Throughout the past year and change, PokerNews has traced the history of various World Series of Poker Circuit event stops. Now, it’s time to look at the stop that is WSOP Circuit history: WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Atlantic City, which was the very first stop on tour way back in 2005 when the idea to spread the WSOP brand throughout the country first got off the ground.
Since then, the Harrah’s Atlantic City stop has endured, hosting a ring series each and every season without fail, even an abbreviated one in 2020 that ended abruptly due to the pandemic.
January 2005: The First Circuit Event
Though it remains billed as the 2004-05 season, the first hands dealt on the Circuit did occur in January 2005 at Harrah’s Atlantic City. The seven-event series culminated in what was then a $10,000 Main Event, which drew 249 runners for a prize pool of $2,365,500.
Stars of the game such as Chris Ferguson, Chad Brown and Erick Lindgren made the final table but none would be able to topple the ultra-aggressive Canadian upstart Henry Tran. Tran bested Lindgren heads up to win $780,615.
In a 15-plus year career that’s seen him edge up to almost $2 million cashes to date, that figure remains his best score as well as his only Circuit ring.
|1||Henry Tran||Vaughan, Canada||$780,615|
|2||Erick Lindgren||Henderson, Nevada||$430,521|
|3||Nicky Frangos||White Plains, New York||$236,550|
|4||Mimi Tran||Cerritos, California||$189,240|
|5||Aaron Bartley||Cary, North Carolina||$141,930|
|6||Stan Goldstein||Los Angeles, California||$118,275|
|7||Chad Brown||Margate, Florida||$94,620|
|8||Chris Ferguson||Pacific Palisades, California||$70,965|
|9||John Esposito||Las Vegas, Nevada||$47,310|
February 2006: Korotki Wins First of Two
A slight ding in the buy-in $9,700 and a bigger dip in the entries to 124 meant the prize pool for the second go-round was about half the size at $1,202,800 in 2006.
Commensurate with the decrease in prize money, a less star-studded final table emerged, though there was still a handsome sum of $433,008 up top. That amount went to Abraham Korotki of New Jersey after getting by Denmark’s Brian Jensen heads up.
Similarly to Tran, the win jump-started a poker career that has seen Korotki pile up $1.9 million in cashes. Unlike Tran, however, he did manage to snag a second ring, and it would be several years down the line at this very stop.
|1||Abraham Korotki||Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey||$433,008|
|2||Brian Jensen||Aars, Denmark||$240,560|
|3||Steven Jacobs||New York, New York||$132,308|
|5||Herbert Cheng||Elmhurst, New York||$84,196|
|6||Edward Corrado||Naples, Florida||$72,168|
|7||Ernest Shepherd||Lizella, Georgia||$60,140|
|8||Harry White||Hughesville, Pennsylvania||$48,112|
December 2006: Racener’s Rise Begins
The following season of Circuit action would see the Harrah’s Atlantic City stop shifted to December, so it took place in the same calendar year as the prior stop. A cut in the buy-in to $4,900 would see a bigger field of 237 turn out but roughly the same prize pool of $1,161,300 collected.
The winner of the event would be Rick Rossetti for $368,096. However, Rossetti would never recapture that sort of glory again, though he has maintained a consistent record of cashes and popped up for several scores in the 2020 online bracelet series.
Instead, a different star emerged from the final table: third-place finisher John Racener. Racener earned $103,527 for his first recorded live cash and would go on to WSOP glory with a bracelet and more than $8.5 million in cashes headlined by his runner-up finish at the 2010 Main Event.
As you’ll see below, he had some Circuit success as well.
|1||Rick Rossetti||Linwood, New Jersey||$368,096|
|3||John Racener||Tampa, Florida||$103,527|
|4||Feming Chan||West Windsor, New Jersey||$80,521|
|5||Ken Goldin||Clearwater, Florida||$69,018|
|6||Michael Bernstein||Chicago, Illinois||$57,515|
|7||Ray Ho Lin||N/A||$46,012|
|8||Drew Gliem||Trenton, New Jersey||$34,509|
|9||Tam Ly||Lansdale, Pennsylvania||$23,006|
December 2007: Racener Runs it Back
A similar field of 244 came out for the $5,000 Main Event the following December to create a prize pool of $1,195,600. For the first time, the event received live coverage on PokerNews, archived right here.
Once again, Racener would find himself making a run to the final table. This time, Racener shared the table with fellow future WSOP Main Event final tablist Eric Buchman. The two entered the final table with big stacks and as it would happen, they’d wind up heads up.
