New Orleans WSOPC championship starts today

Ship Teh Chips

Action began today in the $5,000 Championship Event at the Winter Bayou Poker Challenge at Harrah's in New Orleans, the latest stop on the World Series of Poker Circuit.

Before the cards flew today, however, three other preliminary tournament champions were crowned over the weekend in the festivities in The Big Easy. Two $1,000 buy-in tournaments were conducted in the past couple of days, with a ladies' tournament thrown in as well.

If the numbers of players in these events translates to the championship tournament, it should be a very interesting battle on the bayou.

On Saturday, 260 people came out for the first of the two $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em events over the weekend, building a prize pool of $252,200. Matthew Brady, who made a final table earlier during the Challenge, was also in the mix here before he departed in 14th place.

The final table was dominated by players from Louisiana but it was a Floridian, John Sarver, who was able to take the championship and its top prize of $75,734.

Sarver and these gentlemen left the final table as follows:

Place Name Hometown Prize 
1st John Sarver Ft. Myers, Fla. $75,734 
2nd Terry Lade Ormond Beach, Fla. $41,654 
3rd Bruce McGregor Port Orange, Fla. $21,300 
4th Timothy Pughsley Birmingham, Ala. $16,567 
5th David Compton New Orleans, La. $14,200 
6th James McBride Slidell, La. $11,833 
7th Gabriel Tender New Orleans, La. $9,467 
8th Brian Cospolich River Ridge, La. $7,100 
9th Donald Vance Lakewood, La. $4,733 
Sunday looked like a duplicate of the previous day's tournament as another 260 runners hit the felt for the start of the $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em event. Professional poker player Manelic Minaya was a participant in the action but only could muster a 27th-place finish, at the very end of the payout ladder.

The final table split up the largest part of the $252,200 prize pool, with Timothy Miles prevailing in the end, taking $80,704 and the WSOPC championship ring for his efforts.

The following players attempted to take out Miles but came up short:

Place Name Hometown Prize 
1st Timothy Miles Tallahassee, Fla. $80,704 
2nd Shaun Johnson Ellis Grove, Ill. $44,387 
3rd John Conroy Dublin, Ireland $22,698 
4th Brett Kimes San Antonio, Texas $17,654 
5th Ronald Nacol Belleair Beach, Fla. $15,132 
6th Chris Savage Denham Springs, La. $12,610 
7th Nicolas Gellepis Tallahassee, Fla. $10,088 
8th Rogelio Salinas San Antonio, Texas $7,566 
9th Gary Burks Gladewater, Texas $5,044 

The women of poker also took center stage on Sunday as the $200 Ladies' No-Limit Hold'em Championship played out. One hundred and seventy ladies went to battle for the WSOPC championship ring and the $10,686 first place prize, with Wendy Michel taking down the tournament.

When things wrapped up, the final table had played out thusly:

Place Name Hometown Prize 
1st Wendy Michel Harvey, La. $10,686 
2nd Nancy Decuers New Orleans, La. $5,607 
3rd Abbe Garfinkel Mandeville, La. $3,298 
4th B.J. Orsack Katy, Texas $2,638 
5th Theresa Gex Baton Rouge, La. $1,979 
6th Derra Perumean Leander, Texas $1,649 
7th Lynn Howard Bogue Chitto, Miss. $1,319 
8th Sheila Semander Pembroke Pines, Fla. $989 
9th Elizabeth Bishop Katy, Texas $660 

With all of the tournament action currently running here in early December, Nolan Dalla, the Media Director for the World Series of Poker, still expects a very competitive field for the $5,000 championship event.

"It might be a bit smaller than some other events with everything going on right now, but I am still looking at a player field between 160-170 players," he said in an e-mail discussion.

Dalla also pointed out that this is a very regionalized event, so there is a good chance that we could see a newcomer take the title.

"If you look at the preliminary events, perhaps 95% of the final-table finishers have been primarily from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. There should be some professionals in the field, but I wouldn't think that it would be [as] large [a] group as what we see during the spring tournament," he said.

The opportunity to take down a very prestigious World Series of Poker Circuit championship (and an entry into next year's World Series Main Event) is still up for grabs, though.

The battle will definitely be on in The Bayou State for the next three days as the WSOPC looks to crown another champion at the Winter Bayou Poker Challenge in New Orleans. will also be bringing you updates from the tournament, with Owen Laukkanen acting as your eyes and ears at the event. You can get all the latest updates, photos and interviews in the Live Tournament Section.

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