention for the title of Casino Champion.
Steinman also cashed in the Main Event this afternoon, picking up 10 points to move to 62.5 total. He's 25 points behind Lowery in the race, so Lowery would secure the title with a finish of fifth place or better.
Valentin Vornicu is also playing for more than just a ring. Another win would give him 10 in his Circuit career, putting him in a tie with Maurice Hawkins atop the all-time list. His current count of nine is tied for second at the moment.
Blinds are 8,000/16,000 with a 2,000 ante in the current level, putting the average stack just over 25 big blinds. Play continues tonight until a winner is determined.
Sunday, November 5, 2017 8:09 PM Local Time
Registration is closed for the final ring event of the series, and the numbers are in. This one-day event drew 185 entries, creating a prizepool worth $55,500. That money will be shared by the final 21 players, with a min-cash worth $615.
The winner will collect the last ring in Lake Tahoe and the top prize of $14,429. Play continues tonight until they reach that point.
Saturday, November 4, 2017 11:35 PM Local Time