Despite unexplained cancellation fears a week before the event, the inaugural World Series of Poker Circuit at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin proved to be a successful affair. On Monday, the stop concluded with 32-year-old Alex Aqel besting a field of 677 entrants to win the WSOPC Potawatomi $1,675 Main Event for $208,184 and a seat into the 2017 Global Casino Championship.
The win came just four months after Aqel outlasted 595 other entrants to win the Mid-States Poker Tour Potawatomi for $138,385.
Aqel’s Win Highlights Record-Breaking Stop
The stop kicked off with Event #1 $365 NLHE Re-Entry, which drew 1,272 entrants and surpassed January’s MSPT Regional field of 1,169 entrants to set a new state record for largest attendance. However, to be fair the former did it in four fights and unlimited re-entries while the latter only hosted three flights and a single re-entry option.
As for the Main Event, it marked the first time in Wisconsin history that a prize pool exceeded $1 million. Among those to cash were Chris Karambinis (14th for $12,745), MSPT Season 7 Player of the Year Rich Alsup (22nd for $7,383), World Poker Tour champ Ravi Raghavan (37th for $3,757), Allen Kessler (40th for $3,757), and 2016 Iowa State Poker Champ John Sun (64th for $2,843).
In the final hand of the tournament, which occurred in Level 32 (60,000/120,000/10,000), Chad Wiedenhoeft raised to 240,000 with the J♠7♥ and Aqel defended with the K♥10♣. Aqel check-called a bet of 240,000 on the K♠J♦9♥ flop, and then both players checked the K♦ turn. When the 3♦ competed the board on the river, Aqel checked and Wiedenhoeft bet 300,000. Aqel check-raised all in and Wiedenhoeft thought for a minute before calling off.
“Playing for that amount of money is a lot easier because I just recently had a big score myself,” Aqel told WSOP officials after the win. “It was more that I just wanted to win a WSOP Main Event. That was huge for me.”
Final Table Results
1 Alex Aqel (Orland Park, IL) $208,184
2 Chad Wiedenhoeft (Whitewater, WI) $128,816
3 James Gregg (New Berlin, WI) $94,482
4 Denise Pratt (Olive Branch, MS) $70,262
5 Garrett Riley (Quincy, IL) $52,958
6 Nicholas Pupillo (Addison, IL) $40,447
7 Nikolas Stone (Auburndale, WI) $31,298
8 Josh Reichard (Janesville, WI) $24,534
9 Brad Jansen (West Bend, WI) $19,477
Hometown Heroes Represent with Ring Wins
The Wisconsin poker community was energized by the WSOP’s first visit to the Badger State, and many of them took advantage by capturing gold. Josh Reichard was the first to make a splash by topping a field of 227 entrants to win Event #5 $365 Pot-Limit Omaha for $17,021 and his sixth circuit ring.
The next day, Travis Lauson bested 246 other entrants to win Event #6 $365 NLHE 6-Max for $19,639 and his first ring. It was validation for Lauson, who in late 2015 finished runner-up in a MSPT Potawatomi Main Event for $65,889, and eight months later won the same event for $129,077.
“It’s kind of my home casino,” Lauson told WSOP officials after the win. “I definitely feel I have that home field advantage.”
Finally, Byron Ziebell, a well-known member of the Madison Poker Community online group, came out on top in Event #10 $365 NLHE Turbo for $19,547 and his first ring.
Others who captured rings at the stop were Yousef Anbar (Event #2 $580 NLHE for $29,371), Eric Guth (Event #7 $365 Monster Stack for $34,310), Nadya Magnus (Event #8 $2,200 High Roller for $71,398), and Scott Quimby (Event #12 $365 NLHE Turbo for $18,083),
The WSOP Circuit will return to Potawatomi in 2018. In the meantime, the Circuit’s next stop is underway at Palm Beach Kennel Club in Florida. Loni Harwood is already making headlines there after capturing her third gold ring.