Last to First: Eddie Smurzynski Makes Stunning Final Table Comeback
St. Louis, MO (April 20, 2012) – The latest World Series of Poker Circuit final table included the most surprising conclusion of any event played so far at Harrah’s St. Louis.
When the final ten players took seats at the final table, the two lowest-stacked players were Eddie Smurzynski and Michael E. Smith. No one could have conceived that these same two players would end up playing for the coveted gold ring and bragging rights as the latest WSOP Circuit champion, some seven hours later.
But that’s exactly what happened.
Smurzynski staged what was undoubtedly the most surprising comeback of any player thus far at this year’s Harrah’s St. Louis series. He began final table play down by more than 5 to 1 versus the chip leader. But Smurzynski never panicked. He played a steady game and gradually built up his stack to the point where he was in contention.
By the time play was three-handed, Smurzynski was still behind in third place. But he had proven his ability to survive disadvantages and when the cards began to turn his way, Smurzynski was in the perfect position to be the beneficiary.
Smurzynski ended up with this first WSOP Circuit title and a gold ring, which is the token of achievement awarded to all winner’s of events on the national tournament series. He was also presented with a nice payout totaling $27,212 in prizes money.
Smurzynski is a 26-year-old poker player. He lives in Midlothian, IL.
Smith didn’t do too badly as the runner up. The player ranked ninth in chips at the start staged his own comeback of sorts, although he noble effort was overshadowed by the eventual champion. Nevertheless, Smith could still take pride in his best WSOP Circuit finish.
Several notable players also cashed in this event, including:
12th Place – “Captain Tom” Franklin (Gulfport, MS), who owns two WSOP Gold bracelets and has in excess of $3 million in tournament winnings over the course of his career came in 12th.
33rd Place -- La Senghet (Dallas, TX) who is the current all-time female wins leader in WSOP Circuit history, with three gold ring victories busted out at the end of Day One.
40th Place – Seneca Easley (Fort Worth, TX), who won the “Best All-Around Player” title last year at Harrah’s Rincon also busted near the end of Day One.
44th Place – Scott Davies (Las Vegas, NV), cashed for the 13th time this season – more than any other player at this point.
A full list of all players who cashed in Event #9 can be seen at WSOP.COM
The ninth of a dozen gold ring tournaments began on Thursday afternoon with Event #9 – a $355 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em competition. The tournament attracted 425 entries. The total prize pool came to $123,675. The top 45 players were paid. All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points.
A full list of all players who cashed in Event #9 can be seen at WSOP.COM
The tournament was played over two consecutive days. Only 27 survivors took seats on the second day of action, played on Friday.
The final table featured no former WSOP Circuit gold ring winners. Hence, a first-time champion was guaranteed. A few of the players were experienced professionals who had enjoyed previous tournament success. But virtually all of the nine finalists were searching for their first live major tournament win.
The final ten players were as follows:
Seat 1 – Ryan Gentry with 404,000 in chips
Seat 2 – Gary Castens with 881,000 in chips
Seat 3 – Stu Yancik with 1,000,000 in chips
Seat 4 – Larry Gurney with 270,000 in chips
Seat 5 – Michael E. Smith with 212,000 in chips
Seat 6 – Ahmad Raghebi with 379,000 in chips
Seat 7 – Edward Smurzynski with 190,000 in chips
Seat 8 – Scot Brady with 330,000 in chips
Seat 9 – William Corvaia with 218,000 in chips
Seat 10 – Jason Ratcliff with 408,000 in chips
The final playing session began at 5:30 pm local time. Play finished at 12:30 making the total duration about seven hours. The official order of finish was as follows:
10th Place – Larry Gurney finished in tenth place. He is 51-years-old and lives in Kingston, TN. Gurney is the owner of a health club. This was his fifth time to cash on the WSOP Circuit and marked his third top-ten finish.
9th Place – William Corvaia was the ninth-place finisher. He is a 65-year-old self-employed man from Keokuk, IA.
8th Place – Scot Brady ended up in eighth place. He is a 27-year-old self-described “jack of all trades” from Evansville, IN. He took fifth place a few years ago in a WSOP Circuit event played at Horseshoe Southern Indiana, which makes this his second final table appearance.