This time, Racener finished the job he’d started the year before. He won $379,392 and his first and to date only Circuit ring, though of course bigger and better things were ahead in his career.
|1||John Racener||Tampa, Florida||$379,392|
|2||Eric Buchman||Hewlett, New York||$208,666|
|3||Feming Chan||West Windsor, New Jersey||$106,704|
|4||Joseph Brooks||Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey||$82,992|
|5||Thomas Patrick Fee||N/A||$71,136|
|6||Dave Fox||Coram, New York||$59,280|
|9||Sam Skolnik||Las Vegas, Nevada||$23,712|
December 2008: Roberts Grabs His Only Circuit Ring
The turnout dipped to 179 for the following year’s $5K Main Event, so the prize pool ducked under seven figures for the first time, hitting $867,100.
A handful of future WSOP stars made the final table. Both Allen Bari and Kyle Bowker, who would go on to win seven figures in bracelet events over the course of their careers, fell a bit shy of the title with fifth- and third-place finishes, respectively.
Instead, it would be another recognizable reg, Brent Roberts, who snagged a ring and $280,040. Roberts would eventually surpass $500K in WSOP cashes and pile up more than $370K on the Circuit, but he has yet to find himself back in the winner’s circle even as his total tournament winnings surpassed $2.4 million.
|1||Brent Roberts||Las Vegas, Nevada||$280,040|
|3||Kyle Bowker||Walton, New York||$86,710|
|4||Robert McLaughlin||Washington, D.C.||$69,368|
|5||Allen Bari||West Orange, New Jersey||$52,026|
|6||Timothy Kelly||Thorold, Canada||$43,355|
|7||Dwyte Pilgrim||Brooklyn, New York||$34,684|
|8||Scott Zakheim||Davie, Florida||$26,013|
December 2009: Klod’s Only Ring, Another Close Call for Bowker
The tournament legend known to many as “SLOPPYKLOD,” Chris Klodnicki has piled up millions in winnings both live and online but only has one Circuit ring, and that came at the $5,000 Main Event in Atlantic City in 2009.
In a slightly bumped up field of 195 — prize pool of $926,835 — Klodnicki had a whale of a final four to deal with. Future WPT Player of the Year Mukul Pahuja would take fourth, online legend Grayson “gray31” Ramage got third, and none other than previous year’s third-place finisher Kyle Bowker made it heads up. Unfortunately for Bowker, he was only able to do one better as Klodnicki held a big chip lead heads up and did not let it slip it away.
|1||Chris Klodnicki||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||$215,915|
|2||Kyle Bowker||Walton, New York||$128,357|
|3||Grayson Ramage||Austin, Texas||$100,852|
|4||Mukul Pahuja||Coconut Creek, Florida||$73,347|
|5||Ryan Karp||West Chester, Pennsylvania||$67,178|
|6||Charles Furey||Atlantic City, New Jersey||$55,010|
|7||Wayne Lewis||Galloway, New Jersey||$45,842|
|8||Farzad Rouhani||Brigantine, New Jersey||$36,673|
|9||Eugene Fouksman||Manalappan, New Jersey||$27,505|
December 2010: Waxman Wins First Lower-Priced Main
The WSOP opted to shift around the format of the Circuit for the 2010-11 season, downsizing the Main Events to $1,650 and adding the points race leading toward the season-ending $1 million National Championship. Short-lived Regional Championships were also added, with one held at Harrah’s Atlantic City.
However, the Main would be at the aforementioned $1,650 price point for the first time, drawing 352 entries for a prize pool of $512,160.
Once again, a future WSOP bracelet winner took it down, this time Matt Waxman. The Florida pro would win $117,979 and go on to bracelet glory in 2013, part of $1.1 million in WSOP earnings and counting.
|1||Matt Waxman||Fort Lauderdale, Florida||$117,797|
|2||Ismael Cabrera||Marietta, Georga||$72,824|
|3||Mark Sykes||Hamden, Connecticut||$53,126|
|4||Chris Bonita||Winthrop, Massachusetts||$39,406|
|5||David Cubeta||Falls Church, Virginia||$29,685|
|6||Dennis Summers||Charlottesville, Virginia||$22,704|
|7||Tam Ly||Lansdale, Pennsylvania||$17,618|
|8||Brandon Croft||Sumter, South Carolina||$13,869|
|9||Manish Patel||Burlington, New Jersey||$11,073|
A Casino Championship leaderboard was kept for the first time to award another seat to the National Championship, and it would be second-place Main Event finisher Ismael Cabrera taking the honors. That placing was a big factor as the points were distributed differently back then, enabling Cabrera to hold off East Coast legend Chris Reslock by the slimmest of margins.
