Chicago-area native wins first Circuit title in last event of the series.

After almost leaving the Horseshoe Southern Indiana Circuit, Ryan Leng added a debut, World Series of Poker title to his flourishing résumé. The poker pro player from Illinois defeated a field of 121 players in Event #12: $365 No-Limit Hold’em, the last ring event of the series and one Leng almost did not enter.

“I was going to head home last night,” said Leng. “I planned on driving home. It was pouring and I was a little tired and I decided to stay one more night and play the $356 at noon.”

It was a decision that led him down the road to victory.

The tournament was scheduled as a two-day endeavor. However, with the help of one extra level of play, a champion was crowned in just one day. Going into the final leg of the competition, Leng held a solid chip lead, one which did not last though.

“Actually, I got really short for a while. I was down to nine big blinds, seven handed,” explained Leng. “But, for me, I’ve played hundreds of thousands of Sit & Go’s in my lifetime so everything is just sort of second nature at a final table.”

Rebounding back from his fall, the experience professional eventually found himself heads up against Fred Messer. The two players fought hard, but it was Leng reaping the rewards when all was said and done.

Along with a gold ring, the conquest earned Leng $10,164 and 50 Casino Championship. Although it was his first outright victory with the WSOP, Leng has had no lack of success so far in his career.

The resident of Wheeling, Illinois benefited from a fantastic summer-run at the 48th annual WSOP in Las Vegas, Nevada. Leng cashed four times, including a runner-up finish worth $237,776 and a $176,399 prize for finishing 41st out of 7,221 in the Main Event.

“I mean the money is obviously not as big, but I just love winning poker tournaments. It is so much fun to win a poker tournament, to be the last man standing,”

Leng said, comparing the differing achievements.

The 30-year-old has been playing poker full time for about eight years. Leng, admittedly, travels to four, or five Circuit stops per year, but his favorite on the schedule is undoubtedly the one in his own backyard.

“It’s got to be Chicago, it is my hometown,” Leng divulged. “I don’t have to stay in a hotel. If I take a bad beat I get to go hang out with my girlfriend and my dogs, and relax.”

Horseshoe Hammond has been a regular stop on the WSOP Circuit schedule since 2008. In fact, the Chicago-area stop is next up on the docket, beginning in just three days. Leng will certainly be attending the 12-event series and can now sport a golden symbol of Circuit victory while he is there.