Goodbye from Cincinnati

Horseshoe CincinnatiThe first-ever 2013/2014 WSOP Circuit at Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati concluded Monday night with the crowning of the Main Event winner. Brad Albrinck, who was born and raised in Cincinnati, earned his first Main Event title, $221,994 and a berth in the WSOP National Championship for outlasting the 740-entry field in the finale.

Joining Albrinck at the National Championship is Samuel Panzica. At just 21 years old, Panzica earned two gold rings and recorded a 30th-place finish in the Main Event to earn 110 points and don Casino Champion honors.

More on the 12-day series is available in the posts below.

WSOP Circuit action starts up again Thursday at Horseshoe Casino in Souther Indiana. That full schedule is available on WSOP.com.

Until next time, Cincinnati!

Brad Albrinck Wins First-Ever Queen City Circuit Title

Brad Albrinck Winner

After a large turnout at the first ever WSOP Circuit event in Ohio, it was none other than a local engineer who took home the WSOP Circuit Main Event at the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Cincinnati. Brad Albrinck, a 28-year old Cincinnati native, took home his first Circuit title and $221,994 on Monday night.

Albrinck was born and raised in Cincinnati before heading off to Purdue University for his undergraduate degree. He came back to his hometown and attended the University of Cincinnati to get his masters degree. He has been a solid waste engineer in his hometown for the last three years.

“It’s several years of my salary,” said Albrinck with a laugh about his first place money. “You know that when you go play these things you are going to have the downswings so it’s nice to have the upswing.”

With the event being so close to his home, he was able to close out his heads-up match with some of his family and friends in attendance. He was heads-up with another Ohio native, David Kash before he dispensed of him fairly quickly to take the title. Heads-up play only lasted a few hands before Kash and Albrinck got all the chips in the middle preflop. Albrinck was holding A-K against Kash’s A-T. When Albrinck faded a three-outer, the hardware was all his.

Even though Albrinck is only a part-time player, don’t underestimate his poker ability. Before his ring in Cincinnati, Albrinck has racked up $138,575 in career WSOP earnings and he final tabled the 2012 WSOP Circuit Main Event in Hammond, IN, finishing sixth for $80,179.

His deep run in Hammond prepared him for the grind that can be a final table.

“Going back to my experience in Hammond, it’s definitely a grind,” said Albrinck. “You have to have that mindset going in and play kind of small pots until you pick up something and can go after the big one.”

Albrinck navigated his way through a pretty tough final table, highlighted by 2011 WSOP bracelet winner Aaron Steury. Kevin McColgan and Josh Williams also made appearances at the final table. McColgan already has two rings to his name, while Williams took home a ring at the Main Event in Hammond, where Albrinck finished sixth.

“It feels amazing,” said Albrinck about his win. “So many times you can get deep in these things and to actually win something and get this kind of prize is an unbelievable feeling.”

Along with the prize money and the hardware, Albrinck earned himself a seat in the WSOP Circuit National Championship, which takes place in Atlantic City in May.

“I’m extremely excited about it,” said Albrinck about the seat. “It’s hard to play as much as the other guys and qualify with the points so to just win the main event and be able to get out and play with those guys is going to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to it.”

The event began on Friday with two Day 1s and was a re-entry event where players could take their shot at both Day 1s. It generated a prizepool of over $1.1 million and gave three players a six figure pay day. It was a general consensus among players that the staff at the Horseshoe did a great job handling the event.

“I’ve been to a few different stops and I honestly feel that this is one of the best run venues I’ve seen,” said Albrinck about the event. “Having it 20 minutes away from my house is pretty nice also.”

Here are the final table results from the Horseshoe Cincinnati Main Event:

1st: Brad Albricnk – $221,994
2nd: David Kash – $136,863
3rd: Greg Kolo – $100,899
4th: Viet Vo – $75,203
5th: Josh Williams – $56,799
6th: Aaron Steury – $43,457
7th: Ray Attiyah – $33,666
8th: Rory Monahan – $26,407
9th: Kevin McColgan – $20,968

Full results available on WSOP.com.

Andy Spears Bags Gold in Queen City

Andrew Spears WinnerLaw school graduate finds success on the felt, closes the book on his first gold ring.

Pavlin Karakikov comes up three spots shy of stealing Casino Champion honors.

Andrew Spears earned his first gold ring in Horseshoe Cincinnati’s final WSOP Circuit event. It took spears just nine hours to navigate through the 120-person field of the $365 No-Limit Hold’em One-Day tournament and it awarded him $10,801.

Spears is a 25-year-old law school graduate from Buffalo, NY. While his gold ring victory isn’t unexpected, he admitted he doesn’t dedicate as much time to the game as a lot of his friends.

“I have some friends that grind the Circuit and those that haven’t won [a][ring] will probably be pretty mad at me because I’ve only played a few tournaments,” Spears confessed.

