Firekeepers sets Michigan poker record

June 29, 2017, Josh Jetton, John Somsky, Ken Warren, Joe Giertuga, Chad Holloway  

FireKeepers Casino’s poker room set the record for largest tournament field in Michigan history while hosting the Mid-States Poker Tour, which ran May 18-31. The 1,066 entries at Battle Creek created a prize pool of more than $1M.

Mike Shanahan of Avon, Ind., took the title and the first-place payout of $216,829.

“I’ve been knocking on the door for a couple of years and this is the best I’ve ever played,” Shanahan said after the win. “I’m elated. This was fun. There’s nothing like going deep in a tournament and finishing it off.”

Michigan locals ran deep in this one as Frank Lucarelli (Woodhaven) took third, Justin Rice (Walled Lake) took fourth, Daniel Panone (Rochester) was seventh, Dustin Smith (Middleville) finished eighth, Scott Skriba (Mason) took ninth and Joe Hinton (Ada) was 10th.

The MSPT returns here in October for the Michigan State Poker Championship.

On July 30, FireKeepers will host its fifth Sunday $400 tournament. In April, the last time this event was held, 376 players fought for a prize pool of $131K-plus.

BAD-BEAT UPDATES: At press time, bad-beat jackpots were impressive all across the state. FireKeepers’ bad-beat jackpot (aces full of jacks) was around $140K. Greektown’s was around $180K and you need aces full of queens or better beaten by at least quads. And then there’s Motor City. It’s bad beat jackpot (quads) was more than $500K.

Chicagoland

AMERISTAR EAST CHICAGO: Rob Wazwaz defeated a Heartland Poker Tour talent-filled field of 526 entries, winning the main event for $173K and a $3,600 package to play in the HPT Championship. It was the Minnesota businessman’s first trip to Chicagoland for a HPT event.

“I was very disappointed that I’d not been coming here before. It was better than most of the tournaments I’ve played. I’ll be back,” said Wazwaz, whose career earnings passed the $1M mark.

Casey Carroll fell short of winning back-to-back titles, finishing third, but he’s on top of East Chicago’s all-time money-winners list with $260K.

Gary Herstein, who finished sixth, is tied with Brad Sailor for most all-time cashes here with 14.

Raed Kurdi defeated 1,170 entries to win the Monster Stack and $39K from the $351K prize pool. He faced a tough final table with Nick Jivkov and Michael Kamenjarin.

Sam Miller won the bounty event for $3K. He had won the six-max earlier this year.

Joseph Sidoryk won the $300 seniors for $8K. Tim McCarthy became the only two-time seniors winner here, winning the $200 event for almost $7K. Runner-Up Ed Blazer made both seniors final tables. HPT returns here Aug. 24-Sept. 4.

ONLINE NEWS: The Illinois Senate passed a bill by a wide margin on May 31 that would regulate online poker. The bill regulates interstate online poker and daily fantasy sports, but it faces significant hurdles before becoming law.

HARRAH’S JOLIET: The $780K Mega Bad Beat Jackpot hit on May 21, but don’t despair. This Mega Bad Beat remains the state’s largest at more than $321K (quad eights).

HORSESHOE HAMMOND: Brandon Townsend won the WSOP Warm-Up main event, earning $55K-plus and a WSOP main-event seat.

HORSESHOE SOUTHERN INDIANA: The nine-event Denny Crum Open runs July 20-30. The $675 main event is July 29 at noon. There are nightly $100 tournaments at 7 on July 20 and July 22-27.

TROPICANA EVANSVILLE: The Mid-States Poker Tour returns Aug. 12-20 for the Indiana State Poker Championship. The main event has a $250K guarantee.

Minnesota

RUNNING ACES CASINO: Kentraylus Pates of Brooklyn Park, Minn., took home the largest share of an 11-way chop at the Mayhem in May tournament in Columbus. He chopped for $15K. Second through 10th place agreed to $10,174, leaving 11th place with $3,001. Pates is a former MSPT champion and has $160K-plus in lifetime earnings. Ante Up Poker Tour regional champion Tony Lazar and MSPT runner-up Dennis Stevermer also were among the players involved in the chop.
The event had a $280 buy-in and drew an impressive 770 entrants across six Day 1s, resulting in a $152K prize pool. The field was slightly smaller than last year’s 840.

