Hard Rock Poker Open draws big talent to S. Fla.

October 01, 2017, Dave Lemmon, Sara Malowitz, Todd Lamansky, Ron Hope, Crash Martin, Jennifer Gay  

With the closure of the poker room for a huge overhaul of the Seminole Paradise area, there was some concern this year’s Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open would be much smaller than usual. As a result, the facility decided to reduce the guarantee for the main event to $3M instead of $5M, but players still came out in droves.

The field increased by 40 entries, as 887 players made the prize pool $4.3M-plus. At the conclusion of an extremely long final table, Australian Martin Kozlov outlasted South Florida local Dylan Drazen by slow-playing a set of kings to induce an all-in call and take home the $754K first prize.
With five players left, a tough struggle for several hours saw Kozlov as the short stack before a couple of double-ups moved him into the lead.

“It was super slow and you just had to play it one hand at a time,” said Kozlov, a World Series bracelet-winner in 2016 in a six-max event. “The structure was so good you could afford to take some beats, you could lose some pots; patience was the most important thing.”

Drazen earned $528K as runner-up and Matt Berkey got $341K for third. The main event was part of the third edition of the Big 4, with final tables of four major tournaments played simultaneously and live-streamed on Twitch.

At the start of the day, Joe Kuether of Milwaukee found himself in the unique position of having to play at two final tables at the same time, but the situation didn’t turn out well as he finished ninth in the main and eighth in the $1,100 event after moving back-and-forth between the two tables.

Brian Altman won the $1,100 tourney, defeating 632 entrants. Alex Foxen captured the title of the $2,650 freezeout with the 2016 SHRPO main-event champion Jason Koon finishing third.

The most impressive showing of the day may have been the amazing comeback of John Andress in the $25K high roller. Down to 20K chips, less than one big blind, before the tourney reached the money bubble, the unknown 29-year-old pro from Doylestown, Pa., tripled-up before going back to one big blind. He then went on a run to 600K-plus chips and entered the final table as the short stack at 685K. He eliminated Chance Kornuth and was heads-up with Mike Leah. Despite a 3-to-1 disadvantage, Andress won the title.

“You just have to make the best decision and hope to get lucky and run good at the showdowns,” he said.

Poker director William Mason and tournament director Tony Burns have put another successful SHRPO into the books, and at press time were running their first WSOPC.

ISLE CASINO: The Isle Poker Room in Pompano Beach will hold its fourth and final major series of the year Oct. 4-30.

The eighth annual edition of the Isle Open features a $1,500 main event with a $500K guarantee and will have three opening-day sessions Oct. 27-29 at noon. The series kicks off with a $100K guarantee that has eight opening sessions for $175.

There’s a popular $570 Player Appreciation event near the end of the series with no house rake. For those who prefer smaller stakes, the 23-event series spreads three events with a modest $60 buy-in.

For complete series information, check out Matt Axelrod’s blog at islecasinopoker.blogspot.com.

Central Florida

In August, the Silks Poker Room hosted its Summer Series and kicked off things with several fun events (knockouts, seniors and women’s events, PLO) leading up to the $600 main event with a $60K guarantee.

The tournament brought in 100-plus players to push the prize pool past the guarantee as Plamen Stoyanov won the title and $14K. You may remember Stoyanov, who in 2015 made the final table of the HPT Daytona event and finished fourth.

Donald Brown and Bobby Duggan chopped second and third for $11K each at the Tampa poker room.

The popular $330 Halloween tournament has a $50K guarantee and will be Oct. 19-21.

MELBOURNE GREYHOUND PARK: Club 52 hosts its first Weekend Extravaganza Oct. 20-22, including a $20K guarantee Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. and a $50K on Oct. 22 at 11 a.m. There’s also a bounty tournament on Oct. 21 and the entire weekend series will be hosted by World Series of Poker champion Greg Raymer.

HARD ROCK TAMPA: The new poker room has been running the Triple 30s for a few months. Recently, the buy-in increased from $250 to $350 but still boasts a healthy $30K guarantee, 30K units and 30-minute blinds.

DERBY LANE: The St. Petersburg property offers differing events on alternating Saturdays. The first is a $150 tourney with a $20K guarantee. It has 20K units (5K more for the
$10 add-on) and 30-minute blinds.

On the alternating Saturday is a $250 event with a $40K guarantee. It has the same 30-minute blinds but with the $10 add-on you go from starting with 30K chips to 40K. This tournament ran twice in August and was met with 200-plus players each time. Call the poker room for more info.

RESULTS TO COME: There are some great series running in the bay area at press time. Seminole Immokalee is busy hosting the WPT DeepStacks and the Hard Rock has its $100K Little Slick. Look for results in a future issue.

Louisiana

COUSHATTA CASINO AND RESORT: The daily mini-bad-beat jackpot of $2K requires aces full of kings be beaten by quads or better. On Monday, quads can win $110-$500 and Kings Cracked earns $100 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Aces Cracked pays $100 on Wednesdays (1-10 p.m.) and Sets Cracked pays $100 (10 p.m.-1 a.m.). Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday high hands win a spin for $100-$400 (1-10 p.m.) and Sets Cracked pay $100 after that until 1 a.m.

