Elias captures WPT in Ontario

March 31, 2017, Dave Lukow, Jo Kim, Michael Young  

Darren Elias outlasted 488 players to win the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic in Niagara Falls, Ontario. All cashes and prize pools reported here are in Canadian dollars. Elias, a New Jersey resident, earned $335,436 to increase his live winnings to $4.47M.

David Eldridge was second, a performance worth $224,613, while the third-place finisher, Jean-Christophe Ferreira, pocketed $144,465.

Andrew Chen of Ontario collected $106,865 for fourth, increasing his career take to more than $4.8M. Germany’s Manig Loeser was fifth ($80,149) for his second cash of the series. Abdull Hassan was sixth ($64,316). The prize pool was $2.2M.

Canadian players took four of the top five spots in the $1,100 event as Mike Leah of Ontario took home $244,244 for first, giving him more than $5.7M lifetime earnings. American Matthew Grocholsky was second ($172,589), followed by Dan Kalpakis ($112,201).

Toronto’s Xuan Liu won the $2,500 event for $304,056, while Ryan Yu got $213,185 for second. The event drew 753 runners for a $1.67M prize pool.

Connecticut

NEW CASINO SOON? East Windsor has been chosen as the location for a third casino in the Nutmeg State, this one a joint venture between the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns Foxwoods Resort Casino, and the Mohegan Tribal Nation, which owns Mohegan Sun. The $300M property would be just minutes from Bradley International Airport and, strategically, only a short shot down I-91 from the future home of the Springfield, Mass., MGM casino, which may open in the summer of 2018. The Massachusetts property plans to have a 20-table poker room, so it’s likely the new Connecticut casino will have poker as part of its 150 table games, though no solid plans have been released.

“From the beginning, we’ve said that we want to site our new facility in a town that’s eager to have us,” Mashantucket Pequot Tribal chairman Rodney Butler said. “East Windsor fits that bill, and we’re thrilled to enter into a partnership with them.” The state Legislature needs to approve the deal before ground can be broken.

FOXWOODS CASINO RESORT: The Foxwoods Classic runs until April 3, with the $2,200 main event, which has starting flights on March 31 and April 1, sporting a $400K guarantee. The series closes with Event 20, a $300 big stack with re-entries on April 3. Go to foxwoods.com for details.

Mid-Atlantic

DOVER DOWNS: The next Getaway Weekend runs April 28-30, highlighted by the $30K guarantee on April 29 at 11:15 a.m. ($225, 30-minute blinds, 30K stack). There’s also a $10K guarantee black-chip bounty to open the series (April 28, 11:15 a.m., $225, $1K survivor payout). For info on the other events, call the poker room.
In addition to $1-per-hour comps, cash players receive $2 per hour for the first 29 hours. They get $10 per hour for every hour after 30. See the poker room for details.

DELAWARE PARK: Cash games offer around-the-clock high hands, paying out as much as $500 hourly. Payouts vary depending on time of day. Please see the poker room for a complete schedule.

HORSESHOE BALTIMORE: The WSOPC visits April 27-May 8.

MARYLAND LIVE: The World Poker Tour DeepStacks is April 14-24, including the $1,500 main event April 21. It will sport a $300K guarantee. See the ad on Page 7.

Philadelphia/Atlantic City

Parx celebrated its 20th Big Stax tournament series in collaboration with World Poker Tour DeepStacks Tour from Feb. 8 to March 1.In addition to the usual $300, $500, $1,500 events, the series included a $2,500 Big Stax final event. WPTDS offered live streaming and coverage of the main tournaments throughout the schedule.

The series kicked off with the $340 tourney that drew 1,883 entrants for a first-place payout of $92,942.After Hung Truong took fourth for $28,121, the three players left made a deal. Josias Dos Santos took the title for $68,250 while Carlos Alvarado and Gregory Weber collected $65K and $56,773, respectively.

Vinnie Papandrea claimed the $550 event for $103,676 after 14 hours of play on Day 3.Heads-up play took 23 hands as John Attanasio finished second ($65,557).Among the notables at the final table were Joe “Worm” Palma, who took sixth ($17,580), and Anna Antimony, who came in third ($42,719).

