The final table of the Main Event of the World Series of Poker Circuit Harrah's Rincon played out on Saturday. From a starting field of 188 players, the final nine returned to the felt at noon to play for the title. The final table included a former World Poker Tour champion, a three-time Circuit ring winner, an amateur, a lady, and a few up-and-coming players with a shot at putting their name on the front pages. It took about ten hours to settle the score, but Seneca Easley prevailed and caught the ring for his finger and a check for more than $70,000.
The aforementioned three-time ring winner was Alexandru Masek, who had his sights set on joining Chris Reslock, Men Nguyen, and Mark Smith as the only four-time Circuit winners. That goal was put on ice very early in the day as Masek was the first player to make his exit from the stage. He had about 25 big blinds left when he three-bet shoved with . The original raiser, Patrick Karschamroon, quickly called with , and the board spelled the end for Masek. While one player was exiting, another was pumping his fist from across the room. Over in the satellite area, Mstr Lynch was sweating Masek's fate hard, and his elimination means that Lynch (who has two rings at this Rincon stop) earned the title of Casino Champion and the golden ticket to the National Championship that comes along with it.
The most accomplished player at the final table, Michael Simon, fell next — in eighth place. In 2006, Simon won a WPT event in Reno, but the baker from Minnesota (nicknamed "Doughboy") was unable to add a WSOP Circuit ring to that accomplishment. On a flop, Simon got his money in with . Narinder Khasria had flopped a set with , and the turn and river ushered Simon to the payout desk as the second casualty of the day.
The final table was male-dominated, as is typically the case, but Lori Nunes seemed perfectly comfortable sharing final-table space with the eight men around her. A 25-year-old mother from Texas, Nunes held her own for two days as the other dozen-or-so ladies in the field came and went. She began the final table in fifth place and laddered through a couple of eliminations before falling by the wayside in seventh place. She only had ten big blinds when she three-bet shoved with and was racing for double or nothing against Karschamroon's . It would be nothing in the end. The board ran out , giving Karschamroon the pot and sending Nunes to the payout desk to collect the first five-figure payout of the day.
Another hour went by before the next elimination. Hayden Fortini bowed out in sixth place in a bit of an odd pot. Fortini had opened to 36,000 (2.25x) preflop, and Shaun Walker came along as the lone caller. Walker called 36,000 more on the flop, and Fortini fired 135,000 on the turn. It was half his remaining stack, and Walker quickly put him all in for the 269,000 total. Fortini hated his spot but made the call with his still drawing against Walker's superior . The river failed to find Fortini's open-ender, and he was relegated to the rail with a medium cash to show for his efforts.
Five-handed play lingered for more than three hours, and each of the remaining men had their hands on the chip lead at one point or another. Paul Hails, an amateur from Washington, came to Rincon with $1,600 in his pocket and the "dream of a lifetime" to make the final table. Three days later, he was sitting at that final table, five-handed for the title. He held his own for a long while as the chips flew around the felt, but he finally found himself whittled down to ten big blinds with in the hole. He pushed in, and Easley was trying for the knockout with the inferior . The knockout he would get as the dealer ran a board to send Hails to the cashier to pick up his first payout in a major tournament.
Four-handed play did not linger. Just moments after Hails' departure, Karschamroon put about 40 percent of his remaining chips in with on the turn of a board. When Khasria shoved over the top, Karschamroon called, and he would soon find out he was drawing slim. Khasria had turned two pair with , and his clubs blocked some of Karschamroon's few outs. The river was all she wrote for the pro from Los Angeles, adding another California event to his stat sheet.
By the time three-handed play had dragged on for an hour or so, Khasria was down to that dangerous ten big blind mark, and Walker shoved on him in a blind-versus-blind situation. Khasria called all in with , but it was a case of bad timing as the aggressive Walker had woken up with . Khasria could not catch up as the board ran out to bring the match down to the final two players. The lone Canadian at the final table, Khasria, was awarded more than $30,000 for his third-place finish — more than he made for cashing in the WSOP Main Event in 2010.
That left Easley and Walker dueling for the title in a long battle. The two men seemed content to play small ball — very small ball — for most of the fight with string of small pots only sporadically interrupted by the odd big clash. Walker began the match with a 3:1 chip lead, but Easley quickly doubled back to take a slight lead of his own. It was a cooler of a pot that saw all the money get in on the turn of a board. Walker might have thought he had the ring all but won when he turned over for the straight, but Easley's had the better end of it.
Brushing off that loss, Walker eventually managed to retake the lead briefly, but he was down 2:1 again when another cooler was dealt. Easley peeked down at two tens and four-bet shoved smack into Walker's . That turned the tides for Walker once again, but Easley still had a few tricks up his sleeve. Just moments later, he got it in with preflop, only to see that he was once again the victim of an overpair — Walker tabled . Once more, the match could have been over, but Easley found his tournament-saving set on the river to double back into the lead in improbable fashion.
Finally, the last series of hands began to unravel as the blinds and antes became significant. Walker was down to ten big blinds when he shoved with and managed to out-race Easley's to remain in contention. This time, however, his comeback was short-lived. A few hands later, Walker found a pair of to push with, and it became Easley who was calling with . King-queen triumphed once again on the board, and this one sent all the chips to Easley.
Walker took home more than $43,000 for his runner-up showing, but Seneca Easley was the toast of the town Saturday night. He was the chip leader after Day 1, chip leader after Day 2, and was the only man left standing atop the heap of chips on Day 3. Barely able to smile for his winner's photos, an exhausted Easley collected $70,384 and the shiny gold-and-diamond ring to go with his first major title. He can also now adds his name to the growing list of players who've earned entry into the $1 million National Championship freeroll in May.
That's all from Rincon, but the Circuit heads to St. Louis next, and we've already got our tickets booked. Be sure to stay tuned to PokerNews for live updates throughout the course of the remaining Circuit season and on into the summer madness that is the WSOP!