Snyder wins WSOPC main event in North Carolina

September 29, 2016, Christopher Cosenza, Dave Lemmon, Sara Malowitz, Todd Lamansky, Jennifer Gay  

The first main event of the 2016-17 World Series of Poker Circuit season is in the books, and the winner was Steven Snyder at Harrah’s Cherokee. He earned $241,198, a gold ring and the first seat into the WSOP Global Casino Championship. That invitation-only tournament has a minimum prize pool of $1M.

Snyder said he’s a family man and planned to celebrate by taking his family on vacation. This was the largest victory of his career and he was extraordinarily excited.

“I’m not gonna stop smiling for three months,” he said.

One of the other highlights of the main event was the continued success of Josh Turner, who was fresh off a third-place finish in the GCC and made a final table for the second time in less than a week. He’s been enjoying enormous success on the WSOPC lately. He won his third career ring at the Horseshoe Tunica in January, his fourth ring at Horseshoe Council Bluffs in April when he was Casino Champion.

Three others from the GCC made the main-event final table: Scott Stewart (seventh, $36,578), Jim Juvancic (fourth, $81,707) and David Aker (third, $109,625).

The tournament drew 804 entries for a $1,2M prize pool. Other notables making the money included T.J. Thondup (16th, $12,265), Jason Gooch (17th, $12,265), John Holley (20th, $10,215) and Maurice Hawkins.

Missouri

AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES: The Heartland Poker Tour returns Oct. 26-Nov. 7 and marks the first time hosting since unveiling the new poker room July 6. You can even run up the funds to enter a few of those HPT events by cashing in on the Build Your Bankroll promotion. Receive $50 for every 50 hours of live play between now and Oct. 23. Contact the poker room for more details.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO ST. LOUIS: The poker room recently began hosting a 50-plus seniors event on the second to last Sunday of every month. The $125 buy-in starts at noon and usually gets around 100 entries. Players receive 20K chips and levels are 30 minutes. But if you’re still a young pup, Hollywood still has you covered with its megastack the last Saturday of the month. The $300 buy-in also starts at noon and typically draws around 120 entries. Starting stacks are 30K, blinds are 40 minutes and it features an awesome structure that some say rivals any WSOP or HPT event.

Mississippi

The Ameristar Casino poker room in Vicksburg, Miss., hosts the Battle on the River, a $100K guarantee event Oct. 27-30 for $150. For more info, see the ad on Page 43 or call 601-630-4999.

PEARL RIVER RESORT: Don’t forget the Ante Up Poker Tour’s Pearl River Open runs Oct. 28-Nov. 6, including a $100K guarantee main event. Go to anteuppokertour.com/pearlriver for more details.

HORSESHOE CASINO TUNICA: The two largest fall tournament series may have wrapped up before press time in Mississippi, but the action is better than ever. As the schedule eases into fall, look for good promotions and soft fields. Starting up north in Tunica, Horseshoe is the place to be with huge guarantees. On Oct. 7-9, there’s a $150 buy-in with a $50K guarantee. You start with 8K chips, but for a $10 dealer add-on you’ll get another 2K. Coupled with a slow-moving blind structure, 30-minute levels and the safe bet that the event will exceed the guarantee, this is one of the best regular tournaments in the South.

If you can’t make it for the $50K, have no fear, the ’Shoe still runs its weekly $10K guarantee every Saturday with the same great structure and same $150 buy-in. It almost always exceeds the guarantee, making this one of the better weekly tournaments.

BEAU RIVAGE: If you’d rather head down to the coast for a great live-game promotion, the Beau Rivage in Biloxi is running a fantastic football promotion through the end of the season. Every Thursday, Sunday and Monday night, all players in a live game are eligible to participate. Starting 90 minutes before kickoff, any player who is in an eligible game may pick a square. If you have more than 50 hours of live play in the previous week, you may pick two squares. In the event of two winners, the winners split the prize money. Any money not awarded will roll over into the next quarter. The maximum value for any square is $2K. The squares will each start with a value of $200 per quarter and $400 for the final score.

Louisiana

ELDORADO SHREVEPORT: Qualifying for the $80K freeroll continues through Oct. 17. The event runs Nov. 4-6 as only the top 100 qualifiers will be allowed to enter. All tournament play will be rated only if the player is still in the tournament; after the player is eliminated, their time and points will stop accruing. For more info, go to eldoradoshreveport.com.

COUSHATTA CASINO RESORT: The hold’em bad-beat jackpot, which is quad fives beaten, was at $145K at press time. Running Oct. 28-Nov. 25 is the November Poker Gifts promotion. Some of the gifts include an outdoors gear bag, a 40-quart wheeled cooler, a cast-iron griddle and a 10-piece storage set. For more info on this promo, go to coushattacasinoresort.com. Also, the Fall Classic ran Sept. 20-25 so look for a recap in a future issue.

