Khavin takes WPT at Immokalee in Florida

October 30, 2015, Andrew Malowitz, Todd Lamansky, Dave Lemmon, Jennifer Gay, Charles Allison  

Filipp Khavin is a known entity in the Tampa Bay area. Aggressive and cagey, he’s a player you don’t necessarily want to see at your table.

For the 227 others who entered the WPT DeepStacks event at Seminole Casino Immokalee, not only did they not want to see him, they didn’t survive the encounter.

The event drew players from all over the country. Tristan Wade and 1998 WSOP main event champion Scotty Nguyen were among a field that came out to the inaugural event that nearly doubled the guarantee. A deal between Khavin and Phillip Hernz for $47K each was made, but Khavin won the trophy.

Danny Lobato took down the seniors’ event, winning heads-up against Nguyen.

TAMPA BAY DOWNS: The beginning of November will send those players who stamped their passports to Aruba during the current PPC season.

The last man to do so was Garth Fudens, a recreational player who has worked tirelessly to improve his game.A member of the Derby Lane Poker League, he is the guy who’s always talking about how to improve his game.Congrats to Fudens, who won the PPC Fall Classic at the Silks Poker Room.

Fudens pocketed $9,948 plus a $5K Aruba package. He was followed by Greg McNealy ($9,948 plus $4K package), Manny Minaya ($9,948 plus a $4K package), Rick Burdick ($4,580 plus $3,598 package) and Mayank Makhija ($3,370).

DERBY LANE: The Fall Pokerfest’s main event that featured 18 Day 1s, a $150 buy-in, a $250K guarantee and was an accumulator last year,returns Nov. 1-15.See the ad on Page 39 for more details to the Biggest Little Tournament in America.

North Florida

BESTBET ORANGE PARK: William Davis continued an excellent tournament run at the monthly $30K event in September. A field of 288 garnered a $34K prize pool, but none of those players could stop Davis from defending the title he won in August. He agreed to a three-way chop, good for $7K.

BESTBET JACKSONVILLE: James Brown has been a bestbet regular since the opening of its first room in 2004, andwhile he shouldn’t be confused with the Godfather of Soul, it’s easy to find him grinding the tournament scene all across Florida. Over the course of the past decade, Brown has tucked a few firsts under his belt and the September $50K was just another day at the felt. Brown powered through a 540-player field to earn not only a spot at the final table, but the largest portion ($14K) of a lucrative chop between the final four players. Others in the chop were Cody Durden of Macon, Ga., who took home $10K, and final-table regular Eddy Mroczkowski, who claimed $9K.

TOURNEYS: The Emerald Coast Poker Championship at Ebro Greyhound Park, the HPT at Daytona Beach and the Fall Poker Series at bestbet Jacksonville were under way at press time. Check next issue for results. Don’t forget about bestbet’s next WPT series. The $5K buy-in televised main event is Nov. 6-7 and will feature a $1M guarantee with $2.5K bounties on select pros. Also, Creek Gretna hosts a $10K guarantee for $250 on Nov. 21 at 1 p.m. and sister property Pensacola Greyhound hosts the same tourney on Nov. 14 and Nov. 28, also at 1 p.m.

South Florida

SEMINOLE COCONUT CREEK: When Matt Affleck isn’t paying attention to a Monday Night Football game involving his beloved Seahawks on a TV screen above him, you know whatever is attracting his focus must be incredibly important. So as Seahawks defensive back Kam Chancellor was poking the ball out of the grasp of Lions receiver Calvin Johnson in the game’s final minute, Affleck was focusing on eliminating Jean Gaspard, the last of his 26 Day 3 opponents, to win the CoCo Open at the Stax Poker Room at Seminole Coconut Creek Casino on Oct 5.

“It’s actually my first win in a major main event,” the Seattle-area native said. “I finished 15th at Borgata last month, but I seem to always get to the final two or three tables and have never closed one out. I had a really down run of variance for a couple of years, but I have refocused on my game the past couple of years and worked especially hard this year and made some really deep runs, so to close this one out is the best feeling ever.”

Affleck, motioning to the Hard Rock patch on his throwback Sonics jersey, he wears Washington sports jerseys at nearly every poker event, had plenty of praise for the Seminoles after putting on another first-class event. “I’ve had a patch deal with the Seminole Hard Rock for the past 2.5 years and while the WSOP will always be the biggest brand in poker, the Hard Rock is quickly coming up right behind them,” he said. “They always put on the biggest tournaments with the best guarantees and the staff and dealers are the best, so it’s always awesome to come down here and play.”

