The WSOP Circuit Heads to Cherokee



Harrah’s Cherokee has seen strong turnouts over the past two seasons of the WSOP Circuit and is expecting another strong turnout for the first of two stops on the 2014-15 schedule. This Thursday will begin the eighth of 21 stops on the 2014-15 WSOP Circuit. The host will be Harrah’s Cherokee in Cherokee, North Carolina.

This is the third time that the Circuit will visit Harrah’s Cherokee. The Circuit has stopped at the property the previous two years and has had a lot of success drawing large fields. This year Harrah’s Cherokee will be hosting the Circuit twice. Once now and once in April. This upcoming stop will begin Thursday, November 27 and run through Monday, December 8.

Both of the previous times that the Circuit was in Cherokee the Re-entry event drew more than 1,000 players. The Re-entry event is a premier event at this years stop and it will be the opening event of the series. It features three starting flights, two of which begin Friday and one that will start Saturday. Players may re-enter as many times as they would like. The event will conclude Sunday with the winner taking home a gold ring and most likely the largest prize of the series outside of the Main Event.


Here is a look at the ring event schedule:

 Fri, Nov 28, 12 p.m.

 No-Limit Hold’em(Re-Entry) Flight A


 Fri, Nov 28, 5 p.m.

No-Limit Hold’em (Re-Entry) Flight B


 Sat, Nov 29, 12 p.m.

 No-Limit Hold’em (Re-Entry) Flight C


 Sat, Nov 29, 5 p.m.

Pot-Limit Omaha


 Sun, Nov 30, 3 p.m.

No-Limit Hold’em


 Mon, Dec 1, 12 p.m.

 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed


 Mon, Dec 1, 5 p.m.

 No-Limit Hold’em


 Tue, Dec 2, 12 p.m.

 No-Limit Hold’em


 Wed, Dec 3, 12 p.m.

 No-Limit Hold’em


 Thur, Dec 4, 12 p.m.

 No-Limit Hold’em


 Thurs, Dec 4, 5 p.m.

 No-Limit Hold’em


 Fri, Dec 5, 12 p.m.

 Main Event Flight A


 Sat, Dec 6, 12 p.m.

 Main Event Flight B


 Sat, Dec 6, 5 p.m.

 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo


Sun, Dec 7, 3 p.m.

No-Limit Hold’em



A complete schedule of all of the tournaments, including satellites, can be found on

Although the first ring event is not till Friday, the series officially kicks off Thursday with WSOP related events running throughout the day, including the Nightly No-Limit Hold’em event and single-table satellites.

The series will end Monday, December 8 with the conclusion of Event #12 and the Main Event. The Main Event has awarded more than $2 million over that past two years at this stop. Last years Main Event winner was Jason Sandling of Clayton, North Carolina. He defeated a field of 665 players to earn $204,487 and his first WSOP Circuit gold ring.

The Main Event will have two Day 1 starting flights with the first one starting on Friday, December 5. The second starting flight is Saturday, December 6. Players who survive their Day 1 starting flights will return Sunday for Day 2 and the tournament will end Monday on Day 3. Players have the option to Re-enter the Main Event one time. They can play either starting day twice or each starting day once. Players who survive Day 1A may not fire a second bullet in Day 1B. The winner of the Main Event will take home what should be a six-figure cash prize as well as a gold WSOP Circuit gold ring. The winner will also receive an automatic bid to this years National Championship.

For all of the latest action from the tournament floor, be sure to follow @WSOP on Twitter.


Gino Levrini Closes Cherokee with Final Ring Victory

Gino Levrini Event 12

Massage therapist turned poker player captures first ring and $26K

Cherokee, North Carolina (April 14, 2014) – On Monday night, Gino Levrini closed down the World Series of Poker Circuit at Harrah’s Cherokee by winning Event 12: $580 No-Limit Hold’em for $26,501 and his first Circuit ring.

