Hale grabs Gulf Coast Poker Championship in Mississippi

October 27, 2016, Jennifer Gay, Todd Lamansky, Christopher Cosenza, Dave Lemmon, Sara Malowitz  

The Gulf Coast Poker Championship just wrapped up at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi. As usual, there was a tremendous turnout to make this one of the best events in the Magnolia State. The $2K main event was the star of the show with an impressive 199 entries, crowning Seville Hale as champion.

Hale of Pensacola, Fla., seems to consistently make final tables, proving how much skill it takes to remain at the top of the game. Though this wasn’t his first big cash in the GCPC, he was happy to chop up the main with Chuck Carragher, someone he considers to be a good friend and a solid grinder. Carragher signed for second place and took home $38K, third-place runner Jared Ingles of New Orleans also won $38K and Seville was awarded a cool $52K. Official results will reflect the original payout structure.

Seville, seen wearing his trademark 968 gear at the table said, “Felt good to win one for the underdogs. People always want to know what 968 means. It means be humble and never forget where you came from.” The number is a common telephone exchange number in Pensacola, where Seville grew up.

He added: “To me, I feel like the psychology in tournaments outweigh the math. Even though I have to be skilled in both aspects, I feel you still have to trust your instincts and stick with your reads when you are in tough spots. A lot of players when they get that deep lack the experience to close out when it gets to crunch time in critical stages.”

Seville said his next goal is go bracelet and ring hunting, but he’ll always make time for the Beau Rivage. “I love the Beau Rivage,” he said. “I actually think it’s one of the best establishments in the world, especially for poker players, Southern hospitality at its best.”

Along with an impressive turnout for the main, the Beau hosted its first Little Monster event and boasted and impressive 512 players competing for the $79,360 prize pool.

The Little Monster featured a $190 buy-in. The four-day tournament ended with Alix Maloney capturing a first-place prize of $20,595. Maloney beat Robert Henderson, who left with second place with $11,110.

HORSESHOE TUNICA: Barry Schultz took down the October $50K guarantee, earning $21,256 from the $112K prize pool. There were 923 entries as Wayne Donley finished second ($13,150).

IP BILOXI: Chris Savage navigated through a field of 382 players across three days to win his first World Series of Poker Circuit ring, and it came in the main event.
The tournament featured two starting flights and Savage had to get through a tough final table with notable pros, such as Tim “T.K.” Miles and Caufman Talley.

“I can change gears with the best of them,” he said. “You have to adapt to (their) style.”

Talley was the predominant chipleader throughout the later stages of the tournament and the final table. He lost a large portion of his stack by doubling up Lytle Allen when play was five-handed.

Shortly after, a pivotal hand occurred. Talley moved all-in on the button with pocket nines, Steve Bierman, with a big stack, shoved as well with A-K suited, and Savage, holding pocket aces, happily called both opponents. The rockets held, eliminating Talley and crippling Bierman. The hand left Savage with a commanding lead he didn’t lose.

North Florida

DAYTONA BEACH KENNEL CLUB AND POKER ROOM: In Daytona, Fla., Jermaine “Lion” Gerlin earned $106,732 after taking down the Heartland Poker Tour Main Event on Sept. 26. The poker player from Jacksonville plans to use the winnings to buy his first home.

Gerlin steamrolled the competition, including his heads-up counterpart, well-known pro Scott Davies. After a lengthy back-and-forth match with Gerlin, Davies fell just short. On the final hand, he got his chips into the middle with pocket deuces only to be called by Gerlin’s A-10. Two aces on the flop all but sealed the deal. Davies, from nearby Sunny Isles Beach, collected $67,570 for the runner-up finish.

Self-employed Manelic Minaya has built quite a resumé in his decade-long poker career. The Tampa man has amassed more than $1.5M in earnings. Now he can add an appearance at a televised HPT final table to his list of accomplishments. Davies eliminated Minaya in third place ($45,248).

Denver’s Griffin Malatino, who won an HPT preliminary event in his home state a few weeks earlier, finished fourth ($31,557).
Eric Fetter of Orlando turned a $575 satellite seat into a fifth-place finish for $23,668.

“I’m going to buy a parrot, a swing set and a wizard suit,” he said after being eliminated.

