Minnesota’s Pham amazes all by winning 2-7 bracelet

August 04, 2015, John Somsky, Joe Giertuga, Ken Warren, Dan Harkenrider, Chad Holloway  

Christian Pham of St. Paul, Minn., was at the center of one of the most reported stories from the World Series of Poker. It wasn’t just that he won Event 23, $1,500 no-limit deuce-to-seven single draw; it was that he registered for it by mistake. Pham thought it was a NLHE event and was surprised when they dealt him five cards instead of two.

“I would have unregistered if I could have,” he said. He had never played the game and relied on players at the table to explain the rules. Pham was a quick learner and his experience with NLHE helped him end Day 1 as chipleader. Pham lost the lead for a while on Day 2, but ended the day with the lead again. Day 3 ended with Pham holding his first bracelet.

“It’s always been my dream to win a bracelet,” he said. Pham also cashed in three other WSOP events this summer for earnings of nearly $110K.

John Reading of Rochester also had a phenomenal series, which he started by winning Event 6, the $1K Hyper Hold’em event. This is one of the fastest bracelets won in recent years, ending in less than 13 hours. It looked like Reading might earn his second bracelet when he finished fourth in the Little One for One Drop. He also cashed in four other events and had total series earnings of nearly $492K.

Blake Bohn of Shakopee was threatening to make the November Nine, arguably the biggest stage in all of poker, with a deep run in the main event. He played until Day 7, outlasting 6,397 players when he finished 23rd. Bohn earned $268K over the course of the series and 15 Minnesota players cashed in the main event, including Bradley Berman of Wayzata (46th).

There were other impressive stories for Minnesota at the WSOP. D.J. Buckley cashed in five events, including a final table of the Extended Play event for $158K in series earnings. Everett Carlton also cashed in five events. Hunter Cichy cashed four times, including a second in the online event. Lance Harris and Wade Woelfel also cashed in four events. Overall, 87 Minnesota players cashed a combined 135 times for $2.1M.

RUNNING ACES: Skyler Wynn of Albia, Iowa, won the $350 main event of the Easy Money tournament series, earning $20,290 after outlasting nearly 250 players.

CANTERBURY PARK: This year’s Twin Cities Open will be associated with Poker Night in America. The event will run Aug. 27-31 and will have a $1,650 main event instead of the $1,100 it historically has been.

Iowa

Here’s your chance to win an Iowa triple crown in just one short month. The northwest jewel will be found at Grand Falls Casino just outside Sioux Falls, S.D. The Mid-States Poker Tour will make its third stop there this year Aug. 14-16. The main event buy-in is $1,110 and there are satellites running the week before. There is a $150K guarantee.

On Aug. 21-23, the eastern jewel will be hosted by Grand Falls sister casino, Riverside Casino and Resort. South of Iowa City, the poker room is running the ninth annual Poker Classic. This $500 event has a projected prize pool of $50K.

The final jewel can be picked up in the southwest the next weekend at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs on Aug. 26-30 with the RunGood series. There will be a few interesting preliminary events, such as a $180 deepstack (Aug. 26-27). A $200 bounty will run Aug. 27 and if you’re in a hurry, there will be an all-in-or-fold satellite for the main event for just $40. The $675 main event will begin Aug. 28, has a $100K guarantee and there’s a package to the RunGood Cup Championship.

Chicagoland

AMERISTAR EAST CHICAGO: The poker room closed at the end of June. It was Indiana’s original poker room, opening in 1997, and was the state’s busiest room until 2007. The Heartland Poker Tour will continue running events there, however, as the next one is Aug. 27-Sept. 7.

Also, Pete Falco won the final weekly seniors tournament, good for $2,740 (See our interview at the end of this story). Bill Slusarcyk won the May seniors event ($2,864) and in 2009 he won the inaugural Chicago Ante Up charity tournament.
MAJESTIC STAR: Andre Butler won the Summer Daze Poker Challenge’s main event ($7K). The room is running a $10K guarantee on the second Saturday of every month ($225, 5 p.m.). Also new is the Monday Night Fight Hunger event ($60, 7 p.m., $20 add-on allowed before break). Tournaments will run till the end of the year.

The hold’em bad-beat jackpot was about $160K (aces full of kings) at press time.

GRAND VICTORIA: The daily high-hand bonus pays $500.

HARRAH’S JOLIET: The Mega Bad Beat Jackpot was about $425K at press time (quad eights).

HORSESHOE SOUTHERN INDIANA: The Denny Crum Poker Open runs Aug. 13-22. The Aug. 20 opener ($240) will have three Day 1s and a $10K guarantee. The $675 main event (Aug. 22) has a WSOP main-event seat added.

Ohio

The WSOP’s main event showcased several of the region’s players, including Chad Power of Pittsburgh, who finished 26th for $268K. Randy Clinger, an educator and part-time ticket broker from Columbus, finished 33rd ($211K). Alan Wentz of Lancaster made it to 92nd and Lilly Newhouse of Middletown was the region’s last woman standing, making a top-200 run.There were a great many players from western PA and Ohio in the money in this year’s WSOP.

HORSESHOE CLEVELAND: Shane Rader is the new poker room manager.

Wisconsin

TURTLE LAKE: From Aug. 25-30, St. Croix Casino Turtle Lake will host the PPC Poker Tour, which will hold a six-day series culminating in a $250 buy-in $50K guarantee main event. WSOP bracelet-winner Chris “Fox” Wallace will served as a featured pro.

“St. Croix Casino Turtle Lake is very excited to host a PPC Poker Tour event this year,” table games manager Jennifer Williams said. “The structure, buy-in and guarantee all make sense for our room and players. We look forward to a fantastic six days of poker playing and crowning our first PPC St. Croix Casino Turtle Lake Champion.”

HO-CHUNK MADISON: Effective Aug. 1, the property became the first casino in the state to offer a 100 percent smoke-free gaming facility. The move was a result of data collected from a smoking survey conducted with the casino’s guests.
“We believe that we are among the first business that is choosing to do this on our own, rather than being publicly mandated to do so,” executive manager Daniel Brown said.

WSOP: The main event drew 6,420 entrants, of which 4,778 players came from the United States.
All 50 states were represented with 32 hailing from Wisconsin (one woman). That ranked the state 29th of 50.
Madison’s Mark “P0ker H0” Kroon performed the best, finishing 43rd ($164,086).

Meet Pete Falco

Pete Falco started playing at the age of 68 and has been crushing local tournaments for years. He was the Chicago Poker Classic turbo series champ in 2013, winning a Dodge Challenger. After 16 tournaments at 73, he had an amazing four wins and 10 final tables. Now at 76, he’s still winning.

How did you get started playing hold’em? After having heart-bypass surgery, I started playing online on the free websites. I enjoyed playing and started playing charity tournaments. My success carried on to the casinos where one summer I won seven weekly tournaments at the Horseshoe.

What advice can you give older players just learning hold’em? Be patient, know the odds when making a call, be aware of how many outs you have and play only when the odds are in your favor. — Joe Giertuga