Computer conquers humans at Rivers in Pennsylvania

February 24, 2017, Brian Bly, John Somsky, Chad Holloway, Ken Warren, Joe Giertuga  

The three-week match at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh pitting a computer algorithm, designed by a team from Carnegie Mellon University, against four poker pros recently concluded with the CMU emerging victorious. Before the match, the CMU team calculated that it would need $7.70 per hand over the course of the 120K heads-up, no-limit hold’em hands played for the win to be deemed “statistically significant.” The algorithm, nicknamed Libratus, easily surpassed that mark, defeating the players by $1,766,250, for an average of $14.70 per hand. A previous algorithm called Claudico lost to a human team two years ago. It should be noted the players weren’t using real money, but they were competing on a performance-based reward system, being paid from a $200K prize pool.

JACK CASINO CLEVELAND: The Jack Poker Classic, which runs March 18-26, has a $730 buy-in and a $200K guarantee for its main event. Smaller tournaments are running daily.

In cash games on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Good Morning Splash promotion is running every half-hour from 8:30 a.m. to noon ($150 splash to the table with the best five-card hand). Then from 8 p.m. to midnight, the Flushball promotion awards $150 every hour to the player with the highest flush of each suit. On Wednesdays, the Hump Day High Hand pays $220 every 20 minutes from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

JACK CASINO CINCINNATI: The new March Mania promotion features $84K in giveaways over the course of 12 days, including $24K on the final day. Various high hands, high-card drawings and splash pots are all part of the mix.

THE MEADOWS: 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 of the qualifying period as $4,500 total will be awarded. Also, make a royal flush and win the progressive jackpot. The current amount is posted in the room.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO COLUMBUS: The room has been doing some great promotions for cash games in recent months. Full details are listed on its Facebook page.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO TOLEDO: The room has been paying high hands every 30 minutes on Thursdays (4 p.m.-midnight), Fridays (4-2 a.m.), Saturdays (noon-2 a.m.) and Sundays (noon-10 p.m.). The minimum qualifying hand is aces full of deuces and both hole cards must play. Other cash-game promotions include Hollywood Awards, where players win by making any of the 29 qualifying hands, and 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

AMERISTAR EAST CHICAGO: Michael Hahn of Carmel, Ind., outlasted 590 entries to capture the Heartland Poker Tour Main Event, winning $190K. After having his best year in 2016, the poker pro started 2017 by surpassing the $1M mark in career tournament earnings.

Stan Jablonski, who made his ninth HPT final table, was the first to exit the televised table. Vinh Tran, who won the MSPT main event in Milwaukee last year, finished fifth. Nadya Magnus, considered one of Chicagoland’s best female players, just missed making the final table. The prize pool was nearly $850K.

The $300 Monster Stack continues to break records as the largest in HPT history, this time with 1,392 entries, creating a record prize pool of $355K. Deividas Monkevicius, who finished third in April, won for $43K.

Windy City Poker Championship Team Pros Sam Miller and James Battaglia finished 1-2 in the $200 six-max. Miller, who picked up $6K for the win, was runner-up in last year’s America’s Poker Tour opener. The HPT returns May 5-15.

HORSESHOE SOUTHERN INDIANA: The Midwest Regional Poker Championship is March 9-19. The $250 deepstack opener will have three Day 1s and the $760 main event is March 18 at noon.

BELTERRA CASINO RESORT: The HPT visits March 9-20; please see the ad on Page 35 in our March issue for details.

HORSESHOE HAMMOND: Alen Omeralovic won the Winter Warm Up main event for $50K. The Chicago Classic runs March 2-13.

MAJESTIC STAR: The $2-$5 NLHE games have a $5 timed rake every half-hour. There’s a new $180 Black Chip bounty event every Sunday at 3 p.m. Players receive $100 for each knockout.

CHARITY: Raising the Stakes for Vision, a poker tourney and casino night March 2, has a grand prize of a $10K WSOP seat. Go to chicagolighthouse.org for details.

Iowa

HORSESHOE COUNCIL BLUFFS: The World Series of Poker Circuit returns March 30-April 9. There will be 13 ring events, including a senior event. The most lucrative will be the $1,675 main event April 7. There are several $365 events and a $250 tourney.

MESKWAKI CASINO: The Mid-States Poker Tour returns March 19-26. There will be satellites as cheap as $65 to win entry to the $1,100 main event.

GRAND FALLS CASINO: Poker Championship is March 2-5 ($300).

PRAIRIE MEADOWS: The monthly WSOP main-event satellite is March 19. You can win a $12K package for just a $200 buy-in.

DIAMOND JO CASINO: The bad-beat jackpot was $235K-plus.

Minnesota

CANTERBURY PARK: The Shakopee, Minn., property kicked off the year with its popular $275 Cheap & Deep tournament series, which features five Day 1 flights. Duane Anderson of Bemidji, Minn., outlasted 650 entries to take home $30,456 of the $143K prize pool. This cash more than doubled his career earnings. Runner-up Paul Carney earned his largest cash ($16,302).

Canterbury Park ended January with the Great Minnesota Freeze Out, its annual $1,100 tournament. Blake Bohn and Peixin Liu, two Minnesota superstars, went heads-up for the top spot. They chopped $65K for an undisclosed amount as Bohn was the official winner. The event drew 157 entries and produced a $152,290 prize pool.

RUNNING ACES CASINO: Jeffrey Petronack of Hugo, Minn., won $30,070 at the Big Stack Avalanche in Columbus, Minn. Petronack, on the heels of a third-place finish of the Great Minnesota Freeze Out, faced Andrew Redleaf heads-up. Both players fought for their largest career cash, but in the end, Petronack came out on top sending Redleaf home with $17,718.

Wisconsin

POTAWATOMI HOTEL & CASINO: Season 8 of the MSPT kicked off here in early January with a $350 regional event, which was the largest tournament by attendance in state history with 1,228 entries.

After two long days of play, 32-year-old Craig Trost, a professional in the life-sciences field, emerged victorious to capture the title and $63,252. Look for a recap of the first WSOPC at Potawatomi next month.

Meet Peixin Liu

Peixin Liu of Blaine, Minn., often can be found making a deep run in a tournament at one of the Minnesota cardrooms. He’s amassed $550K-plus in lifetime earnings, which includes two firsts and a second in Mid-States Poker Tour events, winning the Mayhem in May event at Running Aces and the $500 Minnesota State Poker Championship at Canterbury Park. Liu emigrated from Beijing to pursue a Ph.D. in dental research and has a thriving business as a dentist.

What do you enjoy most about playing poker and how often do you play? I started playing about 15 years ago. What I enjoy the most of the game is its competitiveness and relaxation at the same time after busy work. I used to play more but now I play roughly once a week.

What do you consider your biggest achievement in poker? I do not consider myself a player with a big achievement, though I do enjoy some respect from the poker community in Minnesota. I’d like to participate in more tournaments at national or international levels in the future.
— John Somsky