December poker series dominate Tampa Bay area

January 27, 2014, Andrew Malowitz  

The Tampa Bay market had some incredible series recently, and the outlook for 2014 is that the trend will continue.

Sarasota Kennel Club’s One-Eyed Jacks poker room kicked off the series madness with its after-Thanksgiving series. With a variety of games offered, the $220 main event had a $40K guarantee, attracting more than 300 runners, ending in a chop with Judy Arnold and Mike Dolan.

HARD ROCK TAMPA: The final WPT Regional of 2013 saw Hard Rock regulars come out in droves.

The opening weekend’s $515 event ended in a nine-way chop, helping to secure holiday money for the final table.

The main event was the traditional $1,650 buy-in, but it held a new $300K guarantee, so the regulars weren’t the only ones to attend.
Well-traveled tournament grinders such as Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler, David Tuthill (Tampa local), Cord Garcia and others came out to play in one of the larger buy-ins to end 2013.

However, local grinder and Open Face Chinese expert (more on that later) Stephen Diamantas took down the first prize of $121,900. I spoke with Diamantas and he said this was an incredibly tough field, one that got harder after each elimination.

“It’s still a surreal feeling to win the whole thing,” Diamantas said. He was involved in the nine-way chop for Event 1 and after the main-event victory he wasn’t done.

DERBY LANE: The St. Petersburg poker room finished off December with its 12 Days Series. This series held an Open Face Chinese event, PLO, six-max, a $30 event and a $300 main event.

Diamantas, who finished the Hard Rock main in the wee hours on Monday morning, arrived at Derby Lane on Tuesday to take down the OFC event. This was a sweep for Diamantas, who also took down the Sarasota Open Face event in its series.

The main event for the 12 Days series saw 694 players take a shot at the almost $42K first-place prize. The event ended with a three-way chop, seeing each of the players walk away with $28K. … not bad for a $300 investment.

— Email Andrew at anteupandrew@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @anteupandrew and read his blog at anteupandrew.wordpress.com.