Ryan Eriquezzo Wins 2018-2019 WSOP Global Casino Championship

Eriquezzo makes history

The World Series of Poker may have ended last month, but there was still one more bracelet to be awarded this summer, that of the WSOP Circuit season-ending WSOP Global Casino Championship. It was Danbury, Connecticut’s Ryan Eriquezzo who came out on top of the 129-player field at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort in North Carolina and won the $279,431 first prize. Even better, this was Eriquezzo’s second time winning the Global Casino Championship. He first won the title in 2012, when it was called the WSOP Circuit National Championship.

2018-2019 WSOP Global Casino Championship winner Ryan Eriquezzo
Image credit: WSOP.com

“It’s pretty crazy,” Eriquezzo told WSOP.com afterward. “It’s similar [to his last Global Casino Championship win] but it’s different. I had a much smaller rail then I did when I won in Vegas.”

That’s nothing to be ashamed of. I wouldn’t have a rail at all, even if I was at the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas. My wife would probably sigh and tell me that she would go if I really wanted her to, but we would have to find someone to watch the kids and she would have to burn vacation days and she won’t be able to stay up so late (thanks for assuming I’d last a while) and poker is boring and it will be too loud there. Then I’d say she could stay home and she’d say are you sure and I’d rationalize to myself that I’d be better off without distractions.

But I digress. Back to Ryan Eriquezzo. Because the Global Casino Championship awards an official WSOP gold bracelet, this is the second bracelet win of his career, with the other coming from his 2012 Championship victory. He has four WSOP Circuit rings to his credit and with this latest win, he has earned nearly $1.9 million in live poker tournaments.

Only a chosen few get to play in the Championship

The Global Casino Championship is an invitational; only the best players from the WSOP Circuit season and last year’s World Series of Poker qualify to participate. Most players get in for free. Everyone who won a Circuit Main Event or was a casino champion in the 2018-2019 receive a complimentary entry into the event. For reference, a casino champion is the player who earns the most points across the twelve ring events at a WSOP Circuit stop.

Additionally, the top 50 players on the U.S. season leaderboard earned free seats into the Global Casino Championship. Everyone who qualified automatically via Main Event win or casino championship was removed from the leaderboard, so there were always 50 leaderboard slots available.

On top of the free seats to the qualifiers described above, some poker players could buy-in to the tournament for $10,000 (rake-free). Players invited to buy-in directly, if so desired, were the top 100 players in the 2018 World Series of Poker Player of the Year standings and any ring winner from the 2018-2019 season. These buy-ins were added to the $1 million guaranteed prize pool. Just four people bought in directly, so the prize pool was $1,040,000.

Ryan Eriquezzo was awarded his free seat by winning the WSOP Circuit Harrah’s Atlantic City Main Event in March of this year.

Eriquezzo was riding high most the way

Going into Thursday’s eight-handed final table, Eriquezzo was second in chips with 1.900 million, trailing Paulius Vaitiekunas by 350,000. Joshua Turner, with 1.335 million, was the only other player over a million. It was Eric Salazar, though, who came all the way from fifth place and 750,000 chips to go into heads-up play against Eriquezzo. It was a close race after Eriquezzo eliminated 13-time Circuit ring winner Maurice Hawkins in third place, with Eriquezzo on top, 4.000 million to 3.700 million.

Eriquezzo extended his lead early, opening up a gulf of more than 3 million chips within about an hour, but Salazar was undeterred. Salazar made a huge double-up when he was all in with A-Q versus Eriquezzo’s A-5. Eriquezzo flopped a five and it looked like the tournament would end right then and there, but Salazar spiked a queen on the river to not only stay alive, but to take a large chip lead, 6.100 million to 1.600 million.

That lead lasted but a few minutes. Eriquezzo quickly returned the favor by doubling up and then regained the lead in short order. On the final hand, Eriquezzo raised to 225,000 pre-flop and Salazar called. On an all-diamond flop of J-7-3, Salazar checked, Eriquezzo bet 250,000, and Salazar called.

A deuce was dealt on the turn and this time Salazar looked to make a big play. He checked, Eriquezzo bet 670,000, and then Salazar shoved for 2.490 million. Eriquezzo insta-called and it was easy to why when he turned over K-T of hearts for a flopped second-nut flush. Salazar had just A-6 (the latter was a diamond); horrible timing for a bluff. The river mattered not one bit and Ryan Eriquezzo became the first player to nab two WSOP Global Casino Championships.

The Global Casino Championship took place in the midst of the first stop of the 2019-2020 WSOP Circuit season at Harrah’s Cherokee. Eriquezzo said after his victory that is going to play in the $1,700 Main Event (Day 1A is currently in action) and then consider a vacation if the poker schedule gives him an opening.

2018-2019 WSOP Global Casino Championship – Final Table Results

1. Ryan Eriquezzo – $279,431
2. Eric Salazar -$172,431
3. Maurice Hawkins – $119,555
4. Joshua Turner – $84,961
5. Paulius Vaitiekunas – $62,023
6. Cedric Adam – $46,546
7. Jordan Piva – $35,939
8. Jarod Minghini – $28,572

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