Charity poker event at Silks in Tampa on May 5

April 15, 2017, Sara Malowitz, Christopher Cosenza, Dave Lemmon, Jennifer Gay, Todd Lamansky, Ron Hope  

The Silks Poker Room at Tampa Bay Downs in Tampa, Fla., has a wonderful atmosphere and some great events. There are weekly $10K guarantees, progressive high hands and monthly multiday tournaments.
On May 5, the fourth annual Sanpar Charity Poker Classic begins at 6 p.m. It includes dinner, raffles and door prizes for $110 with $20 rebuys. The event benefits the Leukemia Lymphoma Society for blood cancer research and patient education. This is one of the best tournaments of the year as everyone has a great time.
As for cash games, there’s a steady biweekly $6-$12 mix game on Sundays at 7p.m. with the standard HORSE games. There’s talk of adding badugi, Big O, pineapple and others. Call the poker room for more details, but it’s every other Sunday so be sure to ask for the schedule.

ANTE UP POKER CRUISE: On our March poker cruise to Mexico out of Tampa, we had two great tournament winners. Fritz Von Ammon won the $100 main event, while Heather Mae won a cabin aboard our Aug. 26 cruise to Cuba. For more details on the upcoming Cuba cruise, go to anteupcruises.com.

SARASOTA KENNEL CLUB: The new America’s Poker Tour recently debuted at the One-Eyed Jacks Poker Room in Sarasota and got off to a fine start. The first event was a $200 deepstack that had 167 players. Kevin Butler, Shane Gosline, Merlin Schenk and Byron Schenk chopped the prize pool.

Other events included the $150 seniors, which drew 62 players, and a $240 PLO, which had 162 players. The $1,100 main event was running at press time so be sure to check out next issue for a recap. Stan Jablonski, Vanessa Rousso and John Racener were scheduled to play.

North Florida

DAYTONA BEACH: The ninth annual Howard Frank Memorial Deep Stack Charity Classic is May 21 at Daytona Beach Racing and Card Club. This is the most anticipated charity event of the year in Florida, guaranteeing more than $70K in prizes, including first place being worth more than $11K.

If the payouts aren’t exciting enough, this is your chance to meet legendary poker player and WPT icon Mike Sexton and ESPN’s Norman Chad.

The top 10 in the tourney will earn trips to Las Vegas to play in the Venetian’s Deep Stack Extravaganza.

For more info, call 386-872-8719 see the ad on Pages 2-3 of our May issue or visit deepstackcharityclassic.com. This event sells out every year so be sure to make your reservation soon.

BESTBET JACKSONVILLE: Jeremy Meacham of Massachusetts captured the WPTDeepStacks main event at bestbet Jacksonville on March 13, good for $114K. He was the Day 1A chipleader and went wire-to-wire for his first major win and biggest cash of his career. The $1,500 event, which had a $300K guarantee, drew 420 players for a $567K prize pool. Meacham also earned a $3K WPTDS Championship package.

“This main event was an amazing experience,” Meacham said. “It was run fantastically by the staff. Everyone has been really cool. It’s really well-organized. ... I ran good. I guess it was my tournament to have a nice little run in. Things went my way at the final table.”

Meacham defeated Raymond “Trey” Walton of Georgia for the title. Walton earned $80K for second. He was followed by Corey Bierria ($51K), Richard McCrary ($34K), Mike Murphy ($26K), Ken Williams ($22K), Nick Gee ($18K), Corey Thompson ($15K) and Marie Harrell ($11K).

The winners of the undercard events were Derrick Cutler (Event 1, $570 NLHE, $33,600), Richard Swain (Event 2, $240 turbo, $3,577), Imelda Cisneros (Event 3, $200 all-in-or-fold, $2,300), Chanthou Chauhan (Event 4, $350 bounty, $8,935), Sean Small (Event 5, $200 NLHE, $13,799), Tompkins Danglis (Event 6, $240 NLHE, $5,818), Danny Wilson (Event 7, $570 NLHE, $7,748), Brad Bragg (Event 8, $240 Omaha/8, $4,264), Nisim Cohen (Event 9, $350 Big O/8, $3,785), Jon Singer (Event 10, $240 turbo, $3,629), Dan Kaminsky (Event 11, $350 bounty, $5,880) and Keith Jones (Event 12, $240 turbo, $3,533).