Fridays feature a straight-flush bonus starting at $1K and Kings Cracked gets $100.

GOLDEN NUGGET LAKE CHARLES: The bad-beat jackpot was looming at $210K at press time.

L’AUBERGE CASINO BATON ROUGE: On Mondays and Tuesdays, seniors can earn a $20 voucher for 3.5 hours of play.

BOOMTOWN CASINO NEW ORLEANS: The bad-beat jackpot was approaching $160K at press time.The room features a new $65 Omaha/8 tournament every Monday with registration running at 5:30 p.m. until 8:30.There also are SNGs for $65-$125 and must have 10 players to start. Official rules are posted in the poker room.

HARRAH’S CASINO NEW ORLEANS: Aces Cracked at noon Monday, Wednesday and Thursday pays $200. When a flush is flopped noon-6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, the next pot will be splashed $200. The bad-beat jackpot was nearly $110K and the mini-bad beat (aces full of queens beaten by quads) pays 10 percent of the main jackpot. Call for details.

L’AUBERGE CASINO RESORT LAKE CHARLES: The bad-beat jackpot (quads gives) was at $214K at press time.The room will be running a $10K weekly drawing of cash and prizes.

Players earn one entry for each hour of live play and all entries will be electronically tracked and winners must be present at live games to win.

Football Squares every Sunday and Monday pay $100 per quarter and $200 on the final score. All players must be seated before the game.

Any prize not won will roll over to the next quarter or game. Call for details.

Quads (Sunday at 11 p.m. until Friday at noon) earn $100 and will be paid once each week. Both hole cards must play.

Jacks Full (Tuesday at 11 p.m. until Friday at noon) pays $100 and each combo will be paid only once each week and both hole cards must play with at least $30 be in the pot.

Straight and royal flushes earn $100-$200, respectively.

HORSESHOE BOSSIER CITY: The mini-bad-beat jackpot (aces full of 10s) pays of $5K.Aces Cracked can pay $200 in NLHE every day 8 a.m.-noon except on Tuesdays it’s limit poker
(8 a.m.-2 p.m.).

High hands on Monday-Sunday (5-7 a.m. and 9 a.m.-4 p.m.) pay $100 per hour.

ISLE LAKE CHARLES: The room features a $3K freeroll for players with enough live hours of play. Call for details. Quads earn $25, straight flushes get $50 and royals earn $100 daily.

Missouri

AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES: The Heartland Poker Tour runs through Oct. 2. Tom Morse won the last main event here for $117,249, topping a field of 359. The $1,650 main-event final table kicks off at noon Oct. 2 and it will be live-streamed at Twitch.TV/HPTpoker.

DEEP RUNS FROM ST. LOUIS PLAYERS: Despite making it to Day 2 in the Global Casino Championship at Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina,Joshua Turner was unable to make back-to-back final tables at the tournament in which he finished third last year.

Turner, who started the day in the middle of the pack, picked up a run of bad cards, forcing him to fold for 90 straight minutes. He finally got pocket aces and got it all-in preflop against Jesse Yaginuma’s pocket jacks, but Yaginuma flopped a jack and Turner was out.

St. Louis local Craig Welko made his first Mid-States Poker Tour final table at the Indiana State Poker Championships at Tropicana Evansville in mid-August.

The main event drew 320 entrants and Welko was eliminated seventh after losing a race with pocket fours, taking home $10,503, the second-largest score of his career.

North Florida

Three high-profile events spotlight the East Coast and Panhandle this month. Bestbet Jacksonville hosts the World Poker Tour, Daytona Beach Racing and Card Club plays host to the Heartland Poker Tour and Ebro Greyhound Park holds its annual Emerald Coast Poker Championship.

BESTBET JACKSONVILLE: The WPT makes a three-week visit Oct. 5-25 as 23 events are scheduled leading up to the $5K main event, which has a $1M guarantee. There will be two starting flights (Oct. 21-22) to the four-day tourney, including the final table on Oct. 25.

There is a WPT event every day of various buy-ins and guarantees, including a bounty tournament with some familiar names, pot-limit Omaha, all-in-or-fold and a $25K high roller Oct. 20 at 3 p.m.
“Having the WPT as our premier series highlights the progress our room has made as a tournament destination,” tournament director Johhny Pham said.“We’ve shown we are constantly evolving to our patrons while attracting poker players from other parts of the world.”

The summer warm-up series finished Aug. 27 as 441 players created a $221,500 prize pool, exceeding the $150K guarantee. Vontz Burke of Dublin, Ga., won the title and $32K.

DAYTONA BEACH RACING AND CARD CLUB: The Heartland Poker Tour is making its only Florida stop here this season, Oct. 19-30. The televised final table will air in 2018 through various cable stations. The $1,650 main event has three starting flights (Oct. 26-28) with Day 2 Oct. 29 and the final table Oct. 30 at noon. Many satellites are available throughout the series.

