Skelton makes his bones in Ebro

June 01, 2017, Crash Martin, Dave Lemmon, Sara Malowitz, Jennifer Gay, Ron Hope, Todd Lamansky  

The 10-day Emerald Coast Spring Classic at Ebro Greyhound Park in North Florida ended April 30 as the $280 main event drew 295 players and saw Dylan Skelton of Panama City Beach take the bracelet and $14K first-place haul.

Nearly 900 players participated in series’ seven events, including a bounty, seniors, and Omaha/8 tournament. Ebro regular Todd Smith won the series points championship by cashing in three events, including seventh place in the main event.

“The turnout for the ECSC was slightly higher than expected and very gratifying as we strive to provide North Florida with its finest poker experience,” Ebro director of poker Keith Moore said.

BESTBET JACKSONVILLE: After hosting a tournament series in late April and early May (results will be in our July issue), bestbet is smoothly idling with its usual array of cash games and daily events.

Bestbet’s hours are 10 a.m.-4 a.m. Monday through Friday and 24 hours on Saturday and Sunday. Check the Where to Play section in the back of this issue for the tournament schedule and promotions or go to

ORANGE CITY RACING AND CARD CLUB: North Florida’s newest room has initiated a bad-beat jackpot starting at $50K. The facility is open weekdays 10 a.m.-4 a.m., Friday from 10 a.m until Monday 4 a.m. and is the closest cardroom to downtown Orlando.

BESTBET ORANGE PARK: This fine cardroom is open 10 a.m.- 4 a.m. weekdays and 24 hours weekends. See the website for tournament times ( or find the listing in our Where to Play pages.

DAYTONA BEACH RACING AND CARD CLUB: The ninth annual Howard Frank Memorial Deep Stack Charity Classic was May 21 and hadn’t completed at press time.

Results will be in the July issue. Tournament times can be found at

PENSACOLA GREYHOUND PARK: The $20K guarantee ($180 buy-in) will have 1 p.m. flights on June 22 and 24 with survivors playing June 25.

Satellite tournaments are available throughout June. See the ad on Page 45 of our June issue and visit

CREEK GRETNA ENTERTAINMENT: The monthly $10K guarantee costs $270 and will be June 17 at 1 p.m. The $5K guarantee costs $120 and will be June 30 at 7 p.m.

On June 23 is a $120 Super Bounty tourney where each table will have a $125 Super Bounty.

The poker room offers weekly satellites, too. See the ad on Page 45 of our June issue for more and visit

South Florida

FLORIDA CITY: Over the past five years, the poker landscape in South Florida has been shrinking, first with the closing of the Seminole Classic poker room in 2012, followed by the elimination of rooms in Miami-Dade County at Calder Race Course and Casino Miami.

However, things are about to change with the planned opening this month of a jai-alai fronton and poker room in Florida City, just north of the gateway to the Florida Keys. The property, known as the King’s Court Key at Florida City, is being developed by John Brunetti Sr., who has owned the historic Hialeah Park since 1977. His son, John Brunetti Jr., is heading up the project, which will start with four days of jai-alai play in mid June to fulfill state requirements, after which the group will apply for a license to open the poker room.

They plan to open a six-table cardroom, possibly by the end of June, a short distance from the jai-alai court. Just off U.S. 1 and the Florida Turnpike at 355 East Palm Drive in Florida City across from the Florida Keys Outlet Marketplace, the area is a growing one that will conveniently serve poker players from the Keys and the southern part of the peninsula, something spokesman Steve Calabro finds very attractive.

“The Brunetti family wanted to bring jai-alai and poker to this part of the state, as it has a large population of eager fans who often had a long, uncomfortable drive to participate in the past,” said Calabro, who also serves as the general manager of the Hialeah Park Casino.

In the early days of operation, Calabro said the jai-alai and poker activities will be housed in a temporary facility that he thinks people will find comfortable while Brunetti proceeds with the development of a permanent one. “We have a design for something that is really nice, something with a sports-bar flair, and we hope to have it open in about 10-12 months,” Calabro said, “but we hope players and fans do not completely judge us now by the first few days of a long process, because they will have something very beautiful in their area in the near future.”

