Choctaw Casino Champion Profile

Chris Bowen Winner

Chris Bowen earns Casino Champion title following first and fifth-place finishes.

Tyler, TX amateur bests the season's largest 12-day series.

Durant, OK (January 24, 2014) — With more than 7,900 entrants over the course of 12 ring events, the Choctaw Casino Circuit series, which concluded last Monday, was the largest 12-day event of the 2013/2014 season. The series handily outdrew the next closest host, Horseshoe Hammond, which sat pat at just over 7,300 entrants.

That figure in mind, the title of Choctaw Casino Champion may indeed be the most coveted of this season. Surprisingly it wasn’t a Dallas area grinder like three-time ring winner La Sengphet who walked with the honors. And it wasn’t Austin resident and 2008 November Niner Ylon Schwartz either. In the end, Chris Bowen, a chief financial officer and amateur player from Tyler, TX, earned the title following first and fifth-place finishes totaling 75 points.

Bowen is an amateur’s amateur — but that’s not to take anything away from his game. He final tabled the opening event, finishing fifth, only to follow it up with a win in the record-breaking 2,867-entrant Event 3. Knowing full well he held the Casino Championship lead, Bowen, a working man, returned home to Tyler not to be seen again until Flight B of the Main Event.

He waltzed in for the second and final flight at about 11:45 a.m. Saturday, Miller Lite in hand and not a care in the world. By the time we caught up with him it was about 12:30 p.m. and he was splashing around in an 8,000-chip pot in Level 1.

“Those were profits,” he said laughing as he counted out chips to double his opponent.

Bowen’s laid-back attitude was good for a Day 2 berth, but he wasn’t able to card an in-the-money finish.

Fortunately for the Casino Championship pace setter, no one else’s run at the title had any teeth behind it. Dylan Easley, who recorded first and sixth-place finishes totaling 72.5 points, couldn’t get anything going in the Main Event and failed to make Day 2 of Event 12.

Meanwhile, a handful of contenders, like Event 9 runner up Cari Bershell, had a shot in Event 12, but finished well shy of the double-digit points score necessary to best Bowen at the top.

In the end it was Bowen’s title for the taking. His 75 points were good enough to best Easley by a mere 2.5 points and the next closest competitor by 10.

Bowen, a 52-year-old chief financial officer and partner in an electronics company, made the trip to Choctaw with three of his friends for what he says is an annual trip. The group plays home tournaments, the occasional cash game and, of course, takes one trip a year to play a Circuit series.

Bowen’s performance on this year’s vacation earned him a berth in the season-ending WSOP National Championship where he, along with the Choctaw Main Event winner and fellow Tyler, TX resident Tyler Morris, will play for their share of an up-to $2 million prize pool. Additionally, they’ll compete for a gold bracelet all under the scrutiny of the ESPN cameras.

Indeed, Bowen bested the largest series of the season, and come this spring, gets his well-deserved 15 minutes of fame.

Top 10 Choctaw Casino point earners:

1. Chris Bowen – 75 points
2. Dylan Easley – 72.5 points
3. Charles Tonne – 60 points
4. Shelby Penka – 55 points
5. Jason Brewer – 55 points
6. Sean Stevens – 52.5 points
7. Jacob McFarland – 52.5 points
8. Cody Brinn – 52.5 points
9. Michael Putaansuu – 52.5 points
10. Jed Hoffman – 52. 5 points

Full point standings available on

One Last Goodnight

Choctaw Exterior Night

With that, the 12-day series at Choctaw Casino has wrapped. The festival kicked off 12 days ago with an opening weekend 2,867-entry event. The tournament, won by the eventual Casino Champion Chris Bowen, awarded better than $122,000 and a gold ring.

With the opener in its rearview mirror, the series closed with a 1,428-entry Main Event won by Tyler, TX resident Tyler Morris. The finale concluded early Tuesday morning and earned Morris more than $369,000.

Don't forget, Circuit action starts up again at Harrah's Tunica Thursday. You can find the schedule of events on

Thanks for a great series, Choctaw! See you next year.

Tyler Morris Wins Choctaw Main Event and $369K

Tyler Morris Winner

Series finale draws 1,428 entires, fourth largest in Circuit's 10-year history.

