Monday, November 27, 2017 2:52 AM Local Time
Florida pro turns a big chip lead into a second gold ring, $102,398 in cash
Late Sunday night, TJ Shulman added a second WSOP Circuit ring to his collection of poker trophies. Shulman won the opening $365 re-entry event at Harrah’s Cherokee, turning a big chip lead into a dominating victory and a six-figure score. He’s now claimed rings in back-to-back seasons after his win in Palm Beach a year ago.
Shulman, 50, is a professional poker player who makes his home in South Florida. He’s been around this game and others like it since he was a kid, learning the ropes from his late father.
“He played every Friday night in the game,” Shulman recalled. “I’d run around and get drinks for everybody for tips.”
The affinity for card games set him down the path of a full-time player, though he did move into the mainstream workforce for a while.
After college, Shulman became the director of operations for a large automobile chain, overseeing more than 50 dealerships. As the single parent of a young son, though, he realized an early retirement might be a possibility.
“When my son was three, I got tired of coming home at midnight,” Shulman said. “I just asked myself how much I needed. And I had my number.”
Shulman did retire, and now he gets to play the game full time and set his own schedule. As it has for the last 20 years, though, his calendar still revolves around his son. Brandon, 20, is a college hockey player, and Shulman prioritizes cheerleading over poker when the opportunity arises.
Last season, Papa Shulman just missed out on qualifying for the WSOP Global Casino Championship. He’d racked up 90 points but was unable to attend some of the spring stops while he followed his son’s progress on the ice.
“I won’t put myself in that position again,” he said.
This event was his first of the current season, and he’s already scored 50 points on the season-long leaderboard. He’ll be at Harrah’s Cherokee for the duration, too, where he’s taken an early lead in the race for Casino Champion.
His performance in the opener was an impressive one, building an enormous chip lead on a single Day 1D entry. He began Day 2 with nearly twice as many chips as the nearest challenger.
A big stack is no guarantee in poker, though, and even Shulman’s friends were betting against him. "I had three people at home with prop bets that I wouldn’t make the final table. You know, as good as you run to get there…,” he trailed off.
The regression never came on Day 2, though, and Shulman parlayed his towering stack into a big victory and a six-figure payday. In the moments after his win, he indicated the reasons for choosing this event over some of the competing ones running on the East Coast.
“Here is just better for me,” Shulman said. “It’s a different style. There’s no play in a lot of those tournaments. The WSOP structure is just so much better for me.”
This result, the second-largest of his career, moves him across the $750,000 mark in total earnings.
Final table results:
1st: TJ Shulman - $102,398
2nd: Thomas Larson - $63,632
3rd: Demetric Ferguson - $46,593
4th: James Giraldo - $35,993
5th: James Hill - $28,578
6th: Keith Henderson - $22,359
7th: Elanit Hasas - $17,536
8th: Zhengbin Lu - $13,779
9th: Omar Hafeez - $11,540
Click here for the full results.
Sunday, November 26, 2017 10:05 PM Local Time
Just before 10 p.m., the field is reduced to 10 players, and they're now seated around the final table for Event #1. Here's the lineup:
Seat 1: Thomas Larson - 2,845,000 (47 bb)
Seat 2: Zhengbin Lu - 495,000 (8 bb)
Seat 3: Keith Henderson - 1,600,000 (27 bb)
Seat 4: James Hill - 2,825,000 (47 bb)
Seat 5: Omar Hafeez - 1,300,000 (22 bb)
Seat 6: TJ Shulman - 5,740,000 (96 bb)
Seat 7: Fikret Kovac - 1,000,000 (17 bb)
Seat 8: Demetric Ferguson - 3,100,000 (52 bb)
Seat 9: James Giraldo - 4,500,000 (75 bb)
Seat 10: Elanit Hasas - 730,000 (13 bb)
Start-of-day chip leader TJ Shulman is still in the catbird seat, though a couple of his opponents have moved to within striking distance. He and Giraldo are the only ring winners at the table.
Fikret Kovac isn't yet, but he's worth a special mention, too. The Atlanta restauranteur has made the final table of the Main Event twice in this building, and he's once again in contention for a big payday at Harrah's Cherokee.
Blinds are 30,000/60,000 with a 10,000 ante in the current level, putting the average stack at 40 big blinds. Everyone left is guaranteed to earn at least $9,876. It's not chump change by any means, but it's a far cry from the ring and the top prize of $102,398.
Play continues tonight until a winner is determined.
Sunday, November 26, 2017 1:53 AM Local Time
A total of 2,397 entries were tallied during this event's four starting flights, and 119 players advanced to Day 2.
