FireKeepers hosts Michigan poker championship Oct. 15-18

October 01, 2015, Joe Giertuga, Chad Holloway, John Somsky, Ken Warren  

The Mid-States Poker Tour returns to FireKeepers Casino and Resort in Battle Creek for the Michigan State Poker Championship on Oct. 15-18. The main event sports a $200K guarantee and qualifiers began Sept. 11.

The last time FireKeepers hosted this event was in May and that main event set the Michigan record for the most entries in a tournament with 614, breaking the record by almost 100 players and more than tripling the $200K guarantee.

Minnesota

CANTERBURY PARK: Jason Seitz of Shakopee, Minn., won the $1,650 Poker Night in America Main Event. Seitz entered the final five with just 274K chips compared with 2.3M for the leader, Rodger Johnson. Seitz was all-in several times, but in the end Seitz and Johnson went heads-up for the title. Seitz earned $101,755.

The event drew 278 entries and generated a $408K prize pool. Twitter buzzed with several players attempting to take a selfie with Phil Hellmuth, who was in town for the event. The event should air sometime in early 2016. Hellmuth and Jason Sommerville have been signed as commentators.

This month, Canterbury hosts its popular Fall Classic on Oct. 3-18. The $1,100 main event has two starting days (Oct. 16-17, noon) and finishes with Day 2 on Oct. 18 at 2 p.m.

RUNNING ACES HARNESS PARK: Matt Kirby of Bemidji, Minn., won the Midwest Classic’s $1,100 main event, taking home $40,071. Kirby was confronted with several familiar faces at the final table, including Daniel Buckley, Jeremy Dresch, Christopher Wallace, Dan Hendricks, Matthew Alexander and Erick Wright.

The main event drew 119 players and had a small overlay for the $125K guarantee. Also, the $350 Cheapstack undercard event went to local pro David Gonia of White Bear Lake, Minn., earning him $15,811. The event had 175 players for and a $50,994 prize pool.

Iowa

GRAND FALLS CASINO: Alan Curl captured the Mid-States Poker Tour event in Larchwood on Aug. 16, good for $64,655. The event had a $238K prize pool as Curl’s A-A defeated Jon Maras’ 5-5 to take the title, leaving with Maras second-place money ($38,091).

RIVERSIDE RESORT AND CASINO: The Ninth Anniversary Classic ran Aug. 21-23 as Jason Bender won $11,859 by beating runner-up John Johnson ($7,905). Also, the bad-beat jackpot approached $150K at press time.

MESKWAKI CASINO: The MSPT returns the first week in November with a $300K guarantee. This event is unusual for Iowa in that it’s open to players 18 and older. So watch out for the young guns. This is a great event even if you just come for the strong cash games. You’ll find one of the rare opportunities to play pot-limit Omaha as well as NLHE at bigger stakes.

HORSESHOE CASINO: The Council Bluffs poker room hosted the RunGood Series at the end of August, generating a main-event prize pool of $148,970. The top spot went to Brandon Fish of Kearney, Neb., taking home $34,267.

There was also a $170 deepstack, which Duane Gerleman won for $8K, and a $190 bounty event, which Ross Bybee won for $4,707.

Chicagoland

AMERISTAR EAST CHICAGO: Playing in his first Heartland Poker Tour main event, Jeremy Kloeckner performed like a seasoned pro, knocking out four opponents at the final table en route to the title. He was heads-up with Chicago’s Robert Edelstein, who has two World Series of Poker Circuit rings.

“I’m extremely excited and this win is going to change my life,” said Kloeckner of Lockport, Ill., winning $142K.

The main event drew 432 entries for a $619K prize pool. Several notables were in the field, including Greg Raymer, Jeff Madsen and Robert Williamson III. Some local pros had deep runs with former HPT champs Bob Chow and Mike Puccio finishing in the top 20. Kenny Nguyen made his second HPT televised final table.

The HPT $100K guarantee opener had a record 989 entries. Douglas Singleton from South Haven, N.Y., won $43K.

Russell Burns won the $200 seniors, earning $10K after being heads-up with local TV newscaster Ron Magers.

TROPICANA EVANSVILLE: Mike O’Neill won the $1,100 MSPT main event for $68K.Allen Kessler and Nick Pupillo made the final table in an event that just made the $250K guarantee with 251 entries.

HARRAH’S JOLIET: The Mega Bad Beat was nearly $470K (quad eights) at press time. Also, NLHE games are allowing 10 times straddles on the button and under the gun.

HORSESHOE HAMMOND: Matt Shepsky won the WSOPC Summer Warm-Up Series main event for $47K.

Wisconsin

ST. CROIX TURTLE LAKE: In late August, the PPC visited for the first time for a four-event series, which culminated with a $350 buy-in $50K guarantee main event. Leading up to that event, Don Hiser topped a field of 53 entrants to win Event 1 ($120 NLHE) for $1,500 and a $1,028 PPC Aruba package; Kevin Conlin outlasted 54 players to win Event 2 ($120 seniors) for $1,535 and a $1,067 PPC Aruba package; and Tom Ritchie bested a field of 56 entrants to win Event 3 ($60 NLHE) for $1K.

As for the main event, 165 entrants took to the felt to create a $51K prize pool. Mandy Caffe came out on top to capture the $10,735 first-place prize and a $3,500 PPC Aruba package.

POTAWATOMI HOTEL & CASINO: In early September, the MSPT visited the property for the third time, attracting 462 entrants. Dan Goepel took home $114,117 and the title.

Ohio

HORSESHOE CLEVELAND: The qualifying period for the next quarterly $10K freeroll runs until Oct. 31 with the tournament being Nov. 17 at 7:15 p.m. The top 25 players with the most time played in cash games and the top 25 finishers on the tournament leaderboard receive entry. Don’t forget the Last Sunday of the Month$500 deepstack is Oct. 25 at 12:15 p.m.

Meet Kou Vang

Kou Vang has been playing poker professionally since 2005. He has almost $2 million in online winnings and almost $800K in earnings on Hendon Mob. He’s 13th on the Minnesota all-time money list and was recognized by the MN Poker awards, winning Best Male Player and Most Feared Player.

What keeps you playing at a high level? I try to keep good balance in my life with family, vacation, time off and side projects to make sure I don’t burn out. I also like to keep realistic short-term and long-term goals to keep myself motivated.

Do you prefer cash games or tournaments, live or online? I came from an online multitable tournament background. I enjoy all of the $1K buy-in MTTs on the weekends locally. But as of late, I’ve moved on to more of an online cash player. I’m trying to find more time to spend with my children on the weekdays and family and friends events on the weekends. Especially this time of the year (summer), I hate to miss out on BBQs or enjoying some sun with my family. Tournament poker just consumes too much time.

What do you consider your biggest poker accomplishment? Definitely just staying consistent throughout the years. Poker is a very tough way to make a living. I’m just humble to have been in the game for over a decade now. — John Somsky