Byrnes graduates from WSOP Circuit to Colossus

3 June 2015

LAS VEGAS — Bill Byrnes isn't a professional poker player, but if you took a quick glance at his career poker tournament results, you might assume that he is.

A 43-year-old attorney from Wentzville, Missouri, Byrnes owns two World Series of Poker Circuit rings and had $143,610 in career tournament earnings when he came to Las Vegas to play in the WSOP's $565 Colossus event, which drew a record 22,374 entries. Thanks to an 11th-place finish on Tuesday night at the Rio-All Suite Hotel & Casino, Byrnes crept to within inches of the $200,000 mark in career earnings, winning $55,968. The cash was the largest of his career by a factor of 2.5 — his biggest previous poker payday was a $21,483 score for a third-place finish in a Circuit event in St. Louis earlier this year.

"I love the Circuit, but at the World Series, you've got bigger payouts, and you're playing with (more than) 20,000 people," said Byrnes. "Coming in 11th, that's great, but you're one away from the (unofficial) final table and that's heartbreaking. It'll take me awhile to get over that."

Byrnes had a large contingent of Circuit regulars rooting for him in the stands on Tuesday, including Chris Bibb, who finished fourth in the 2014 WSOP National Championship for $115,000.

Bill Byrnes and his wife Trish chat during a break in the action on Tuesday.

Bill Byrnes and his wife Trish chat during a break in the action on Tuesday. (photo by Aaron Todd)

"I've got guys like Chris Bibb and Bob Ward and Pete Sullivan that kind of run around on the Circuit with me," said Byrnes. "We all talk hands through and stuff like that. It's just a good group of guys."

Also cheering on Byrnes from the sidelines was his wife, Trish, who booked a flight to Las Vegas with their three sons before they knew Bill would make such a deep run.

"He can only go about five days before he misses his family," said Trish.

The trip, however, was not without drama. When the plane landed, Trish turned her phone on and started to wade through a litany of text message updates from the tournament, but her battery died before she figured out if Bill still had chips. Thankfully, she arrived in time to see her husband get lucky to double up through Billy Graybeal with ace-five vs. pocket jacks, and later knock out Janno Cazemier in 15th place with pocket jacks.

"They were getting in at 4:00, and we were starting at 2:00," said Bill. "I knew I better make it until she got here, or I'd be in a heap of trouble."

Byrnes' day, however, ended earlier when he came back from dinner break and found just three players had returned to his table in time to play the first hand. He decided to move his short stack all-in regardless of what his hole cards were, but he actually found a pretty good hand in that spot with king-jack. Unfortunately, he ran into Brad McFarland's ace-king, and didn't improve to get knocked out in 11th place.

Despite the earlier-than-hoped-for exit, Byrnes has a great support system between his wife and his friends from the WSOP Circuit, so don't be surprised to see him in the hunt for another ring in the Midwest — or even a WSOP bracelet — in the near future.

"We all love cards," he said. "You can play whether you're old or young or somewhere in the middle. It works for us — we have a hobby that we enjoy together and we get to run around and have a little fun while we're doing it."

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