South Florida

On a busy mid-August Tuesday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., four interesting stories emerged with the completion of the televised Big 4 at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open. A good-natured match between close friends and former roommates highlighted the $5M guarantee main event, while a novice surprised the field in the $2,650 event by controlling the final table from start to finish. Meanwhile, a blistering pace in the $1,100 tourney allowed that final table to be played out in one 90-minute level, while in the $25K high roller, two of the game’s biggest names went heads-up for nearly three hours before a winner emerged.

Veteran Jason Koon, probably best known for his intense fitness and healthy eating regimen, has more than a dozen six-figure cashes in his career, but his $1M victory in the SHRPO main event is his largest, after a $514K win this summer at the Bellagio High Roller. Koon had to get past friend Seth Davies to do it and while he owned the lead the entire time, it certainly wasn’t easy. It was fun, however, as Koon and Davies have been good friends for years and lived together in Las Vegas about five years ago.

“We were laughing about the opportunity and the next thing you know we’re sitting across the table with the trophy in between us, so it’s really a surreal moment,” Koon said. While both players wanted the title, Davies said there was little downside to losing to his buddy.

“Jason is very much a mentor to me in poker, and in life,” he said. “I’ve learned so much from him about how to grow as a person and as a poker player.”

Davies, who won a preliminary event in the series as well, took home $575K for his runner-up finish, while Tim Burt of Grenada, Miss., was third ($310K).

For the third consecutive year, the main event failed to reach its guarantee, making the facility go into pocket to cover the shortfall. With no re-entry allowed in this event and only one opening session, the tourney attracted 847 players, slightly off from 907 in 2015.

Everything else was smooth as silk for the Seminole Hard Rock, as all the other big tournaments easily crushed their guarantees and the players continued to rave about the property and its handling of the schedule.

With the four final tables being played simultaneously in the Hard Rock Live arena in front of the Poker Night in America cameras, it was the $1,100 event that ended quickly. Ruslan Dykshteyn didn’t need a dinner break before defeating Phillip Hui to win the trophy and $151K. Former WSOP ladies champ Marsha Wolak finished third.

The high roller drew many of the game’s most recognizable players, and in the end, it was popular German star Marvin Rettenmaier outlasting the 2014 SHRPO main-event champion Dan Colman in a marathon. “Mad Marvin” held the advantage for much of the heads-up dogfight, but Colman fought his way back several times and even took a slight lead for a short period. Texan Ray Quartomy earlier relinquished a huge lead after the field was narrowed to three players, thanks to a couple of big double-ups by Colman, and then Rettenmaier dispatched Quartomy with aces vs. kings. Nick Petrangelo finished fourth and Rainer Kempe, this summer’s Super High Roller champ at the Aria, was seventh.

The $2,650 event went to 21-year-old college student Bradley Snider, who picked up his first major cash in front-running fashion. The Princeton math major, who considers poker a serious hobby, took home $246K and the title after knocking out Irishman Dermot Blain.

“I really enjoy playing casually and thinking about the game and this will allow me to play a lot more poker in the future,” the Ft. Lauderdale native said. The 2014 WSOP seniors champion, Dan Heimiller, also made the final table and finished seventh, while Jerry Wong, who is set to play later this month at the November Nine in Las Vegas, was the first player eliminated from this final table.

The Big 4 will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network as part of Season 5 of Poker Night in America.

North Florida

BESTBET JACKSONVILLE: The property is hosting the annual televised World Poker Tour stop until Oct. 18, including a $1M main-event guarantee. There will be 23 events with buy-ins starting at $200. One of the events will be a $25K buy-in high roller.

Satellites are included on the schedule and there will be a championship satellite where winners of events 1-16 will play Oct. 13 with the winner getting a seat into the $5K main event. Six people will win a chance to play against two Royal Flush Girls along with actor Vince van Patten, poker legend Mike Sexton and local celebrity Allie McDeal. The winner of the satellite wins a $550 entry into a mega-satellite for the main event.

EBRO GREYHOUND PARK: The Emerald Coast Poker Championship will run Oct. 14-23. Eight events include Omaha, seniors, ladies, bounty and megastack. For more information, 850-535-4048 ext. 180.

DAYTONA BEACH KENNEL CLUB: The $360 main event of the PPC Beachside Open ran Aug. 12-14 as Adam Rouse grabbed the top spot for $11K. The tourney drew 253 players for an $82,225 prize pool. Rouse was followed by Ann Clarke ($10,939), Michael Dunn ($9,984), Steve Abel ($9,839) and Rob Manjura ($9K). The Hearltand Poker Tour was still running at press time, so look for a recap in a future issue.