Antimony, who chopped heads-up in Event 1 at the Borgata Fall Poker Open for $126K, holds $300K-plus in tournament earnings, most of which came this past year.She said she was due for her third-place finish at Parx.
“It was a long time coming, but I knew I’d eventually make a final table at Parx,” she said.“We were all so deep that it seemed like nobody was busting or even getting short, but things eventually started to move.”

Though the final table didn’t yield anything but multiple bad beats, Antimony kept herself well-adjusted by maintaining focus.

“I promise you’ll see me at a final table again soon.”

The WPTDS main had a $957,300 prize pool, drawing 660 players for the $201,991 prize, a $3K package to the WPTDS Season Championship and a massive amount of POY points. On Day 3, after 13 levels and nearly 16 hours, four players chopped: James Poper, D.J. MacKinnon, Justin Liberto and Phillip Hui. Other notables included Travis Hartshorn, Loni Harwood, Victor Ramdin and Matt Mendez.

Liberto was third, adding $83,285 to his $2.1M earnings.

“The tourney was a very unique experience being able to play a final table with two of my very close friends,” Liberto said of MacKinnon and Hui, who was fourth ($60,980). “All of us being able to walk away with six figures was amazing.”

After a crushing hand of set over set, MacKinnon was second ($127,800), marking his biggest live payout.Poper also claimed the biggest win of his career, taking the title and $201,991.

“I didn’t have a great 2016 and I had definitely lost some confidence along the way,” he said. “Everyone from a $1-$2 recreational cash player to the elite’s playing the highest tournaments go through downswings, so part of being a professional is being able to deal with those tough times mentally.The deep run at Parx was a nice reminder that I have the ability to play well. Hopefully the run serves as a launching pad for a successful 2017 and beyond.”

Darryll Fish won the Big Stax $2,500 title as the final event came to an end with a three-way chop between Fish, Mark Herm and Joseph Hanrahan.The event drew 137 entrants, 52 of which won their seats via satellites.Fish and Herm took home nearly $64K each after Hanrahan was third ($55,459).

MOHEGAN SUN POCONO: The NEPA Poker Open runs April 23-29, with 11 events and numerous satellites, some as cheap as $18. The $550 main event is April 29 at 11 a.m. The series opens with a $340 Black Chip Bounty event on April 23 at 11 a.m. Most events are NLHE, but on April 28 there’s a $125 hold’em-PLO event at 11 a.m. For more details, be sure to visit mohegansunpocono.com or call 888-946-4672.

SUGARHOUSE: The first Philadelphia Poker Classic series ran March 1-31.The event featured Poker Night in America, headlining Phil Hellmuth, Olivier Busquet, Doug Polk, Matt Glantz and Ante Up Ambassador Jo Kim. Coverage will be in the next issue.

HARD ROCK BUYS TAJ MAHAL: Hard Rock International bought the former Taj Mahal after its closing from bankruptcy. The investment is intended to revitalize Atlantic City by bringing thousands of local jobs. The group will invest more than $300M to buy, renovate and re-open the casino.

“We are excited to be part of this revitalization of Atlantic City, creating thousands of jobs to help local employment,” chairman Jim Allen said. “We are 100 percent convinced Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City will be a success.”

New York

TURNING STONE RESORT: The Spring Fling runs April 20-23. Call the poker room for details.

Meet Johnny Grooms

MGM National Harbor director of poker Johnny Grooms started his career in the industry at Tunica Horseshoe in the late 1990s in Mississippi, with stops at the Beau Rivage poker room and World Series of Poker Circuit along the way.

What can players expect from a room run by you? Players can expect a relaxed atmosphere and an entertaining experience.

What do you think the phrase “a poker player’s manager” means and do you consider yourself one? I try to be responsive to all of our guests’ needs whenever possible. I have to make the balance between the grinders and the recreational players. Creating this balance will make all players happy.

Which poker games do you prefer to play? My preferred games are pot-limit Omaha or PLO/8. When available, I prefer to play mixed games, also.

What can we expect from you and MGM National Harbor in the future? We hope to have some charity tournaments shortly. We are examining the local market to determine the demands of what the players are most responsive.
— Michael Young