The timing of the World Series of Poker Circuit tournament at Harrah’s Philadelphia set up an interesting dynamic, and one that’s been beneficial to the renamed casino. As the next-to-last event on the 17-tournament Circuit series, Harrah’s Philadelphia has become crucial for players who hope to qualify for the $1 million freeroll National Championship at the Rio casino in July.
The top 66 points-earners in all Circuit events win a seat in the ESPN-televised tournament that begins on July 5 in Las Vegas and as a result, players from across the country who otherwise wouldn’t have been inclined to play in the Philadelphia-area event are hitting the felt at the Delaware County casino to chase Circuit points.
As a result, Harrah’s Philadelphia has been having winners capture Circuit championship rings who hail from unlikely places.
The last two were from California and Texas.
In Event No. 5, Katherine “Kat” Bowen, of Gladewater, Texas, won more than $18,200 in a $555 buy-in no-limit hold’em event on Wednesday and enough point to give her 127 1/2 for the Circuit season and put her in the top 66 in the race for a seat in the National Championship at the Rio.
Before that in Event No. 4, it was Ryan Gentry, a 34-year-old poker pro from San Diego, winning more than $14,900 in a $345 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament. That catapulted him into the top 10 on the leaderboard with 145 points and assured him of a seat in the National Championship.
Current projections are that a player will need a season point-total in the range of 102 to 105 to finish in the top 66. Players will get one more chance to pile up some points in the final WSOP Circuit event in New Orleans later this month.
Bowen and Gentry are hardly the only out-of-towners using the Harrah’s Philadelphia event to pile up some points. In Event No. 3, some of the top 10 finishers were from Georgia, Indiana, California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Canada.
The winner was Peter Ippolito, from East Meadow, N.Y., who collected more than $17,100 in a $555 buy-in no-limit hold’em event. Ippolito added 50 points to make his season total 107 ½, putting him in the top 66 so far.
Also in Event No. 3, Joey Hebda, from Bloomington, Ind., and Everett Carlton, from St. Paul, Minn., finished sixth and seventh respectively. In both cases, they accumulated enough points to be comfortably in the top 66. Hebda has 115 and Carlton has 122 ½.
Area pros who are among the top 66 are Amanda Musumeci, of Northeast Philly, with 132 1/2 points, Jamie Kerstetter, of Bensalem, with 127 ½ and Roman Valerstein, of Newtown, with 125.
Local players who finished in the top 10 in recent Harrah’s Philadelphia events were …
Event No. 5
3. Edward Stanish, Claymont, Del., $8,119
4. Kevin McColgan, Douglassville, Pa., $5,965
8. Adam Miller, Broomall, Pa., $2,059
Event No. 4
7. Andre Brodeur, Norristown, Pa., $2,141
10. Ricardo Franco, Philadelphia, $1,087
11. Aaron Frese, Phoenixville, $1,087
Photo: Kat Bowen, Courtesy WSOP