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After navigating a record field of 1,611 players, Brett Schwertley captured the Gold Ring at the World Series of Poker Circuit event in Hammond, Indiana. The win, good for $77,438, set high-water marks for both the victor and the tournament organizers.

A 27 year-old semi-pro from Omaha, NE, Schwertley is becoming a familiar face on the WSOP circuit. While this may be his first event victory, he has cashed in five previous attempts. So far, he’s accumulated over $100,000 in winnings this season. If he can continue this pace, he’ll be a strong contender for the series’ overall points lead.

Held at Hammond’s Horseshoe Casino, 1,611 players ponied up $350 to take their seats in this historic event. The attendance totals shattered previous WSOP Circuit highs by just under 200, forcing organizers to add an extra day to the schedule.

As exciting as this win must be, nothing sweetens the deal like a little hardship. After making the coveted final table, the Schwertley found himself in trouble almost immediately.

“I started with $1.6 million (second in chips),” he recalls. “The player to my right had about a million. We got it all in pre-flop. I had two aces. He had two jacks. A jack came on he flop, and all the sudden I was the shortest stack at the table.”

Sticking to his guns, the aspiring pro managed to work his way back into contention. Eventually, it all came down to a single hand. Heads up and in the lead against 79 year-old Edward Corrado, Schwertley looked down at Qh3h. When the flop came KhQd3d, it was time to make a move.

“It was a limp pot. I flopped two pair. I check raised him on the flop and he called. Then, I turned a flush draw. The turn gave me the heart draw with two pair. I bet again and he called. The river gave me a flush and I shoved. It was a pretty easy hand to play.”

With that, Schwerley closed out a $77,438 win. It’s a great start to a promising poker career, and should be the first of many to come.