Essak wins HPO in Columbus, Ohio

June 01, 2017, Brian Bly, John Somsky, Josh Jetton, Ken Warren, Chad Holloway, Joe Giertuga  

The Hollywood Poker Open ran April 27-May 7 at the Hollywood Casino in Columbus, Ohio, and featured seven events.

The $1,100 main event went to Vance Essak, who earned $70,448. Essak edged out second-place finisher Richard Morton ($43,536) and Jerry Zehr ($31,590).

Colbert White won the $350 “mini” main event. Winners of the remaining events were Daniel Hummer ($250 superstack); Tori Todd ($200 Sunday Funday); Kenneth Short ($240 black-chip bounty) and Michael Romanos ($200 seniors).

Brent Nolan took down the only non-hold’em event, a $150 pot-limit Omaha tournament.

JACK CASINO CLEVELAND: The Hump Day High Hand Splash promotion has been running Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Thursdays, the Black Chip for Broadway promotion pays $100 for every Broadway straight, 3-11 p.m.

THE MEADOWS: On the second Saturday of the month (10 a.m.-1 p.m.), $300 will be awarded hourly for the high hand of the qualifying period. Also, royals earn the progressive jackpot, the amount of which is posted in the room.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO TOLEDO: The room is paying hourly high hands ($100-$200) weekdays (1-6 p.m.). The minimum qualifying hand is a straight (any straight) and both hole cards must play. Weekend high hands ($500 every 30 minutes) will run on June 2, 10 and 18. The minimum qualifying hand on weekends is aces full of deuces.

Other cash-game promotions include Hollywood Awards, where players win by making any of the 29 qualifying hands.

Chicagoland

MAJESTIC STAR: America’s Poker Tour returned to see John Schray win its main event for almost $44K and a $3K package. Schray had to face a tough table with runner-up James Snyder, who won the 2011 Chicago Poker Classic heads-up title, Alan Cutler and Gary Herstein, who leads Majestic Star’s all-time cashes list.
“Great tournament and the blind structures were very well-designed,” said Cutler, who owns a WSOPC ring from Atlantic City.

Schray escaped elimination at the final table after going all-in preflop with 7-9 vs. A-8 when he flopped the nut straight. The main event had 170 entries for a prize pool of almost $165K.

Lisa Maloney, who was born deaf, defeated 415 entries to win the $200 NLHE opener and her first major tournament title for $16K. She wears hearing aids, but relies on lip-reading during the tournament. The prize pool was $71K.

“That was an unbelievable experience; I would like to run it again,” said Maloney, who has been successful in Windy City Poker Championship tournaments, too.

HARRAH’S JOLIET: The nation’s largest bad-beat jackpot keeps getting bigger. It was $773K (quad eights) at press time. The mini bad beat was $9K.

Harrah’s is the first in the state to run monthly women’s tournaments. The next one is June 11 at noon ($140).
Pending approval, on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, beginning June 11, the poker room will splash the pot with $75 on as many as three tables every two hours from noon until 2 a.m.

Michigan

FIREKEEPERS CASINO: The poker room runs a special Fifth Sunday tournament for $400 and 40K chips at noon. The April event had 376 entries for a $131,600 prize pool as Nick Jivkov took the title and $26,320. The next one will be July 30 and one re-entry is allowed through Level 4.

FireKeepers also alternates between a $120 tournament the first and third Sundays of the month and a $240 deepstack the second and fourth Sunday.

The $1-$3 NLHE and PLO games with a $500 max buy-in have become popular. After the first hand of a new game, players may buy to the largest stack.

GREEKTOWN CASINO: The bad-beat jackpot was $160K-plus at press time. There are $100 high hands every hour and every half-hour on Saturdays (3-10 p.m.) and aces full or better qualifies.

MGM GRAND: The room recently introduced $100 random-seat drawings on the hour between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. in all NLHE cash games Monday-Thursday. Also, look for random $100 splash pots on the half-hour between 7:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday.