Bestbet hosts a $200K guarantee May 3-5 with a $1,100 buy-in. Other events in the series include a $350 event on May 4, a $350 Big O-O/8 tourney May 6 and a $350 event May 7.

ORANGE CITY RACING AND CARD ROOM: This month, look for $200 high hands every 20 minutes on Mondays from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Also, $300 hands will be paid every 30 minutes on Wednesdays (11 a.m.-10 p.m.).

CREEK GRETNA ENTERTAINMENT: This month’s $10K guarantee is May 20 for $270. See the ad on Page 45 of our May issue for more details.

PENSACOLA GREYHOUND PARK: There are a handful of guarantee events each week. The $2K guarantee is Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. for just $60. There’s also a $2,500 guarantee for $120 on Wednesdays at 7. The monthly $20K guarantee has three starting flights May 25-27 and cost $180. Satellites for $60 are available. For more, see the ad on Page 45 of our May issue.

EBRO GREYHOUND PARK: The Emerald Coast Spring Classic hadn’t concluded at press time. The main event had three starting flights April 28-29 so look for results in a future issue.

South Florida

If the quality of a major series is measured by the volume of marquee names appearing at its final tables, the Seminole Hard Rock Showdown series will be near the top of that list for a long time. However, at the seventh annual WPT Showdown main event in Hollywood, Fla., it was Tony Sinishtaj of New York who would crash the big-name party to take down the top prize and etch his name on the World Poker Tour Champions Cup.

Sinishtaj has been around the pro scene since 2011, with several final tables in Atlantic City at the Borgata, but his only major victory was in 2013 in the Deep Stack Extravaganza in Las Vegas over a small field. This time, he bested 1,200-plus opponents to collect $661K and a $5,250 seat in this fall’s SHRPO, defeating Dan Colman (fourth, $217K), Robert Mizrachi (third, $293K) and South Florida favorite Darryll Fish (second, $453K).

After Simeon Naydenov and Eric Beller exited early, the final four players settled in for a long fight, with the lead changing hands several times before it got heads-up. Sinishtaj had a 2-to-1 lead over Fish, and while the Ft. Lauderdale star would grab the lead for a short time, Sinishtaj’s diamond flush on the last hand grabbed the title. For Fish, it was his third top-three finish in five weeks after winning a Big Stax event at Parx and finishing third at the Isle’s Battles at the Beach main event in March.

Former WSOP champion Ryan Riess knocked off Alan Sternberg to win the $10K WPT Finale, as his big slick out-flopped Sternberg’s pocket sevens with a king on the flop and another on the turn. A field of 349 players created a $3.3M-plus prize pool, surpassing the $2M guarantee. Riess pocketed $716K-plus and a $15K seat in the season-ending Tournament of Champions.

In between those two exciting finishes, the final table of the $25K High Roller highlighted the star-studded week as South Florida’s Jason Mercier won the title. Mercier, who’s expecting his first child in October with wife and poker pro Natasha Barbour, found himself heads-up with Justin Bonomo for the title. With a 4-to-1 advantage, Mercier saw his A-Q dominate the A-2 of Bonomo on the final hand to give him the victory and a first-place check of nearly $795K.

From here, the Seminole Hard Rock is rebuilding the Seminole Paradise area and is closing the regular poker room over the next couple of months. Poker action will shift to the left half of the ballroom for the next 18-24 months.