December 2011: Phan Makes Maiden WSOP Score a Big One
The buy-in was slightly cut to $1,600 but a much bigger turnout of 618 boosted the prize pool considerably to $899,190 in 2011.
Future high roller regular and multiple-time major tournament champion Anthony Zinno would make a deep run only to go down in sixth place for $36,372, a mere fraction of the millions that awaited him down the road.
Two Virginians, Tuan Phan and Hao Le would meet heads up, with the former coming out on top for $188,190. It was Phan’s very first time cashing a WSOP event, and it would nearly be his last as he managed just one more in the intervening years.
|1||Tuan Phan||Vienna, Virginia||$188,190|
|2||Hao Le||Fairfax, Virginia||$116,796|
|3||Marc Roy||Montreal, Canada||$85,405|
|4||Larry Riggs||Maysville, North Carolina||$63,375|
|5||Manh Nguyen||Homestead, Pennsylvania||$47,684|
|6||Anthony Zinno||Boston, Massachusetts||$36,372|
|7||Kevin Kaikko||Princeton, New Jersey||$28,127|
|8||Denis Gnidash||Fair Lawn, New Jersey||$22,048|
|9||Michael Devinsky||Middletown, New Jersey||$17,516|
While Le couldn’t quite capture the title, he did get the consolation prize of Casino Champion much like Ismael Cabrera before him, taking advantage of the heavier points weight to second-place Main Event finishes. Le had also gotten third in the opening $365 event and it was enough to score him 80 points to top the 72.5 of Jeffrey Gurfinkel.
December 2012: Teasdale Wins Main, Fish Named Casino Champ
A near-identical field of 616 turned out for the again slightly altered price point of $1,675 in the December 2012 Main Event, making for a prize pool of $924,000.
The star power of previous years wasn’t present, as it was instead little-known Adam Teasdale from North Carolina who emerged for the $194,040 first-place prize, topping Minnesota pro Wade Woelfel in the process. It remains Teasdale’s only ring and dwarfs the rest of his career cashes combined by about a 2-to-1 ratio.
|1||Adam Teasdale||Wilmington, North Carolina||$194,040|
|2||Wade Woelfel||Mankato, Minnesota||$120,018|
|3||Pedro Rios||Houston, Texas||$87,762|
|4||Sung Kim||New York, New York||$65,124|
|5||Terry Grimes||Yonkers, New York||$49,000|
|6||Aaron Overton||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||$37,376|
|7||Barry Leventhal||Brooklyn, New York||$28,903|
|8||Ed Modlin||Jamesville, North Carolina||$22,656|
|9||Trevor Deeter||Langhorne, Pennsylvania||$18,000|
A 14th-place finish in the Main Event along with his first Circuit ring (and a $50K score) in the multi-flight event gave Nebraska native Brandon Fish enough points to snag Casino Champion honors. He finished comfortably clear of Main Event third-place finisher Pedro Rios.
December 2013: Lapinta Tops Smaller Field
The field dipped a bit to 578 in 2013, making for a prize pool of $867,000.
A Circuit standout and a future bracelet winner would both make the final table but neither would be the last standing as both James Dorrance and Jeremy Wien, respectively, would go down fairly early in eighth and sixth. Joseph Lapinta would collect all of the chips and win $182,070, one of only two Circuit cashes on his ledger to this day.
|1||Joseph Lapinta||Toms River||$182,070|
|2||Joseph Wertz||Montoursville, Pennsylvania||$112,615|
|3||John Jones||Spotsylvania, Virginia||$82,384|
|4||Keith Donovan||New Milford, New Jersey||$61,106|
|6||Jeremy Wien||Mount Kisco, New York||$35,070|
|7||Melad Marji||Oneida Castle, New York||$27,120|
|8||James Dorrance||Hershey, Pennsylvania||$21,259|
|9||Kevin Kernan||Warwick, Rhode Island||$16,889|
Richard Block has just five Circuit cashes to his credit, but the two highest finishes came in timely fashion in close proximity to one another at the 2013 Harrah’s Atlantic City stop. He won the $580 event for $28,373 and then followed up a few days later with third place in a $365 for $7,895. Those two finishes were enough for the title of Casino Champion.
