That’s a Wrap on Harrah’s Tunica

The Harrah's Tunica series is over following a three-ring circus on Day 12. Headlining the almost-two-week event was the Main Event winner, Jonathan Gavaio. Gavaio bested 577 entries in the series finale to earn $181,757 and his first Circuit ring. Additionally, he earned a seat in the National Championship where he'll join the Casino Champion Aaron Frei to compete for a gold bracelet.

Frei earned his seat via four cashes — second, fourth, 11th and 28th-place finishes — totaling 85 points and handily donning Casino Champion honors.

Circuit action starts up again Wednesday at Palm Beach Kennel Club in West Palm Beach, FL. More information on the series is available on

Goodnight from Tunica and thanks for a great series!

Thuy Djedjos Wins Tunica’s Last Ring

Thuy Djedjos Winner

Aaron Frei takes Casino Championship honors following 11th-place finish.

Djedjos earns $12,877 in $365 turbo event.

Tunica, MS (February 3, 2014) — Thuy Djedjos earned her first gold ring following a 10-hour $365 turbo event at Harrah’s Tunica. The tournament, the last of the ring events at the property, boasted 159 entrants and Djedjos earned the lion’s share of the prize pool heading home with a $12,877 score.

Making the performance more special for the Jackson, MS amateur is the fact it came at the hands of two-time ring winners William Byrnes (sixth) and Robert Irby (second). Additionally, she bested Circuit legend Luther Lewis who finished third.

The talent didn’t stop at the final table though.

Others to hit the rail in Djedjos’ wake included Jason Mayfield (17th) and Paul Sokoloff (10th). Most notably, one of the hottest players of the series, Aaron Frei, finished 11th. Frei claimed four cashes during the 12-day event and earned 85 points toward Casino Championship. His deep run in Event 12 locked up the title and punched his ticket to Atlantic City for the National Championship.

A full profile of Frei’s championship performance will be made available in the coming days.

Despite the long list of headliners, the tournament belonged to Djedjos. The finish marks her largest WSOP-related score and comes in her first final table appearance.

What’s more, it sends her home with some shiny gold jewelry.

Event 12 was the last of 12 gold ring events on the WSOP Circuit schedule at Harrah’s Tunica. The $365 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo tournament attracted 159 players generating a $47,700 prize pool. The top 18 players were paid.

Final table results:

1st: Thuy Djedjos – $12,877
2nd: Robert Irby – $7,959
3rd: Luther Lewis – $5,729
4th: Edward Labate – $4,199
5th: Joshua Mancuso – $3,132
6th: William Byrnes – $2,377
7th: Danny Logsdon – $1,835
8th: Kenneth Piel – $1,439
9th: Dennis Baker – $1,148

Full results available on

Aaron Frei Wins Casino Championship

Aaron Frei

Aaron Frei (pictured) won the Harrah's Tunica Casino Championship following second, fourth, 11th and 28th-place finishes totaling 85 points. Frei earned a seat in the season-ending National Championship where he'll compete with the Harrah's Tunica Main Event winner, Jonathan Gavaio, and many other of the Circuit's top grinders for his share of an up-to $2 million prize pool and a gold bracelet.

A full Casino Champion profile will be made available in the next few days. Congratulations, Aaron!

Andrew Rothfolk Earns Second Gold Ring

Andrew Rothfolk Winner

Rothfolk follows up a 2013 Tunica Main Event third-place finish with a gold ring in 2014.

Tunica, MS (February 3, 2014) — Andrew Rothfolk made his way through the likes of Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler and 2013 Harrah’s Cherokee Main Event winner John Bowman to earn his second gold ring at Harrah’s Tunica Monday night. The win came in Event 11, a $365 no-limit hold’em tournament and concluded alongside the Main Event. In addition to the ring, Rothfolk earned $15,520 but admitted he’s still hungry.

“Both [rings][I’ve][won] were postlim events,” Rothfolk said. “I need to win bigger ring events to feel satisfied.”

It’s likely Rothfolk’s hunger is fueled by the fact he came within spitting distance of a Main Event title at Harrah’s Tunica last year, ultimately finishing third. While the deep run awarded a $92,947 consolation prize, it didn’t suppress his appetite for a six-figure score.

“I got the ring ripped from me last year. It’s sweet to win, but I’d like to be up there,” he said pointing to Main Event final table.

Joining Rothfolk at the final table was the aforementioned Bowman who has no lack of experience making his way through Main Event fields. Bowman began the final table with the chip lead and like Rothfolk, eyed his second gold ring. In addition to Rothfolk, yet another player pursuing his second ring – Kessler – remained to be bested.

In the end, Kessler finishing third, leaving Rothfolk and Bowman to duel it out. Rothfolk proved too tough an opponent on this particular evening and Bowman exited second earning $9,588.

With the Event 11 title under his belt, Rothfolk headed over to the Main Event rail where he supported his close friend Carter Myers heads-up against Jonathan Gaviao. Myers went on to bust second, coming one place shy of winner Gaviao’s first-place finish.