Nobody at the final table had more experience in front of the HPT cameras than Thomas Giorgi. The Valrico resident made his third consecutive appearance under the lights in Daytona Beach but left in seventh place ($15,686).

EBRO GREYHOUND PARK: A good poker room listens to its players. Ebro, in the Panhandle, is taking this to the next level. The property recently asked players if they have promotional ideas or tournament structures they’d like to see implemented. You can call 850-535-4048 ext. 180 or email EbroPokerDirector@gmail.com. As for current promotions, Omaha/8 players should ask about the $250 Broken Wheel special and there are all kinds of high hands being paid for NLHE cash-game players.

BESTBET JACKSONVILLE: The World Poker Tour stop, which had a $1M guarantee, was wrapping up as Ante Up was going to press. David Yeazall won the $350 opener in a chop with Kevin Hazzard. Yeazall earned $33,425 and Hazzard pocketed $32,285. Ariel Williams was third ($14,790). Look for results in a future issue.

PENSACOLA GREYHOUND PARK: The popular $10K guarantee event for $270 will be Nov. 12 and Nov. 26 at 1 p.m.

CREEK GRETNA ENTERTAINMENT: There will be $200 high hands every hour Nov. 12 from 1-11 p.m.

South Florida

For the second straight season, the Palm Beach Kennel Club will host a pair of “12 rings in 12 days” WSOPC series. However, this year the South Florida greyhound track will have the early season event in November, instead of last year’s September dates. Noah Carbone, PBKC’s long-time director of poker, couldn’t be more thrilled.

“November is so much better for us,” he said. “September has everyone trying to get out of their summer routine and putting the kids back in school, while November is the start of our winter tourist season and the weather is usually beautiful.”

He expects a larger turnout than last year’s events, including the 393 players that entered the $1,675 main event, won by Peter Vitantonio of Wickliffe, Ohio. Many of the South Florida stars are expected to attend, including defending champion of the February main event, Mukul Pahuja, and Darryll Fish, who took down the title the previous year.

The opening event is the $365 Monster Stack, which starts at noon Nov. 10, while Event 2 also features a $365 buy-in with unlimited re-entries, but has four opening sessions, which will be played at noon and 6 p.m. on Nov. 11-12.The main event starts Nov. 18 and concludes with the final table on Nov. 21.

Carbone said there will be no guarantees in any event, mainly because of the heavy competition in South Florida.

“There always seems to be a Seminole Hard Rock tournament that overlaps with one of ours,” he said. “If we just stayed out of each others’ way, I think it would be a lot better for the poker community.”

ISLE CASINO: Speaking of guarantees, the Isle Casino in Pompano Beach was forced to pull its $300K guarantee for the opening event of the Isle Open because of the approaching Hurricane Matthew and the declaration of a state of emergency early in October by Gov. Rick Scott.

The event was supposed to feature nine opening sessions with three each day from Oct. 4-6.Only the sessions on Oct. 4 were played at press time, as the imminent danger caused the poker room to cancel Flights D through I.It just goes to show that while competition is tough, Mother Nature is tougher.

SEMINOLE COCONUT CREEK: Boca Raton’s Ian O’Hara won the main event of the CoCo Poker Open in late September, earning the title after agreeing to a chop with Kunal Patel. The 23-year-old collected $212K and a seat in the 2017 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open after defeating 330 entrants in the $2,500 event.

“I immediately won some hands after coming into the final day with 19 big blinds,” said O’Hara, who finished second in the $10K high roller at WPT Choctaw over the summer. “I caught a pretty big bluff early on and just never looked back. I’m pretty exhausted from about 40 hours of poker in the last three days, but the adrenaline keeps you going.”

HARD ROCK HOLLYWOOD: The Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open returns Nov. 16-30 with 14 tournaments highlighted by a $3,500 buy-in, $2M guarantee championship. Sharing the spotlight is the $360 buy-in, $1M guarantee opener.

“The idea that one or more players could turn a modest $360 investment into a six-figure score is something we’re very excited about,” tournament director Tony Burns said.

The series also features a $50K high roller. “After experiencing strong turnouts at previous ($25K high rollers), we received feedback from local high-limit players that encouraged us to add the $50K tournament on our schedule,” Hard Rock director of poker William Mason said. “We expect to draw some of the game’s most elite.”

