Jonathan Gaviao earned his first gold ring along with $181,757 in prize money in the Harrah’s Tunica Main Event Monday evening.
Gaviao, a 23-year-old College Station, TX resident, bested 577 entries to earn his spot among the season’s most recent Main Event winners and secure his seat in the National Championship.
“It’s wonderful,” he said. “It’s always nice to win a ring and make a little bit of money. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The victory is just most the recent in a string of successes for the young pro. Barely two weeks ago he finished 14th in the record-breaking 1,428- entry Circuit Main Event at Choctaw Casino. He earned $24,098 for that performance, but came up well short of the gold hardware Circuit grinders play for.
With that deep run under his belt, Gaviao made the trip to Tunica to try his luck in another Circuit finale. Late on Day 2, it appeared the trek was paying off when he picked up pocket aces to knock out two players and take a sizable chip lead. From there, he still had a long way to go, but the stars were undoubtedly aligning.
“I felt really confident when we got down to fourhanded and I took over the chip lead,” Gaviao said of his run. “I felt like I was playing really well. I knew that whatever happened, happened for a reason and I was alright with that. Whether I won or lost; there’s more important things in life.”
Gaviao rode his confidence and laid back attitude all the way to the winner’s circle marking his second deep run in as many years at the Harrah’s Tunica Main event.
“Everyone’s got their special place and I guess Tunica is mine,” Gaviao said.
Gaviao is a 23-year-old professional poker player from College Station, TX. He attended Texas A&M University but is currently on a hiatus for missionary work. The victory marks his third WSOP-related cash and moves him over $210,000 in career earnings. In addition to some runs good and undeniable skill, Gaviao cited his faith and the perspective it shed on the situation as a reason for his success.
“I’m just going to be thankful,” Gaviao said of what he’ll take away from his championship. “Getting to look back and know that God’s good. Win or lose, he’s always good… You can take away all the money and I’ll still have everything I need.”
Tunica has been a longtime presence on the WSOP Circuit schedule, so it comes as no surprise some of the best players in the Mid-South turned up for the marquee event. Among the participants were November Niners John Dolan and Dennis Phillips, bracelet winners Loni Harwood and Jonathan Taylor and 2003 WSOP Main Event winner Chris Moneymaker.
WSOP CIRCUIT EVENT
EVENT 10 1/31/14
NO LIMIT HOLD’EM
PRIZE POOL $865,500
1. Jonathan Gaviao . $181,757
2. Carter Myers . . . . $112,420
3. Charles Hopkins . . . $82,205
4. Bradley Lipsey . . . . . $61,000
5. Jackson White . . . . $45,897
6. David Lee . . . . . . . . $35,009
7. Lance Garcia . . . . . $27,073
8. Bryan Mcmullin . . . $21,222
9. Timothy Tracy . . . . $16,860
10. Jamey Kramer . . . . $13,571
11. Duy Tran . . . . . . . . . $13,571