Undoubtedly, the trip to Tunica was a mega success for Rothfolk and many of his close friends including Event 5 winner Justin Brown, Event 7 winner Joseph Hebda and, of course, Myers. Rothfolk’s victory marks his 10th Circuit cash and comes following his third final table. The $15,520 first prize moves him over $130,000 in career earnings at the WSOP.

Event 11 was the 11th of 12 gold ring events on the WSOP Circuit schedule at Harrah’s Tunica. The $365 No-Limit Hold’em tournament attracted 199 players generating a $59,700 prize pool. The top 21 players were paid.

Final table results:

1st: Andrew Rothfolk – $15,520
2nd: John Bowman – $9,588
3rd: Allen Kessler – $6,923
4th: Beiram Rais – $5,085
5th: Anthony Bryant – $3,799
6th: Howard Kensinger – $2,886
7th: Jin Lee – $2,230
8th: Eric Hanson – $1,751
9th: Aaron Johnson – $1,397

Full results available on

Jonanthan Gaviao Wins Tunica Main Event

Jonathan Gaviao Winner

Gaviao pockets $181,757 and earns a berth in the season-ending National Championship.

Tunica, MS (February 3, 2014) — Jonathan Gaviao earned his first gold ring along with $181,757 in prize money in the Harrah’s Tunica Main Event Monday evening. Gaviao, a 23-year-old College Station, TX resident, bested 577 entries to earn his spot among the season’s Main Event winners and secure his seat in the National Championship.

“It’s wonderful,” he said. “It’s always nice to win a ring and make a little bit of money. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

The victory is just most the recent in a string of successes for the young pro. Barely two weeks ago he finished 14th in the record-breaking 1,428-entry Circuit Main Event at Choctaw Casino. He earned $24,098 for that performance, but came up well short of the gold hardware Circuit grinders play for.

With that deep run under his belt, Gaviao made the trip to Tunica to try his luck in another Circuit finale. Late on Day 2, it appeared the trek was paying off when he picked up pocket aces to knock out two players and take a sizable chip lead. From there, he still had a long way to go, but the stars were undoubtedly aligning.

“I felt really confident when we got down to four-handed and I took over the chip lead,” Gaviao said of his run. “I felt like I was playing really well. I knew that whatever happened, happened for a reason and I was alright with that. Whether I won or lost; there’s more important things in life.”

Gaviao rode his confidence and laid back attitude all the way to the winner’s circle marking his second deep run in as many years at the Harrah’s Tunica Main event.

“Everyone’s got their special place and I guess Tunica is mine,” Gaviao said.

Gaviao is a 23-year-old professional poker player from College Station, TX. He attended Texas A&M University but is currently on a hiatus for missionary work. The victory marks his third WSOP-related cash and moves him over $210,000 in career earnings. In addition to some run good and undeniable skill, Gaviao cited his faith and the perspective it shed on the situation as a reason for his success.

“I’m just going to be thankful,” Gaviao said of what he’ll take away from his championship. “Getting to look back and know that God’s good. Win or lose, he’s always good… You can take away all the money and I’ll still have everything I need.”

Tunica has been a longtime presence on the WSOP Circuit schedule, so it comes as no surprise some of the best players in the Mid-South turned up for the marquee event.  Among the participants were November Niners John Dolan and Dennis Phillips, bracelet winners Loni Harwood and Jonathan Taylor and 2003 WSOP Main Event winner Chris Moneymaker.
This year's Harrah's Tunica Main Event drew 577 entries, generating a total prize pool of $865,500. The top 63 finishers each earned a payday of at least $2,830. Some of the notables who made the money, but missed out on the final table were Mark “Pegasus” Smith (63rd), five-time ring winner Kyle Cartwright (58th), Katherine Bowen (50th), Josh Mancuso (41st), three-time ring winner Phillip Hui (39th), Jacob Bazeley (30th), Blake Barousse (24th), BJ McBrayer (21st), John Holley (20th) and 2008 November Niner Dennis Phillips, who just missed the final table in 12th place.

The headliner of the final table was ring winner Cord Garcia, who was making his third career Circuit Main Event final table appearance and his of this season. The young pro managed to post a seventh-place finish, bringing his career Circuit earnings to over $160,000.

Myers was the other ring winner at the table, but the talk of the tournament amongst the final nine was Brad Lipsey, who finished Day 2 atop the chip counts thanks to several large pots that went his way, including the hand that eliminated Garcia. A table talker and aggressive player, Lipsey made his mark, but he might be better remembered for his time away from the table. Lipsey was missing in action for the first hour of play on Day 3, blinding off almost a million chips in the process. He showed up eventually and managed to build his stack back up a bit, but ultimately exited fourth.

The final table took less than six hours to play from nine players down to a winner thanks to aggressive play from Gaviao, Myers and several other Circuit regulars in the line-up. One of the fastest Main Event final tables we’ve seen this season, it was no easy feat for Gaviao to prevail and take the title.

The Main Event was the 10th of 12 gold ring events on the WSOP Circuit schedule at Harrah’s Tunica. The $1,675 No-Limit Hold’em tournament attracted 577 entries generating an $865,500 prize pool. The top 63 players were paid.