December 2014: Pahuja Finishes the Job
Back in 2009, Mukul Pahuja had come close to a Main Event win at Harrah’s Atlantic City only to see Chris Klodnicki take the honors at a really tough final table. Another meat grinder of a finale emerged in 2014 — numbers dipped to 460 entries for $690,000 in the prize pool — but this time Pahuja finished the job.
In the midst of a career breakout that would see him WPT Player of the Year, Pahuja topped a final table that featured East Coast standouts Joseph Liberta, Mike Dentale Jesse Cohen,and Jake Toole, whom Pahuja bested heads up. Adam Teasdale also made a repeat final-table run following up his win two years earlier.
Pahuja earned the second of three rings and $148,345.
|1||Mukul Pahuja||Coconut Creek, Florida||$148,345|
|2||Jake Toole||Hoboken, New Jersey||$91,722|
|3||Gajan Jeganathan||Monmouth Junction, New Jersey||$67,006|
|4||Mike Dentale||Brooklyn, New York||$49,673|
|5||James Petolicchio||Sewell, New Jersey||$37,357|
|6||Adam Teasdale||Wilmington, North Carolina||$28,497|
|7||Jesse Cohen||Ardmore, Pennsylvania||$22,046|
|8||Joseph Liberta||Berlin, New Jersey||$17,298|
|9||David Matthews||Columbus, Ohio||$13,766|
After finishing third in the Main Event the previous year, John Jones followed up with Casino Champion honors in 2014. He had three final table runs, finishing first in the $580 for $17,100, ninth in a $365 for $1,148 and third in a $365 six-max for $8,345.
March 2016: A New Slot
For the 2015-16 season, the Harrah’s Atlantic City stop was moved to the mid-March slot as The Bike in L.A. took over early December. The move did nothing to stem the sliding participation as just 370 entries were recorded for a prize pool of $555,000, the property’s lowest since 2010.
Again, there were a slew of strong players at the final table. Joseph Liberta made it back-to-back years in the final nine but could only improve his standing one spot to sixth. Jared Jaffee, Joe Cappello, and Ari Engel also made deep runs but couldn’t find their way to gold.
Future WSOP.com bracelet winner Robert Kuhn would be the last man standing to win $122,098 and to date his only Circuit ring.
|1||Robert Kuhn||Las Vegas, Nevada||$122,098|
|2||Nenad Cvetkovic||Atlantic City, New Jersey||$75,452|
|4||Ari Engel||Las Vegas, Nevada||$40,937|
|5||David Cossio||Las Vegas, Nevada||$30,869|
|6||Joseph Liberta||Berlin, New Jersey||$23,626|
|7||Joseph Cappello||New Rochelle, New York||$18,348|
|8||Jared Jaffee||Brooklyn, New York||$14,452|
|9||Oliver Entine||New York, New York||$11,544|
While Engel couldn’t quite finish the Main with a ring, he did earn enough points with that fourth-place finish combined with his eighth ring win — he now has 10 — in the $580 to grab a ticket to the newly minted Global Casino Championship. Leaderboard grinders everywhere were undoubtedly relieved as the prolific Engel was always known for collecting more than his share of points and cashes, meaning a likely at-large bid was opened up.
March 2017: Korotki Completes a Brace
The WSOP stuck with the March slot for the 2016-17 season but attendance fell even further to 341, for a record-low prize pool of $511,500.
Though it paled in comparison to his previous win worth $433K way back in 2006, Abraham Korotki was undoubtedly still thrilled to gather in $117,645 and a second Circuit ring more than a decade after his first.
He beat Alex Rocha heads up. Other notable finishers included previous year’s runner-up Nenad Cvetkovic in fifth for $29,647 and tournament star Shannon Shorr in eighth for $13,851.
|1||Abraham Korotki||Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey||$117,645|
|2||Alex Rocha||Flagler Beach, Florida||$72,730|
|3||Edward Duncan||Oneida, Tennessee||$53,085|
|4||Henry Edmondson||Oceanport, New Jersey||$39,355|
|5||Nenad Cvetkovic||Atlantic City, New Jersey||$29,647|
|6||Brian Paneth||Brooklyn, New York||$22,675|
|7||Jeremy Stein||Washington, D.C.||$17,596|
|8||Shannon Shorr||Las Vegas, Nevada||$13,851|
|9||Julie Cornelius||Rockville, Maryland||$11,059|
It would be New Jersey sensation Dan Buzgon, one of the most prolific players in Circuit history with 126 cashes and counting, who claimed Casino Champion honors. He easily dusted the rest of the competition with three cashes and more importantly two wins, shipping two $365 turbos for a combined $24,455, landing 17.5 points clear of second place.
