Grabel wins SugarRush Challenge in Philadelphia

October 27, 2016, Michael Young, Jo Kim, Dave Lukow  

In September’s SugarRush Challenge at SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, Kevin Grabel held a 3-to-1 chip advantage over Andrew Mullen and dispensed the Newtown, Pa., player very early in heads-up play to win the title and $28,058.

Grabel had the chip lead after Day 2 and basically never wavered. Mullen won $19,667 for second, his biggest tournament cash of his career.

SugarHouse Casino will host its next SugarRush Challenge on Nov. 9-13. See the ad on Page 31 for more details to the event at the 28-table Poker Night in America Poker Room.

PARX CASINO: Big Stax 300 continued its popular run as it gathered 1,994 entrants for a $568K prize pool.The buy-in was $340. The previous Big Stax series’ opening event crushed the East Coast record for tournament attendance at 2,557.

Among the notables at the final table were Andy Santiago and Matt Mendez, but Travis Hartshorn took home the trophy and $98,308 after refusing to chop four-handed with about 10M in chips.When it came to the last three players, Hartshorn had 36.9M against Santiago’s 18M and Jay Casey’s 5M.

“I always say chance favors the prepared mind,” Santiago said, “and I looked up the entire roster’s stats before approaching the final table. Regardless of who it was, I stuck to my game and played for the win but cautious of guys like Mendez. Finishing third again was bittersweet, but with every loss comes a lesson.”

This is Hartshorn’s biggest tournament payout and has accumulated $165K in his career.

“There were two reasons for refusing to chop,” Hartshorn said. “One, I really wanted the chance to play for the trophy and the sought-after title.The second reason, I definitely thought I had a strong edge on the remaining table and even though I was third in chips, we were super deep.”

The rest of the series will be recapped in the next issue.

HARRAH’S PHILADELPHIA: Joseph McKeever took home the trophy for the Diamond Delight II tournament along with a seat to the 2017 World Series of Poker Main. After a handful of Day 1s, 116 players returned for a grueling Day 2 and four players chopped the remaining prize pool and played for the WSOP seat and Diamond status upgrade.

SANDS BETHLEHEM: The poker room’s popularity is continuing to escalate with anywhere from 15-25 tables running during peak hours. The casino is expanding to become the biggest gaming location for Pennsylvania.

After the Tropicana sale negotiations fell through, Mark Juliano entered as Sands’ president after working previously as an elementary school teacher.With four years of casino experience, Juliano is slowly turning around the Sands.The new expansion will bring about new jobs, new restaurant and a separate building for poker.

Atlantic City

SHOWBOAT CASINO: The property will reopen soon, but there will be no gaming.After Stockton University failed to establish a consented contract with its neighboring casino, Trump Taj Mahal, Showboat’s status was on hiatus.The casino closed in August 2014 until ACSB Hospitality picked up the location for renovation.Showboat will keep its Mardi Gras theme and offer tourists balcony suites.

Despite several attempts to revive the Taj, Atlantic City’s gaming locale icon closed after 26 years. Nearly 3,000 workers lost their jobs.

Maryland

MARYLAND LIVE: The World Poker Tour has crowned Zachary Smiley as its main-event champion at Maryland Live on Oct. 5. He earned $356,536 and an entry into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions. Smiley also won a WPT Champions trophy and had his name engraved on the WPT Champions Cup.

Smiley was followed by Ryan Belz ($239,412), Mario Silvestri ($153,983), Darren Elias ($113,905), Ben Zamani ($85,429) and Cate Hall ($68,554).

D.C. CHARITY: In partnership with All-In Enterprises, the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity is hosting a deepstack event at Regional Food & Drink of Gallery Place on Nov. 13. Registration for players begins at 11 a.m. The buy-in is $180 in advance.

MGM NATIONAL HARBOR: MGM has announced the casino will open Dec. 8. The $1.3B casino, which originally was going to cost $800M, will have about 3,600 slot machines, 140 gaming tables, including a poker room, a 300-suite hotel and a 3,000-seat theater. Construction began in May 2014.

