Lambert takes over Isle poker room in South Florida

April 30, 2018, Dave Lemmon, Sara Malowitz, Crash Martin, Todd Lamansky, Ron Hope, Jennifer Gay  

Industry veteran Ken Lambert took over in March as director of poker at the Isle Poker Room in Pompano Beach.
The former World Series of Poker tournament director replaced Stan Strickland, who left in December. Lambert has served as director for numerous poker venues, most recently at Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. He started his career as a busboy at the Horseshoe in Las Vegas and after dealing cards at Vegas World, found his calling in poker management when he left for Tunica, Miss., and hooked up with the World Poker Tour and Lyle Berman.  

Besides working for the WSOP and the WPT, he has logged stints at the Mirage, Beau Rivage, Choctaw and the Gold Strike in Tunica, among others.  He has been a huge proponent of being associated with some of poker’s smaller tours, including one of the early events of the Ante Up Poker Tour while at Choctaw. 

Eventually, he hopes to see more of the same at the Isle. “I’m just trying to learn the market, trying to get these guarantees under control a little bit, but it’s very competitive here,” he said. “I’d like to reach outside of our market and work with a well-known tour; I just need to figure out which one is best for us and gets our name out there the most, so that people nationally know we are here.” 

Despite all the big-name jobs he has had, he’s thrilled to be in a new and challenging position again.  

“I am very much looking forward to it. I’m an operations guy; I want to be on the floor; I want to be with my team and the players. You’ll see me up here and down in that office as little as possible,” he said with a smile.

Meanwhile, late March closed out another successful Battles at the Beach series at the Isle, with South Florida businessman Uri Kadosh taking down the championship for the second straight year. After a three-way chop in 2017 with Joey Couden and Darryll Fish to take home the top prize of nearly $100K and the trophy, the defending champion from Davie agreed this year to a two-way chop with Marshall White while holding the most chips, collecting nearly $99K.

MARDI GRAS CASINO: The impending sale of the Hallandale property, which includes the Big Easy Poker Room, to Fountainebleau Resort owner Jeffrey Soffer still wasn’t completed at press time. Until then, the resumption of tourneys is on hold.  

Promotions are in place, however, including the Big Easy’s popular $500 high hands every 30 minutes 2-10 p.m. daily.

CASINO AT DANIA BEACH: Operators from Magic City Casino, which owned 25 percent this property for the past three years, have returned to the Miami casino after the repurchase of that stake by Argentine owners. 

Many changes at the Dania facility have been instituted, including several major adjustments in the tournament schedule. Friday night’s freeroll, formerly with a $10K guarantee, is called the Big Slick with a $100 buy-in with a $15K guarantee and the top prize increased from $5K to $7K. 

Sunday’s former $40 event, called the Mini Slick, has a $100 buy-in and guarantees an $8K prize pool and a winner guarantee of $4K. Both tourneys are high-hand eligible.

HARD ROCK HOLLYWOOD: The eighth edition of the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown began April 5 in the new Hard Rock Events Center with a $570 opener that attracted 3,030 players.  

The room is eerily reminiscent of the Hard Rock Live arena that hosted the inaugural WPT event seven-plus years ago. This year’s opener went to local grinder Steven Bennett, who agreed to a four-way chop with Josias Santos, Dominic Pacelli and Jack Shea shortly after Santos eliminated Peter Eichardt in fifth to move into second position. Bennett took home $186,308.

North Florida

The WSOP Satellite Travel Package at bestbet Jacksonville is May 25 at 12:30 p.m. The $590 tournament guarantees five seats. The package contains a $10K WSOP main-event seat, hotel accommodations and $2K for travel.

There will be four Day 1 fights May 24-26 for the $50K event, which has a $200 buy-in and Day 2 on May 27.

The March WPT DeepStacks $300K drew 372 players as Jonathan Cronin of Savannah, Ga., won the event and $107,386 from the $502K prize pool.

CREEK GRETNA: Tallahassee’s closest poker room hosts two guarantees in May: the monthly $10K (May 19, 1 p.m., $270) and the $5K (May 25, 1 p.m., $120). Satellites for the $10K are Mondays and Thursdays.

The March $10K resulted in a three-way chop with John Dubard, Steve Collins and Phil Napier each taking home $2,440.