Players making it to Day 2 from multiple Day 1 flights were allowed to sell their shorter stacks for $1,200 each. Max Havlish received a $2K accumulator bonus for having the largest stack going into Day 2 before finishing 42nd ($639).

Iowa

MESKWAKI CASINO: The MSPT returns July 22-30. Satellites run all month if you’d like to win your way into the $300K guarantee $1,100 main event, which runs July 28-30. Are cash games more your style? If so there always are good NLHE and pot-limit Omaha side games to join when the MSPT comes to town.

NEW CASINO NAME: The Mystique Casino in Dubuque has been renamed the Q Casino. But don’t worry, the poker remains the same.

DIAMOND JO: The bad-beat jackpot at the Worth property was nearly $260K at press time.

Ohio/Western Pennsylvania

JACK CASINO CLEVELAND: The room has been running cash-game promotions on certain days. On Mondays, the Mad House Ladder runs 10 a.m.-10 p.m. On Wednesdays, it’s Hump Day High Hand Splash. And on Saturdays, Super High Hands pay $500 or $1K every hour 8 a.m.-2 a.m.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO TOLEDO: The Red Hot Summer promotion is finishing up, with the last of the $20K drawings taking place July 4 and July 11. Players earn tickets when seated in a live, bad-beat-jackpot-eligible game.

Every player that wins a pot, provided the pot is $20 or more and has a BBJ fee removed, will receive a drawing ticket. The room has been running various high-hand promotions every day. Details are on its website.

THE MEADOWS: Once per month, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month, $300 will be awarded every hour for the high hand of the qualifying period. Also, $4,500 total will be awarded. Make a royal flush and win a progressive jackpot.

Wisconsin

POTAWATOMI HOTEL & CASINO: For the second time in Season 8, the Milwaukee property hosts a $350 buy-in, $100K guarantee MSPT regional event. The stop runs July 15-23 with a series of satellites leading up to the main event, which is July 20.

NEW WPT HOST: After 15 years serving as the voice of the World Poker Tour, Mike Sexton left the show in May for a position at Party Poker. Wisconsin native Tony Dunst, who has hosted the WPT’s Raw Deal segment for the past seven years, will to fill Sexton’s spot alongside Vince Van Patten.

SUN FINAL TABLES HPT: Milwaukee’s John Sun, who in 2016 won the MSPT Iowa State Poker Championship, placed fourth out of 526 entrants in May’s Heartland Poker Tour East Chicago Main Event for $48,849.

REPRESENTING: Brett Reichard, the father of seven-time WSOP Circuit ring-winner Josh Reichard, was the last Wisconsinite standing in the MSPT FireKeepers main event. Reichard finished 13th for $10,840. The only other Wisconsin player to cash was Eddie Ochana, who finished 72nd for $2,891.

Meet Steve Fredlund

Steve Fredlund discovered a passion for poker about five years ago. Since then he has coordinated semi-annual All-in for Africa charity tournaments and started the RecPoker podcast.

How did you start the All-in for Africa tournaments? I co-founded a nonprofit in 2009 called Our Response and in an effort to involve the Minnesota poker community, I approached Running Aces to partner on All-in for Africa, which we held in the fall of 2014.Since then, we have run this every spring at Canterbury and every fall at Running Aces.

What effect has All-in for Africa made? In our first six AIFA tournaments, we have raised $65K-plus to support efforts around clean water, nutrition and malaria prevention. (It) has been focused in Rwanda and other countries in East Africa.

What made you start the RecPoker podcast? Unable to find a podcast with a focus on live, multitable tournaments for recreational players at smaller buy-ins, I decided to fill the void. I also thought it would be a great way to further unite the Minnesota poker community while helping myself personally grow in the game and build connections.

What is your impression of the Minnesota poker community? I’ve been blown away by the generosity toward All-in for Africa. I’ve met so many great players, several of whom are becoming great friends. While a few players seem committed to an unwelcoming posture toward less experienced players, almost everyone else is very friendly, welcoming and even encouraging. — John Somsky