MOTOR CITY: The bad-beat jackpot (quads) was $442K at press time.

Iowa

GRAND FALLS CASINO: Travis Gant won the $350 MSPT Regional in Larchwood, Iowa, on May 7 to take $29,782 home to South Dakota. Gant started the day short, worked his way back, only to find himself short again, staring at a 4-to-1 deficit heads-up against Jason Bender. But, of course, Gant ran down Bender to take the win. This event pulled in 426 entrants.

PRAIRIE MEADOWS: Its final $200 World Series satellite will be June 11. Play for your chance at the $10K WSOP main-event entry in Las Vegas plus $2K for expenses.

DIAMOND JO: The Worth poker room’s bad-beat jackpot was $250K-plus at press time, which has been getting the attention of a lot of players in the area.

Minnesota

RUNNING ACES CASINO: Jordan Handrich of St. Cloud, Minn., took home $14,061 after a 10-way chop of the Spring Poker Classic Main Event in Columbus, Minn. Handrich started Day 2 with a below-average stack of 34K, but she quickly grew it to above average in the first few levels.

The win increases Handrich’s career earnings to $118K-plus. The $500 main event drew 252 entrants and generated a $109,998 prize pool.

Nate Boyer earned $9,018 over the series, making the final table of the main event and the $300 bounty event. Also of note, Kevin Finley of Forest Lake, Minn., cashed in three events for a total $2,669.
The series drew 1,498 entrants for $184,408 in prize pools across 15 events.

CANTERBURY PARK: Mark Wadekamper of Lonsdale, Minn., won the property’s largest MSPT event in Shakopee, Minn. Wadekamper battled through 475 entrants to get heads-up with a 7-to-1 lead against the reigning champion Jonathan Kim. Wadekamper’s jacks held against Kim’s A-2 to end the tournament.

Wadekamper earned his largest career cash of $110,220. The 56-year-old business development manager has plans for the money. “I’ll pay taxes and probably help pay my daughter’s student loans,” he said.
The $1,100 event generated a $459,250 prize pool.

Wisconsin

In early April, Janesville’s Josh Reichard topped a field of 646 entrants to win Event 3 ($265 NLHE) in the WSOPC stop at Horseshoe Council Bluffs for $39,731. It’s his largest WSOP-related cash and seventh gold ring, tying him with Cory Waaland in sixth place for most rings.

POTAWATOMI HOTEL AND CASINO: In Milwaukee, Ari Engel won the latest MSPT $1,100 main event, which attracted 495 entrants. With the win, good for $114,876, the eight-time WSOPC winner and 2016 Aussie Millions champ brought his lifetime live earnings to nearly $4.6M.

In other news, the $312,300 bad-beat jackpot hit on April 14 when Mike Pawlak’s quad eights lost to Adam Terrell quad aces after getting it all-in preflop. Pawlak won $93,692, Terrell $62,461, and five others received an $18,739 table share. In addition, 61 players in the room received $1,023 each.

Meet Scotter Clark

Scotter Clark is a traveling pro from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

How did your poker journey begin? I began playing poker at the age of 13 with my brother and best friend for Halloween candy. I recall my brother getting a royal flush playing five-card draw.

Can you elaborate on the tough time you had making it through the main event of the Fall Classic at Canterbury Park, which you won last year? While I was playing, I had an infection get into my blood stream and went through a sepsis attack. I nearly passed out, but continued playing. I made a huge bluff on a guy with 19 left and he tanked for 10 minutes. When he did that, the adrenaline from the bluff produced cortisone in my body and helped fight the attack. Upon winning first place, I was rushed to the emergency room.

This win allowed you to take a shot at being a traveling pro. How are you enjoying that? Being a traveling pro has been a lot of fun. There are some very good people on the tour that I have met. It’s a tough life in and out of hotels and planes, but you have to learn to discipline yourself with exercise, good food and breaks away from the tables. — Ken Warren