Early plans are to open the poker room from noon to 2 a.m. on weekdays and noon to 4 a.m. on weekends, though adjustments could be made depending on customer demand. Angelo Garcia will be the director of poker, a similar position to the one he holds at Hialeah, and he’s excited at the prospect of opening a new room with a great staff.
Calabro said the staff will be “a combination of current Hialeah Park employees and many Florida City residents,” and reiterated the excitement the Brunettis feel, that this will be a quality entertainment destination for a healthy and deserving market.

“There is no question that this will be a real boon for Florida City,” Calabro said. “Eventually, we will be operating two of the finest facilities in South Florida.”

ISLE CASINO: Final-table chops are common in tournaments, but usually involve a small number of players at the end of a long event. It certainly is less common to see confident pros who play the game for a living give up a big chunk of prize money available to be won.

However, smaller tournaments involving semi-pros and amateurs who have other job commitments may be more likely to pass on the chance to play out an event if the alternative is to return for another day, especially when it is the start of another work week.

Such was the case in Pompano Beach at the late-April $360 deepstack with its $100K guarantee. Especially after the elimination of one of South Florida’s most confident stars, Maurice Hawkins, who was crippled when his A-K offsuit ran into the pocket queens of Carlos Torres, followed by another queen coming on the flop.

Hawkins, who has never looked across the felt at a player he didn’t think he could beat, was knocked out in 13th place, and after playing for a while longer, the remaining dozen started discussing a chop. Not everyone was for it initially, but after running the ICM numbers and realizing that many of the players still were plenty deep, the final 12 agreed to chop rather than return on Monday.

Chipleader Dmitry Agrachov of Weston was declared the winner and given the trophy and top prize of $20,363. The tournament had 742 entries to more than double the guarantee with a $226K-plus prize pool.

For Hawkins, it seemed to be one of the few events recently in which he failed to make a final table. After winning his 10th career WSOPC ring at Council Bluffs earlier in the month, he also final tabled two events at the WSOPC stop at Harrah’s Cherokee two weeks later, giving the former college football player five final tables at major events in April.

North Carolina

After three days of poker in late April at the Harrah’s Cherokee World Series of Poker Circuit stop, Vanessa Truong walked away as the $1,675 main-event champion, holding her first WSOPC ring. The nail tech from Raleigh topped a field of 1,160-plus players to earn $318,646 from a $1,7M prize pool.

“The first day was terrible, because I have no cards, but I bagged so I was happy,” Truong said. “Then go through the second day it was like, up, down, win some, take some.”

Truong made it out of Flight B with around 90K chips. Then she went on to have a solid Day 2, finishing in the top-five stacks.

“And then (Day 3), was a super roller coaster. And I feel super excited that we have a final table and I took out like six, seven guys. Literally, I took like six, seven guys out.” she said excitedly.

Six of the eight knockouts at the final table came from Truong. She even busted the final four players, including her heads-up adversary Daniel Pearlman.

The heads-up match between Truong and Pearlman lasted around 3.5 hours and took 115 hands before the 41-year-old let out a burst of joy while embracing her husband.

The Vietnamese transplant, who immigrated to the United States in 1989, touched on how the victory felt. “Can’t explain it, kind of like in a dream,” she said.

Central Florida

TAMPA BAY DOWNS: Charity events aren’t always the most competitive, nor are they the easiest to navigate. The San Par Charity Classic, benefiting the Tampa Bay Leukemia-Lymphoma Society, bucks that trend at the Silks Poker Room in Tampa. A mix of good poker and tons of fun, the evolution of this tournament, in its fourth year, has gone from a Sunday evening tourney with accelerated 15-minute blinds to a 20-minute structure on a Friday evening where no one felt rushed.

Danny Lobado, ambassador for the Silks, has helped promote and run the charity event since its inception. It always runs on Kentucky Derby Weekend and concludes on Monday with a charity golf outing.
After the initial buy-in period ended, the tournament quickly got down to two tables.

When play at the final table reached seven-handed, Jesse Malin called the all-in of Michael Lemay. Malin held eights against Lemay’s A-K and with a king on the turn Lemay took a massive lead over the field.

During chop discussions, players agreed Lemay was the winner and gave him $1,100 and the trophy. Malin, Steve Bagby, Larry Mistretta, Jon Satone, Steve Reiken and Ante Up’s Sara Malowitz took home $500 each.

Next month, Ante Up will have coverage of the Wounded Warrior charity event at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg.


