Eventually it was the relatively unknown Nick Ceci who emerged victorious and claimed the $382,982 prize, WSOPC ring and seat in the 2008 WSOP Main Event.
Ceci, a demolition consultant from Peachtree City, Ga., outlasted professional gambler Tim "TK" Miles in a robust heads-up match that lasted close to 100 hands.
It was a far cry from the first hand of the day, in which Miles had both Ed Jatho and Marc Fratter go all-in in front of him pre-flop while he was holding A♣ A♠. Miles, who was the chip leader to start the day, happily called and saw Jatho held JJ, while Fratter had QQ.
The aces held up, and suddenly Miles had $1.4 million in chips and looked like he might run over the final table.
The parade to the payout booth would be fast and furious throughout the night. Shortly after the above hand, WPT runner-up Charles Kelley took his place on the rail when Ceci busted him by hitting a pair on the flop.
Crowd favorite Lou Esposito was gunning for back-to-back New Orleans titles but had to settle for fifth when Ceci busted him with pocket aces. There's no doubt Esposito will be back at another final table in New Orleans before too long, however.
Miles was all-in that same hand as well and lost a considerable amount of his stack holding QQ to Ceci's bullets.
Jeff Tims is another player who's had good fortune in New Orleans but who saw it run out when he lost a race to Gabe Costner and busted fifth.
Costner didn't have time to get too comfortable, however, as Ceci quickly busted him with A♥ 4♥ versus 7♠ 4♦ on a board that contained two fours. The dealers simply showed no mercy to the players, with coolers coming throughout the day.
Local New Orleans poker player Floyd Vanderford was an inspiration to barnacle-like poker players across the globe. Vanderford entered play severely short-stacked with $65,000. Somehow, Vanderford willed himself to third place by doubling up at two key moments. If nothing else, he had an amazing ability to stick around.
Vanderford was finally eliminated when his Q♣ 8♣ was beaten by Miles' K-J. We doubt Vanderford was too worried, however, as he did stick around long enough to get the $107,699 prize for third.
Ceci entered heads-up play with $1.16 million against Miles' $846,000 but despite the relatively close chip stacks many observers assumed the heads-up contest would go the same way as the rest of the final table and be over in a matter of minutes.
It didn't work out like that.
After the first few hands Ceci and Miles seemed to settle down and to not want to risk everything in large pots. Slowly Miles chipped away at Ceci and eventually took the chip lead. Then Ceci took a modest-sized pot and regained the chip lead. After the chip lead switched place one more time and Miles was in the driver's seat.
Finally, after several hours of heads-up play, Ceci delivered the decisive blow.
In the hand, Miles bet $60,000 pre-flop and Ceci called to see a flop of Q-4-4. They got it all-in and Miles flipped over A-Q for top-top while Ceci had 4♦ 3♦ for trips.
Miles was left with only $170,000 chips and was eliminated shortly thereafter when his Q-4 failed against Ceci's J-7.
Ceci's victory marks the end of another successful season of the WSOPC. Although the circuit often gets overlooked for longer tours like the EPT and WPT, which feature televised final tables, there is still some exciting poker played in the lesser-known towns across America.
We here at PokerListings.com would like to thank tournament organizers, dealers, players and everybody involved for making this year's tour as good as it was. A special thanks goes out to media directors Max Shapiro and Nolan Dalla who were tireless in their efforts to assist our coverage.
Finally we'd like to send out a big congratulations to Ceci, who took down the last event of the year.
Our next tournament stop (after the Latin American Poker Tour San Jose, of course) is the biggest one of them all - the 2008 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Make sure to check our coverage as it promises to be one of the most exciting summers in poker history.