“I feel alright,” said Levrini after his victory. “I’m a little tired. This took a little longer than expected. I was supposed to leave town a while back to head to Nashville but this is better than leaving.”

Better than leaving indeed, as Levrini was able to rise to the top of a 202-entry field and seize victory. The event kicked off on Sunday, April 13 and was especially attracted the attention of those who did not advance onto Day 2 of the $1,675 Main Event or were eliminated on the second day of play. The field played 18 full levels on Day 1 and at the end of the day just 16 players bagged up.

One of those players was Circuit regular and ring winner Katherine Bowen. Bowen, who racked up a fifth-place finish in Event 10: $1,125 No-Limit Hold’em, had her sights set on winning the title of Casino Champion. A heads up appearance would earn Bowen that moniker, but it was ultimately not meant to be as she was eliminated from play in tenth place. The title was then bestowed upon Juan Mendoza, who has now won back-to-back Cherokee Casino Championship titles.

After Bowen’s elimination on the final table bubble, Levrini came into the final table with the third largest stack. Levrini had to contend with the likes of Circuit regular Sean Small, who was searching for his first Circuit ring. Small fell in seventh place, though, and Levrini went on to play an aggressive game against the rest of the field.

“The final table was definitely tough,” said Levrini. “I had the toughest player (Brandon Setzer) to my left. Some of the other players I was worried about got knocked out in brutal spots, I guess for them. Once I could get past [Setzer][on][my][left], I could push the action and the rest of it was pretty much easy.”

Levrini eventually found himself heads up with Setzer for the title. The two played heads up for over two hours before Levrini finally got the best of his opponent.

“Really the only part I was worried about was heads up,” Levrini continued. “That dude is pretty sick.”

Levrini’s victory draws the curtain on the WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s Cherokee. Be sure to tune into our coverage of the next stop on the Circuit – Council Bluffs, Iowa – that is currently in progress.

Final table results were as follows:

1st – Gino Levrini – $26,501
2nd – Brandon Setzer – $16,379
3rd – Robert Hankins – $11,921
4th – Mike Jukich – $8,816
5th – Randy Garcia – $6,622
6th – Joshua Sidman – $5,051
7th – Sean Small – $3,911
8th – Melvin Lyon – $3,074
9th – Zachary Laxen – $2,452

Jason Sandling Wins Cherokee Main Event for $204K

JasonSandling Main Event

Stay-at-home dad pockets largest career tournament score, gold ring, and National Championship seat

Circuit regulars and ring winners Tripp Kirk and Ralph Massey finish sixth and seventh, respectively.

Cherokee, North Carolina (April 14, 2014) – After three arduous days of tournament poker and an appearance at one of the most decorated final tables of the Circuit season, Jason Sandling rose above the competition to with the 2013/14 WSOP Circuit Main Event at Harrah’s Cherokee for $204,487.

Sandling, a stay-at-home father who views poker as a hobby, had just one Circuit cash to his name before the Main Event. That cash came in Event 8: $365 No-Limit Hold’em just a few days earlier and was for $2,500. Now, Sandling is the newest Circuit champion, owns his first gold ring, and is guaranteed a seat to the National Championship.

Sandling came into the final table with the second largest chip stack and did his best to remain toward the top of the chip counts. While players around him seemingly dropped left and right at this quick, six-hour final table, Sandling remained steadfast in his quest for tournament glory. Sandling found himself all in for his tournament life just one time over the course of the final table, and when the money went in he had his opponent and later heads-up foe William O’Neal, drawing dead. From there, Sandling went on a tear and locked up a victory.

“I was second in chips coming in,” said Sandling. “I just kind of picked my spots and chipped up pretty early. I never got into any super big confrontations. Just always chipped up.”

Sandling, of course, was joined at the final table by couple familiar faces on the Circuit. Headlining the final day was 2011/12 Harrah’s St. Louis Main Event champion Tripp Kirk. Kirk came into the final 11 holding the chip lead and looked poised to go on a run for his second Circuit Main Event title. Kirk eventually fell in sixth place when he moved all in before the flop holding king-queen. Sandling snapped him off with pocket kings and the cowboys held up.