Another first for Seminole Hard Rock Poker will be a series of tournaments live-streamed by Poker Night in America. Historically, PNIA only streamed championships and cash games. Complete with commentary and hole cards, the live-streaming will be comprised of featured tables during the early stages of play and final table coverage during the late stages of play. The new schedule includes a total of 10 days of broadcasting.

Central Florida

DERBY LANE: A popular series for the St. Petersburg poker room, the Fall Fest, returns Nov. 4-13. The crown jewel of the series is the popular $150 Accumulator, which has 10 starting flights and a $100K prize pool. In this event, you can combine your bags three times and move to Day 2. If you advance, you’re in the money and you get $150 returned immediately.

Other events include a stud/8-Omaha/8 mix ($250, $5K guarantee, Nov. 6), ladies ($250, $5K guarantee, Nov. 12), seniors ($250, $10K guarantee, Nov. 5), PLO ($350, $10k guarantee, Nov. 10) and a $1,100 high roller ($40K guarantee, Nov. 11). For the full schedule, go to Derby Lane’s website and see the ad in the November issue.

HARD ROCK TAMPA: One of the more valued tournaments in the Tampa area, the Little Slick, recently offered another $150K guarantee, which sent nurse Brian Blanchard home with $25K and a guitar trophy. Blanchard chopped with Roberto Polanco ($18K), Bradley Paualuski ($13K), Mark Scacewater ($13K) and Andrew Koval ($13K).

TAMPA BAY DOWNS: One of the highlights of the poker year at the Silks Poker Room is when live horse racing returns to the property. More money and players funnel into the room, creating bigger tournaments and more cash games. Racing returns Nov. 26 so be sure to enjoy the influx of action.

Missouri

LUMIERE PLACE: The poker room is offering a $2-per-hour rakeback, in addition to its regular comps, until the end of the year, effectively giving players $3 per hour in added value. And if you happen to get unlucky, there’s also unlimited $100 Aces Cracked ($200 for red aces) every day from 8 a.m.-noon and Bad Beat Hand Insurance with a nines-full-of-jacks qualifier.

AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES: At press time, the latest installment of the Heartland Poker Tour was in full swing, but you better get there soon because late registration for Flight C of the $1,650 main event ends at 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 5. The flight starts at 3 p.m.

Louisiana

COUSHATTA CASINO RESORT: The hold’em bad-beat jackpot (quad fives) was at $164K at press time. Omaha’s bad beat (quad jacks) was $8,219. Looking ahead, every Saturday in December will feature hourly drawings from 3 p.m.-midnight for the $20K Mystery Cash promotion. There are 16 mystery gift envelopes that contain cash (seven at $100, four at $200 and five at $500). Call the poker room for details.

ELDORADO SHREVEPORT: Any player who brings in an unwrapped toy (valued at $10) will receive 1,500 in tournament chips. In place of a toy, players may bring items (no perishable food) needed for flood relief in South Louisiana and Mississippi (valued at $10) and receive 1,500 tournament chips. Any player that brings in a backpack will receive 2K chips.

Meet Heather Alcorn

If you have played live poker, or even watched it on TV, odds are you’ve seen Heather Alcorn and it literally could have been anywhere. This multi-talented mother of two from Ozark, Mo., has been a travelling circuit dealer for the past several years. As this issue is hitting the stands, she’ll be at the Rio’s Penn & Teller Theatre dealing the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event for the third year in a row in Las Vegas.

How long have you been in poker? How did you get started? I have been in poker for five years now. I kind of fell into this career. I was going through some major changes in my life with a divorce and a medical scare when a friend said I needed a vacation and could get me a free cruise if I could deal. After the first one, I was hooked and started getting other offers. It didn’t take long until I was working for HPT, WPT and WSOP. I owned a spa, hair, nail and tanning salon at the time and soon realized I couldn’t do both effectively and chose the poker life.

What is your greatest career highlight? My greatest career highlight had to be my first November Nine final table (in 2014). I dealt the first and last hand with the winner having a set of 10s on the 10th anniversary for $10M. It can’t get much better than that.

What do you do away from the tables? My true passion is flipping houses and I’ve been a realtor for 13 years. I’m opening a laundromat and game room for our small town that’s in desperate need of a place for our children to hang out. — Todd Lamansky