EBRO GREYHOUND PARK: Ebro holds $3K guarantees on Thursdays for $40. There’s a $10K guarantee May 11 at 6:30 p.m. for $120 buy-in and May 22 is a $2K for $50.

Romaine Lewis won yet another guarantee, this time in the March $10K, beating nearly 60 players to earn $4,568 from the $14,575 prize pool.

PENSACOLA GREYHOUND TRACK: The May $20K guarantee will have three Day 1 seatings, May 24-26 and Day 2 is May 27. All events begin at 1 p.m. The March $50K winner was Anita Griffith with a nice payday of $8K.

BESTBET ORANGE PARK: The $200 deepstack, which has a $30K prize pool, will have two Day 1s on May 18 and two on May 19 with the final day May 20.

DAYTONA BEACH RACING AND CARD CLUB: The March 18 $30K went to Charles Mitchell, who defeated a field of almost 260 players for $7,515 from the $41K prize pool. 

The late March deepstack drew 102 players with Jonathon Stabb winning first prize for $1,982 and a $500 GAPT seat. DBRCC holds tournaments daily and nightly throughout May, including a $10K guarantee May 6 and a $20K deepstack May 27.

ORANGE CITY RACING AND CARD CLUB: Tournaments continue to run Mondays, Tuesdays and the first Thursday each month. This Orlando-area poker room also pays high hands. See the Where to Play pages for details. 

Central Florida

SARASOTA KENNEL CLUB: America’s Poker Tour returned to the One-Eyed Jacks Poker Room and brought with it a $1,100 main event and several other tourneys, which went as follows: Anthony Hobbs won Event 1 for $8,875; Jason McMahon, Dee Richardson, Phil Paxton and Byron Schenk chopped Event 2 for $2K each; Jeff Thompson and Guy Cicconi pocketed $3,500 each to take down Event 3; a four-way chop between Ben Meyers, Jim O’Donnel, Kimberly Adams and Mark Hayes netted them $2,500 each in Event 4; Event 5 saw Pete Walsworth and Austin Buchanan chop for $5K each, and Wade Kelly won Event 7 for $3,139.

The main event had a who’s-who of bay-area players, especially at the final table. In the end, Seth Templeton earned the title for $57,880, defeating such names as Carlos Loving, Tony March and Randy Span, who all cashed.

TAMPA BAY DOWNS: Brian Torok captured the popular $340 St. Patrick’s Day multiday event, which had a $40K guarantee but surpassed $50K. Torok pocketed $13,707, topping 180 players, including Craig Grainger (second, $8,470) and Jeffrey Kimball (third, $6,079).

DERBY LANE: On April 1, the St. Petersburg property brought a new look to its tournament area and created a high-limit section. The tournament area includes 12 tables with USB ports and tableside dining. Chairs also have been upgraded to enhance player comfort. The high-limit area also has new tables with USB ports, new felts and comfortable chairs.

Louisiana 

COUSHATTA CASINO: The four-event Spring Classic recently ended with chops in every tourney. Roland Rojas won the senior event that opened the series, earning $5K as Glen Decuri, Capt. Ron Hope, Daniel Broadway, Homer Bourque, Gregory Rabelais, Paul Seeser, Nelson Solar, Edward Green, Karl Guidry, Carl Wilson and Alvin Grospiron chopped for $2,420 each.

Rojas’ great run continued in Event 2, a $150 shootout, as he joined Richard Golomon, Gary Booth, Scott Sanford, Douglas Justus, Adam Delcambre and Bourque, in a seven-way chop of $1,500 each. Grospiron and David Osina chopped the $250 Event 3 for $4,100 each, and the $550 main event chopped five ways for $10,359 each between Shawn Calvin, Todd Owens, Thomas O’Neal, Clayton Bates and Ketan Kollipara.

GOLDEN NUGGET LAKE CHARLES: The top 60 players who logged the most hours March 31-April 30 will assemble May 8 at 10 a.m. for a $100K freeroll. The top 10 players automatically earn $1K. Also, the bad beat was $120K-plus at press time.

L’AUBERGE CASINO BATON ROUGE: Aces Cracked pays $100 Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and the bad beat, which was $105K at press time, has changed its qualifier to quad fives.