March 2018: Second of Five for Porbandarwala
Numbers inched further downward in March 2018 with 306 entries for $459,000 in the prize pool.
A pair of ring winners met heads up for $107,862 up top as it would be Peter Vitantonio facing off with Soheb Porbandarwala. The fast-rising Porbandarwala, who had grabbed a six-figure win in the big Foxwoods reentry the season before, added a Main Event win to his list by besting three-time ring winner Vitantonio.
Porbandarwala has continued to have success in the ensuing years, adding three more rings, including two online where he has been one of the most successful players in the regulated U.S. markets.
Also of note was a fourth-place finish by WSOP mixed-game grinder Matt Glantz.
|1||Soheb Porbandarwala||Stamford, Connecticut||$107,862|
|2||Peter Vitantonio||Wickliffe, Ohio||$66,693|
|3||Jason Maeroff||Atlanta, Georgia||$48,438|
|4||Matt Glantz||Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania||$35,779|
|5||Scott Sisler||Novi, Michigan||$26,861|
|6||Billy Cashwell||Stedman, North Carolina||$20,485|
|7||Jeffrey Miller||Jupiter, Florida||$15,868|
|8||Kevin Grabel||Southampton, Pennsylvania||$12,476|
|9||Daniel Monosson||Plainview, New York||$9,956|
Min Wang had a spectacular performance at the stop with three cashes — two firsts and a runner-up. The ring wins came in $580 Double Stack and a $365 regular event while the runner-up came in a single-day event. Wang finished with a staggering 137.5 points, meaning even Vitantonio’s excellent results that included a ring win with the runner-up finish didn’t get him close.
March 2019: No. 4 for Eriquezzo
One of the most successful players in Circuit history has undoubtedly been Ryan Eriquezzo. With more than $700K in earnings, four rings, and not one but two wins in the season-ending bracelet event, Eriquezzo has made his mark on the Circuit like few others.
His native Northeast has been a particularly successful stomping ground, and Eriquezzo entered the 2019 Harrah’s Atlantic City stop having already won a previous Circuit Main at sister property Caesars Atlantic City. He added another ring, his fourth, topping a field of 357 at the new $1,700 price point, which had produced a prize pool of $540,855.
|1||Ryan Eriquezzo||Danbury, Connecticut||$124,397|
|2||Denis Gnidash||Fair Lawn, New Jersey||$76,904|
|3||Kurt Lichtman||New York, New York||$56,103|
|4||Richard Hanheide||Clintondale, New York||$41,613|
|5||Ryan McKnight||Harrisburg, Pennsylvania||$31,348|
|6||John Forlenza||Matawan, New Jersey||$23,976|
|7||Ross Gottlieb||Columbus, Ohio||$18,605|
|8||Renata Colache||Clayton, New Jersey||$14,646|
|9||Daniel Park||Bayside, New York||$11,693|
Michael Marder put on quite the blitz at the stop as he cashed six out of a possible 13 events. They weren’t all of the min-cash variety either as he found himself at four final tables. There, he’d bank two fourths and a ninth before snagging his first ring and $10,394 in the $400 post-lim. He piled up 132.5 points, usually an easy way to win Casino Champion, but it was barely enough to edge Porbandarwala who had six cashes of his own.
At a Glance: History of WSOPC Harrah’s Atlantic City
|Edition||Main Event Champ||Prize||Casino Champion|
|January 2005||Henry Tran||$780,615||N/A|
|February 2006||Abraham Korotki||$433,008||N/A|
|December 2006||Rick Rossetti||$368,096||N/A|
|December 2007||John Racener||$379,392||N/A|
|December 2008||Brent Roberts||$280,040||N/A|
|December 2009||Chris Klodnicki||$215,915||N/A|
|December 2010||Matt Waxman||$117,797||Ismael Cabrera|
|December 2011||Tuan Phan||$188,190||Hao Le|
|December 2012||Adam Teasdale||$194,040||Brandon Fish|
|December 2013||Joseph Lapinta||$182,070||Richard Block|
|December 2014||Mukul Pahuja||$148,345||John Jones|
|March 2016||Robert Kuhn||$122,098||Ari Engel|
|March 2017||Abraham Korotki||$117,645||Dan Buzgon|
|March 2018||Soheb Porbandarwala||$107,862||Ming Wang|
|March 2019||Ryan Eriquezzo||$124,397||Michael Marder|
Lead photo courtesy of TruffStuff/Wikimedia Commons, winner photos via WSOP