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After battling through the 99 World Series of Poker Circuit All-Stars who had qualified for the event – and 57 more WSOP Player of the Year contenders who bought in for $10,000 to the million dollar freeroll – Ryan Eriquezzo emerged as the victor of the WSOP National Championship last night at the Rio in Las Vegas.

The eight players returned from Sunday’s action ready to determine a champion with WSOPC qualifier Yung Hwang holding a sizeable lead over the final table:

1. Yung Hwang, 1.224 million – WSOPC qualifier
2. Matt Keikoan, 957K – WSOP POY contender
3. Sam Stein, 651K – WSOP POY contender
4. Ryan Eriquezzo, 474K – WSOPC Caesars Atlantic City champion
5. Nikolas Stone, 471K – WSOPC Harrah’s St. Louis champion
6. Huy Nguyen, 331K – WSOPC qualifier
7. Amanda Musumeci, 322K – WSOPC qualifier
8. David “ODB” Baker, 281K – WSOP POY contender

With the final preliminary bracelet of the 2012 WSOP on the line – as well as a six figure payday – the players wasted little time in getting down to business. Nguyen would make an early move when, on a K 8 A♠ 10♠ 7♣ board, Musumeci would put a 87K bet out, which Nguyen called. When he tabled A♠ K♠ (flopped two pair, missed flush), Musumeci could only toss her A 10 (flopped flush draw that missed, turned worse two pair) into the muck to become the short stack at the final table.

In a tough spot, Musumeci pushed her meager holdings all in on four occasions, with the first three working out. On the last one, however, she pushed all in after an opening bet from Baker only to see Stone call and Baker drop away. Stone was more than happy to make that call, tabling pocket Kings that crushed the pocket nines of Musumeci and, once the board ran Queen high, Musumeci was gone within the first hour of action.

Over the next two and a half hours, the remaining seven men would joust for position. Eriquezzo would maintain the lead for much of that time, but Stone knocked him from the top of the mountain when he eliminated Stein in seventh place. Keikoan also pushed his name into the mix when his pocket Queens took a nice pot off of Eriquezzo to eclipse the million chip mark.

As the late afternoon wore on, the eliminations came rapidly. Nguyen would knock off Baker in sixth place, while start of day chip leader Hwang would bleed chips to eventually be eliminated by Stone in fifth. By the time the dinner bell rang, four men were in contention with Nguyen leading Keikoan by over 500K in chips with Stone and Eriquezzo looking to fight back.

Following dinner, Eriquezzo did just that, pushing in twice to keep himself in the fight. Stone, meanwhile, would chip up through Keikoan and eventually eliminate the WSOP POY contender in fourth place to seize the lead. Eriquezzo would end the run of Nguyen in third to set up a nearly even confrontation between Stone and Eriquezzo – who had both earned their seats in this tournament by being WSOP Circuit champions for the National Championship.

Although Stone would take the first hand of the fight, Eriquezzo would inflict a much deeper wound soon afterwards. After Stone limped from the button, Eriquezzo three bet the pot to 95K, which brought a four bet out of Stone to 540K. Eriquezzo decided to make his stand here, pushing all in and drawing a call from Stone. Eriquezzo’s pocket Queens were in a dominant spot against Stone’s A-7 off suit and, once the board didn’t bring an Ace, Eriquezzo had moved out to over a 3:1 lead.

Battling valiantly, Stone would inch closer to Eriquezzo but could never really get back in the game. On the final hand, Stone moved all in and got the call from Eriquezzo, his K-J holding court over Stone’s Q-J. The flop brought some interest, a monochrome 4-Q-10, hitting Stone but opening up straight draws for Eriquezzo. The five on the turn wasn’t interesting, but the nine on the river was, giving Eriquezzo the straight to eliminate Stone in second and take down the WSOP National Championship.

1. Ryan Eriquezzo (Danbury, CT), $416,051
2. Nikolas Stone (Auburndale, WI), $257,119
3. Huy Nguyen (Oklahoma City, OK), $186,265
4. Matt Keikoan (San Rafael, CA), $137,485
5. Yung Hwang (Sugarland, TX), $103,322
6. David “ODB” Baker (Katy, TX), $79,002
7. Sam Stein (Henderson, NV), $61,434
8. Amanda Musumeci (Philadelphia, PA), $48,576

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