Seniors receive a $20 food voucher for 2.5 hours of play in a jackpot-qualifying game. Speaking of cash games, new ones are being spread. Monday and Wednesday nights at 6 will have a $20-$40 limit game with a half-kill. Sunday and Thursday nights at 6 will host a $15-$30 Omaha game and Tuesday’s at 6 p.m. is a $5-$10 NLHE. Call in to reserve seats at 4 p.m.

HARRAH’S CASINO NEW ORLEANS: This month, $80 WSOPC satellites run Sundays at noon with $3,350 guaranteed (first pays a $1,675 seat, second is a $580 seat and third-fifth pays $365 seats). Every six entries beyond the initial 56 entries means another $365 seat added. Unlimited re-entries are allowed through the first three levels.

Ask about the bubble freeroll and royal flush giveaways as they pertain to WSOPC seats. The WSOPC runs May 10-21.
Also, the bad-beat jackpot was about $130K at press time.

Mississippi

In Biloxi, the Saturday after the third Friday of every month is a $200 Little Monster with a $10K guarantee at the Beau Rivage. It starts at noon and runs through the end of 2018. These events almost always exceed the prize pool and pack a huge bargain for the affordable buy-in. 

If you’d prefer live action, every Friday (2 p.m.-3 a.m.) enjoy the Lucky Splash. The poker room gives away $75 every
20 minutes and all you have to do to be eligible is to be active in a jackpot-eligible game when the drawing occurs. Staff will then use a random-seat generator to pick a lucky seat and award $25 to the player and $50 to the next pot at the table.

If limit is more your speed, take advantage of the splash-pot promo in any game up to $6-$12. Any time the flop is all one suit, $50 will be added to the next pot. For more information, visit beaurivage.com and see our Where to Play pages.

HORSESHOE TUNICA: For those spending their summer in the north end of the state, the Horseshoe has some of the best live action in the area. If tournament play is what you crave, every Saturday is a $10K guarantee with for $150. This tournament really draws a crowd. 

May 4-6 is a $50K guarantee for $165. There are two flights to get in, the first is that Friday at 6 p.m. If that doesn’t work out, jump in Saturday at noon. Unlimited re-entries are allowed through Level 7. Call 800-303-7463 for room rates.

Missouri

LOCAL PLAYER ROLLS ON: John “Cheeseburger” Richards won his third WSOPC ring at Hard Rock Tulsa in April, taking down Event 7 ($580 pot-limit Omaha), his game of choice. 

Richards has won all three of his rings within the last year.

He got off to a rough start this time, however, firing seven bullets before accumulating enough chips to make it to a tough final table. He beat fellow circuit grinder Daniel Lowery heads-up for the title. Lowery took home $10,816 for second as Richards received $17,499, bringing his lifetime earnings to $332,217. 

“Seventh time’s the charm,” he said.

So, why Cheeseburger? “My buddy Rob and I were in the VIP room at Lumiere Place to eat. The waitress comes up to the table and asks us what we want to drink, we order and then Rob says to the waitress, ‘What? You don’t know who that is? That’s H.B.; he’s famous!’

“She walked away to take care of something and after she left Rob said, ‘We have to come up with something with initials H.B.,’ and we both mull it over and can’t come up with anything. Then, we came up with Ham Burger, which was just his way of hitting on and creating conversation with the waitress. After that, he started calling me H.B. when he would see me in the poker room. That morphed into Cheese, then Cheeseburger.

“Funny thing is, over the past few months I’ve been calling in to poker rooms and putting myself on the list as Legend, so some people are calling me that now or poking fun at it. Either way, it doesn’t matter to me, as long as at the end of the day I get the cheese.”

Meet John Richards

John Richards, a.k.a. Cheeseburger, lives just outside St. Louis and won his third World Series of Poker Circuit ring in April (read above for more in our Missouri report).

How long have you been playing poker? I started playing around 15 or 16 years old with my hockey teammates and my little brother, who’s a year younger than me. Basically played with my lunch money: $5, $10 or $20 buy-ins and I had a few weeks with no lunch, though I don’t look like it.

When did you make the jump from amateur to pro? I still don’t know if I would call myself a pro; I’ve always hated that term, and grinder, too. Both words kind of mean a pretty nitty player only looking to exploit the best spots, etc., and that’s far from how I play. I give a ton of action. My uncle still introduces me as professional gambler, which I always try to correct to poker player because there’s big difference. — Todd Lamansky