Heather Reese champion of Ante Up Poker Tour at Pensacola

November 23, 2014, Scott Long  

Luck be a lady at the Ante Up Poker Tour at Pensacola.

Heather Reese, an optometrist from Gulf Breeze, Fla., got lucky at all the right times, especially when it was four-handed, to work herself into a position to be included in a four-way deal that ended the $250 buy-in event at Pensacola Greyhound Track & Poker in Pensacola, Fla. And then in the one-hand playoff for the title, she turned over queen-eight. One lovely lady came on the flop and another on the turn, and just like that, Reese finds herself on the cover of Ante Up Magazine.

“I had a lot, lost a lot, had a lot, lost a lot,” said Reese, who made it to the end of Day 3 in the World Series of Poker Main Event this year. “Obviously, you have to get lucky. I got lucky when it mattered. It’s not all skill for sure.”

A decidedly short stack after Bobby Washington was eliminated in fifth place, Reese knew that the chop discussions that had ebbed and flowed throughout the final table wouldn’t begin again until she was eliminated or doubled up. Fortunately for her, it was the latter. After two double ups brought her stack in line with the other three, a deal giving each player $11,170, just shy of second-place money, was reached. First-place without the deal would have been $17,350.

Winning the final hand also gave Reese an entry in the 2015 Ante Up World Championship Main Event at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, Calif., and a personalized tour champion’s jacket.

The other three in the deal were Thomas Rutland, who won the PPC title at Pensacola earlier this year; Ned Griffis, who started Day 2 with just 34,300 in chips; and Matthew Sirchia, who just moved to the area from Michigan a few months ago. It was the third time Reese has chopped a $50,000 guarantee event at Pensacola for more than $10,000.

“You just can’t give up. Once I had just 37,000 and came back. It’s a matter of patience and constantly changing gears,” said Reese, a mother to 6-year-old Estelle.. “My husband (Randall Reese) cashed in this event. But I made him go home and be Dad.”

The tournament attracted 421 entries and its $84,200 prize pool easily exceeded the $50,000 prize pool guarantee. The tournament featured four starting flights, with late entry and re-entry allowed for the first four hours, giving players multiple shots to earn the big payday. The successful event drew players from several surrounding states. “Boston” Rob Mariano of Survivor fame, who lives in Pensacola, finished 24th after coming to Day 2 eighth in chips.

“It went great, because not only was it a big tournament experience for our regular players, but we had several players drive in from elsewhere in Florida, and Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia,” said Les Davidson, poker room manager at Pensacola Greyhound Track. “I think some of those players who visited us for the first time took a liking to our Big O cash game. We’re quickly becoming the place to play Big O.”

With the buy-in already affordable at $250, Pensacola Greyhound Track and its sister property, Creek Entertainment Gretna near Tallahassee, made it even more affordable for players by running a number of $50 satellites. About 145 of the entries were satellite winners.

“It gives them a big tournament feel for a small buy-in, especially for our local players to be able to satellite in for just $50,” Davidson said.

Pensacola Greyhound Track treated not only tournament players, but cash game players as well, to an expansive buffet each day of the tournament with a different menu each day.

“We do this for all of our $50,000 guaranteed events,” Davidson said. “The players really enjoy it.”

ANTE UP POKER TOUR AT PENSACOLA
$250 buy-in, 421 entries, $84,200 prize pool

1. Heather Reese, $11,170, plus $1,650 seat to Ante Up World Championship
2. Ned Griffis, $11,170
3. Matthew Sirchia, $11,170
4. Thomas Rutland, $11,170
5. Bobby Washington, $4,620
6. Troy Teague, $3,425
7. Ron Haveard, $2,475
8. R.J. Brinnon, $1,855
9. James “Oz” Oswald, $1,450
10. Kenneth Gray, $1,250
11. Tri Nguyen, $1,070
12. Vando Chea, $1,070
13. Josh Hardin, $910
14. Jimmy Parker, $910
15. Sam Markopolas, $910
16. John Walters, $785
17. Bob Beck, $785
18. Dean Freting, $785
19. William “Bill” Murphy, $660
20. Daniel Stout, $660
21. James Hassell, $660
22. Simon Philip, $660
23. Seville Hale, $660
24. Rob Mariano, $660
25. Christopher A. Johnson, $660
26. Randall Reese, $660
27. Donnie Deluna, $660
28. Gregory Gontarski, $575
29. Eric Greenley, $575
30. William McLean, $575
31. Brooks Jampole, $575
32. Kenneth Robertson, $575
33. Douglas Keller, $575
34. Grady Bowman, $575
35. Christopher Adams, $575
36. Richard Terrell, $575
37. Jimmy Nguyen, $495
38. Richard Byrd, $495
39. David Wilson, $495
40. Kristopher Cannatelli, $495
41. Alex Sanney, $495
42. Andre Verardi, $495
43. Lionel Cox II, $495
44. John Tran, $495
45. Lynn Roger Morris, $495