Minnesota's Sojo wins Iowa State Poker Championship

August 29, 2018, John Somsky, Ken Warren, Chad Holloway, Rob Thorne, Joe Giertuga, Brian Bly  

Brian Soja of New Brighton, Minn., is the Iowa State poker champ after winning the Mid-States Poker Tour’s main event at Meskwaki Casino in Tama on July 29. He pocketed $94,568, beating Kevin Berthelsen of Omaha heads-up. This was a $300K guarantee event but the prize pool reached $455K. The MSPT returns in October.

RIVERSIDE CASINO: Randy Perkins won $10,236 as champion of the annual Stars and Strips event held July 4 weekend. The $200 event drew 215 entries.

DIAMOND JO CASINO: The bad-beat jackpot at this Worth property surpassed the $200K mark at press time.

Minnesota

RUNNING ACES CASINO: Mark “Loki” Abboud earned his best career cash of $31,055 after outlasting 756 entries in the Anniversary Tournament at Columbus. The final table was full with top local talent such as Brady Roth, Paul Cross and Max Havlish. The $280 buy-in event featured six Day 1s and generated a $153,597 prize pool.

CANTERBURY PARK: The Poker Is Fun Tour co-hosted an eight-event summer series with the first three events donating about 5 percent of the prize pool to the Ronald McDonald House. Scott Koernig of Shakopee, Minn., won Event 1 ($80 NL crazy pineapple) for $2,053 after outlasting 215 entries. Trevor Hills of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., won $5,111 after besting 129 runners in Event 2 ($250 NLHE).

Ben Rock of Marshfield, Wis., earned $1,843 for surviving a field of 117 entries in Event 3 ($100 NLCP). Minnesota players got their first chance at trying a big-blind-ante format in Event 7 ($250 NLHE). Blake Johnson of St. Louis Park, Minn., beat 71 entries to win $4,504.

ININJA RETURNS: Chris “Fox” Wallace and Brian Soja of Next Level Poker Tours LLC have acquired the iNinja Poker Tour, a popular tour founded in Minnesota that continually exceeded its guarantees. The iNinja Resurrection Tour will reintroduce the tour throughout the United States with the first event likely to be in the Midwest before the end of the year.

“The excitement generated by iNinja was incredible,” Wallace said. “I have never seen a tour grow so quickly and I have never seen people have so much fun in a poker tournament.”

Ohio-Western Pennsylvania

PRESQUE ISLE DOWNS & CASINO: Phone chargers have been added to some of the tables at this Erie, Pa., poker room.

RIVERS CASINO: The Pittsburgh room recently began offering $2-$4 limit ($20 minimum buy-in, $3 max rake). That game will be eligible for high hands and all of the normal cash-game promotions. Also, WPT DeepStacks visits in October.

Michigan

FIREKEEPERS CASINO: In Battle Creek, every Friday in September will be drawings for super-satellite, main-event qualifiers and main-event seats for Day 1A and 1B for the MSPT in October. This follows up the May event that was the third consecutive million-dollar event there. The next ladies tournament will be Sept. 8 at 2 p.m. The $100 buy-in is goof for 12K chips. See the ad on Page 37 of our latest issue for more information.
As for promotions, the bad-beat jackpot (quads) was $871K at press time.

Chicagoland

The World Series of Poker Main Event champion John Cynn was born in Evanston, Ill., and grew up in Northbrook, making him the first world champ from Chicagoland. He started playing poker as a junior in high school, graduated from Indiana University. His first cash was in a $350 event at the 2010 Horseshoe Poker Classic in Elizabeth, Ind. 
 
FOUR WINDS SOUTH BEND: The casino is planning on opening a 10-table poker room with dealers by the end of this month.  

HOLLYWOOD AURORA: Vince Bon won the HCA Classic for $40K. The recreational player from Burbank, Ill., was heads-up with Jason Ramos, who won this event two years ago.

MAJESTIC STAR: Nicholas Zacny is poker room manager. He’s been making some immediate changes with more in the works. Thursdays feature $1-$2 pot-limit Omaha, Fridays $4-$8 HOSE and Saturdays $5-$10 Omaha/8. Friday’s $2-$5 game with a $1K max buy-in has been running a main and feeder game. 

WINDY CITY POKER CHAMPIONSHIP: Mike Hahn won his third $3K main event for $25K. Notables at the final table were Ben Ponzio, Michael Sabbia and John Maloney. Jason Finn and David Gutfreund called the plays during the televised final table. 

Wisconsin

TOURNAMENT WINNER: Eric Barnes topped a 1,658-entry field, which tied the record for largest poker tournament in Wisconsin history, to win July’s MSPT Potawatomi $350 regional for $70,151. Travis Sweet was runner-up ($50,901) while Jefferson Lasecki was third ($46,743).

BB ANTE: In late July, Wisconsin had its first big-blind-ante tournament. Potawatomi Casino’s $250 Last Chance tourney drew 70 entries and awarded more than $5K to the winner.

“It moved the game along without delaying action and guests seemed to respond positively,” poker room manager John Doyen said. “I do have plans to add a weekly tournament that will be a big blind ante. It seems to be something cardrooms and poker players are viewing as a good move for tournament poker. It vastly improves the speed of the game and that’s a win-win for everyone in my book.”

WSOP: Joe Kuether was the last Wisconsin player standing in the WSOP main event, finishing 225th for $49,335. Others to cash were Craig Trost (243rd, $42,980), Stephen Torre (350th, $37,705), Michael Brunner (366th, $33,305), Yoon Kim (380th, $33,305), Chad Wiedenhoeft (388th, $33,305), Stephen Buell (657th, $21,750), Austin Walton (846th, $18,340), David Mowery (937th, $17,025) and Adam Murphy (970th, $15,930).

Meet Brian Andreamahefa

Chicago pro Brian Andreamahefa made the move to Southern California three years ago so we caught up with him to see how things are going.

What games are you usually playing? Most of my hours are no-limit hold’em at my home poker room. I will play the $10-$20 or $5-$10 games they have available when I come in to play. I prefer the Gardens Casino due to the convenience from my place compared to the other casinos in L.A. I know poker allows you to be super flexible, but I prefer a more regimented schedule on the day-to-day.

Do you strictly play cash and do you ever chase the L.A. home games? A majority of my hours are cash games in the casino scene. I have played in a few L.A. home games; there’s definitely a contrast in the atmosphere between the two scenes. … It’s a lot more casual and the environment is very friendly (at the home games). It makes it very easy to strike up conversations with new people. I enjoy the conversations to learn about new people.

How do the games and options compare here vs. Chicago? In terms of the casino scene for poker, I think Southern California has the largest variety without question. While I was in Chicago, I really only played at Horseshoe Hammond Indiana. Also the bigger games only ran certain days of the week, which limits your hours of play. When you are in L.A., you have the option and freedom to bounce around to numerous casinos within reasonable driving distance of each other. Because of that, poker at the stakes I want to play is pretty much available around the clock, which gives you so many options and opportunities. — Jo Kim