Durant, OK (January 21, 2014) — Early Tuesday morning, the latest champion of the World Series of Poker Circuit was crowned. Tyler Morris from Tyler, TX outlasted a field of 1,428 entries to win the Choctaw Durant Main Event, which was the fourth largest Main Event in Circuit history. Morris was rewarded with $369,503 in first-place prize money as well as a gold Circuit ring and a seat in the season-ending WSOP National Championship.

“I started feeling good with five people to go,” Morris said. “Everyone at the final table was so cool. It really helped out play and made decisions easy.”

The final day of play began with 16 hopefuls returning to the felt with the dream of becoming the next Circuit champion. The field was whittled down to the final table rather quickly as players like start-of-Day 2 chip leader Nathanael Kogel hit the rail.

After over two hours of nine-handed play, the final table saw its first casualty when Julie Walker fell from play. Walker, the last woman standing in the field, lost a race when her pocket tens were outrun by ace-king. She fell in ninth place and collected a $36,650 payday.

From there, Morris watched as players continued to fall. Circuit regular Michael Sanders was eliminated in eighth place and Jesse Capps followed him out the door in seventh. Two-time Circuit ring winner Joshua Evans was denied a third piece of jewelry when he was eliminated from play in sixth place.

Jeff Gibralter was looking not only for his second Circuit ring, but also his second Main Event victory. Unfortunately for the 2012/2013 Bossier City Main Event champion, that dream would not come true in Durant. He was eliminated in fifth place and forced to settle for a $97,204 prize.

From there, Preston Harwell was eliminated in fourth and Clyde Walters in third, leaving Penka and Morris to play for the top prize. Their heads up match lasted several hours with tension mounting with each all in, double up and the occasional chopped pot.

“We played the whole final table together so we were comfortable with eachother’s play,” Morris said of Penka. “He was comfortable playing back at me, I was comfortable playing back at him. In the long run I got the best of him. He was a great player, that’s why he got second.”

Morris can now boast that he is the champion of one of the largest tournaments ever held on the Circuit. He outlasted a positively stacked field that had the likes of bracelet winners David “ODB” Baker, Bryan Campanello, Larry Wright, and Eric Baldwin.

The $369,503 first prize won’t only come in handy for the professional’s bankroll, but for the young girl he and his wife are expecting in the coming months.

The Main Event was just the icing on the cake for what was a tremendously successful series at Choctaw Casino. The 12-day festival opened with a $365 no-limit hold’em re-entry event that drew 2,867 entries, making it the second-largest tournament in the Circuit’s 10-year history.

That event, won by the eventual Casino Champion, Chris Bowen (also a Tyler, TX resident), awarded a first prize of $122,567.

Final table results:

1st: Tyler Morris – $369,503
2nd: Shelby Penka – $229,194
3rd: Clyde Walters – $167,954
4th: Preston Harwell – $127,685
5th: Jeffrey Gibralter – $97,204
6th: Joshua Evans – $74,863
7th: Jesse Capps – $58,327
8th: Michael Sanders – $45,967
9th: Julie Walker – $36,650

Full results available on

Cody Brinn for the Win

Cody Brinn Winner

A victory in the final ring event and the $28K score that follows redeem a 12-day dry spell for a young pro.

Durant, OK (January 20, 2014) — Cody Brinn’s Choctaw Circuit series started hot when he worked his way through the massive 2,867-entrant re-entry event to earn his first WSOP cash of 2014. While the 255th-place finished didn’t quite earn him enough to retire on, it was surely a sign of good things to come for the rest of the series.

Or so he thought.

Brinn came up dry in each of the subsequent ring events he entered. He registered for the opening flight of the Main Event and busted. He gave it another shot in Flight B and busted that, too. With just one ring event remaining, it wasn’t looking good for the young pro.

The funny thing about poker, though, is the last hand doesn’t matter. He registered for the 12th and final ring event, a $365 no-limit hold’em tournament, set to take place at 4 p.m. the Sunday before series’ end. He worked his way through Day 1, bagging in the money and just outside the top 15 counts.

He parlayed his Day 2 berth – just his second of the series – into the final table chip lead and, in the end, a $28,186 first prize and a gold ring.

Brinn bested a talented in-the-money field that included Ralph Massey (40th), DJ Mackinnon (35th) and Abraham Araya (33rd).

For Araya it marked his fifth cash of the series. An impressive feat and in direct contrast to the series Brinn had. Though, Brinn’s 1st and 255th-place finishes are preferable to Araya’s 12th, 33rd, 42nd, 44th and 252nd-place finishes.

