Pittsburgh Open goes to Halaska

December 28, 2016, Brian Bly, Ken Warren, Chad Holloway, John Somsky, Joe Giertuga  

The Pittsburgh Poker Open series ran Nov. 9-22 at Rivers Casino as Jeremy Halaska of Cleveland won the $1,650 main event for $49,700 with 122 players creating a $177,510 prize pool. Stan Fudor of Seven Hills, Pa., took second. The series featured 17 events (15 no-limit hold’em, one pot-limit Omaha and one Omaha/8).

In cash games, various high-hand promotions are on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and $200 Hot Seats on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. At press time, the bad-beat jackpot for hold’em had swelled to $247K. For more, go to the poker room’s website.

THE MEADOWS: Once per month, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second Saturday, $300 will be awarded every hour for the high hand of the qualifying period as $4,500 total will be awarded.

If you make a royal flush you’ll win the progressive jackpot, the amount of which is posted in the room.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO COLUMBUS: The poker room has been doing some great high-hand promotions for cash games in recent months. Details are listed on the room’s Facebook page.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO TOLEDO: High hands pay every 30 minutes on Thursdays (4 p.m.-midnight), Fridays (4 p.m.-2 a.m.), Saturdays (noon-2 a.m.) and Sundays (noon-10 p.m.). The minimum qualifying hand is aces full of deuces and both hold cards must play.

Other cash-game promotions include Hollywood Awards, where players win by making any of the 29 qualifying hands. Also, “3 for $30” means play three consecutive hours between 3 a.m. and noon and receive $30 in chips added to your stack (qualify twice and receive $60).

Chicagoland

Majestic Star Casino, having a long history of hosting televised poker tournaments, once again grabbed the national stoplight with the launching of America’s Poker Tour. Fred Bevill and Amanda Leatherman were back in town behind the cameras.

The main event attracted players from all over the country, including Joe Cada, Dutch Boyd and David Williams, creating a prize pool of $197K with 201 entries.The final table featured local pros Ben Castle, Kenny Nguyen and runner-up Pavlin Karakikov.

Alex Ziskin had luck on his side, spiking one of two remaining jacks on the river on the final hand, winning $47K. The 30-year-old from Chicago is enjoying his best year as a pro, also winning a World Series bracelet in June.

“America’s Poker Tour had an amazing time at our inaugural event at Majestic Star Casino just outside Chicago,” APT president Derek Melicher said. “The Cubs had just won the World Series and I had the opportunity to go to the rally, which was an amazing experience. The opening weekend event kicked the tour off with a bang with over a $100K prize pool for just a $200 buy-in. The staff at Majestic Star Casino did a great job and the players had a great time. We learned a lot from the event overall and will be implementing those lessons to make our next event that much better.”

The show will air early next year on Comcast Sports. The $200 buy-in opener had 630 entries, creating a $105K prize pool. Bob Chow, who has a long list of tournament accomplishments, won the title and $24K.

Bobby Thompson, who made a World Poker Open final table in 2007, won the seniors event for $2,774. Thompson learned the game from Humberto Brenes and Dewey Tomko.

SOUTH BEND CASINO: The government has given the green light to the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians for building Indiana’s largest casino. The $400 million development is expected to open in 2020.

TROPICANA EVANSVILLE: The Mid-States Poker Tour brings its regional tour to town Feb. 18-26. The $50K guarantee’s buy-in is $350.

Iowa

Riverside Casino held its popular Cold Turkey Showdown over Thanksgiving weekend and John Bender carved up the field to pocket $7,524 for the main-event win.

HORSESHOE COUNCIL BLUFFS: The strong monthly tournament offerings continue this month with a $150 Fat Stack on Jan. 16 at 10 a.m. to commemorate Martin Luther King Day. On Jan. 27, there will be an $85 satellite for the World Series of Poker Colossus in Las Vegas. The winner will receive a $2,650 package for the Colossus during this summer’s WSOP, including entry fee, hotel, airfare, pro seminars and a tour of the WSOP.

JACKPOTS: We still have a battle of dueling bad-beat jackpots going on as two casinos have jackpots approaching $250K. Jumer’s Casino in the Quad Cities was just more than $220K at press time. But leading the duel, however, is Diamond Jo in Worth with more than $225K. Will it crack first in the North or in the East?

Minnesota

RUNNING ACES CASINO: Max Havlish of Coon Rapids, Minn., won the Big Turkey Tourney just before Thanksgiving. Havlish ended the tournament with the lead when he chopped with runner-up Adam Arola. Havlish took $22,149, leaving Arola with $14K. While this is Havlish’s largest career cash, he’s no stranger to making the money in tournaments, having $55K-plus in lifetime earnings spread across 25 events.

This is his sixth career win according to Hendon Mob. The Big Turkey Tourney had a $500 buy-in and drew 169 entries for a $73,768 prize pool.

CANTERBURY PARK: The Mid-States Poker Tour wrapped up its event here just as Ante Up was going to press. Look for results in our next issue.

Wisconsin

HO-CHUNK NEKOOSA: The poker room will close Dec. 31. The closure follows in the footsteps of Bad River Lodge & Casino, which closed Sept. 28.

POTAWATOMI HOTEL & CASINO: In late November, Alex Aqel topped a field of 596 entrants, the second-largest major tournament in Wisconsin history, to win the $1,100 Mid-States Poker Tour Main Event for $138,385.

KOMBEREC WINS: Wisconsin native Ken Komberec bested 405 entrants to win MSPT Meskwaki in Tama, Iowa, for $93,922. His win came four months after his childhood friend, John Sun, won the same event.

LCO CASINO LODGE: Elissa DeCora has been named poker room manager at the Northern Wisconsin property.

RIP: Mike Mustafa

The poker world received sad news in late November when it was well-known Chicago pro Mike Mustafa died unexpectedly.

Mustafa had been a fixture in the Midwest poker scene even before the poker boom. In 2002, he won $582,308, including a career-best $223,623 for finishing runner-up to Poker Hall of Famer Carlos Mortensen in the 2010 World Poker Tour Hollywood Poker Open in Lawrenceburg, Ind.

Mustafa also finished runner-up in the 2014 Chicago Poker Classic Event 2 for $64,452, was fifth in the 2013 World Series of Poker Event 4 ($1,500 six-max) for $56,499 and took fifth in the 2014 Heartland Poker Tour event in Chicago for $37,428.

He was third in the inaugural America’s Poker Tour Main Event for $19,384 just this year.

“One of the first friends I met from playing poker years ago,” WSOP Circuit ring-winner Zal Irani said of Mustafa. “Always supportive, helpful and friendly. Shocked and saddened by this news.”

Mark “P0ker Ho” Kroon echoed those sentiments. “He was one of the guys you never wanted to see at your table, so unpredictable. He was also one of the guys you wanted to talk to off the table, so likable.” — Chad Holloway