The event featured a $2,500 buy-in with a $1 million guarantee, so accounting for house fees and staff tips, the 410 entries fell just a bit short of the goal. Affleck collected $264K and the trophy for the victory, while Gaspard took home $155K for second and Cord Garcia, this summer’s winner of the WSOP Colossus, was third. The tourney featured a strong field, including many of South Florida’s top players, such as Evan Teitelbaum, Chris Bolek, Hans Winzeler and Stewart Newman, who cashed before being eliminated late on Day 2. Others who helped make it a star-studded final day included Chance Kornuth, John Dolan, Tristan Wade and Hunter Cichy.

The quality field was not lost on Affleck. “I’ve learned that playing against tougher players makes you think a lot more and you have to play your best game; it’s when you play weaker opponents that you tend to get a little lackadaisical and start making mistakes.”

As for his near future, Affleck said, “People win tournaments in bunches and that’s mainly because your confidence is so high. I said a few weeks ago that big things were coming for me because I’ve never felt so good playing poker, and now this happens.”

The next big series here will be the CoCo Showdown from Jan. 21-Feb. 1, while Hard Rock Hollywood hosts the Rock ‘N’ Roll Open on Nov. 19-Dec. 2 and will feature a $3,500 main event with re-entries starting Nov. 27-28 with a $2 million guarantee. The Poker Night in America TV crew will shoot the final table along with some weekend cash games for airing in 2016.

WSOPC AT PBKC: Patience proved to be a virtue for Ohio pro Peter Vitantonio as he captured the gold ring and nearly $130K for his victory in the $1,675 main event of the World Series of Poker Circuit at Palm Beach Kennel Club on Sept. 27.

“I came into the final table second (overall), but kind of just sat there for the first hour and didn’t do much,” Vitantonio said after his win. “Then I got aces and doubled. Two hands later I got kings and doubled-up again and that was pretty much it.”

Vitantonio defeated Javier Zarco of Madrid in heads-up play, marking the fourth runner-up finish for the Spaniard in WSOP play, including a second-place finish in this summer’s Millionaire Maker.

ADD ON FOR AUTISM: Join many of South Florida’s top players and Ante Up’s Big Dave Lemmon as the Miami Poker Society presents the fourth annual Add On For Autism charity tournament to benefit Andra’s Hand on Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. at Hard Rock Hollywood.

Andra’s Hand’s mission is to raise money to help increase knowledge and public awareness for autism in the South Florida community, providing scholarships and other educational and support programs for families.

The buy-in is $150 for 7,500 units. There will be optional $20 rebuys and $50 add-on at the first break for 5K chips. There will be a $10K guarantee (subject to entries) and more than $10K in additional prizes. Pros planning to attend include “Boston Tony” Ruberto, Perry Shiao, Jacquelyn Scott, Ory Hen, Michael Ortiz, James Salmon, Errol “X” Massey and “Papa Bear” Robert Transue.

For more, go to miamipokersociety.com or andrashand.org.

Missouri

AMERISTAR CASINO KANSAS CITY: A bad-beat jackpot of more than $165K tops the promotions offered. Mini bad beats start with hands as easy to hit as jacks-full getting beat. Players can play four hours and get a $15 food comp and be one of the first five players each day to get their aces cracked to win $100. Featured games include $4-$8 hold’em with a kill every Wednesday and Friday to $5-$10 Omaha/8 with a kill beginning at 6 p.m. every Friday.

AMERISTAR CASINO ST. CHARLES: The HPT runs until Nov. 9 so be sure to call the poker room for details.

Mississippi

BEAU RIVAGE: With the holidays creeping in, Mississippi tournaments go on a brief hiatus until the next year. The fall and winter are a great time to cash in on some live action to build the bankroll for the return of the tournament circuit in early 2016.

The Gulf Coast Poker Championship at the Beau Rivage just wrapped, but it wasn’t without a few hitches. With only half the anticipated banquet space for poker tables, the first few events required a lot of creative teamwork on behalf of the staff to get players accommodated as quickly as possible. Fortunately, manager Johnny Grooms and tournament director Eric Comer work well under pressure.

By the end of the event, players were singing the praises of tournament staff who made the best of a cramped situation. Said Grooms: “To my friends, co-workers and players, thanks for another great event. We had some challenges, but we got there again. Always a pleasure working with you, see you in January (for the Million Dollar Heater).”

Even happier with the event was regional local Kyle Cartwright of Tunica who won the main event and took home and impressive $84,488. He beat 237 players in the $1,600 main event to take home the championship. Corrie Wunstel took second ($44,829). See the ad on Page 7 in our November issue for more details to the Million Dollar Heater on Jan. 7-20.