7th Place – Ryan Gentry was the seventh-place finisher. He is a 34-year-old poker pro from San Diego, CA. This was Gentry’s tenth time to cash on the WSOP Circuit. It was also his second final table appearance here at Harrah’s St. Louis after finishing eighth in the Pot-Limit Omaha tournament.
6th Place – Ahmad Raghebi came in sixth place. He is a 60-year-old retiree from St. Louis. Raghebi is originally from Iran. This was his second final table appearance after coming in second at last year’s stop at Southern Indiana.
5th Place – Jason Ratcliff took the fifth place spot. He is a 30-year-old retail manager from Moscow Mills, MO. Ratcliff is a former music teacher and part-time poker player. This was his first time to cash in a WSOP-related tournament.
4th Place – Gary Castens was the fourth-place finisher. He is a 65-year-old retiree from St. Louis. The former U.S. Marine went out during the fifth hour of play. He earned $9,122 in prize money.
3rd Place – Stu Yancik finished third. He took a brutal beat late in the tournament holding pocket nines, which lost a race against K-Q. That essentially put the 26-year-old poker pro from Blue Springs, MI on the rail. Third place paid $12,286.
2nd Place –Michael E. Smith was the runner up. He is a 47-year-old retired auto body man from Magnolia, MS. Second place paid $16,814.
When heads-up play began, Smith had Smurzynski covered by about a 3 to 1 margin. But the shorter stack seized the chip lead about 30 minutes into the duel when he made a straight. That put Smith at a disadvantage. The final hand came about 45 minutes into the duel.
1st Place – Smurzynski became the ninth WSOP Circuit champion crowned this year at Harrah’s St. Louis. He won his biggest payout ever – totaling $27,212 for the victory. He was also presented with his first gold ring.
With his victory, Smurzynski moved into contention as one of the leaders in this WSOP Circuit’s “Best All-Around Player” race. The current leader remains Nik Stone, who finished 1st and 6th in two events played so far.
Going into Event #9, here is the leaderboard for the “Best All-Around Player” race:
Nikolas Stone 72.5 pts 1 2 $27,399
Jerry Ard 60 pts 1 2 $33,363
Drew Woodke 57.5 pts 0 2 $21,713
Shain Matthews 52.5 pts 1 2 $29,874
William Byrnes 52.5 pts 1 2 $19,730
Roy Riley 50 pts 1 1 $57,139
Stephen Friedel 50 pts 1 1 $33,664
Adam Laskey 50 pts 1 1 $23,449
Kevin Balsman 50 pts 1 1 $11,844
The player who accumulates the most overall points in Harrah’s St. Louis’ twelve combined gold ring tournaments receives a pre-paid entry into the $1 million 2011-2012 WSOP Circuit National Championship. At least two players from this tournament series will qualify for the WSOP Circuit National Championship, which is classified as a WSOP gold bracelet event. The other automatic qualifier will be the winner of Main Event championship (to be held April 21-23).
Here is the list of gold ring winners at Harrah’s St. Louis, so far:
Event #1 – Shain Matthews (Marysville, CA) won $29,306 in $355 NLHE
Event #2 – Jerry Ard (Monticello, MS) won $32,147 in $565 NLHE
Event #3 – Kevin Balsman (St. Louis, MO) won $11,844 in $355 PLO
Event #4 – Roy Riley (Savoy, IL) won $57,139 in $355 NLHE (Re-Entry)
Event #5 – William Byrnes (St. Charles, MO) won $19,025 in $355 Turbo NLHE
Event #6 – Adam Laskey (Fargo, ND) won $23,449 in $355 NLHE
Event #7 – Nik Stone (Auburndale, WI) won $21,770 in $355 6-HANDED NLHE
Event #8 – Stephen Friedel (Vandalia, IL) won $33,664 in $565 NLHE
Event #9 – Eddie Smurzynski (Midlothian, IL) won $27,212 in $355 NLHE
With the first nine tournaments now wrapped up, there are only three more gold ring events remaining in what is being billed as a “12 rings in 12 days” poker series. The WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s St. Louis continues through April 23rd. This year’s schedule includes not only all the gold ring events, but multiple second-chance tournaments, single table and mega satellites, plus cash games going around the clock inside the action-packed poker room