ISLE CASINO: The Pompano Beach property is hosting $100K guarantee for $150 May 4-7.Flights on May 4-6 are at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., with Day 2 May 7. Players start with 20K units and will have 25-minute blinds, though blinds will be 30 minutes for Day 2. There are $20K guarantees May 8, May 22 and May 25 for $130 (16K stack, 20-minute levels) and a $15K guarantee May 27 for $120 (18K chips, 20-minute levels). And don’t forget the $15K guarantee on May 13 ($240, $50 bounties, 18K units, 25-minute levels.

Missouri

AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES: Tom Morse is the Heartland Poker Tour’s latest champion. The computer programer won his $1,650 main-event seat via a $375 qualifier and walked away $117,229 richer after topping a field of 359 players. Morse had less than $5K in earnings before the event and overcame a 4-to-1 chip deficit against runner-up Jeffrey Landherr, who received $74K-plus. Both players hail from Wentzville, Mo.

Mary Struges (Rolla, Mo.) made her second straight HPT final table at this property, eventually coming in fifth for just shy of $26K. Michael Urbaniak (O’Fallon, Mo.) busted in eighth to the tune of $14,274.

Event 1 ($350 NLHE) had a state-record 969 entries. Jeffrey Copeland (St. Louis) took home top honors for $61K. Another St. Louis local, Paul Felig, finished ninth for $5K.

The HPT returns to Ameristar in late November for its season-ending Championship Open.

Louisiana

Daniel Holmes of Lafayette, La., bested the field of 148 entrants to win the $700 Spring Classic Main Event for $16,882 at Coushatta Casino Resort in Kinder, La.

He was followed by Hector Hernandez ($11,225); Mohamed Kasswran ($9,004); Douglas Frieiss ($6,752); Kinney Fitzgerald ($6,003); Tiffany Gerron ($5,253); Joseph Golias ($4,502); James Beetz ($3,752); Blake Barrousse ($3,001) and Victor De Los Santos ($2,151).

James Lloyd of Houston beat nearly 140 players to win the $250 seniors tourney for $4,213. Michael Boyd, Karl Guidry, Shelton Tate, Ante Up’s Capt. Ronnie Hope and Alton Cain chopped second place for $3,286 each. Ralph Rushing was seventh, followed by William Gregory and John Maxwell.

The $250 PLO event saw a seven-way chop: Jacob Seale ($5,245); David Sherman ($5,200); Jason Faircloth ($5,200); Wesley Monico ($5K); Hope ($4,500); Harold Willis ($3,925) and Alvin Cahee ($2,930). Also. Hope, Ante Up’s new Louisiana Ambassador, made two of three final tables and cashed in all three events.

The series saw great turnouts in all of the events with overflowing fields and a great staff, including Danny Wade, Amanda Peyton and Ricky Soileau. Since the revamping of their tournament structures, there have been consistently growing fields in Coushatta events.

L’AUBERGE CASINO BATON ROUGE: The Spring into Cash promotion continues until May 7, ending in a $30K freeroll. The top 60 players will qualify. Call the poker room for details.

BOOMTOWN CASINO NEW ORLEANS: The bad-beat jackpot was $133K at press time. There are also straight flush and royal flush promotions, earning $100 and. $150, respectively, though the payouts will increase $25 per day until hit.

GOLDEN NUGGET LAKE CHARLES: The bad beat was at $144K at press time. The room has drawings on Sundays for $400 every two hours (11 a.m.-11 p.m., Monday-Thursday).

Also, Aces Full Frenzy pays $400 for each aces active full house in descending order with each full house being paid only once each week.

HARRAH’S NEW ORLEANS: The WSOPC starts May 11 and culminates with the $1,675 main event. This event will be the last stop in the WSOP points race for 2017. The bad-beat jackpot was $180K at press time.

Descending quads (midnight-noon) start at $2K and will increase by $100 daily until hit.

NOTABLES: Some Louisiana players performed well around the area. New Orleans native Teddy Conner finished fifth in a field of 2,923 at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in Hollywood, Fla.