CREEK ENTERTAINMENT GRETNA: There’s plenty to do this month, including $100 high hands every 20 minutes on Oct. 8., a $10K guarantee event ($270) on Oct. 15 at 1 p.m. and a $5K guarantee event ($120) on Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. Check the ad on Page 49 for more details and offers.

Central Florida
For the second straight year, the WPT DeepStacks Tour headed to the Seminole Casino in Immokalee, Fla., for a 10-day series. This year’s installment ran Sept. 2-11 as Nathan Papp captured the main event. For besting the impressive field, Papp earned $68,959 and a $5,250 seat in next year’s Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open.

The $1,100 finale featured a $200K guarantee. With two starting flights, the six-figure target was bested during the early stages of Flight B. The event drew 257 entries for of $249,290 prize pool. The tournament drew a strong field, including SHRP Player of the Year David Prociak, former November Niners John Dolan and Will Tonking as well as SHRP team members Stewart Newman, Sheddy Siddiqui and Mike Laake.

Papp owned the late stages of play. He took the lead to the final table and never relinquished it, shoving his way to a heads-up berth, where he held nearly a 6-to-1 advantage over runner-up Trenton Baker ($40,638).

Other notables to finish in the money included Siddiqui (26th, $2,217), David Diaz (21st, $2,217), Prociak (15th, $2,955), Ory Hen (11th, $3,448) and Tonking ($6,157). Baker was followed by Jeff Pringle ($27,092), Tampa’s Manny Minaya ($18,841) and Steve Trizis ($14,039).

In addition to their payouts, each of the tournament’s cashers earned points toward the new POY race. This year’s matrix was revamped to create a more transparent model players can easily follow. With the win, Papp took the early lead in the 10-championship contest.

Papp’s poker resume is quite modest boasting just one past cash. The victory in Immokalee marks the first major score for the 38-year-old Illinois native.

Up next is the Seminole Immokalee Poker Challenge, which begins Feb. 21 and is again headlined by a $1,650 buy-in $200K guarantee.

HARD ROCK TAMPA: The Seminole property recently ran another deepstack series as droves of players showed up looking for their share of the more than $400K in guarantees. The two big events, the $350 buy-in, $150K guarantee and the $570-$200K. smashed the prize pools and ended in chops.

The $350 ended when the 10-player final table agreed to chop for $17k each, but Phil Wasserman walked away with the guitar and title. Tampa Bay Downs Poker Ambassador Danny Lobato was awarded second for $17K.

The $570 chopped with eight players left, but was done by chip count. Tyrone Wilson of Orlando walked out with $47K, the guitar and the title. Others of note in the chop: Manny Minaya ($33K), Gerald Silva ($23K) and Steve Trizis ($21K).

TAMPA BAY DOWNS: The $370 Halloween tournament runs Oct. 13-16 with a $50K guarantee. See the ad in the October issue for details.

DERBY LANE: The St. Petersburg poker room has started a monthly tradition of a Saturday $250 buy-in with a $25K guarantee, which usually translates to a $50K prize pool. More than 200 players vied for the $50K-plus prize pool in the most recent tourney and three stood tall at the end. Brian Montgomery and Archie McLoughlin, both of the Tampa Bay Elite Poker League family and Navy John chopped for $9,700 each. Montgomery eliminated Chrissy Houbeck, his girlfriend, in 23rd place.

Derby is spreading a new $2-$5 NLHE game with a minimum $400 buy-in and no cap with a restraddle. Not many places offer both no cap and a restraddle, but this game has run most days and seems to be quite popular.

Meet Joshua Turner

A 36-year-old pro, Joshua Turner was born and raised in St. Louis, recently won the Hollywood Poker Open St. Louis regional for the third year in a row, his third World Series of Poker Circuit ring at the Horseshoe Tunica in January and made another WSOPC final table in Choctaw, Okla.

His biggest live score is the ring he won in last year’s WSOPC main event at Lumiere Place, where he took home $136,945. His other six-figure score came in 2005 when he chopped PokerStars’ Sunday Million, but he’d been earning a living from poker for few years by then.

How long have you been a pro? I’ve been playing professionally for 14 years now. In that time, I’ve gone through periods of playing solely cash, to online multitabling tourneys, to traveling the circuit playing both tourneys and cash.
What were your friends-families’ reactions to your chosen career path? My family, surprisingly, wasn’t that shocked and, for the most part, has always been supportive. My friends thought I was crazy, but also envious that I was “going for it.” This was before poker was mainstream. The Internet boom hadn’t happened yet. There were no commercials or poker shows on TV.

What do you love about poker? What I love the most is the competition. That’s why I’m 95 percent a tournament player these days. I just want to win titles. I want bracelets and rings and trophies. That’s the thing I really love about tournaments, being city champ trumps the money. I could win $10 million, it doesn’t matter, come next year, I’ll be back again to defend my title. — Todd Lamansky