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Previewing the 2011-2012 World Series of Poker Circuit Choctaw Durant

Raja Kattamuri

The World Series of Poker Circuit returned to Durant, Oklahoma, for its second annual stop at the Choctaw Casino Resort. The series kicked off on Jan. 5 and runs through Jan. 22. Known as Choctaw Durant, the stop will feature 12 ring events, including the $1,600 Main Event that began Saturday, Jan. 21.

With its central location in the United States, the stop has a reputation of drawing big crowds, and this year was no different. Event #1 $345 No-Limit Hold’em with Re-Entry kicked things off in a big way as 1,219 players entered and created a prize pool of $353,379. After a few days of grueling play, Justin Gardenhire emerged victorious to capture the $62,709 prize. The win marked Gardenhire’s second on the WSOPC, with his first coming last year at the same stop in a $555 no-limit hold’em event.

In Event #6 $345 No-Limit Hold’em Six Handed, Harold “Buddy” Lockwood overcame a more than 2-to-1 chip disadvantage in heads-up play against Raja Kattamuri to win his first gold ring and the $23,526 first-place prize. Kattamuri was fresh off a victory in Event #3 $555 No-Limit Hold’em and came just shy of locking up a second ring.

In regards to his comeback win, Lockwood, a 66-year-old retiree from Weatherford, Texas, said, “This is a goal achieved. The ring is like an Olympic gold medal, you can’t measure it in dollars.”

He went on to add, “I knew I could win when I couldn’t get through stacking my chips before the next hand started. I never looked up. I was always just stacking chips, taking a quick peak at my hand and then playing. After a while it dawned on me that’s all I was doing. I couldn’t even take time to count them."

“A few years ago I won a World Poker Open bracelet, and I wanted to prove to myself it wasn’t just a flash-in-the-pan happening,” Lockwood said. “Now at least it’s a two-time flash in the pan.”

Amazingly, the aforementioned Kattamuri didn't have to wait long for that piece of jewelry because he outlasted 173 players in Event #8 $555 Heads-Up NLHE to win his second ring of the stop and a $23,475 first-place prize. As if that wasn't enough, Kattamuri final tabled Event #9 $345 Pot-Limit Omaha, where he finished in sixth place. With four final tables, two victories, and a runner-up finish, Kattamuri has secured the title of Choctaw Durant Casino Champion and qualified for the National Championship.

This week, the PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be providing coverage of the Main Event. Here's a look at the WSOP Circuit Choctaw Durant events completed thus far:

WSOP Circuit Choctaw Durant Ring Event #1 No-Limit Hold’em Re-Entry

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Justin GardenhirePonca City, OK$62,709
2Dennis MotleyOklahoma City, OK$38,872
3Patrick CarrollFremont, CA$28,528
4Aaron SaloneHaltom City, TX$21,556
5Isaac DoMurphy, TX$16,450
6Carson ParkerBethany, OK$12,662
7Daniel OrrLaughlin, NV$9,859
8Gregory DouglasTulsa, OK$7,767
9Russell BeltMagnolia, AR$6,191

WSOP Circuit Choctaw Durant Ring Event #2 No-Limit Hold'em

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Reggi TrotterArlington, TX$51,928
2Oran HaynesGrambling, LA$32,125
3Roger FrancoAustin, TX$23,711
4Mark UtterbackSan Antonio, TX$17,741
5Tyran LeeHumble, TX$13,411
6Earl MerrittPonder, TX$10,311
7Stephen SchellDallas, TX$8,007
8Douglas GerdaColleyville, TX$6,295
9Robert ManleyFort Worth, TX$5,008

WSOP Circuit Choctaw Durant Event #3 No-Limit Hold’em

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Raja KattamuriIrving, TX$37,293
2Tex BarchMckinney, TX$23,059
3Tyler MeltonWhitesboro, TX$16,748
4Michael CooperFort Worth, TX$12,371
5Jon StanleyBonham, TX$9,297
6William DukeSan Antonion, TX$7,083
7Christopher GamboaCypress, TX$5,486
8Bryce MillerFrisco, TX$4,313
9Brandy AdrianKaufman, TX$3,442

WSOP Circuit Choctaw Durant Ring Event #4 No-Limit Hold'em

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Jason SimonLewisville, TX$31,934
2Jimmy HillRowlett, TX$19,742
3Chris SwanLos Gatos, CA$14,422
4Joshua HartmanFlint, TX$10,692
5Cody JohnsonMoore, OK$8,041
6Daniel HernandezRound Rock, TX$6,134
7Jeffrey WilcoxCaddo Mills, TX$4,745
8Roland IsraForest Hills, NY$3,723
9Randy HustonOklahoma City, OK$2,963

WSOP Circuit Choctaw Durant Event #5 No-Limit Hold'em

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Dung TranPearland, TX$26,520
2David LortonMesquite, TX$16,393
3Rohit PrakashAustin, TX$11,978
4Daniel BlakemanHouston, TX$8,894
5Timothy FrazinDallas, TX$6,707
6Tonia ScaperlandaAustin, TX$5,133
7John NowakPlano, TX$3,986
8Jerry RandackRichardson, TX$3,140
9Tamper WheelerGrand Prairie, TX$2,508

