The World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event at Caesars Atlantic City has come to a close, and after three hard fought days of poker Brian Ali has emerged as the champion, besting a field of 442 to earn the $139,284 first prize, the WSOP Circuit ring, and entry into May's WSOP Circuit Championship at Caesars in Las Vegas. Like the boxer with whom he shares a name, Ali was a dominating presence at the final table, scoring knockouts left and right in a wild and exciting finale.
The tone was set early on in just the second hand of the final table. Chip leader to start the day, Patrick Houchins opened with an early position raise and Ali three-bet from the big blind. Houchins called, and when Ali led the flop, Houchins raised. Ali called, then called another hefty turn bet on the before the river brought the . Ali announced he was all in, and Houchins called, showing for trip jacks. But Ali had for a backdoor flush, and had suddenly catapulted into a big chip lead with about 2.8 million.
Houchins kept battling though, doubling a couple of times while Joe Caffrey went out in ninth when his failed to catch up to John Andress' . Another Houchins double-up soon followed, this one especially dramatic. All in with versus Albert Winchester's , it took a river four to spare Houchins, pushing him back up to an average stack.
They moved to Level 28, the first hour of which saw a head-spinning six knockouts. And five of them were delivered by the aptly-named Ali.
Winchester, having been hurt by that hand versus Houchins, was soon all in with versus Ali's , and once again pocket fours proved unbeatable for Winchester, sending him out in eighth.
Ten minutes later Ali used another small pair — — to oust Jerry Van Strydonck, this time the chips going in on the flop. The board showed , giving Ali a set. Strydonck had hopes, though, with , but the turn and river bricked for him and they were down to six.
Ali continued to land more knockout blows, next felling Jeff Rowland in sixth. He and Ali bet all of the way to the river at which point the board showed four clubs. Ali then pushed, Rowland called saying he had the , but Ali had for the nut flush at Rowland was out in sixth.
Roland Israelashvili — winner of this same event last year — then lost most of his stack to Andress after running into Andress' pocket aces, with Houchins finishing off Israelashvili shortly thereafter in fifth.
Ellis Jeff Frazier had been nursing a short stack for most of play when he finally committed his chips with but ran into Ali's . The better hand prevailed, prompting most in attendance to work hard on their best boxing metaphors to remark on the fact that Ali had added Frazier to his growing list of knockout victims.
The carnage continued when Houchins and Ali both saw a flop come , Houchins jammed with , and Ali called with . Ali's hand held, and suddenly — just three hours into the final table — they were down to two.
Ali had better than a 2-to-1 chip advantage over Andress when heads-up play began, and after a half-hour of cautious play the stacks hadn't changed that much. Andress then scored a double up to draw even, and even enjoyed the advantage for a time before Ali snatched the lead back to set up the final hand, a bit of a cooler for Andress after a turn card gave him two pair while giving Ali a straight. One card later it was over… and for today, Brian Ali was The Greatest!
Congratulations to all the final tablists, and especially to Brian Ali, WSOP Circuit Atlantic City Main Event Champion! Thanks for following our coverage. Next stop San Diego!