Who could forget Raymer’s Chicago poker ties?

April 08, 2014, Joe Giertuga  

After 43 years of the World Series of Poker, the only main-event winner that had lived in Chicago was Greg “Fossilman” Raymer. Raymer started playing blackjack successfully at tribal casinos while attending the University of Minnesota. After landing his first job in Chicago, he found out blackjack on local riverboats wasn’t really beatable.

Raymer accidentally found out about Rockford Charitable Games in 1992, started playing hold’em and Omaha/8, had some fun, won some money and realized there was a lot he didn’t know about poker. He started reading books and credits the Theory of Poker by David Sklansky for developing a strong winning game in all forms of poker. He played in those RCG games while living here.

“I might not have become a real poker player, or even a poker player at all, if not for stumbling upon that first RCG game in a hotel in the suburbs of Chicago while trying to find a blackjack game,” Raymer said.

MSPT: Mid States Poker Tour made its first visit to Chicagoland at the Majestic Star Casino recently.

“We blew away the $200K guaranteed prize pool,” MSPT founder Bryan Mileski said. Despite a nationwide downward trend with poker, Chicagoland players continue to show their support for poker tours in a big way. MSPT had 301 entrees with a prize pool of $300K-plus.

Many of Chicagoland’s top players made the MSPT inaugural event, including Heartland Poker Tour standout Leon Morford and Fadi “Freddy” Hamad, who each made the final table. Hamad won the Ante Up Charity Tournament in 2012 and recently won his first WSOPC event in Florida.

Kenneth Blaime of Glenview played Morford heads-up, winning $77K. The MSPT returns to Majestic Star in August.

WCPL: The Windy City Poker League ran its inaugural tournament with a woman coming out on top.

Tijuan Wiggins started playing two months ago, played with the confidence of a seasoned pro, predicting she would beat her final-table opponents. The next WCPL tournament is April 19 at the Tinley Park VFW.

HORSESHOE HAMMOND: Clinton Steelman of Cincinnati won the $100K guarantee End of Month tournament. He started Day 2 as chipleader, continued his domination by knocking out two players on the first hand and ultimately won $28K. The prize pool was $126K with 290 entries. … The Chicago Poker Classic runs April 29-May 12.

— Email “Chicago” Joe at chicago.joe@comcast.net.