Event 12 was the last of 12 gold ring events on the WSOP Circuit schedule at Choctaw Casino Resort. The $365 One-Day No-Limit Hold’em tournament attracted 427 players generating a $128,100 prize pool. The top 45 players were paid.

Final table results:

1st: Cody Brinn – $28,186
2nd: Michael Putaansuu – $17,415
3rd: Dustin Murphy – $12,725
4th: Jonathan Alfonso – $9,449
5th: Lynn Samples – $7,125
6th: Michael Wood – $5,453
7th: Lise Schuessler – $4,235
8th: Archie Gregory – $3,336
9th: Kelly Rising – $2,664

Full results available on

Chris Bowen Wins Casino Championship

Chris Bowen Winner

The 12th and final ring event — which is playing out alongside the Main Event final table — is down to three players and it's safe to crown Christopher Bowen (pictured) the Choctaw Resort Casino Champion.

Bowen, who followed up a fifth-place finish in the opening event with a win in the 2,867-entry Event 3, earned the honor in the form of 75 points. He was trailed most closely by Dylan Easley whose total jumped to 72.5 following a win in Event 5.

Easley gave it his best shot, playing both flights of the Main Event and also trying his luck in Event 12, but in the end it was Bowen's title to win.

Bowen, a 53-year-old CFO from Tyler, TX, earns a berth in the WSOP National Championship set to take place at Caesars Atlantic City this spring. There, he'll compete with the Circuit's top brass for his share of an up-to $2 million prize pool and a gold bracelet all under the bright lights of the ESPN cameras.

A full profile on Bowen's feat will be made available in the next few days. Until then, Congratulations Chris!

Josh Evans in Contention in Choctaw

Josh Evans16 remain in 1,428-entry Choctaw Main Event. Click the photo above for live updates.

It's Monday in Durant, OK and that means just one thing — it's the final day of the Choctaw Casino Circuit series.

The Main Event is down to 16 players all within earshot of the $369,503 first prize, Circuit gold and a seat in the National Championship. Leading the way is Jeff Gibralter with 3,700,000 heading to the 20,000/40,000 with a 5,000 ante level.

Hot on his trail is two-time ring winner Josh Evans (pictured) as well as Michael Sanders and Preston Harwell.

Each remaining player locked up a score of $19,856, but as mentioned before, a winner's share of almost 20 times that amount is just 15 eliminations away.

The third and final day of play begins at noon. Levels are now 75-minutes in length and dinner break will occur around 6:30 p.m.

We'll bring you all the action until the final river card hits the felt right here on

Here's a look at the starting counts:

1. Jeff Gibralter – 3,700,000
2. Preston Harwell – 3,210,000
3. Michael Sanders – 2,900,000
4. Shelby Penka – 2,785,000
5. Joshua Evans – 2,515,000
6. Tyler Morris – 2,275,000
7. Julie Walker – 1,745,000
8. Nathanael Kogel – 1,625,000
9. Jesse Capps – 1,500,000
10. Robert Ortiz – 1,400,060
11. Clyde Walters – 1,150,000
12. Jonathan Graviao – 1,040,000
13. Allan Hedin – 1,010,000
14. Greg Jennings – 650,000
15. Sal Dicarlo – 495,000
16. Scott Griffiths – 495,000

Chip counts arranged by seating assignments are available on

Jeff Gibralter Leads Choctaw Main Event

Jeff Gibralter

Day 2 of the fourth-largest World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event has officially come to a close. A total of 26 levels are in the books thus far, and by the end of the evening only 16 players remained in contention for the $369,503 first-place prize, the gold Circuit ring, and the seat to the National Championship. Leading the field heading into Day 3 is Jeffrey Gibralter who bagged up the biggest stack of chips with 3.7 million.

Gibralter may not be a household name, but he's no stranger to success on the Circuit. During the 2012/13 season, Gibralter bested a field of 405 runners to win his first gold ring in the Bossier City Main Event. Gibralter pocketed $133,648 for that run and is hoping to repeat himself with a victory in Durant.

Gibralter is at the top of the chip counts, meaning that he is the closest in the field to achieving the top prize and a six-figure score. It should be noted that the top four finishers in this event receive six-figure paydays with second place being worth $229,194, third place worth $167,954, and fourth place taking home $127,685.

