Hawkins makes WSOPC history in N.C.

May 24, 2016, Dave Lemmon, Danny Wade, Jennifer Gay, Todd Lamansky, Sara Malowitz, Andrew Malowitz, Charles Allison  

World Series of Poker Circuit history was made at Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina when Maurice Hawkins became the first player in the 12-year history of the WSOPC to win back-to-back WSOPC main events.

Since April 7, Hawkins has won three gold rings, reached four WSOPC final tables and earned $431,561. To put his run into perspective, Hawkins has earned more money on the circuit in that span than anyone else had all season long.

Hawkins defeated a 1,008-player field to earn the top prize of $279,722 and his seventh gold ring. This marked Hawkins’ largest tournament score and he moved into a tie for fifth on the all-time rings list. He’s tied with Cory Waaland and is only two gold rings behind all-time leader Alex Masek. He also became only the third player to win three gold rings this season.

“I am all about trying to put out my best performance and doing the best I can do,” Hawkins said.


LUMIERE PLACE: The property recently doubled its comps for poker players to $2 an hour and the new incentive applies to tournaments as well. There’s a new monster pot-limit Omaha game spread on the first Saturday of every month at 2 p.m. Blinds are $5-$10 with a mandatory $25 straddle, $1K minimum buy-in with no max. Do you want to play Omaha but don’t have the roll for that big of a game? No problem. Lumiere offers $1-$2 PLO ($5 to bring it in) daily as well as a $1-$3 no-limit hold’em/PLO mix with a buy-in of $200-$500.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO: If you prefer your Omaha in limit form with lots of chopped pots, get over to Hollywood on Saturdays and Sundays at noon for Omaha/8. It also spreads stud on Fridays at 11 a.m. Players can call in to lock up a seat up two hours ahead of time for both games. Players who are in the room can reserve a spot up five hours in advance.


COUSHATTA CASINO RESORT: The latest installment of the $550 Quarterly Blowout took place over the last weekend of April.The $125 mega-satellite attracted 133 entries and awarded 24 players a seat to the weekend event.Two flights of players produced 222 Blowout entries and a prize pool of $107,670.Harry Living Jr. of Carencro, La., won the title for $21,534 as 25 players cashed.Other notable locals were John Martin (runner-up, $15,073), Jerry Giroir (fifth, $7,536), Robert Veazey (sixth, $6,460), Shawn Calvit (eighth, $4,306), Wilson Vidrine (12th, $2,153), Daniel Motti (16th, $1,292), Brenda Clayton (19th, $1,292) and Leila Demecillo-Punay (21st, $1,078).

“Another fantastic turnout of no-limit Texas Hold’em tournament specialists,” co-tournament director Amanda Peyton said. “It’s always great to see familiar and friendly faces from Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas come to play and win here.”

In other news, Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays are High Hand of the Hour days. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are Lucky Seat Draw from 1-10p every hour.Both promotions have a lucky jackpot wheel to spin for the winners of each hour.Players will win $100-$1K per spin.Also the Omaha-Omaha/8 games are eligible for promos and have a bad-beat jackpot (quad jacks).

South Florida

For the first time, the World Poker Tour replaced its season-ending championship played at the Borgata in Atlantic City with a special Tournament of Champions at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood. It was preceded by the regular tour stop, the sixth edition of the Seminole Hard Rock Showdown, plus a $10K Finale Freezeout and a $25K high roller.
With special scheduling, the starts were staggered so almost everyone could play most, if not all of the events, bankroll permitting.

After a successful charity event benefitting the Jason Taylor Foundation on April 13 raised more than $17K to help underprivileged children in South Florida, the $3,500 Showdown kicked off two days later with a reduced guarantee ($2 million) from previous years and just one opening day.

However, unlimited re-entries were accepted until mid-evening and 1,222 entrants created a $3.9 million prize pool. Day 2 saw 488 players return and the field was whittled down to 74 players who returned on Sunday to play to the final table.

Many of the game’s biggest names participated, including five WSOP champs (Joe Hachem, Jerry Yang, Jamie Gold, Ryan Riess and Joe McKeehen), but when the dust cleared, the final 10 players were rewarded with two days’ off and returned on Wednesday to crown a champion.

Cate Hall of Tucson, formerly a full-time lawyer having a breakout season, attempted to capture the Season XIV Player of the Year title and eliminated the man she was chasing, Mike Shariati, in 21st place. However, Hall needed a third-place finish to take the title and was eliminated ninth, giving the POY honors to Shariati.