In reality, it might not only be his friends who are upset. Spears bested a final table that included five-time WSOP Circuit final tablist Ryan Tepen (fourth). Tepen, who is ringless, busted Day 3 of the Main Event just shy of the final table in 14th and late registered the one-day no-limit hold’em event. This marked his second heartbreak in just a few hours time.

Additionally, Bill Varga (sixth), made his second final table of the Circuit series in Cincinnati. Like Tepen, Varga is ringless.

Joining the trio in the late stages of play was Pavlin Karakikov. The final table appearance marked Karakikov’s third of the series and he needed a second-place finish or better to take Casino Champion honors from Samuel Panzica. Karakikov began the finale toward the middle of the pack in chips and never got anything going. He exited fifth and came up a mere 7.5 points shy of Panzica’s Casino Championship lead.

In the end, the headline belonged to Spears. His WSOP resume now boasts three WSOP Circuit cashes and eight WSOP cashes. The win marks his second Circuit final table.


Event 12 was the last of 12 gold ring events on the WSOP Circuit schedule at Horseshoe Cincinnati. The $365 No-Limit Hold’em One-Day tournament attracted 120 players generating a $36,000 prize pool. The top 12 players were paid.

Final table results:

1st: Andrew Spears – $10,081
2nd: Andrew Dakoski – $6,675
3rd: Adam Foster – $4,753
4th: Ryan Tepen – $3452
5th: Pavlin Karakikov – $2,557
6th: Bill Varga – $1,931
7th: Daniel Biddle – $1,485
8th: Nick Blackburn – $1,183
9th: Joshua Snodgrass – $927

Full results available on WSOP.com.

Samuel Panzica Takes Casino Championship

The Main Event isn't the only show in town on Day 12 in Cincinnati. Playing out alongside the finale is the one-day $365 no-limit hold'em final table, and up until a few minutes ago, a Casino Champion contender graced its felt.

Pavlin Karakikov began Day 12 as one of just two players who could catch Sam Panzica in the 12-day race to the National Championship. Karakikov needed a second-place finish or better to best Panzica.

Karakikov fell short, finishing fifth and earning 102.5 points, 7.5 points shy of Panzica's 110.

Panzica recorded two first-place finishes and a 30th-place finish in the Main Event to don the honor of Casino Champion. He's now a two-time National Championship qualifier and looks to improve last year's 16th place finish.

A full profile of Panzica's performance will be made available in the next few days.

Congratulations, Sam!

Pavlink Karakikov Tries for Upset

Pavlin Karakikov WinnerWhen we interviewd Samuel Panzica following his second gold ring victory of the WSOP Circuit series at Horseshoe Cincinnati, he told us he estimated he had a 95 percent chance of winning the Casino Championship. In the days since, he recorded a 30th-place finish in the Main Event worth 10 points, and one has to think upping his odds even more when he jumped to 110 points.

Well, in true Casino Championship fashion it's come down to the final event again. The Event 10 winner, Pavlin Karakikov (pictured) is making his third final table of the series in today's $365 One-Day No-Limit Hold'em touranment — the final event of the series.

Karakikov began the day as one of two players who could catch Panzica at the top. Darren Rabinowitz was the other, and he elected to skip Event 12. Karakikov needed a second-place finish or better to best Panzica when the day began — sure enough he's at the Event 12 final table.

We'll keep you posted on Karakikov's progress. Until then, here's a look at the final table seating assignments with chip counts:

Seat 1: Pavlin Karakikov – 122,000
Seat 2: Ryan Tepen – 123,500
Seat 3: Andy Spears – 290,000
Seat 4: Adam Foster – 51,000
Seat 5: Josh Snodgrass – 33,000
Seat 6: Daniel Biddle – 180,000
Seat 7: Bill Varga – 259,500
Seat 8: Nick Blackburn – 90,000
Seat 9: Andrew Dakoski – 39,000

John Robertson Earns Gold in Cincinnati

John RobertsonSelf-described “blue collar” poker player earns his first gold ring after 15 years of playing the game.

John Robertson describes himself as a blue-collar poker player. He says he’s been playing the game professionally for 15 years and concentrates on small buy-in tournaments in his hometown of Las Vegas. The game is a living for him and nothing more. He’s not flashy. He’s pretty unassuming and he’s not in it for the glory.

But as of Monday evening at Horseshoe Cincinnati, he owns some gold jewelry.

Robertson outlasted 138 players in Event 11, a $365 No-Limit Hold’em tournament. He earned $11,589 as well as his first WSOP Circuit gold ring. Ideally, Robertson didn’t want to be playing in the $365 event. He made the trip to Ohio to play in the $1,675 finale and earned a seat into it in a satellite event.