Final table results:

1st: Jonathan Gaviao – $181,757
2nd: Carter Myers – $112,420
3rd: Charles Hopkins – $82,205
4th: Brad Lipsey – $61,000
5th: Jackson White – $45,897
6th: David Lee – $35,009
7th: Cord Garcia – $27,073
8th: Bryan McMullin – $21,222
9th: Timothy Tracy – $16,860

Full results available on

Turbo Prize Pool

Event 12, today's 11 a.m. $365 no-limit hold'em turbo ring event, drew 159 players amassing a $47,700 prize pool. The top 18 finishers earn prize money with the 18th-place finisher pocketing $640. Payouts culminated in a $12,877 first prize expected to be awarded some time around 10 p.m.

In addition to the first prize, the Event 12 winner earns 50 crucial points toward the Casino Championship. Seeing as the turbo is the only points-eligible event left, it's expected to have big implications in the race to Atlantic City.

The clock currently reads 72 players remaining toward the end of Level 10.


Prize Pool

Bowman Headlines Event 11 Restart

John Bowman

John Bowman had quite the 2013. He started things off with a win in the Harrah's Cherokee Main Event and parlayed his National Championship berth into a fifth-place finish and $84,000 score. Bowman hopes today marks the start of a solid 2014 as he begins Day 2 of Event 11 with the chip lead.

Cards are in the air or the restart now and we'll touch base again when we have a winner. Full start-of-day chip counts are available a few posts below.

Casino Championship Update

It all comes down to Event 12 in the 12-day race to Atlantic City and the Harrah's Tunica Casino Championship. None of the six players remaining in the Main Event and nobody among the final nine in Event 11 can catch the leader Aaron Frei, and thus, all eyes are on today's 11 a.m. turbo event.

Frei lays claim to 75 points and is trailed by Charlie Dawson in second with 62.5. Any player owning 25 points or more through the first 11 events is fair game to catch Frei pending his performance in Event 12.

Stay tuned for the official crowning later today.

Top 10 point earners as of Monday morning:

1. Aaron Frei – 75 points
2. Charlie Dawson – 62.5 points
3. Daniel Rivera – 60 points
4. Joseph Hebda – 60 points
5. William Stanford – 52.5 points
6. Justin Brown – 52.5 points
7. Robert Richardson – 50 points
8. Nicholas Burris – 50 points
9. Mitchell Franks – 50 points
10. Robert Hankins – 50 points

Full standings available on

The 12th and Final Day

Harrah's Welcome

The last of the 12 days of the Circuit series at Harrah's Tunica starts a touch earlier than usual. Cards go in the air for Event 12, a $365 no-limit hold'em turbo event, at 11 a.m. Players begin the series' finale with 10,000 chips at the 25/50 blinds and play 20-minute levels throughout. Here's a closer look at the event:

  • Cards go in the air at 11 a.m.
  • 10,000-chip starting stack at 25/50
  • Registration remains open until the beginning of Level 7 (1:15 p.m.)
  • 20-minute levels throughout
  • 45-minute dinner break occurs after Level 18

Running alongside the final ring event will be the final table of the Main Event which starts at 12 p.m. with six players remaining. Brad Lipsey leads the way and he's trailed by Carter Myers in second. Each player is assured $35,009 but all eye the $181,757 first prize. Chip counts and seating assignments:

  • Seat 1: David Lee – 1,360,000 (45 BBs)
  • Seat 2: Brad Lipsey – 3,750,000 (125 BBs)
  • Seat 3: Carter Myers – 3,200,000 (107 BBs)
  • Seat 4: Jackson White – 1,080,000 (36 BBs)
  • Seat 5: Jonathan Gavaio – 1,995,000 (67 BBs)
  • Seat 6: Charles Hopkins – 1,165,000 (39 BBs)

You can follow the action from the final table with live updates on

Finally, Event 11, the restart yesterday's $365 no-limit hold'em ring event, begins at 1 p.m. with nine players remaining. John Bowman leads the way and Allen "Chainsaw" Kessler starts the day second. Full chip counts and a link to the updated results are available below.

Lots of loose ends are tied up at Harrah's Tunica series today, including the crowning of the Casino Champion, so keep an eye on the action right here on the blog and on's Main Event live updates.

Event 11 Chip Counts

Just nine players remain following 18 Levels in Event 11, a $365 no-limit hold'em tournament. Leading the way is 2013 Harrah's Cherokee Main Event winner John Bowman, but he's trailed by the likes of Allen Kessler and Andrew Rothfolk.

Cards go in the air for Day 2 Monday at 1 p.m.

Seating assignments and chip counts:

Seat Player Hometown Chip Count
1 Jim Lee Memphis, TN 245,000
2 John Bowman Hickory, NC 534,000
3 Eric Hanson Lisbon, ND 180,000
4 Andrew Rothfolk Cleveland, TN 65,000
5 Howard Kensinger Fordland, MO 94,000
6 Beiram Rais   215,000
7 Anthony Bryant LaGrange, GA 142,000
8 Allen "Chainsaw" Kessler Las Vegas, NV 475,000
9 Aaron Johnson Cabot, AR 30,000

Updated results available on