Also present at the final table was Circuit ring winner Ralph Massey. Massey grabbed hold of the chip lead early on in the final table but lost several key runs that ultimately led to a seventh place finish. The hand that crippled him occurred when he four-bet ace-queen into O’Neal’s ace-king. Big slick started and finished as the best hand, leaving Massey with less than one small blind. He was eliminated from play the next hand.

Eventually, Sandling found himself heads up with O’Neal and holding a substantial chip lead. After winning the first large confrontation with O’Neal, Sandling simply leaned on his opponent until he fell. In the end, Sandling’s ace-four held up against O’Neal’s all in ship with queen-eight and Sandling was crowned the victor.

“I’m going to pay some bills and save some for taxes,” said Sandling, as he celebrated his victory with his wife.

Sandling is guaranteed a seat in the National Championship, which will play out in Atlantic City on May 22-24. Joining Sandling is this stop’s Casino Champion, Juan Mendoza. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Mendoza was held this same title during last year’s stop in Cherokee. Mendoza racked up four cashes and two final tables this year, once again securing his place at the National Championship. Interestingly enough, Mendoza has final tabled 5 of the 24 Circuit events ever held at Harrah’s Cherokee.

Event 12 Final Table

The final table of Event 12: $580 No-Limit Hold’em is set. Katherine Bowen was eliminated in 10th place, ending her bid at the Casino Champion points race. Josh Sidman leads the final table with 475,000 in chips.

Here’s a look at the seating chart and chip counts for the final table:

Seat 1: Robert Hankins – 235,000
Seat 2: Sean Small – 259,000
Seat 3: Randy Garcia – 205,000
Seat 4: Gino Levrini – 360,000
Seat 5: Brandon Setzer – 457,000
Seat 6: Michael Jukich – 260,000
Seat 7: Melvin

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Lyon – 83,000
Seat 8: Josh Sidman – 475,000
Seat 9: Zach Laxen – 211,000

Final Day of Cherokee Circuit Begins

Welcome to our coverage of the final day of the 2013/14 World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event at Harrah’s Cherokee. Over the course of the second day, the returning 137 were whittled down to the final 11. None other than 2011/12 Harrah’s St. Louis Main Event winner Tripp Kirk leads the pack with a stack of 2.135 million.

The next largest stack in the field belongs to Jason Sandling, who bagged up 1.93 million. Rounding out the top three is Kastamperis Kyriakos with 1.765 million.

Ring winner Ralph Massey returns in the middle of the pack and looks to claim his first Circuit Main Event title. Massey bagged 755,000 in chips and will certainly be a force to be reckoned with once cards hit the air.

Play resumes at 12 pm, so be sure to stay tuned here for all of the latest action as this tournament plays down to the Circuit’s newest champion.

Here’s a look at the chip counts heading into the final day:

1 – Tripp Kirk – 2,135,000
2 – Jason Sandling – 1,930,000
3 – Kyriakos Kastamperis – 1,765,000
4 – Zack Caldwell – 1,600,000
5 – Erik Gorman – 1,300,000
6 – Robert Park – 1,295,000
7 – William O’Neal – 955,000
8 – Ralph Massey – 755,000
9 – Travis Turner – 720,000
10 – Harold Evans – 620,000
11 – Jason Stover – 250,000

Also wrapping up today is Event 12: $580 No-Limit Hold’em. Sixteen players will return today to vie for the final ring offered at this stop. Robert Hankins leads the final 16 with a stack of 412,000. Katherine Bowen returns sixth overall in chips and looks to make her second final table of the series. That event resumes play at 2 pm.