“[My][girlfriend][and][I] decided to come to Cincinnati on Thursday to play the Main Event. I got knocked out, so I played [Event][11]. It certainly worked out the way I wanted it to,” Robertson said.

While the newly-earned five-figure check in his pocket may elicit a bias, Robertson and his girlfriend enjoyed their impromptu trip to Queen City and vowed to return for subsequent Circuit events.

“We stayed at the Westin across from Fountain Square. Beautiful. Gorgeous,” Robertson said. “The city is great. The casino is brand new, so what can you say about it? It still smells likes a new car.”

The final table was a breeze for the 15-year veteran of the game. He outlasted gold ring winner Brian Schultz (fifth) before besting yet another ring holder heads-up in Thomas Midena. The victory places Robertson in the winner’s club with these two and sends the self-proclaimed blue-collar poker player home with some flashy jewelry.

Event 11 was the 11th of 12 gold ring events on the WSOP Circuit schedule at Horseshoe Cincinnati. The $365 No-Limit Hold’em tournament attracted 138 players generating a $41,400 prize pool. The top 15 players were paid.

1st: John Robertson – $11,589
2nd: Thomas Midena – $7,165
3rd: Jared Palmer – $5,172
4th: Matthew Kittell – $3,800
5th: Bryan Schultz – $2,841
6th: Matthew Hils – $2,160
7th: Jason Van Alstine – $1,670
8th: Ryan Baysinger – $1,312
9th: Vafa Kamali – $1,047

Full results available on WSOP.com.

Three-Ring Finale in Cincinnati

HorseshoeToday is the last of 12 days of tournament poker in Cincinnati and it's looking to be a busy one.

Cards are in the air at 12 p.m. for the first of three gold ring events scheduled on the final day. Event 12, a $365 No-Limit Hold'em tournament, is slated to finish in one day. This event boasts 20-minute levels through its duration and registration remains open until 2:15 p.m. Dinner break occurs around 6:30 p.m.

Things continue at 1 p.m. with Day 3 of the Main Event. 15 players remaing including gold bracelet winner Aaron Steury and Ryan Tepen. All players trail the chip lead of Greg Kolo. More on the Main Event is available in the full recap below.

Live updates from the tournament floor will be available on WSOP.com.

Finally, the Event 10 final table begins at 2 p.m. Yesterday's $365 No-Limit Hold'em tournament played down to nine in about 12 hours and those remaining return today to battle for $11,589.

We're going out in style with three new winners in Cincinnati!

Aaron Steury Headlines Final 15 in Main Event

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There are just 16 players remaining in the Horseshoe Cincinnati Circuit Main Event. They are all looking for the elusive ring, but for one player, it would be yet another piece of jewelry to go along with something no one else in the field possesses: a gold bracelet.

Aaron Steury, who won a bracelet in HORSE back in 2011 has had close calls on the Circuit before.  He’s finished as high as third in a preliminary ring event before. The same year he won his bracelet, he almost added a Main Event ring just weeks later.  Instead, Steury had to settle for second in the 2011/2012 Horseshoe Hammond Main Event, finishing runner-up to Robert Chow.

This is Steury’s latest chance at Circuit success as he heads into the third and final day of play with an above average stack and just a few eliminations to go before the final table is set.  Stuery faces some tough competition though, including another player familiar with Horseshoe Hammond success, reigning Horseshoe Hammond Circuit Main Event champ Josh Williams.  Unlike Steury, who will return with the fourth biggest stack, Williams will be in the middle of the pack with 783,000.

Leading the charge is Greg Kolo, who played several gigantic pots during the late stages of Day 2 play to rocket up the counts.  A massive double up through Rex Clinkscales helped to propel Kolo up near the top.  Then, on one of the last hands of the evening, Kolo eliminated fellow big stack James Frisby when Frisby ran jacks into Kolo’s kings.  That pot put Kolo at 2.46 million.  He will be the only player bringing back a stack north of 2 million when play resumes at 1pm ET on Monday.

The first-ever Horseshoe Cincinnati Circuit Main Event ended up drawing 740 entries, including around a dozen Day 2 last minute registrations.  That put the prize pool for this event at just over $1.1 million with first place earning $221,994 in addition to the ring and the seat in the 2014 WSOP National Championship in Atlantic City.

The top 81 players finished in the money, which meant the majority of the more than 250 players who began Day 2 play with a stack left empty-handed.  It took just a few hours to get down to the money bubble in the event, with hand-for-hand lasting just a few hands before Landond Long made a winning straight to put the players into the money.

Some of the notables who notched a payday in this event include bracelet winner Robert Cheung (71st), Joe Kuether (62nd), Matt Sterling (54th), Yossi Azulay (53rd), Blake Barousse (42nd), Aaron Massey (38th), Justin Truesdell (32nd), Maurice Hawkins (25th), and Rex Clinkscales (22nd).