Delaware

DOVER DOWNS HOTEL AND CASINO: The poker room is hosting a Turkey Throwdown Tournament Weekend this month. On Nov. 21 and 24 at 7:15 p.m., there will be $35 satellites (one in 10 wins a seat) for the $40K guarantee on Nov. 26. Nov. 25 at 11:15 a.m. is a $15K guarantee for $120 (20K chips, 25-minute blinds). Then on Nov. 26 at 11:15 is the $40K guarantee for $250 (20K chips, 30-minute blinds). To wrap up the weekend, there’s a $3K guarantee on Nov. 27 at 11:15 for $35 (10K chips, 20-minute blinds). See the ad at left for more info.

Dover Downs also is running the best cash-back promo in the country with $400 a week up for grabs for cash play. This promo is in addition to one comp dollar for each hour of play. See the poker room for details.

There will be a limited number of $49 hotel rooms for players who participate in the Nov. 25 or Nov. 26 tournaments. Tournament registration must be shown to the front desk to get the discounted rate. Call 800-711-5882 to register, using the promo code CNOGW16.

As for promos this month, ask about bad-beat hands, high hands from noon-2 a.m., hot seats and the daily $50 food comp.

North Carolina

HARRAH’S CHEROKEE: The World Series of Poker Circuit runs Nov. 24-Dec. 5, but schedule details weren’t known at press time.

Connecticut

FOXWOODS CASINO: Julian Sacks outlasted Travis Stams to win the World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event at Foxwoods in Mashantucket, Conn. A New Jersey resident, Sacks earned $148,350 for the victory, his first cash of the year to give him $274K for his career. Of his 19 cashes, seven have come at Foxwoods.

Sacks had finished runner-up in a WSOPC event before and had a third-place finish. He also had made the final table of another big event at Foxwoods, but he never finished first, and burden of his past shortcomings weighed heavily on him, especially after he finished Day 1 atop the leaderboard.

“Here at Foxwoods, I’ve had the chip lead before and blown it,” he said after the tournament. “And I was putting a lot of pressure on myself not to blow it this time.”

As the final day wore on, he felt more comfortable with his position.

“Once it got down to four-handed, at times it felt like I was winning every hand,” he said. “Then I really felt like it was my tournament to lose.”

Stams of Massachusetts collected $91,770 for second. He has four cashes, two at WSOPC events, and all at Foxwoods. Jeremy Meacham of Oak Bluffs, Mass., was third ($66,930). He has 23 cashes, including twice at the WPT Borgata Poker Open in September.

Johanssy Joseph was fourth ($49,680). From Connecticut, Joseph has 71 cashes and more than $754K in winnings. He was third in Event 3 ($6,269).
Muhammad Abdel-Rahim was fifth ($37,260) and Sean Carlson took sixth. Rahim has more than $326K earned over 20 cashes in his career.

Carlson, out of East Hartford, Conn., has seven cashes this year. Since early 2011, he’s cashed 19 times and has made more than $163K.

MOHEGAN SUN: Evan Dahl was first in Event 6, the $1,100 main event of the Summer Showdown. The win, the first of his career, paid $34,056 to the Truckee, Calif., player.

Justin Adams, who was second, pocketed $23,851. The cash was his ninth of the year and 29th overall. He has more than $257K in earnings.

Stephen Dare was third ($15,337). Like Adams, he has cashed nine times this year. The Massachusetts resident has 16 cashes since first breaking through in April 2013.

New York
TURNING STONE RESORT CASINO: From Nov. 25-Dec. 4 there will be two $100K guarantee events in the SuperStacks Hold’em Series. Call the poker room for details.

Meet John Gorsuch

A poker player from Woodbridge, Va., John Gorsuch plays regularly at All-In Enterprise charity poker events around Washington, D.C. He has been seen playing at the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event where he finished 147th out of 6,600-plus entries. He started playing at the kitchen table and played more frequently in college in the ’90s, ultimately playing seriously around 2011 in house games and small tournaments.

Where do you typically play poker in the area? I like to play the All-In Enterprise events. In addition I play a lot at Horseshoe Baltimore and Maryland Live. Many of the All-In events are closer to my home so I have a short commute to these events in D.C.

What is your biggest poker tournament finish aside from the 2014 WSOP? I finished fourth at a recent WSOP Circuit event at Baltimore Horseshoe. — Michael Young