Justin Young, a Colorado native who graduated from N.C. State, was near the top of the chip counts throughout the event and ended up going heads up with Garrett Greer for the title. Young bounced back from a 3-to-1 deficit to become the latest name etched on the WPT Champions Cup, thus earning a spot in the TofC later in the week in addition to a $669K payday.

Young was thrilled with the biggest win of his career (he was runner-up in the 2008 WPT Five Diamond Classic), “It’s truly unbelievable; you’re always looking for the next pay jump and to put yourself in position to win, but you never want to get too cocky. Then, to put yourself in that position and actually come through, I can’t even describe it; it’s out of this world.”

The $10K WPT Finale filled in the open space on Monday and Tuesday as 342 players competed, playing down to a Thursday final table, which was won by former South Floridian Chino Rheem ($705K). Rheem defeated a tough final table that included Aditya Prasetyo and former WSOP Europe champ Adrian Mateos.

The high roller drew an impressive field of 94 players. The money bubble for that one burst in the wee hours of Thursday, with Davie’s Jason Mercier suffering a tough KO, leaving 13 players in the money for a return later in the day. David Malka of Los Angeles took down the title, besting former November Niner Sylvain Loosli of France to take home $698K.

That left the highly anticipated Tournament of Champions and the appearance of a 30-second Action Clock, which would be implemented on every hand. The event drew 64 former WPT champions The first player visibly perturbed by the clock was former Legends of Poker champ Matt Salzberg, who shortly after letting the clock elapse in an early hand, had it happen to him again a few hands later while contemplating a raise on the river against Matt Waxman. He tossed in calling chips immediately after the buzzer went off, but tournament director Tony Burns ruled the play was too late and killed Salzberg’s hand. After a heated discussion ensued, play resumed and that appeared to be the only controversy on Day 1.

Waxman, a South Florida native, said he thought the clock was good for the game, but it wasn’t always easy for many players to make the necessary adjustments.

“There’s a lot of noise going on in the room and the dealer doesn’t always give a 10-second warning loud enough, so it’s definitely causing some issues. But ultimately it’s the player’s responsibility, even though it is something new, we’re playing for a lot of money and should be able to look at the clock while making a decision.”

Farid Yachou of the Netherlands, a transplanted Moroccan who qualified by winning at WPT Amsterdam, won the title, a new Corvette, some other prizes and $381K.

Matt Savage, executive tour director of the WPT, felt like the TOC concept accomplished the goal of the organization.
“I really wanted the Champions Club to mean something and I think we’ve now proved that it does with the TOC, so I’m excited about next year.”

GULFSTREAM PARK: The poker room pays $500 high hands every 30 minutes Thursday-Sunday from 1-10 p.m. Also, if you are holding Big Slick (A-K) and you make a royal flush, you’ll earn $2,500. All other royals pay $500.
As for tournaments, there’s an event every night at 7, including a $30 pot-limit Omaha tournament on Wednesdays with a $1,500 guarantee and $10 rebuys. Call the poker room for more information.

CASINO AT DANIA BEACH: South Florida’s newest poker room pays $500 for royals, high hands will earn $500 every hour from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and $900 from 7-11 p.m.

There’s $45 tournament on Sundays at 1 with a $1K guarantee and a $100 high-hand bonus. Wednesdays at 7 p.m. is an $80 event with a $1,500 guarantee and $100 high-hand bonus.

MICCOSUKEE RESORT AND GAMING: The 32-table poker room in Miami is running Miccosukee Progressive Mania, which allows you to win 26 progressive jackpots up to $25K around the clock. Call the poker room for details.

Central Florida

What has become a regular event at the Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa, the latest Little Slick brought in nearly 2,000 entries and a $231K-plus prize pool, smashing the $150K guarantee.

After 12 hours at the final table, the four remaining players chopped, giving Brandon Byers $30,422 and the trophy. The other three were Rafael Reis ($27K), Bryan Macguire ($24K) and James Gavin ($20K).

If you’re reading this in time, the Hard Rock hosts its $50K guarantee for $350 on May 30, and given that it’s on a holiday weekend, you can expect the guarantee to be beaten.

The Summer Deepstack series begins June 9 with a $200K guarantee for $570. A $100K guarantee for $350 is the next day, followed by the $1,100 deepstack with a $300K guarantee and a live-streamed final table June 20.

DERBY LANE: The $25K guarantee on April 23 more than doubled that mark with 277 players generating a $60K prize pool and vying for the $15K top prize. In the end, after about 13 hours of play, eight players chopped for $5,601 each, including Dave Edwards, Jamie Furst, Michael Session, Thomas Poules, Stan Holley and recent WPT Jacksonville bestbet fourth-place finisher Marvin “Doc” Karlins.