EBRO GREYHOUND PARK: The Panhandle property’s annual signature series, the Emerald Coast Poker Championship, begins Oct. 20. Bracelets will be awarded in seven events, including a $120 tourney, a $550 deepstack, bounty, seniors, rebuy and Omaha/8. The pinnacle event is a $300 championship tournament with three starting flights (Day 1A, Oct. 27; Day 1B and 1C, Oct. 28) with Day 2 and the final table Oct. 29.All events carry guarantees leading up to the $50K guarantee main event.

PENSACOLA GREYHOUND TRACK: The Panhandle poker room has a full month of high-hand specials and daily tournaments, including a $2.5K guarantee tournament for $125 the first three Wednesdays of October, an Omaha/8 tournament at 1 p.m. Oct. 14, and a $20K guarantee for $180 with three starting flights Oct. 26-28. Day 2 and the final table are Oct. 29. Satellites are available most days during October.

The August $20K found Charles Bailey amassing all the chips to win $4,500 and bragging rights.

CREEK GRETNA: The$10K guarantee on Aug. 19 went to David Burns for $3,542. The field included 59 entries and exceeded the guarantee. Creek Gretna offers exceptional high-hand promos involving full-house specials all month and has lively Omaha games every day with a growing number of players.

Two Friday night WPTL events run this month, too, as a $10K guarantee for $270 will be Oct. 21 and a $5K guarantee for $120 is Oct. 27.Satellites are available throughout the month for the $10K event.

ORANGE CITY POKER: Visit this new room to take advantage of a professional atmosphere and aggressive high-hand promos. Poker room manager Richard Manning welcomes all to the poker room closest to Orlando.

Mississippi

PEARL RIVER RESORT: The Ante Up Poker Tour’s Pearl River Poker Open will run Oct. 26-Nov. 5 in Choctaw and, as always, will close with the $100K guarantee $800 main event on
Nov. 3, the winner of which will appear on the cover of Ante Up and get a seat in the 2018 Ante Up World Championship. The series boasts a total of $245K in guaranteed prize money.

SCARLET PEARL: The D’Iberville poker room pays players $2.50 an hour in comps. Every day from 1 p.m. until midnight, whenever a flop comes in one suit, the pot will be splashed with $25 (maximum once per half-hour). A cool new promotion gives tournament players an extra 1,500 in tournament chips when they produce their previous day’s tournament receipt. For more information about these and other promotions, visitscarletpearlcasino.com.

GOLDEN NUGGET: In Biloxi, you can have breakfast on the house. Three consecutive hours of live-action play earns you a breakfast- or lunch-buffet coupon. On Friday and Saturday nights, players earn squares for high hands. These squares will award money when drawn. The drawings take place hourly from 7 p.m. to midnight with each square paying $100. Squares where no winner is present will roll over the prize amount to the next hour. Any money not awarded during the promotional night will roll over to the next night.

If mid-week is more your style, visit the Nugget for high hand of the hour with $100 rollovers. Each day from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday-Thursday, and then again on Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. any player who makes a qualifying hand of aces full of jacks or better could win $100. If no winner is present, that money rolls over to the next hour until awarded.

North Carolina

HARRAH’S CHEROKEE: Los Angeles’ Sean Yu took down the Global Casino Championship to win $296,941 and the only World Series of Poker bracelet awarded at a WSOPC stop. Last season’s Planet Hollywood main-event champion defeated an elite field of 124 players for the title.

Four of the 12 rings won were by California players, including a couple of Yu’s close friends. Nikhil Gera won $40,534 in the $365 turbo event and Harry Arutyunyan took down the WSOPC main event for $283,597. With Arutyunyan’s win, he becomes one of the first two players to secure themselves a seat in the 2018 GCC.

Scott Stewart won his fifth ring and $63,399 in the $2,200 high roller event and Gregory Armand took down the $365 single-day event for $33,156 to round out the four SoCal ring-winners.

Meet Wayne Zeevering

Wayne Zeevering is tournament director at Daytona Beach Racing and Card Club in Daytona Beach, Fla.

How long have you been involved in the poker industry? I started as a dealer at Delaware Park and while working under great mentors, I learned how a poker room should be successfully run. After that experience, I moved to Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore, where we hosted WSOP satellites that honed my talents and passion for tournament play. Again, my supervisors nurtured my growth in the management area.

What brought you to DBRCC? In 2015, my wife, Michelle, and I decided to opt for Florida weather and in January 2016 started at DBRCC. Working with Director of Poker Operations Dominic Niro, we are striving to further DBRCC’s reputation as a must-see poker destination with progressive changes and innovations in the near future.

What do you enjoy most about your position? I enjoy working hard for the players. It’s a fulfilling reward of that hard work when one sees players glad they participated in events and relate that to the staff. I’ve also enjoyed and been helped by many in the industry and will pay it forward to others following me. — Crash Martin