Since it was added as a stop on the World Series of Poker Circuit in 2011, Choctaw has become one of the most well-attended stops on the tour. For the third consecutive year the turnout increased, growing until it was the third largest Main Event field in the tour’s history with a prizepool that cleared $1.7 million and a first place prize north of $300,000.
Jeff Fielder would be the last of 1,140 entrants standing, claiming his second WSOPC ring and $312,080 as well as an automatic berth to the WSOP National Championship. Fielder beat Matt Kirby heads-up, overcoming a two-to-one chip deficit at the start of their match by holding twice against Kirby’s A Q in massive pots. Kirby wasn’t Fielder’s only competition, though, as Drazen Ilich was at this final table for the second time in three years and in search of Casino Champion honors at Choctaw Durant.
Fielder, Kirby and Ilich were each among 15 players who started the day Monday with title aspirations, but they were reduced to nine in relatively short order. Doug Ashmore would be the first player to go, falling well beneath 10 big blinds before making his stand with J 9, only to run into the J J of Cliff Stewart to go out ninth when a miracle didn’t materialize. Ilich was then left as the shortest stack, but managed a big double-up my winning a coinflip with 9 9 against Fielder’s A Q.
Paul Phillips (no, not the one you’re probably thinking of) was the next to go as his A A failed to hold against Kirby, whose open-ended straight draw connected on the river in a massive pot to send Phillips off in eighth. Cliff Stewart would be out shortly thereafter, getting his J J cracked by Bryan Campanello’s A 8 when each player had nearly identical stacks. Stewart was left with less than one big blind and it was gone the next hand, reducing the field to six.
Ilich needed fourth or better to pass Andrew Robinson in the Casino Champion race, but it was not to be on this day. Ilich three-bet all-in over an open from Fielder who quickly called with A K. Ilich was in trouble with K J and found no help from the board, ending his tournament in sixth and all but locking up that title for Robinson. After fading one final sweat in the final ring event of the series, Robinson punched his ticket to join Fielder and the rest in New Orleans.
There has never been a female WSOPC Main Event winner but it’s almost happened twice at Choctaw. Teresa Brown finished second to Huy Nguyen in 2011, and Krissi McFarland made another strong effort Monday, reaching five-handed play. After her stack was crushed in back to back hands prior to Ilich’s elimination, she finally succumbed when her K 8 couldn’t beat Campanello’s K J as she settled for fifth place and over $82,000.
Kirby looked to be positioning himself to win as he neared the 12 million chip mark. Fielder picked up a monster in K K and held against Kirby’s A J for a crucial double-up. The short stacks doubled several times until Campanello ran into Kirby’s A K after four-betting all-in with A 3 and failed to improve, leaving it a three-handed battle between Kirby, Fielder and Dale Roesel.
A K continued to factor heavily at this final table, as Roetel’s quiet run at the title came to a screeching halt when he ran A T into that hand against Fielder. Some potential chop possibilities appeared on the turn but wouldn’t materialize, leaving Roesel to settle for third and $143,230. Kirby’s chiplead disappeared on the first hand of heads-up play and Fielder would make quick work of things from there. Fielder’s second WSOPC ring comes after his first win back in April of 2012, when he won a $350 at Horseshoe Council Bluff for a slightly smaller prize of $10,128.
The next WSOPC stop brings the tour to Tunica, Mississippi, with the first ring event kicking off January 24 and the Main Event beginning on February 2.
Jeff Fielder – $312,080
Matt Kirby – $192,751
Dale Roesel – $143,230
Bryan Campanello – $107,730
Krissi McFarland – $82,092
Drazen Ilich – $63,202
Cliff Stewart – $49,265
Paul Phillips – $38,834
Doug Ashmore – $30,951