The final event of the World Series of Poker Circuit was a $365 Turbo, and this was players last chance to earn points on the National Leaderboard as well as win Casino Champion. It looked as if 127.5 points would be enough to qualify for the National Championship.
Kenneth Christopher earned enough points to qualify for the National Championship when 14 players remained. DJ Mackinnon was looking for a 7th place finish or better, but unfortunately was eliminated 12th place, falling short of his goal. With at least 10 points awarded for 11th place or better, both Michael Bratovich and Paul Mattioda earned enough points to have the proverbial monkey off their back.
Meanwhile, Brad St. Vincent had outlasted anyone that could catch him for Casino Champion, so it seemed as if he was just showing off by making another final table in this series. Unfortunately, Brad would be eliminated in 9th place to leave him with 102.5 points, 27.5 points ahead of James Campbell.
Kenneth would be eliminated in 6th place when his couldn’t catch up with Paul’s . Soukha Kachittavong made his second final table appearance this series, but was eliminated in 4th when his could not beat Greg Zara’s in a rollercoaster board.
Michael held a decent chip lead over his opponents when three-handed play began, and he never let go. He knocked off Paul in 3rd place when Paul’s was sucked out by Micahel’s . Paul holds over Michael the ability to see Michael’s hole cards after a hand anytime in the future due to an agreement the two made, so it should be interesting to see if that comes into play during the National Championship.
Greg was finally dispatched by Michael when his held up against Greg’s , though it was with a lot of stress for Michael as the board ran out . Michael shook his opponent’s hand and then put on the WSOP Circuit ring with a big smile on his face. “It’s all so surreal right now,” Michael told us.
Back in February, Michael was forced to choose between continuing to work in sales or play poker. “New Orleans was my tipping point. I decided to leave my job and chase points. My wife 100% backed me up.”
Michael picked up a 5th place finish in a six-handed event in New Orleans, eventually won by his WSOP Circuit roommate Cory Waaland. Michael was knocked out of that event with pocket kings against Cory’s pocket aces, but today things went differently. At the start of the final table, Michael received a full double up with a set of kings on an ace high flop, and he feels this is the pivotal hand towards his win.
Michael made his fourth final table here at Foxwoods Casino in Event #3. He put his chances at 95% to get enough points to win a seat in the National Championship, but before the last event, he thought he might not qualify. “I was real bummed coming into the event. I came into this event with 102.5 points, and I needed a final table. Once I made it, it took the pressure off.”
His biggest fans are his two kids: Emily, age 9, and Izabella, age 4. The two tell him to “kick ass” when he heads to play a poker tournament, and he can’t wait to share the win with them and his supporting wife Nikol. Michael booked his flight to Las Vegas this morning to go to the World Series of Poker for two weeks, but will be heading home to spend some time with his family before going back for the Main Event.