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Sunday, May 29, 2011 11:20 AM Local Time
Sam Barnhart is a 50-year old software analyst from Little Rock, Arkansas. Single with no children, Barnhart has been playing poker for over 15 years. How did he get so good? Simple, he chalks it up to experience. All of his hard work paid off back in February when Barnhart he outlast a field of 480 players to capture the Harrah's Tunica Main Event title for $148,612.
In an interview with PokerNews, Barnhart explained how he came to play the Harrah's Tunica Main Event, which ultimately led to him being at the final table here today: "It was the greatest experience and one of the freakiest stories. I had packed up, checked out of the hotel, was on my way home, and in a split moment decided to drop by the poker room, and Teresa [who works there] had a $180 satellite going. I had $300 left and decided to get into that, and ended up winning the single-table satellite. From there, I parlayed it in to where I am today."
When asked how he felt about playing in the National Championship, Barnhart added: "That is an opportunity that is a part of any poker player's dreams. Just like it is winning one of these rings. Yeah, maybe you're going to be a little intimidated dealing with some of the top players that have had some extreme successes, but it's an opportunity I think that any poker player would love to have."
Sunday, May 29, 2011 11:18 AM Local Time
La Sengphet of Dallas, Texas took the World Series of Poker Circuit by storm back in February over Valentine's Day weekend when she took down Ring Event #8 at Harrah's Tunica. What made the occasion so special was the fact that Sengphet captured her first ring, matching the feat her boyfriend, David Clark, accomplished weeks earlier by winning the Ring Event #1 at the Choctaw stop.
With the victory, Sengphet became the first woman to win a gold ring since Daphne Turner at Harrah's New Orleans in May 2010. Not only that, she managed to take $32,394 in prize money. Sengphet would not stop there. She amassed a total of seven cashes throughout the 2010/2011 WSOP-Circuit totaling $67,094, which earned her an "At-lagrg bid" in the National Championship. One of those cashes, a victory in a $345 buy-in no-limit hold'em event, also awarded her a second gold ring.
Sengphet starts the day second in chips and has position on the chip leader; as such, it's not hard to imagine that she'll go deep and likely equal or surpass her current WSOP-C earning here today.
Sunday, May 29, 2011 11:05 AM Local Time
Josh Evans qualified for the National Championship via an "At-large bid" after earning 140 points by cashing seven times for $85,142. His largest cash came in April at the New Orleans stop when he captured $54,644 for a third-place finish in the Main Event.
Evans is currently sitting to the left of our chip leader, Jonathan Poche, and the two are not strangers to one another. In fact, both final tabled the aforementioned $1,600 Main Event at Harrah's New Orleans. Poche went on to win that event, but not before eliminating Evans in third place. In that hand, Poche shoved from the small blind, and Evans called all in for 235,000 from the big. He was working with , and Poche's was ahead with a chance at the knockout to bring the match heads up.
The paired both men to keep Poche in front, and the turn left Evans dead to five outs. The river wasn't one of them, and Evans was sent to the rail just shy of the gold ring. Needless to say, Evans will have revenge on his mind.
Sunday, May 29, 2011 11:04 AM Local Time
The chip leader at the final table is none other than Jonathan Poche, who qualified for the National Championship by taking down the Main Event at Harrah's New Orleans, the last Main Event of the 2010/2011 World Series of Poker Circuit. It only took Poche five and a half hours to outlast all his competitors and claim the $121,017 first-place prize.
Poche started that final table sixth in chips with 656,000 and thanks to a few won races and best-hand holds, he rose to the top. With seven players left, Poche doubled with against Jacob Bazeley's to give Poche a seven-figure stack. Shortly after that, Billie Payne shoved a 13bb stack with . Unfortunately for Payne, Poche woke up with in the big blind. Another big hand in the big blind worked well for Poche with five players left as his held against Scott Zakheim's .
The key hand for Poche came with three players remaining when he was the short stack.. His defeated Josh Evans' when an ace hit the flop. The next hand he eliminated Evans, leaving Bobby Toye as the lone opponent standing in his way. Heads-up play began with both players having nearly identical stacks, but they would only go one direction from there. Poche dominated his opponent with relentless aggression, including two four-bet shoves that really lopsided the chips in his favor. It wasn't long before Toye shoved with and ran into Poche's . As was the case for all the dominating favorites at the final table, the best hand held up and the title was clinched for Poche.
