The first of 11 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit tournaments at Harrah’s Atlantic City was a smashing success over the weekend, breaking an all-time attendance record for the resort. The record going into Saturday was 1,181 players, which was set in 2008, but 1,250 entrants came from all over the East Coast to participate, generating a prize pool of $363,750 for the $300 buy-in event.
“We’re really excited for having set this record,” said Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City Poker Director John Arthur. “We got it right this year with the structures and everything else we have put into place for the Circuit and hope to continue having great numbers through the rest of the series.”
The first WSOP Circuit gold ring of the series was awarded to Christopher Rivers, a network engineer from Atlanta, Georgia. The 24-year-old won Event #1 for $64,565 after navigating through the record field, the biggest score ever for the amateur.
Rivers entered the final table as the second shortest stack, but was able to chip up and find himself heads-up against Maryland’s Matthew Diggs, who began the final table as the shortest stack. The heads-up match got underway shortly after 3:00am Monday with the players holding nearly identical stacks.
The decisive hand of the match came when the two got all of their chips in on a flop of 6c-5s-4c. Diggs, who had moved all-in, showed 2s-4h, while Rivers turned over pocket jacks after calling the bet. A queen on the turn and 10 on the river changed nothing, leaving Diggs with seven big blinds.
“The last couple of times I limped, he raised,” Rivers said of the hand that crippled Diggs. “So, I decided to limp with jacks and though I hoped he would play me aggressive after the flop, was worried about him drawing out on me, but I eventually called.”
The final hand of the tournament happened just minutes later, with Diggs all-in with K-10 against Rivers’ K-Q. Diggs was unable to improve, sending the title and the ring to the Atlanta native. “Oh man, this is great, I’m very excited,” Rivers added after the win.
Here’s a look at the results from the final table:
1. Christopher Rivers – $64,565
2. Matthew Diggs – $23,654
3. Greg Joslyn – $17,256
4. Ryan Moylan – $22,188
5. Jason “Bear” Alexander – $16,932
6. Don Huang – $13,033
7. Gregory Spurdis – $10,148
8. Geoff Desobry – $7,995
9. Chao Lin – $6,372
The $10,000 buy-in Regional Championship kicks off on December 19th from Harrah’s Atlantic City. The four-day flagship event will be nationally televised and is expected to draw several of the game’s top players.
All of the 11 events at Harrah’s Atlantic City count for the National Championship point system, which was implemented this year. One-hundred players will qualify for the season-ending televised WSOP Circuit National Championship at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, giving them a shot at a WSOP bracelet and a prize pool of $1,000,000. The full list of WSOP Circuit stops and qualifications for the 2010-11 WSOP Circuit National Championship can be found at WSOP.com.