The day began with 294 players returning to the felt to vie for WSOP Circuit glory. In the end, only 153 of those runners would make the money. Several notable names including Bryan Campanello, Eric Baldwin, La Sengphet, Ben Reason, and David "ODB" Baker fell from play before the money was reached. Also eliminated before the pay period was defending champion Jeff Fielder. Fielder came into Day 2 with a solid amount of chips, but after a few unfortunate circumstances he was eliminated just 30 minutes into play.

During round-for-round play, the field played one round before the money bubble burst. Daniel Blakeman and Michael Eakin were both eliminated during that round and the two chopped 153rd place, taking home $1,435 respectively.

After the money bubble burst, players began dropping at a rapid rate. Among those to fall in the money were Grant Hinkle (138th), Matt Kirby (101st), Ting Ho (68th), Daniel Lowery (67th), Ray Henson (63rd), TJ Cloutier (58th), Aaron Massey (53rd), Kevin Eyster (40th), Darren Rabinowitz (35th), Zal Irani (32nd), and Joe Kuether (27th).

Here's a look at the chip counts heading into Day 3:

1st: Jeff Gibralter – 3,700,000
2nd: Preston Harwell – 3,210,000
3rd: Michael Sanders – 2,900,000
4th: Shelby Penka – 2,785,000
5th: Joshua Evans – 2,515,000
6th: Tyler Morris – 2,275,000
7th: Julie Walker – 1,745,000
8th: Nathanael Kogel – 1,625,000
9th: Jesse Capps – 1,500,000
10th: Robert Ortiz – 1,400,060
11th: Clyde Walters – 1,150,000
12th: Jonathan Graviao – 1,040,000
13th: Allan Hedin – 1,010,000
14th: Greg Jennings – 650,000
15th: Sal Dicarlo – 495,000
16th: Scott Griffiths – 495,000

Play resumes at 12 p.m. local time on Monday where Circuit Main Event will reach its exciting conclusion. Chip counts are available by table and seat at

Event 12 Chip Counts

Event 12, the last of the ring events, began at 4 p.m. with 427 players. The money bubble burst and the field narrowed to 44 following 16 levels of play.

Day 2 begins at 12 p.m. with $28,186, 50 valuable points toward the Casino Championship and the last of the Choctaw rings on the line.

Here's a look at the top 10 stacks heading to Day 2:

First Name Last Name Hometown Chip Count
Dustin Murphy Naples, FL 255,000
Zach Herrera Austin, TX 232,000
Archie Gregory Spring, TX 222,500
Lisa Schuessler Durant, OK 192,500
Jonathan Alfonso Austin, TX 154,500
Aditya Prasetyo Cambridge, MA 140,500
Michael Auterson Indianapolis, IN 132,000
Lynn Samples Bedford, TX 130,000
Mark Sebesta Austin, TX 127,500
Miguel Coy Austin, TX 127,000

Full chip counts available on

The Last of the Ring Events

The last of the Choctaw Resort ring events, a $365 No-Limit Hold'em tournament, begins at 4 p.m. Players start the tournament with 10,000 chips at the 25/50 level. Registration remains open through Level 8 while Day 1 wraps after Level 18.

At that time, those fortunate enough to survive bag their chips to return for Day 2 at 2 p.m. Monday.

Main Event Day 2 Begins at Noon

Choctaw Ring

Day 2 of the Choctaw Resort Main Event begins at noon with 294 players remaining. The tournament, which kicked off Friday, began with 1,428 entries making it the fourth largest Main Event in the Circuit's 10-year history. With a prize pool of more than $2,000,000, the guarantee was doubled and then some.

The top 153 players earn prize money with the top four finishers walking with a six-figure pay day. The tournament's winner pockets the lion's share $369,503, a Circuit gold ring and berth in the National Championship.

You can follow live updates from the floor on

Nathanael Kogel leads all players on Day 2 with 354,500 chips. Two-time ring winner Aaron Massey begins fourth with 303,000.

Other notable stacks remaining belong to TJ Cloutier, Bryan Campanello, Eric Baldwin and the defending champion Jeff Fielder.

Full chip counts are available on

Cards go in the air shortly to blinds of 1,500/3,000 with a 500 ante. Levels are now 60 minutes in length and dinner break is scheduled for ~6:30 p.m. The hope for Day 2 is to reach the nine-handed final table, but tournament staff will likely wrap play a tad early depending on how the event progresses.

All official updates from the tournament floor will be available right here on so check back with us starting at 12 p.m.

Good luck, players.