SCARLET PEARL CASINO: Opening before the year’s end is a new casino, the Scarlet Pearl in D’iberville, Miss. Just a few miles from Biloxi Coast casinos, this new property will be the first casino in D’iberville.

It will include 300 hotel rooms, including 56 suites and 10 penthouses, and a 36-hole miniature-golf course with an erupting volcano centerpiece. The casino will have 1,350 slots, 45 table games and 10 live poker tables. The casino floor will be 60,445 square feet. The Scarlet Pearl will staff 1,100 employees and those interested should look at job postings online.

This is exciting news for poker players in the South. Aluxury poker room will offer more opportunities for action, promotions and potentially some new tournament events. Any time there’s growth in poker, it’s a win for everyone.
More exciting opportunities to play attract new faces to the game. Stay tuned to Ante Up for more details as they become made available.

PEARL RIVER: Fresh off the heels of a successful Ante Up Poker Tour stop, the poker room is hosting a $20K Flights Rewards tournament Nov. 13-15.

If you place in the top 20 in all three $135 buy-in flights, you win an extra $1K. See the ad on Page 5 in our November issue for times and more information.

Be sure to see our recap of the Ante Up Poker Tour Pearl River Open on Pages 20-21 of our November issue.

Louisiana

Continuing Ante Up’s tour around Louisiana in search of daily tournaments, Cypress Bayou Casino in Charenton (south of Lafayette) offers a Thursday 6:30 p.m. event for $125 (one re-entry allowed).

L’auberge Baton Rouge dominates the state’s capital area in tournament poker. Mondays and Wednesdays at 11 a.m. there’s a $60 tournament with no rebuys. On Sundays, the poker room features a $100 event at 11 a.m. and on the second Saturday of each month, there’s a $340 event that’s popular with locals.

Lastly, Harrah’s New Orleans, home of the World Series of Poker Circuit every May, hosts $130 re-entry events Wednesdays at 11 a.m. and Saturdays at noon. Players can earn bonus chips with each hour of live play. One Sunday per month, Harrah’s hosts a $250 tournament with a $100 rebuy and a noon start. Check Bravo or call (504) 533-6043 for details.

There are plenty of daily tournaments around Louisiana for every bankroll and every skill level. If you’re a cash player just looking to try something new or a seasoned tournament pro, Louisiana has just what you need to satisfy your tournament cravings.

COUSHATTA FALL CLASSIC: Coushatta Casino poker room supervisor Dana Ackless was happy with the results of the annual series.

“Even though the fall is typically our slow time of year in our area, overall we are pleased with the turnout,” Ackless said. “We hope to have an even better showing for our Winter Classic series Dec. 9-13.”

Event 1 ($340 seniors) drew 118 players, including Joseph “Dale” Jacquneaux, who won the title and $8,497. Event 2 was the popular $300 mega-satellite that gave away 24 packages to the final two events. Event 3 ($500) saw 117 runners that eventually resulted in an 18-way chop for $2,900 each.

But the highlight of the Fall Classic was the two-day $1K main event. Eighty-five players took to the felt as Lafayette’s Kimberly Lejuene captured the title and $20,702. Final-table chipleader and runner-up Leighton Thompson earned $13,802.

North Carolina

HARRAH’S CHEROKEE: The World Series of Poker Circuit makes another stop here Nov. 26-Dec. 7. Please see the ad on Page 23 in our November issue.

Meet Greg Beyer

Greg Beyer is a dual-rate supervisor at Ameristar St. Charles. He’s originally from O’Fallon, Ill., which is about
20 miles from downtown St Louis.

How long have you been in poker? I started out dealing table games in 1993 and my first supervisor job was at this property when it was a Station Casino. I transitioned to poker in ’98 while working at Horseshoe Southern Indiana when it was called Caesars. After (management fired) the poker room floor staff for taking tokes, they literally came around and asked all of the table-games supervisors if we knew anything about poker.I told them I played and they said, “That’s good enough,” and I was on the floor from then on.

You’ve been with Ameristar since May, what were you doing before that? I was a dual-rate at River City from the time it opened until the summer of 2014 when I became a travelling dealer. I got off the road after reuniting with an old love (we dated 24 years ago) because I didn’t want to be gone all the time.

Do you miss traveling? I do miss the excitement of big tournaments, but I’ll get to experience it here and again at River City in the spring. (Look for Beyer when Ameristar St. Charles hosts the HPT through Nov. 9.)

What do you like most about your job? The favorite part of my job is dealing with the different personalities of all the players. Each night is something different, even though I do the same thing every night. — Todd Lamansky