Maurice Hawkins Wins 16th WSOP Circuit Ring at Cherokee for $259K

The WSOP Circuit overall ring leaderboard just witnessed a significant shift as Maurice Hawkins claimed his 16th ring, winning the Cherokee Main Event for a prize of $259,160. This win places Hawkins firmly in the second spot on the all-time leaderboard, now just one ring behind Ari Engel.

Hawkins, a veteran of the WSOP Circuit, seems to have a special affinity for the Cherokee casino. Earlier this year, in February, he secured third place in the same event, taking home $178,870. With this latest victory, Hawkins has distanced himself from his nearest competitors, Dan Lowery and Josh Reichard, both tied at 15 rings. Hawkins’ relentless pursuit and unwavering skill have propelled him to a solo second place, making the top of the leaderboard even more competitive.

The event, held at the popular North Carolina venue, saw Hawkins in fine form. His previous performance at the same venue saw him finish third, and this time he was determined to clinch the top spot. Starting Day 3 in a promising position, Hawkins was fourth in chip count among nine contenders.

Final Day Action

The action kicked off immediately, with Hawkins knocking out Trace Henderson in the very first hand, setting a strong early pace. Henderson, holding pocket eights, went all-in against Hawkins’ pocket kings—a move that quickly tipped the scales in Hawkins’ favor.

The day continued to favor Hawkins, with another significant move eliminating Mark Merritt, the table’s short stack at the time. Hawkins, holding AK against Merritt’s A9, secured his position further.

Michael Lawrence, with A5, went all-in but was immediately challenged by Kris Duren’s 99. The board ran out KJ747, which wasn’t enough to save Lawrence, sending him to the rail in seventh place.

Derek Nold pushed all-in holding J9 and faced a tough spot against Matt Higgins’ QQ. The board came 8910810, and despite making two pairs, it wasn’t enough to overcome Higgins’ queens. Their sportsmanlike exchange post-match highlighted the event’s competitive yet friendly spirit.

Kris Duren shoved with JJ and was called by Higgins, who held A10. The initial flop of 244 kept Duren ahead, but an A on the turn moved Higgins ahead, and a blank river confirmed Duren’s fifth-place finish.

Chris George, attempting a bold play, went all-in with K9 against Maurice Hawkins’ A9. The board came clean for Hawkins, leading to George’s elimination in fourth place with the higher kicker playing a crucial role.

James Caldarero‘s tournament run ended when he went all-in holding Q10 against Higgins’ A9. The board displayed KA4, 6, and A, sealing Caldarero’s fate in third place despite his hopes for a straight.

Emotional and Friendly Heads-Up

The tournament’s climax was marked by an emotional and friendly heads-up battle between Hawkins and Matthew Higgins, a five-time ring winner himself. The duo, who had enjoyed drinks and friendly banter the night before, found themselves in a predicted showdown that was both competitive and heartfelt.

Hawkins expressed mixed emotions about the duel, highlighting his deep respect and affection for Higgins, which added an emotional layer to the victory. “This is the first time that I got heads up with somebody and I really wanted both of us to win somehow,” Hawkins remarked, underscoring the camaraderie that often underpins competitive poker.

WSOP Cherokee Main Event final table results

1Maurice Hawkins$259,160
2Matt Higgins$160,176
3James Caldarero$117,850
4Chris George$87,721
5Kris Duren$66,066
6Derek Nold$50,352
7Michael Lawrence$38,840
8Mark Merritt$30,327
9Trace Henderson$23,973

*Results and images courtesy of

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