Day 1A: 202 entries (11 advanced)
Day 1B: 447 entries (22 advanced)
Day 1C: 592 entries (28 advanced)
Day 1D: 1,156 entries (58 advanced)
Richard Langdon bagged up 750,000 chips on Day 1B, a number that seemed nearly impossible to match. TJ Shulman did, though. The Florida grinder ended Day 1D with 1,350,000 chips, an astonishing number from a starting stack of 10,000. Shulman (pictured) is already a ring winner on the WSOP Circuit, and he's put himself in a good spot to add another to his collection.
The field in chase won't make things easy for him, though. The remaining group is littered with fellow ring winners and other standouts, including seven-time winner Cory Waaland (193,000) and two-timers Brandon Newsome (255,000) and Kevin Sherrill (187,000).
Other ring winners who advanced include Hamid Izadi (357,000), Jordan Meltzer (250,000), Blake Battaglia (237,000), Sean Small (227,000), David Gunas (222,000), Ryan Jones (210,000), and Warren Sheaves (95,000).
Day 2 chip counts | Day 2 seat draw
With the new multi-flight format, 127 players have already been paid out, and the prize pool has been recalculated for the Day 2 crowd. They're playing for the remaining $626,433 that's still left over, and they're all guaranteed a piece of it. The winner will collect the gold ring for Event #1 and the top payout of $102,398.
Day 2 begins at 12 p.m.
Sunday, November 26, 2017 12:41 AM Local Time
Once again, the field played down to five percent of itself, and it took 19 levels plus a few minutes to get there.
This flight was huge by comparison to the others, so it's no surprise that the overall chip leader emerged today. TJ Shulman is a ring winner from South Florida, and he's the only player who amassed a seven-figure stack on Day 1. Shulman finished Day 1D with 1,350,000 chips, an enormous number from a starting stack of 10,000.
Shulman isn't the only ring winner with chips in the bag, either. Jordan Meltzer (250,000), Blake Battaglia (237,000), Sean Small (227,000), David Gunas (222,000), and Ryan Jones (210,000) are all bunched up near the top of the counts, too.
Here's the end-of-day top five from this flight:
1. TJ Shulman - 1,350,000
2. Michael Driscoll - 702,000
3. Vincent Ciarrocchi - 425,000
4. Taweb Hessem - 349,000
5. Thomas Larson - 340,000
Click here for the full list of chip counts from Day 1D.
In addition to the 58 who advanced, these 59 players were paid out this evening:
59th: Travis Copeland - $947
60th: Bret Atiyeh - $947
61th: Connie Cooper - $947
62nd: Troy Cunningham - $947
63rd: Sivaraman Ramakrishnan - $947
64th: Mai Nguyen - $864
65th: William Anderson - $864
66th: James Dillard - $864
67th: Christopher Edwards - $864
68th: Clarence Murray - $864
69th: Bryan Dillon - $864
70th: Aliceson Varner - $864
71th: Michael Whitton - $864
72nd: Richard Jacobs - $864
73rd: Inayat Dossani - $794
74th: Benjamin Mcdonald - $794
75th: Richard McFalls - $794
76th: Gregory Masters - $794
77th: Sam Ho - $794
78th: Christopher Underwood - $794
79th: Douglas Carli - $794
80th: Frederick Baker - $794
81th: Richard Vielhak - $794
82nd: Bobby Doss - $732
83rd: Jeremy Harris - $732
84th: Robert Fine - $732
85th: Rickey Welch - $732
86th: John Sanchez - $732
87th: Lionel Crisco - $732
88th: Doyle Elliott - $732
89th: Antonio Cuin - $732
90th: Ricky Hazelwood - $732
91th: Michael Schneider - $673
92nd: Joshua Lowing - $673
93rd: Unknown - $673
94th: Scott Johnston - $673
95th: Zackahriah Jones - $673
96th: Caleb Clarke - $673
97th: Edward Tennent - $673
98th: Michael Kurimsky - $673
99th: James Holland - $673
100th: Jerry Venable - $617
101th: David Slaughter - $617
102nd: Hope Williams - $617
103rd: Paul Kang - $617
104th: James White - $617
105th: Ronnie George - $617
106th: Bobby Lowery - $617
107th: Michael Kaczmarek - $617
108th: Caleb Lofty - $617
109th: Carmine Napolitano - $569
110th: Brian Smith - $569
111th: Adam Yeatts - $569
112th: William Baskin - $569
113th: Andrew Rico - $569
114th: Daniel Lowe - $569
115th: Mitchell Smith - $569
116th: Chad Cooke - $569
117th: Erik Campbell - $569
A total of 119 players are through to the serious stages of this event, and the prize pool will be recalculated for them overnight. A huge payday and a gold ring are reserved for the winner, who will likely be crowned on Sunday.
