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2011 WSOP Rookie Roundup: Kyle Cartwright

Kyle Cartwright

If you don’t know Kyle Cartwright, then you haven’t been paying attention to the 2010-2011 World Series of Poker Circuit. Cartwright burst onto the poker scene in February when he traveled to the WSOP-Circuit stop at Harrah’s Tunica. With less than $2,000 to his name, Cartwright decided to take a shot at a few ring events, which was quite the ambitious plan considering that he had never before played in a major tournament. To say that Cartwright experienced a Cinderella experience would be an understatement.

By the end of the stop, Cartwright had played four events and claimed the gold ring in two, resulting in $56,789 in prize money. Winning two out of four tournaments was simply an amazing feat, which locked up the “Casino Championship” and a guaranteed spot in the WSOP-C National Championship. As if that wasn’t enough, Cartwright traveled to the WSOP-C Harrah’s St. Louis and entered the $1,600 Main Event. That event drew 449 players and created a $646,762 prize pool, the largest poker tournament prize pool in Missouri state history. Amazingly, Cartwright captured that title, too, along with the $142,290 first-place prize.

That means that within three months, Cartwright captured three WSOP-C gold rings and $199,830 in cashes. Not too bad considering that the record for most rings is four, shared between Mark “Pegasus” Smith and Men “The Master” Nguyen. What’s more, he did so against some pretty stiff competition that included Chris Viox, Greg Raymer, Dennis Phillips, T.J. Cloutier, and Dwyte Pilgrim, all of whom Cartwright outlasted in his big Main Event win.

Speaking of Pilgrim, poker experts have already drawn comparisons between him and Cartwright. Both have three rings and have found amazing success on the WSOP-C. With Pilgrim graduating to the big leagues, courtesy of a World Poker Tour win at the Borgata Poker Open, the role of WSOP-C poster boy seems to have fallen on Cartwright.

While the 23-year-old Cartwright has been of legal age to play in Vegas for a couple of years, this will be his first jaunt to the World Series of Poker. We had the opportunity to ask the University of Memphis graduate about his summer plans: “Well, I’m flying out for the [National Championship] freeroll on May 26 and staying until June 13. I’m definitely going to play most of the $1k and $1,500s. I'm going to try to satellite into some $5ks and maybe some $10ks. Still debating on the Main Event, but if I do play it I’m going to fly home [to Tennessee] then go back.”

Clearly, Cartwright is an early favorite in the 100-player National Championship where he will have a shot at winning his first WSOP bracelet. If he manages to do so, or even makes a decent cash, you can be sure that the number of events he plays this summer will go up. The only concern is that Cartwright didn't experience the usual run of good luck when he was last in Las Vegas, which was for the WSOP-C stop at Caesars Palace. In fact, he played four events and didn't make a single dinner break. Not a good precedent to set in Sin City.

The recent WSOP-C stop at Caesars Palace notwithstanding, Cartwright clearly has a knack for no-limit hold'em, which is complemented by the favor of lady luck. Combine that with the fact that he has nothing to lose (heck, he only had $2,000 to his name a few months ago), and Cartwright will certainly be a force in the no-limit hold’em events at this year’s WSOP.

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