Mark Barrientos wins WSOP Circuit Tulsa Main Event

Mo Afdhal
Posted on: August 28, 2023 14:36 PDT

When Mark Barrientos woke up on Monday morning, he had one World Series of Poker Circuit ring to his name. A few hours later, he had two.

Barrientos, of Wichita, KS closed out the win after navigating his way through a field of 397 entries in the WSOP Circuit Tulsa Main Event. The large field generated a total prize pool of $601,455, with the top prize of $126,900 going to Barrientos for his efforts.

"This one feels a little better..."

While the win isn't Barrientos' first on the WSOP Circuit, it's certainly his largest in terms of prize money, as well as his first six-figure score. Money aside, winning the Main Event in Tulsa means a little bit more to Barrientos. "The first ring meant a lot," he recalled, "[but] a lot of guys made fun of me because it was a turbo tournament, so I felt that I had something to prove. This one feels a little better because I think I played better."

The final day of play began with only seven players remaining, with Barrientos on the shortest stack. The shortage of chips, however, wasn't much of a deterrent to Barrientos' game plan. "The structure of this tournament is very helpful with it. It has big pay jumps and it tends to pay off people who are patient and that was my plan coming into the day today." Suffice it to say, the plan worked.

Mark Barrientos Mark Barrientos

Barrientos' patience pays off

The day's first elimination came when two-time WSOP Circuit winner Mark Martin ran into a preflop pair vs. pair confrontation. With all the chips in the middle, Martin's pocket sevens were in rough shape against the pocket eights of James Stone. The runout offered no help for Martin and, after starting the day second in chips, he was now on the short stack. Lionel Jiang later delivered the knockout punch, ending Martin's run with a payday of $18,065. Jiang's ace-king found a lucky river card to make broadway against, in an all too familiar ironic twist, Martin's pocket eights.

Tomas Teran fell next, in somewhat of a similar trajectory. After his pocket tens failed to hold against Wayne Nicholsen's ace-king, Teran found himself short stacked and soon-to-be at risk, in the danger zone. Later, his pocket nines suffered their own misfortune on the river against Stone's king-queen. A rivered queen sent Teran to the rail in sixth place, good for $23,519.

Nicholsen's early fortune at the final table came to an end at the hands of Stone as well. Facing an open from Stone, Nicholsen moved all in with ace-five. Stone's call with ace-ten saw Nicholsen's path to victory shrivel and, unable to improve, he was out in fifth place for $31,087.

Despite starting four-handed play with the chip lead, Stone ended up as the next player eliminated. In a hand that saw the board run out a straight, Stone's stack dwindled when his opponent, Jiang, showed a higher straight at showdown. Pocket eights, the hand that propelled him to the chip lead, would soon be Stone's downfall. Up against Jiang's pocket queens, Stone could not hit and his run ended in fourth place, earning $41,707 in the process.

Mark Barrientos Mark Barrientos

Striking at the right moment

You'll notice that, until right about now, Barrientos hadn't been in the action much. Instead, he waited, patiently, collected his pay jumps, happy to let the other players do the dirty work. All according to the plan. Now, however, it was time to strike. The target? Brent Gregory. The method? Two pair vs. two pair, a three-handed cooler. Gregory, on the heels of winning his second WSOP Circuit ring earlier in the Tulsa series, had to settle for a third place finish this time around, earning $56,785.

When heads-up play began, the chip counts were fairly even, with Jiang edging out a slight lead over Barrientos. A key hand came when Barrientos rivered top pair after betting the turn with only ace-high. Jiang called the turn bet, and the river bet, but could only muck his hand after seeing Barrientos' top pair. The players took a short break before returning to play and it was then that Barrientos ramped up the aggression. In back to back three-bet pots, Barrientos moved all-in on the flop, forcing a fold from Jiang both times.

The final hand of heads-up play saw Jiang move all in from the button with six-two suited, only to be called by a dominating hand, the king-two of Barrientos. After pairing his king on the flop, Barrientos had his opponent drawing dead on the turn to lock up the first place prize of $126,900. Jiang cashed the Main Event in Tulsa for a career-best $78,440.

Final Table Payouts

  1. Mark Barrientos - $126,900
  2. Lionel Jiang - $78,440
  3. Brent Gregory - $56,785
  4. James Stone - $41,707
  5. Wayne Nicholsen - $31,087
  6. Tomas Teran - $23,519
  7. Mark Martin - $18,065
  8. Angela Jordison - $14,091
  9. Richard Gordon - $11,164

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All Photo Credit: Rachel Kay Miller/ 8131 Media