The combined Day 2 begins at 12 p.m.
Saturday, November 25, 2017 3:38 PM Local Time
As expected, the Day 1D flight was by far the largest of the four. It was, in fact, nearly as big as the other three combined. A total of 1,156 entries were added today, bringing the total field to a combined 2,397.
That attendance number is significantly larger than last season's and easily enough to eclipse the $500,000 guarantee. The total prize pool swelled to $719,100, in fact, though the top prize is still to be determined.
The payouts will be recalculated for Day 2 once this flight is complete.
Saturday, November 25, 2017 2:10 PM Local Time
The Day 1D field is playing Level 6 at the moment, and the field has just rolled over into four figures. The board shows 1,025 entries far for this flight, making it by far the largest of the four. That brings the total field to around 2,300 entries, even larger than last season's big turnout.
There's still room to expand, too. Late registration and re-entries are available until the start of Level 9.
Saturday, November 25, 2017 3:09 AM Local Time
Right at the tail end of Level 20, the field is reduced to 28 players, marking the conclusion of Day 1C.
Elanit Hasas did the heavy lifting for this flight, bagging up the big stack of 490,000 chips. That's good enough for second place overall, but Hasas and everyone else are still chasing Day 1B chip leader Richard Langdon and his stack of 750,000.
Ring winner Hamid Izadi was down to less than a single big blind midway through the day, but he recovered to bag up a top-five stack of 357,000. Seven-time Circuit winner Cory Waaland also bagged up, ending with 193,000 to put himself in the middle of the pack as he hunts an eighth ring.
Here's the top of the Day 1C leaderboard:
1. Elanit Hasas - 490,000
2. Matt Andrews - 454,000
3. John Bearden - 408,000
4. James Hill - 385,000
5. Hamid Izadi - 357,000
Click here for the full list of chip counts from Day 1C.
In addition to those who finished the night, these players were paid out upon their eliminations.
29th: Manley Henderson - $986
30th: Claude Holland - $986
31st: Bradley Howard - $867
32nd: Kimberly Wise - $867
33rd: Rohit Kwatra - $867
34th: Robert Samonsky - $771
35th: Charles Timmons - $771
35th: Charles Thompson - $771
37th: Johnny Ogle - $693
38th: Timothy Robinson - $693
39th: Rondal Givens - $693
40th: Patrick Langdon - $693
41st: Daniel Gloss - $693
42nd: Bryant Kelly - $693
43rd: Robert Myers - $693
44th: Seven Snyder - $693
45th: Danny Wilson - $693
46th: Jason Morris - $630
47th: Chad Neal - $630
48th: Douglas Porter - $630
49th: Matthew Emmel - $630
50th: Frank Cruz - $630
51st: Danny Lawson - $630
52nd: Nam Lu - $630
53rd: Constantin Ivaniciuc - $630
54th: Tou Yang - $630
55th: David Morris - $581
56th: William Henderson - $581
57th: John Lee - $581
58th: Sean Small - $581
59th: Alexander Dalton - $581
60th: Benjamin Lafever - $581
61st: Christy Linton - $581
62nd: Richard Tucker - $581
63rd: Nicholas Stevens - $581
The 28 players who survived have earned themselves a day off from this event, joining the 33 who bagged up on the previous flights. Meanwhile, Saturday's Day 1D flight provides one more chance for players to advance to Day 2.
The final flight begins at 11 a.m.
Friday, November 24, 2017 10:55 PM Local Time
The Day 1B field crossed into Level 20 before the field was reduced to the requisite five percent, and the final 22 players have just bagged up for the night. Only one of accumulated more chips than Fikret Kovac did on Day 1A, but he accumulated a lot more.
Richard Langdon ended the day with 750,000 chips, nearly twice as many as Kovac and the other big stacks. Omar Hafeez is the nearest challenger from this flight, finishing wth 358,000 at the end of the night.
Two-time ring winners Brandon Newsome (255,000) and Kevin Sherrill (187,000) also advanced this evening, as did one-timer Warren Sheaves (95,000).
Here's the top of the Day 1B leaderboard:
1. Richard Langdon - 750,000
2. Omar Hafeez - 358,000
3. Trenton Stephens - 342,000
4. Caleb Brown - 293,000
5. Sam Coe - 278,000
Click here for the full list of chip counts from Day 1B.
