Poker series returns to Hollywood Toledo

July 31, 2017, Brian Bly, John Somsky, Ken Warren, Chad Holloway, Joe Giertuga, Josh Jetton  

The Hollywood Poker Challenge returns Aug. 24-Sept. 4 to Hollywood Casino in Toledo, Ohio, culminating in the $1K main event, which has a $150K guarantee.

Poker room manager and Ante Up Call the Floor columnist Elliott Schecter is excited by this series and its main event, which has three Day 1s (Sept. 1-3). Players who advance from one flight can play the remaining flights to try to improve their position with a larger stack. Multiple qualifiers will have their smaller (unused) stacks bought back for $4K. Satellites ($180) are available.

The $350 event, which sports a $75K guarantee, has Day 1 flights Aug. 25-26. Satellites are $90. Non-hold’em events include a $110 HORSE on Aug. 27 and a $110 PLO on Aug. 29. Other hold’em events include bounty tournaments, a six-max and a $110 senior event on the final day.

JACK CASINO CLEVELAND: The poker room has been running cash-game promotions on certain days. On Mondays, the Mad House Ladder runs 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Wednesdays, it’s Hump Day High Hand Splash. And on Fridays, High Hand Hulabaloo runs noon to midnight. Call for details.

HOLLYWOOD COLUMBUS: The Columbus Summer Classic runs Aug. 10-20. The $550 main event has flights on Aug. 18 and 19. There will be $75 satellites to the main Aug. 17 at 12:15 and 7:15 p.m., each with 15 seats guaranteed.

The series also features a $350 deepstack with a $125K guarantee. That tournament begins with flights on Aug. 11 and 12. Satellites ($50) for that will be Aug. 10 at 12:15 and 7:15 p.m., also with 15 seats guaranteed.

Other hold’em events include a $200 seniors event (50-plus) on Aug. 13, a $240 black-chip bounty Aug. 14, a $250 Super Stack on Aug. 16, and the $200 Sunday Second Chance on Aug. 20. The only non-hold’em event, a $200 pot-limit Omaha tourney, runs Aug. 15.

THE MEADOWS: Once per month, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month, $300 will be awarded every hour for the high hand. Make a royal flush and win a progressive jackpot (the amount is posted at the room).

Western Pennsylvania

PRESQUE ISLE DOWNS & CASINO: The Erie, Pa., poker room hosts daily sit-and-go tournaments. Available buy-ins are $45, $85 and $125. The top three finishers cash with the winner getting 65 percent of the payout.


KUETHER JUST MISSES: Wisconsin native Joe Kuether, along with teammate Ankush Mandavia, finished second for $84,662 in the World Series of Poker’s Event 2 ($10K Tag Team Championship) in Las Vegas.

GOLDEN WIN: In mid June, Anthony Malcein of Eau Claire, Wis., topped a field of 3,329 entries to win the Golden Nugget Grand Poker Series Event 16 $200K guarantee for $85K.

MOVING ON UP: Brookfield’s Amit Makhija, who is fourth on Wisconsin’s all-time money list, finished 12th in the WSOP’s Event 42 ($10K six-max) for $39,284. That brought his lifetime earnings to $2.76M.

ONLINE SUCCESS: Milwaukee’s John Sun, who won the 2016 MSPT Iowa State Poker Championship, placed third in the WSOP’s Event 8 ($333 for $39,592. Online poker is regulated in Nevada.
Bridgette Field of Shakopee, Minn., took the Easy Money tournament trophy after being the chipleader during an eight-way chop at Running Aces in Columbus, Minn.

Field started Day 2 with the second-shortest stack but took home a career-best $13K. Ben Valder of Minneapolis had the second largest stack and took home $11,050. The $350 Easy Money tournament, held in June, drew 310 entries for a $90,210 prize pool.

WSOP: Ryan Laplante of Brainerd, Minn., went heads-up for his second bracelet in Event 64 ($1,500 NLHE/PLO) but finished second ($165,983). Tara Cain of Willmar, Minn., finished second in Event 61 ($3,333 online) for $201,408. Minnesotans again earned $1M-plus during the WSOP.