In North Mississippi, Horseshoe Tunica features a $10K guarantee every Saturday. If you play anywhere in the Mid-South, you know this is the place to be on the weekends. The cash action is unbeatable, along with the hospitality. This is the absolute best one-day tournament you’ll find in Tunica. The buy-in is $150, but for an additional $10 you get another 2K in chips. The levels move slow at 30 minutes per level and re-entry is permitted for the first four levels.

In the middle of the state at the Pearl River Casino Resort in Philadelphia, there will be a $25K guarantee June 8-11. This is a two-day $225 event (with two Day 1s).

This tournament starts you with a massive 20K chips, making it one of the deepest low buy-in tournaments in the state.

There are plenty of single-table satellite options to win your way in and more info is available at

Down south at the Scarlet Pearl in Biloxi, the poker room is spending the summer gearing up for its biggest event. For the first 11 days in August, the Big Slick Poker Room will hosting a $100K guarantee series.

Starting with mega satellites and NLHE events on Aug. 3, a full roster of events span every day leading up to the $360 main. The $100K guarantee main event begins Aug. 8 with multiple starting days.
This looks like a fun series to play while enjoying some late summer beach time.

You can find all details at Poker room rates are available during this event, with a minimum of four hours’ live cash play per day.


AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES: Build Your Bankroll is back. Receive $50 for every 50 hours of live poker you play, but don’t delay because this promotion ends June 30. Coupling this with the Play and Eat promotion (play four hours of live poker and receive a $15 restaurant voucher) is sure to be +EV. There’s also a $20-$40 limit game with a half-kill that runs Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m.

LUMIERE PLACE: There’s a new $1-$3 game with a $300-$500 buy-in and a $10 rock. Lumiere spreads it Friday nights at 8. It’s loose and it’s popular. There’s also $1-$2 PLO daily. Perhaps what they say is true: The best poker action in St. Louis happens downtown.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO: Comps have increased to $1.50 an hour or more depending upon player tier (Executive Producers earn $2.62/hour). The property also made some changes to its tier program, so you may want to stop by the counter before your next session.


COUSHATTA CASINO: The Summer Classic Series will run on June 21-25. The $250 seniors event is June 21, followed by a $125 mega satellite on June 22 where one in six will win a seat to $550 main event plus $50. The main runs June 23-25 (two starting flights). All events are at noon.

As for promotions, royal flushes get $150, straight flushes $50 and quads $25. The room also has a Sets Cracked promo where the loser gets to spin the wheel and can win $1K. Call for details.

L’AUBERGE CASINO BATON ROUGE: The $30K freeroll features the top 60-70 players who qualify with the most hours.

BOOMTOWN CASINO NEW ORLEANS: The bad-beat jackpot was $140K-plus at press time. The room also pays $100 for straight flushes and $150 for royals with $25 added daily to each until hit.

GOLDEN NUGGET LAKE CHARLES: The bad beat was at $150K at press time. And ask about the $30K Sunday Drawings and Aces and Kings Full Frenzy.

HARRAH’S NEW ORLEANS: The bad-beat jackpot was near $200K at press time.

L’AUBERGE CASINO RESORT LAKE CHARLES: Win $250 or $500 every 30 minutes in drawings on Sundays starting at 2:30 p.m. as part of the Colossal Giveaway.

The room will be giving away $30K in weekly Sunday drawings coming from tickets earned from multiple ways, including flushes and hours played.

Tickets not drawn will be saved for the $50K Hot Poker Drawings, which will be June 25-29. See the room’s website for details.

Meet Richard Manning

Richard Manning is the poker room manager at North Florida’’ newest poker room, Orange City Racing and Card Club.

How did you start in the industry? After many years at casinos and cardrooms from the Pacific Northwest to the Atlantic Coast, the Gulf of Mexico and now to Orange City, I find the poker room to be the environment I have a passion for.

What do you enjoy most about the poker world? I find the ever-evolving industry challenging and invigorating. Finding a balance and harmony between the recreational player and professional player is always interesting.

Most of all, I really enjoy the people and divergent personalities that make up our game, from shift managers to tournament directors to dealers and especially the players. They’re what keeps me loving my position.”

What’s the future hold for Orange City Racing and Card Club? We have cash games and regular tournaments. We expect to host some special events and hope to draw players from all over for larger tournaments as we establish ourselves. — Crash Martin