Poche has spent the majority of this tournament among the chip leaders and has showed no signs of slowing down. With 26.7% of the chips in play, no one is better positioned than Poche to claim the National Championship.
Sunday, May 29, 2011 11:03 AM Local Time
Drazen Ilich of Lincoln, Nebreaska has been one of the most consistent regulars on the WSOP-Circuit this year, so much so that he earned a spot into the National Championship by amassing 135 points throughout the year. He cashes a total of eight WSOP-C cashes for $122,303, though not all are from this season. In addition, he has captured two gold rings: one for a victory in Event #6 $1,060 NLHE ($16,013) at the stop in Council Bluffs earlier this year, and the other coming back in the 2008/2009 season at Council Bluff's Event #17 Six-Handed NLHE ($32,825).
Ilich also came close to capturing his first Main Event title when he final tabled the Choctaw stop. Unfortunately for him, he ran into Huy Nguyen, who finished in 10th place and was the final table bubble boy in this event. Ilich's last hand came when Traci Brown opened to 200,000 and Drazen Ilich called on the button. Nguyen also called from the big blind as the flop fell , which both Nguyen and Brown checked. Ilich fired 310,000, Nguyen called and Brown folded.
The turn was the and Nguyen checked again. Ilich shipped for 2 million and Nguyen made the call.
Ilich needed a spade to survive, but the river was the , eliminating him in 6th place for $45,552. No doubt Ilich is looking for the ultimate WSOP-C title today!
Sunday, May 29, 2011 11:02 AM Local Time
Adam Hui secured a spot in the National Championship after locking up the "Casino Championship" at Caesars Palace back in April. He did so by finishing eight in Event #7 $35 NLHE for $3,827; fourth in Event #9 $1,090 NLHE; and fifth in the $1,600 Main Event.
Hui hails from Markham, Ontario and was the only player in the National Championship from outside the United States. He has a total of $224,078 in career earnings with his largest cash coming from the 2010 PokerStars.net Empire State Hold'em Championship where he claimed victory for $115,722. Obviously Hui has the opportunity to surpass that here today.
Sunday, May 29, 2011 11:01 AM Local Time
Charles "Woody" Moore qualified for the National Championship by winning the Main Event at the Horseshoe Southern Indiana for $99,878, which brought his lifetime earnings to over $800,000
In 1995, Moore final table the $1,500 Limit Hold'em event at the WSOP, placing third for $79,800. In February of 2008, Moore raked in over $625,000 for placing third in the LA Poker Classic WPT event. That final table included Phil Ivey, Quinn Do, Nam Le, Scott Montgomery and Phil Hellmuth – quite the colossal lineup. That same year, Moore took ninth in a $1,500 Seven-Card Stud event at the WSOP for over $11,000.
On the first stop in this season on the WSOP Circuit, Moore made the final table and went on to finish in fifth place for $21,795. He went on add four more cashes at two more Circuit stops, Choctaw and Rincon. Moore, who is the elder statesman at the table, begins on the short stack and will have his work cut out for himself if he hopes to capture the $300,000 first-place prize.
Sunday, May 29, 2011 9:42 AM Local Time
After two long days of play, the World Series of Poker Circuit National Championship final table is set. Today, the remaining nine players will converge on the Caesars Palace poker room as they battle it out for the $300,000 first-place prize and a WSOP gold bracelet.
Leading the way is our chip leader Jonathan Poche, who won the Harrah's New Orleans Main Event less than two weeks ago. He is joined at the final table by some other champions such as Charles "Woody" Moore (Southern Indiana Horseshoe Main Event Champion); Adam Hui (Caesars Palace Casino Champion); Sam Barnhart (Harrah's Tunica Main Event Champion); and Jim Anderson (Midwest Regional Champion). In addition, some other final table participants earned their spots via "At-large bids" including one of only two women who started the event, La Sengphet; Josh Evans; Drazen Ilich; and Matthew Lawrence.
Here is a look at the final table heading into the third and final day:
[H]Final Table Line-Up[/H]
|Seat||Player||Chip Count||BBs||Chip %|
The PokerNews Live Reporting Team will again be on the floor of the Ceasars Palace Poker Room providing continuous live updates of all the final table action beginning at noon local time, so be sure to stay tuned for all the action and eliminations as we look to crown the WSOP-Circuit National Champion!