Another notable who made the money was Sam Panzica. The 21 year old has already won two rings here at Horseshoe Cincinnati, bringing his career total to three.  He is the current frontrunner in the Casino Champion contest here on the property with the 100 points he earned from the two wins and the ten points he picked up for his 30th place Main Event finish.

The final 15 will return to the tables at 1pm ET on Monday and play down to a winner. As usual, we will have all of the live updates right here on WSOP.com.

Here is a look at the chip counts headed into Day 3 of play. When play resumes, blinds will be up to 10,000/20,000 ante 3,000:

1. Gregory Kolo – 2,460,000
2. Brad Albrinck – 1,716,000
3. David Kash – 1,368,000
4. Aaron Steury – 1,300,000
5. Kevin McColgan – 1,267,000
6. Kim Dae – 1,006,000
7. Ray Attiyah – 932,000
8. Viet Vo – 860,000
9. Matt Nicholson – 845,000
10. Josh Williams – 783,000
11. Chris Lillie – 727,000
12. Jian Zhang – 484,000
13. Chaz Deshayes – 355,000
14. Ryan Tepen – 331,000
15. Rory Monahan – 306,000

Pavlin Karakikov Puts Bulgaria on the Board in Cincinnati

Pavlin Karakikov WinnerFive-time WSOP Circuit final tablist finds some luck in his sixth appearance, earns gold.

It took six tries, but Bulgarian Pavlin Karakikov won his first WSOP Circuit gold ring Sunday night in Cincinnati. Previously Karakikov finished eighth, fifth twice, fourth and runner-up, but didn’t break through until he came to the Queen City. His most recent success came in a $365 No-Limit Hold’em tournament and awarded Karakikov $11,589, a WSOP Circuit gold ring and 50 points toward the WSOP National Championship – a tournament he placed 10th in last year.

“I was close before and I was kind of disappointed I didn’t win. Now I would have been even more disappointed if I hadn’t won because I had the chip lead,” Karakikov said.

Saying he had the chip lead is a bit of an understatement. Karakikov held an almost 10-to-1 advantage over Jason Gwinn during heads-up play. He doubled up his adversary and had him on the ropes a handful of times only to see the board run out to a split pot. In the end, Karakikov’s lead was insurmountable and Gwinn finished second for $11,589.

Karakikov says poker is very big in Bulgaria and the talent to come out of the country has left its mark on the WSOP, earning a gold bracelet each of the last two summers. 2012 WSOP gold bracelet winner and two-time Circuit gold ring winner Nick Jivkov is one of the biggest poker success stories to come out of the country and Karakikov says the two are friends on the Circuit.

“He’s a friendly guy so we talk a lot,” Karakikov said of Jivkov. “Usually when we talk about poker we’ll speak English because it’s easier. Like ‘three-bet’ and stuff, you know?”

Karakikov hopes to join Jivkov as a gold bracelet winner some day and says he’ll take a step toward that by attending the WSOP this summer.

When he isn’t playing poker Karakikov works in real estate and says he flips residential properties. He says the majority of his bankroll is invested in real estate so he primarily plays smaller buy-in tournaments. Karakikov came to the United States six years ago in a student program and he decided to make a life for himself in the country.

Following his Event 11, Karakiv’s WSOP resume now boasts 14 WSOP-related cashes and more than $100,000 in career earnings.

Event 10 was the tenth of 12 gold ring events on the WSOP Circuit schedule at Horseshoe Cincinnati. The $365 No-Limit Hold’em tournament attracted 203 players generating a $60,900 prize pool. The top 21 players were paid.

Final table results:

1st: Pavlin Karakikov – $15,835
2nd: Jason Gwinn – $9,781
3rd: Thomas Knepp – $5,187
4th: Kevin Albers – $5,187
5th: Jerry Baker – $3,875
6th: Joseph Stachowiak – $2,945
7th: Angela Kestler – $2,275
8th: Richard Davey – $1,786
9th: John Kozlowski – $1,425

Full results available on WSOP.com.

Nine Remain in Event 11

Nine players remain in Event 11, a $365 No-Limit Hold'em tournament, following 12 hours of play on Day 1.

Day 2 begins Tuesday at 2 p.m. with 38 minutes left in the 1,500/3,000 with a 500 ante level. Each of the players secured a $1,047 score thus far, but the winner will pocket $11,589, a WSOP Circuit gold ring and 50 points toward the Casino Championship.

Final table seating assignments and chip counts:

SEAT PLAYER CHIP COUNT
1 Jason Van Alstine 53,500
2 Matthew Kittell 358,000
3 Jared Palmer 152,500
4 Thomas Midena 99,500
5 Bryan Schultz 99,500
6 John Robertson 164,500
7 Ryan Baysinger 177,500
8 Vafa Kamali 104,500
9 Matthew Hils 72,000