Stephen Bierman has been on a nice run lately, going deep in Tulsa’s WSOPC main event.

Also, congrats to all who cashed in the Ante Up Poker Tour’s Pearl River Spring Poker Classic with Lafayette local Robert Veazey winning the main event.

Other Louisiana locals did well, such as Pier Part native Paul Hebert making the final table in the opener and Robbie Matthews’ deep run in the main. Hope had three cashes in five events with two final tables.

Mississippi

BEAU RIVAGE: The Biloxi property recently wrapped up its biggest tournament event of the year: the Million Dollar Heater.

It was the first time the series ran under the new room manager Henry Garrison. Featuring the excellent structures and huge guarantees that are synonymous with the Beau, the MDH was a great success.

Event 1, the $600K guarantee, boasted 2,739 entrants with a prize pool of $797,049. The final table featured several locals and notable names such as Tim Burt (sixth, $28,067) and Thu Tran (second, $93,190).
The first-place check for $93,190 went to Holly Meliet of Baton Rouge.

The $50K guarantee Monster Stack (Event 8), saw 359 contenders vie for the $104,469 prize pool. First and second went to two local grinders, Dustin Stewart of D’iberville (first, $28K) and Craig Boyd of Biloxi (second, $15,670).

The $2,700 main event drew 183 entrants for a $457,500 prize pool, beating the $300K guarantee. The final table was a veritable who’s who of well-known grinders with Aaron Massey going out ninth ($9,150), Jacob Bazeley taking seventh ($18,300) and Kyle Cartwright taking second ($78,690).

The champion, Tara Snow, won $150,975. You can read more about her in this month’s profile at the end of this report.

“I always enjoying playing at the Beau Rivage,” Snow said. “I think the structure for the main event is one of the best there is. You get a lot of chips and have longer rounds. Derek (Dillman, poker room staff) and Henry were great. Very kind and helpful. (Tournament director) Paul Dutsch and his staff always run a great tournament.”

More results can be found at beaupoker.com. The next big event here will be the Gulf Coast Poker Championship in September with dates to be announced.

HORSESHOE TUNICA: On May 21, there will be Poker Extravaganza drawings for $20K in prizes and a $10K freeroll. Earn entries until May 19 by playing in the poker room (call for details). Also, the April $50K, which had a remarkable 987 entries for the $160 event, generated a $120K prize pool and William Bott won the title and $22,744. Michael Sengdetka was second, earning $14K and Mike Monaghen was third ($10,326).

PEARL RIVER RESORT: The next $25K guarantee super deepstack event will be June 8-11. See the ad in our May issue for more details. Also, see our coverage of the Ante Up Poker Tour’s Pearl River Spring Poker Classic on Pages 8-9 of the May issue.

Meet Tara Snow

In the recent Million Dollar Heater at the Beau Rivage, Tara Snow won the main event and $150,975. It was her biggest score and will undoubtedly mean we’ll see much more of her in the future.

She’s from Morgan City, Ala., and has two daughters. The die-hard Alabama fan enjoys tennis, softball and basketball. She started playing penny poker when she was nearly 20 and from that branched into home games and online poker.

Her MDH final-table experience was a daunting one. “The field was so tough,” she said. “You had Kyle Cartwright, Aaron Massey, B.J. McBrayer and John Dolan all in the final 18. Of course, I was a huge underdog, so just making the final table was amazing. Only two women made it to the final day, so to be at the table with such seasoned pros was an honor in itself. I knew I had to play the best poker I could. I ended up being the first woman to win the (MDH) main event and that was a huge honor. Kyle was such an amazing person to play with. Such a stand-up guy.”

Snow said she’ll play the WSOPC North Carolina next, but don’t call her a pro just yet. “I’m actually a high school special-needs teacher. So this was life-changing for me. We all know teachers in the South don’t make much. This win allowed me to pay off debt and get in a position where if I were to win another event, I could maybe take a shot at playing professionally.” — Jennifer Gay