There were also 23 players who made the money but did not last long enough to advance to Day 2:
23rd: Curtis Wilson - $1,109
24th: Khang Luu - $1,109
25th: Henry Peterson - $959
26th: Curtis Fay - $959
27th: Charles Cox - $959
28th: Charles Johnson - $839
29th: Ionut Pitaru - $839
30th: Julio Ospina - $839
31st: David Yeazall - $744
32nd: Chad J. Brown - $744
33rd: Caleb Westall - $744
34th: Arnold Floyd - $668
35th: Henry Honeycutt - $668
36th: Mohammad Najad - $668
37th: Steven Ruighaver - $668
38th: William Kennedy - $606
39th: Richard West - $606
40th: Jeanne Millsaps - $606
41st: Faith Bazemore - $606
42nd: Carl Gibson - $606
43rd: Matthew Bryant - $606
44th: Matthew Ramsey - $606
45th: Billy McBrayer - $606
Chad J. Brown is appearing on the payout list for the second consecutive flight. He finished in 14th place last night, so he's earned more money than anyone else so far. He's still without a seat in Day 2, though, after two near misses.
The 22 who did bag up have earned themselves a day of rest tomorrow, although the one-day Turbo might tempt some of them. They and the rest of the survivors will return to action on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Brown and anyone else without a bag is eligible to try again on Saturday's Day 1D.
Friday, November 24, 2017 8:16 PM Local Time
The crowd for this evening's Day 1C is even larger than this morning's. Registration just closed with 592 entries, which adds another $177,600 to the prize pool.
The total field now stands at 1,241 entries through three flights, with Saturday's Day 1D representing the last chance for players to advance to Day 2.
Meanwhile, there are 30 players left on the Day 1B side of the room. They're all in the money, and they're getting close to bagging up for the night. End-of-day information for that flight will be posted shortly after play concludes.
Friday, November 24, 2017 2:43 PM Local Time
The Day 1B clock has ticked over into Level 9, and registration is now closed for this flight. Another 447 entries joined the field, adding another $134,100 to the prize pool. That brings the total attendance to 649 entries across the first two starting flights, so there's still a long way to go to reach the $500,000 guarantee.
The third flight is just getting ready to begin on the other side of the room. Day 1C figures to draw another big crowd, with cards set to go in the air at 3 p.m.
Friday, November 24, 2017 3:14 AM Local Time
Near the end of Level 19, the field is reduced to 11 players, signaling the end of Day 1A.
Fikret Kovac is a restauranteur from Atlanta, and he's become a familiar face at Harrah's Cherokee over the past few years. Kovac ended the day atop the leaderboard, and his count of 390,000 represents the number to beat for the rest of the starting flights.
Here are the chip counts for the survivors:
1. Fikret Kovac - 390,000
2. Scott Billiot - 337,000
3. David Sorensen - 257,000
4. Charles Creech - 188,000
5. William Wallace Jr. - 183,000
6. Zhengbin Lu - 182,000
7. David Lee - 168,000
8. Richard Maranville - 104,000
9. Keith Campbell - 103,000
10. Michael Weeks - 93,000
11. Jerry Curtis - 12,000
Those 11 have earned themselves a couple days off, set to return Sunday for the combined Day 2.
In addition to those who advanced, 10 more players earned payouts this evening:
12th: Derrick Corpening - $1,150
13th: Stephen Coble - $947
14th: Chad J. Brown - $947
15th: Steve Glubetich - $947
16th: Fuong Lee - $791
17th: Shawn Lynch - $791
18th: Thomas Zarning - $791
19th: Jerrell Groover - $671
20th: Laura Shelley - $671
21st: Matthew Andrews - $671
They and anyone else without chips in a bag are eligible to play the subsequent flights, beginning with tomorrow's Day 1B.
Thursday, November 23, 2017 11:01 PM Local Time
The opening flight has drawn 202 entries, contributing $60,600 to the prizepool. The top 21 players from this session will earn a payout.
Action continues until 11 players remain unless the end of Level 21 arrives first.
Thursday, November 23, 2017 6:29 PM Local Time
It's Thanksgiving in the US, and for many, that provides a good excuse to play some poker.
It's especially opportune for those who find themselves in the neighborhood of Harrah's Cherokee this week. Today is the start of the 12-day WSOP Circuit series at one of the largest venues in the East.
The week begins with the $365 re-entry event, which should bring a huge field across its four starting flights. Last season's event drew more than 2,200 total entries, and the guarantee was increased to $500,000 for this one.
The Day 1A field is approaching 200 entires as the players return from their first break. It's a respectable turnout considering the holiday, and there's still some room to grow. Late registration and re-entries are allowed until the start of Level 9, around 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, November 23, 2017 3:30 PM Local Time