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