Some other notables who cashed were Fil Khavin (ninth), Steve Trizis  (11th), Norbert Kara (12th) and new Ante Up Central Florida Ambassador Sara Malowitz (19th). This Saturday Superstack is looking to be a monthly event beginning in June.

On May 30, Derby Lane will continue its Memorial Day tradition with the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge, a $220 event with a $10K guarantee. The winner receives a $5K Las Vegas package. It will have a fine buffet and proceeds go to a fine charity.

TAMPA BAY DOWNS: In an effort to increase daily tournament attendance, the Silks Poker Room has added several guarantees. Every other Monday is a $5K guarantee for $150 at 7 p.m. Wednesdays at 7 is a $5K guarantee for $130 Thursdays is $10K guarantee for $220 at 6 p.m. This will be leading to the PPC North American Poker Championship in July.


HORSESHOE TUNICA: The Horseshoe Saturday $10K guarantee features 10K stacks (12K with the $10 bonus add-on), $150 buy-in, 30-minute blinds and re-entry during the first four levels. This is best weekly tournament in the northern end of the state and almost always exceeds the guarantee.

PEARL RIVER RESORT: The Choctaw poker room is planning another $25K guarantee. It usually draws around 200 players, the cash games surrounding the event are excellent and the hospitality is second to none. This one will run June 10-12 and features a $225 buy-in. With 20K chips and 30-minute levels, you can’t go wrong. See the ad on Page 7 of our June issue.

BEAU RIVAGE: In Biloxi, the colossal summer time $50K guarantee is June 3-5. The $345 buy-in will get you 8K chips (10K with optional dealer add-on), 30-minute blinds and slow-moving structures. For more information, visit Beau’s website.

North Florida

EBRO GREYHOUND PARK: The dust is still settling after the Panhandle room’s most successful Emerald Coast Spring Classic. A whopping 583 entries filled the eight events that spanned the third week of April. The $200 main event came with not only the promise of cash, but a coveted gold bracelet. Nearly 170 players came out for the main event to create a $41K prize pool. Chris Hinkle of Bay County won the coveted title and $9,130.

BESTBET: The WPT DeepStacks returned to Jacksonville at the end of April and the series kicked off with bestbet’s signature $100K guarantee for $350. With 475 players entered, the prize pool swelled to $142,500.

When only four players remained, a chop was reached between James McDonald, Kevin Hazard, Enos Smith and Earl Crosby. Enos took home the biggest piece, pocketing $23K. Play progressed after the chop to determine an event champion and Crosby of Greenville, N.C., won his first trophy while earning a marginally smaller $22K. The main event was wrapping up as Ante Up went to press, so be sure to read about that in our next issue.

Bestbet hosts another series this month and one of the newest offerings is a Mega Series Package that promises entries into each of the upcoming series’ guarantee events. These will be June 10 and June 18. The 10-seat guarantee $400 event will pay $1,650 for every five players registered and will include entry into the $350 Event 1, the $200 Event 5 as well as the live-streamed $1,100 main event on June 24.

DAYTONA BEACH KENNEL CLUB: The poker room is putting a new spin on an old favorite. On the first Sunday of every month, DBKC is offering its Premier Deepstack tournament.

The $200 buy-in goes the extra mile to make the players feel at home, something DBKC prides itself in, by giving two complimentary drink tickets for every buy-in as well a complimentary buffet.

You’re not just filling up your stomach, there’s a $12,500 guarantee to keep your pockets full as well.

Meet Steve Trizis

Steve Trizis is a poker player in the Tampa Bay area who has victories on the PPC Tour and at the Hard Rock in Tampa.

How long have you been playing and what got you started? I’ve been playing since I was a teenager, though I never put any thought into the way I played until way later. Just played my two cards. Playing poker was something the “adults” did on holidays. So naturally we wanted to join in. Got schooled, along with my brothers by my dad many times, but didn’t really learn from the lessons.

Played a bit more, when online poker was available, but again, never really learned or used strategy. Just played. I got a bit better just by learning what worked and what didn’t over time, but never really understood the reasons “why” something worked, I just knew it did. Probably over the past eight or 10 years I started playing a bit smarter, but it was a long process. I read a few books and thought a bit more about what I was doing. I went through stages along the way.

What do you attribute to your success? A mixture of tight, aggressive, position, patience and knowing your opponent. I don’t think it’s necessarily I’m reading people better, more of playing a better player, different than I would a mediocre player and different than I would play a player who didn’t have a clue. — Andrew Malowitz