WSOP Circuit Choctaw Durant Ring Event #6 No-Limit Hold’em Six Handed

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Harold LockwoodWeatherford, TX$23,526
2Raja KattamuriIrving, TX$14,533
3Angelo EvansFort Worth, TX$10,620
4Jerimiah NixArlington, TX$7,885
5Yung HwangSugar Land, TX$5,946
6Andrew RobinsonAuburn, WA$4,551
7Michael WarringtonChipley, FL3,534
8Cole SockwellDenton, TX$2,784
9John ThompsonPlano, TX$2,224

WSOP Circuit Choctaw Durant Ring Event #7 No-Limit Hold’em

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Chan PeltonCollege Station, TX$28,175
2Jacob PhillipsOzark, MO$17,421
3Kyle CartwrightBartlett, TN$12,727
4Benjamin LoganBristol, RI$9,435
5Dennis MotleyOklahoma City, OK$7,095
6Andrew NguyenLewisville, TX$5,413
7Jeffrey SauerSt. Louis, MO$4,187
8Yizhou FangBaltimore, MD$3,286
9Thomas IngramBrian, TX$2,615

H]WSOP Circuit Choctaw Durant Ring Event #8 Heads-Up NLHE [/H]

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Raja KattamuriIrving, TX$23,475
2Dustin SchoonoverFrisco, TX$14,516
3Derek SheppardFort Worth, TX$7,837
4Todd ElwoodSouthlake, TX$7,837
5Webber KingGarland, TX$3,834
6Jason GarderMoore, OK$3,834
7Steven Gurney-GoldmanNew York, NY$3,834
8Neil WillersonSan Antonio, TX$3,834

WSOP Circuit Choctaw Durant Ring Event #9 Pot-Limit Omaha

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Christopher SmithPlano, TX$22,222
2Charles DickeyCleburne, TX$13,737
3James ManningWaco, TX$10,022
4Michael CooperFort Worth, TX$7,433
5Cody CrouchAmarillo, TX$5,600
6Raja KattamuriIrving, TX$4,238
7Richard LewinsDallas, TX$3,323
8Keith WielandCarlsbad, CA$2,616
9Stephen RogersColleyville, TX$2,089

There are several events yet to be determined, and while the WSOP Choctaw Durant Casino Champion has been won by Raja Kattamuri, there is still plenty of action to be had in Choctaw. The Casino Champ, along with the eventual winner of the Main Event, will automatically qualify for the Second Annual $1 Million National Championship. That event is limited to 100 players, and so far only a handful of players have qualified:

National Championship Qualifiers

David NicholsonHorseshoe Bossier City Main Event Winner
Chris GamboaHorseshoe Bossier City Casino Champion
Robert CastoireHorseshoe Southern Indiana Main Event Winner
Mark “Pegasus” SmithHorseshoe Southern Indiana Casino Champion
Bob ChowHorseshoe Hammond Main Event Winner
Drazen IlichHorseshoe Hammond Casino Champion
Gene DudekIP Biloxi Casino Champion
Jerry MonroeIP Biloxi Main Event Winner
Michael RosenbachLake Tahoe Casino Champ
Bryan SchultzLake Tahoe Main Event Champion
Tuan PhanHarrah’s AC Main Event Winner
Hao LeHarrah’s AC Casino Champ
Freddy DeebBicycle Casino Main Event Winner
Huy QuachBicycle Casino Champ

In addition to the qualifiers, players who earn enough points on the National Leaderboard will be able to buy-in to the National Championship:

WSOPC National Leaderboard Top Ten*

David Clark137.516$47,015
Alexandru Masek117.515$125,015
Matthew Chang112.516$23,149
Orna Haynes11004$53,349
Felicia Johnico11015$22,620
Beverly Cheney107.506$27,753
Russell Ivy102.504$65,035
Gregory Joslyn9515$37,533
Thomas Cronin9504$21,396
Andrew Barber92.504$32,395

*Leading up to the WSOP Circuit Choctaw Durant stop.

Don’t miss your chance to qualify for the National Championship. There are still plenty of opportunities to play, including any of the remaining stops on the WSOP Circuit schedule.

Remaining 2011-2012 WSOPC Schedule

Circuit EventCaesars Palace (Las Vegas)Jan. 19 - 30, 2012
Circuit EventHarrah’s TunicaFeb. 2 - 13, 2012
Circuit EventPalm Beach Kennel ClubFeb. 16 - 27, 2012
Circuit EventCaesars Atlantic CityMarch 1 - 12, 2012
Circuit EventHarrah’s RinconMarch 15 - 26, 2012
Circuit EventHorseshoe Council BluffsMarch 29 - April 9, 2012
Circuit EventHarrah’s St. LouisApril 12 - 23, 2012
Circuit EventHarrah’s ChesterApril 26 - May 7, 2012
Circuit EventHarrah’s New OrleansMay 10 - 21, 2012

*Photo courtesy of Eric Harkins and ImageMasters.

Get all the latest PokerNews updates on your social media outlets. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook today! In the meantime, see who qualifies for the National Championship this week by following our Live Reporting Team’s coverage from Choctaw Durant.

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