Ryan Jones earned his first ever World Series of Poker Circuit ring by taking down the Harrah’s Cherokee Main Event in Cherokee, North Carolina.
The victory earned Jones $235,804 and a seat in the WSOP National Championship in July, which will be held in the very same casino where Jones won this week.
Jones came out on top of a 786-player field that featured several notable pros as well as most of the local North Carolina poker community.
Jones himself only lived a few hours away, and found that winning a major tournament close to home made the victory even sweeter.
“Winning at home was pretty special for sure,” Jones told WSOP.com. “It feels pretty good. I’ve had a couple deep runs and couldn’t close the deal, so it felt good to finally get it done. I’d like to thank my mom and my grandma for taking care of me all my life, and now I get to pay it back.”
Jones is no stranger to strong finishes in major poker tournaments. He scored his first WSOP cash in the 2013 WSOP Main Event, finishing in 182nd place to win $42,990. He also picked up a second WSOP cash by finishing 83rd in the Millionaire Maker last year.
But his biggest successes have both happened in 2015. Earlier this year, he scored his first six-figure cash by finishing 4th at an event during the Borgata Winter Open in Atlantic City.
And now, he has secured his first noteworthy tournament victory while also nearly doubling his career tournament earnings to just under $500,000.
“Had a big score in January, now this, so it’s been a good year so far,” Jones said. “I can’t complain. I’m excited for a chance to play with the best [at the National Championship].”
Winning this title wasn’t easy, however. Jones had some real competition to deal with: players including David Bach, Nicholas Palma, and Michael Gracz were among those who cashed in the event. But at the final table, Jones seemed to be in control much of the way, quickly stacking up as other players were eliminated.
But Jones still faced a chip deficit going into heads-up play, as David Williams held 9.8 million chips to his 5.9 million. But Jones would fight his way back to the chip lead by winning a couple of big pots, putting himself in position to win the tournament.
On the final hand, the blinds were 40,000/80,000 and Williams raised preflop to 160,000. Jones put in a three-bet of 420,000, which Williams called. On a Qâ™ 8â™¥3â™¦ flop,Â Jones bet out 350,000, and Williams called.
The turn came the Kâ™¥, leading to fireworks: Jones bet out for 620,000, and Williams raised to 1.3 million. After taking a moment to think, Jones moved all-in; Williams similarly took a moment before calling.
Both players proved to have two pair, but Jones was in the lead with Kâ™¦Qâ™¥ against Williams’ Kâ™ 8â™ . Only an eight could save Williams, and when it didn’t come, Jones was the tournament champion. Williams had to settle for second, but still took home a healthy prize of $145,371.