DURANT — After 12 days of top-notch poker action, the World Series of Poker-Circuit's only stop in Oklahoma came to a close last month with Tyler Morris, an amateur from Tyler, Texas, walking away as the winner of the $1,650 buy-in Main Event Championship.
For his efforts, Morris took home $369,503 in cash and a championship gold circuit ring. The win also includes an entry in the WSOP-C National Championship later this year, which features a guaranteed $1 million prize pool.
“I started feeling good with five people to go,” Morris said after the event. “Everyone at the final table was so cool. It really helped out play and made decisions easy.”
Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant hosted more than 22,000 players in the fourth World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit event from Jan. 2-20 as part of the official 2013-2014 WSOP Circuit Tour.
This year's Main Event featured a field of 1,428 entries, an increase from 1,128 in 2013. The large guaranteed prize pools have proved popular with players in recent years, and the annual tournament series attracts players from across the country.
Overall, the series garnered more than 7,900 entries in 12 ring events. The series began with a $365 No Limit Holdem re-entry tournament that drew 2,867 entries, the second-largest in the WSOP-C's 10-year history.
Morris's win comes in one of the largest events in WSOP-C history. The money will come in handy as he and his wife are expecting a new baby girl. Morris was not the only Tyler, Texas, native to find success at the Choctaw.
Chris Bowen earned the Casino Champion title for notching first and second-place finishes. He also earned a shot at the National Championship as well for taking the honor. Bowen, 52, is an amateur at the poker felt and works as a chief financial officer for an electronics company.
“It feels amazing,” Bowen said after his win. “I'm still in shock, really.
“The great thing about poker is that a 54-year-old baldheaded guy, if he's running good with the luck variance, can hang out with the pros.”
This year's event proved lucrative for players from the Lone Star State with six of the 12 events won by Texans.
No Oklahomans took home a title this year but a few players got close. Edmond native Clyde Walters finished third in the Main Event for $167,954. Daniel Hughes, of Tulsa, took fifth in Event 10 for $10,818.
Also of Tulsa, Justin Blackley took fourth in Event 9 for $6,327. Gary Gerloff, of Freedom, won $12,324 in Event 6, and Ada native Matthew Newcombe finished fourth in Event 2 for $6,133.
Sean Chaffin covers poker and gambling as a freelance writer. His new book, RAISING THE STAKES: True Tales of Gambling, Wagering and Poker Faces, is available as an eBook and in paperback at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and PokerTraditions.com, his site all about poker history, lore, and people. If you have a gambling or poker story idea, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @PokerTraditions.