Cherokee Event 12 Chip Counts


Tripp Kirk Leads Final 11 in Cherokee Main Event

The $1,675 No Limit Hold’em WSOP Circuit Cherokee Main Event is down to its final 11 players and Tripp Kirk heads into the final day in great shape to earn his third Circuit ring and second Circuit main event title. Kirk ended Day 2 of the event as the chip leader, bagging up 2,135,000 in chips.

The day started with 137 players who survived their respective Day 1 flight and only 72 of those players would earn a cash of at least $2,793. Lee Childs and Greg Raymer were two of the notables who made Day 2 and failed to cash.

Robert Panitch, Bill Varga, Andrew Rothfolk, Duy Tran, Phillip Hui, Nancy Birnbaum, and Ben Mintz are a few notables who didn’t make it through the day, but managed to earn a payday before busting out of the tournament. Hui and Birnbaum were eliminated on the same hand by Robert Park and finished 35th and 34th, respectively. Park goes into the final day fifth in chips with 1,295,000.


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took ten one-hour long levels to trim the field from 137 to 11 and those final 11 players have secured themselves a payday of at least $15,381.

Joining Kirk at the top of the leader board are Jason Sandling and Kyriakos Katsamperis who are second and third in chips, respectively. Sandling bagged 1,930,000 and Katsamperis ended the day with 1,765,000. Katsamperis has the distinction of knocking out Raymer earlier in the day and playing the whole day with a signed fossil from the 2004 WSOP Main Event Champion.

The final 11 players will return to the tournament area on Monday at noon to play down to a winner. Stay tuned to to see who takes home the $204,487, the gold ring, and the guaranteed seat into the National Championship.

A look at the full chip counts and seating chart can be found here.

Cherokee Main Event Bags 11 Players

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1Tripp KirkATLANTA, GA, US2,135,0007 / 4
2Jason SandlingCLAYTON, NC, US1,930,0006 / 5
3Kyriakos KatsamperisGreenville, SC, US1,765,0006 / 1
4Zack CaldwellKernersville, NC, US1,600,0007 / 2
5Robert ParkLILBURN, GA, US1,295,0007 / 1
6William O’NealEVANS, GA, US955,0006 / 4
7Ralph MasseyCHICAGO, IL, US755,0007 / 3
8Travis TurnerWatauga, TN, US720,0007 / 5
9Harold EvansEVANSVILLE, IN, US620,0006 / 2
10Erik GormanMATTHEWS, NC, US290,0006 / 6
11Jason StoverCartersville, GA, US250,0006 / 3

Event 12 Prize Pool

Registration has closed on the final ring event of the Harrah’s Cherokee stop on the Circuit. Event 12: $580 No-Limit Hold’em drew a total of 212 entries, generating a total prize pool of $106,000. The top 24 players make the money and will be guaranteed a payday of at least $978. First place is worth a whopping $26,501 and the final gold ring of the series.

Here’s a look at the prize pool for Event 12:


Day 11 Kicks off in Cherokee

Welcome back to our coverage of the 2013/14 World Series of Poker Circuit at Harrah’s Cherokee. In the Main Event, a grand total of 137 players will return to the felt today to vie for a spot at the coveted final table. Michael Sewell leads the returning field with 427,000 in chips.

While Sewell represents the largest stack, other notable names are toward the top of the counts. Phil Hui holds 295,000 for fourth overall in chips, while latest Circuit Main Event winner, Robert “Uncle Krunk” Panitch, holds a stack of 280,000 for fifth overall in chips. Panitch is going for back-to-back Main Event victories and is set up to make a deep run today.

Other notables returning to the felt include Norman McKeldin (205,500), Greg Raymer (177,500), Daniel Lowery (161,000), Bill Childs (121,500), Nolan Burton (103,000), Ralph Massey (99,500), Cory Waaland (87,500), Andrew Rothfolk (80,000), Kyle Cartwright (68,500), Tripp Kirk (60,000), and many more.

The final ring event of the series, a $580 No-Limit Hold’em event, kicks off at 2 pm today.

For live updates on the Main Event, be sure to check out