CANTERBURY PARK: Todd Melander of Minneapolis earned $21,792 after taking down the $275 Cheap & Deep Tournament in Shakopee. There was a five-way deal made to take $12K each and leave the remaining for first and second place. Even after the chop, this is Melander’s largest lifetime cash. The tournament drew 662 entries for a $145,640 prize pool.

The property hosts the MSPT regional series Aug. 5-13, with a $350 main event and $100K guarantee.


Jordan Young, a Twin Lake native, finished second in the World Series of Poker’s Event 12 ($1,500 no-limit hold’em) for $242,160, losing to pro David “Dragon” Pham, who earned $392K. The tourney drew 1,739 runners to the Rio in Las Vegas.

On the final hand, Pham went all-in with K-9 and Young called with A-7. A king on the river ended Young’s hope for a bracelet.

SOARING EAGLE CASINO & RESORT: The $1,100 Michigan Poker Classic returns this month with 40-minute levels and a $150K guarantee. Day 1s are Aug. 10-12 with $250 qualifiers running through Aug. 10.


Skokie native Tom Koral staged an epic comeback after having a 20-1 chip disadvantage to win almost $97K and his first World Series of Poker bracelet in the $1,500 stud event.

Koral won the 2011 Chicago Poker Classic, the 2013 Oregon State Poker Championship and has almost $2M in live earnings. He has five WSOP final tables.

Frank Maggio won history’s biggest WSOP seniors event for $617K. The 56-year-old from Calumet City defeated 5,389 entries. It took just eight hands heads-up against William Murray to capture his first bracelet.

Mohsin Charania of Des Plaines defeated 1,580 entries, winning his first bracelet in the $1,500 NLHE event. He has $5.6M-plus in earnings and became the sixth player in history to win the triple crown: EPT, WPT and WSOP victories.

Around Vegas, Kenneth Baime from Glenview won $16K at the Wynn Summer Classic’s $400 tournament.

HOLLYWOOD JOLIET: The poker room closed June 29. It opened in the late 1990s and was the state’s second-busiest room at the turn of the century.

PAR-A-DICE: The Bad Beat Jackpot at press time was $101K (quad deuces). The $355 monthly Super Sunday Bounty Tournament has been popular. Call for details.

TROPICANA EVANSVILLE: The MSPT Indiana State Poker Championship runs Aug. 12-20 with a $250K guarantee main event, which costs $1,100 and is Aug. 18-20.


GRAND FALLS CASINO: The Mid-States Poker Tour returns Aug. 19-27 in extreme northwest Iowa for a $150K guarantee main event. There will be many satellites, some as cheap as $65, during the first part of the week for the $1,100 event.

HORSESHOE COUNCIL BLUFFS: In the southwest part of the state, the Horseshoe Poker Classic runs Aug. 21-27. The $350 main event will have a few $85 satellites during the first three days.

RIVERSIDE CASINO: The 11th annual Poker Classic is Aug. 19-20 in eastern Iowa, consisting of two events.
On Aug. 19, there’s a $125 bounty event and then Aug. 20 is the $200 championship.

DIAMOND JO CASINO: The bad-beat jackpot continues to climb and taunt area players in Worth, reaching $264K at press time.

Meet James “Ninja” Battaglia

Born in Chicago, James Battaglia grew up in Sacramento but lives as a poker pro who travels between both cities. As a Windy City Team Pro, he was runner-up in the HPT’s six-max event this year.

With poker, what do you find different between Chicagoland and California? There are a lot of great local players here, making tournaments much tougher. Players such as Aaron Massey, Nick Jickov, Bob Chow and Nick Pupillo inspire me. I need to be playing my best when they are at the table.

What is your favorite poker room? Stones Gambling Hall in Citrus Heights, Calif. It’s a small room where the staff does an exceptional job giving players a pleasant experience, making me feel at home the minute I walk in. Their duck tacos are the best I have ever had.

What made you decide to be a poker pro? I absolutely love poker; it’s my passion. It’s the perfect combination of everything I love math, psychology, competition and money.

Playing in Windy City Poker Championship tournaments has helped getting me to the level I needed to be.
— Joe Giertuga