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World Series of Poker Circuit’s (WSOPC) last stop of 2018 was hosted at Mississippi’s IP Biloxi with the proceedings wrapping up on December 17. The main attraction at the 13-event long series was undoubtedly the $1,700 Main Event which began on December 14 and registered 382 entries that made for a total prize pool of $578,730. Following three days of gruelling poker action, 27-year old Kevin Johnson (cover image) outlasted the field to claim his first-ever circuit ring and a career-best score of $127,319.
Johnson had entered the final table with the third-biggest stack and announced his aggressive intentions almost immediately with the double eliminations of BJ McBrayer and Chris Matters.
When the final five players returned on Day 3, Johnson had bettered his position as the second-largest stack. He eliminated Benjamin Thomas and Matthew Higgins on his way to meeting Luke Graham in the heads-up play. He defeated Graham to win the title, along with a seat into the season-ending Global Casino Championship.
“I felt pretty good coming into the final table,” Johnson said in a post-event interview. “It was already the most I’ve ever won, so it was all a freeroll.”
Johnson also explained that before 2018, he had taken a nearly five-year long break from the game.
”I’ve been traveling the Circuit most of this year,” he said. “I was playing in college in the early 2000’s, and then I got a job and took a break. But I got back into it about a year ago. $10,000 of my win will go to the Main Event in Vegas.”
Out of the 45 places that received payouts, some familiar names included Marshall White (11th for $9,746), Eric Salazar (24th for $4,786), Scott Stewart (26th for $4,138), Jody Fayant (28th for $3,623) and Christopher Savage (32nd for $3,212).
1. Matthew Higgins – 2,340,000
2. Dave Alfa – 2,250,000
3. Kevin Johnson – 1,983,000
4. Johnny Landreth – 1,600,000
5. Luke Graham – 850,000
6. Timothy Conrow – 750,000
7. Chris Matters – 743,000
8. Kao Saechao – 372,000
9. BJ McBrayer – 305,000
10. Benjamin Thomas – 272,000
Kao Saechao bubbled the final table when he moved all-in from middle position with and Luke Graham called from the button with . The runout was of no help to Saechao who busted out in 10th place for $9,746.
The action on the nine-handed final table was off with bang as Kevin Johnson brought about the double eliminations of BJ McBrayer and Chris Matters. McBrayer moved all-in for his last 192,000 from early position and Johnson 3-bet to 400,000 from the cutoff, while Matters re-shoved for around 720,000 from the button. Johnson called, and all three players tabled their cards.
The board ran and Johnson scooped the pot, sending both McBrayer and Matters out in ninth and eighth place respectively.
Dave Alfa finished in seventh place when his were cracked by Benjamin Thomas’ .
Johnny Landreth became the last casualty on Day 2 when he raised to 125,000 from the cutoff with and Matthew Higgins called from the button holding . The dealer brought out the as the community cards and both players picked up pairs on the flop, but Higgins’ pair of aces were stronger than Landreth pair of jacks, resulting in the latter’s sixth place exit.
1. Luke Graham – 4,210,000
2. Kevin Johnson – 2,295,000
3. Matthew Higgins – 2,805,000
4. Timothy Conrow – 1,330,000
5. Benjamin Thomas – 805,000
Short-stacked Timothy Conrow became the first casualty on the final day when he locked horns with Higgins. Conrow’s could not hold on against Higgins’ , when the latter paired his King on the river on the runout , forcing Conrow to bow out in fifth place.
With only four runner remaining, Johnson limped from the small blind with and Benjamin Thomas jammed from the big blind holding . The community cards ran and Johnson flopped two pairs of aces and tens on the board to eliminate Thomas in fourth place.
Finishing in third place was Matthew Higgins when his ran into Johnson’s . The board spread out and Johnson found a pair of jacks on the turn to win the pot.
Kevin Johnson (8,500,000) held a commendable lead over Luke Graham (3,000,000) at the start of the heads-up confrontation, which the latter eventually found hard to overcome.
On the final hand, Graham opened for 260,000 from the small blind with and Johnson called from the big blind holding . The flop fell . Johnson checked while Graham fired a bet of 325,000. Johnson check-raised all-in for about 7,800,000 and Graham quickly called with his last 2,800,000. The and completed the board and just like that Johnson picked up his maiden WSOPC gold ring, along with a career-best payday of $127,319.
1. Kevin Johnson – $127,319
2. Luke Graham – $78,678
3. Matthew Higgins – $57,491
4. Benjamin Thomas – $42,687
5. Timothy Conrow – $32,189
6. Johnny Landreth – $24,637
7. Dave Alfa – $19,133
8. Chris Matters – $15,070
9. BJ McBrayer – $12,038