Liu wins World Poker Finals at Foxwoods

November 30, 2017, Dave Lukow, Jo Kim, Michael Young  

Jia Liu topped 200-plus entries to win the $2,500 World Poker Finals Main Event at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. The victory paid the Brooklyn man $114,356.

Nick Pupillo of Arizona was second ($73,596) as the prize pool was $452,894, surpassing the $400K guarantee.
Evan Paushter (third) earned $46,648, while Arthur Ohannessian (fourth) took home $37,363 and Brian Landesman was fifth ($28,306).

Robin Boutaud won Event 8 ($1,200 NLHE) for $39,104, out.lasting 137 players. David Lombardi was second ($25,533), followed by Timothy Reilly ($17,071). The prize pool ($145,907) crushed the $100K guarantee.

Liam He got by Parker Drew to take Event 1, earning $91,729 and beating more than 950 players. Drew, a New York resident, pocketed $51,443 while Dale Beaudoin was third ($36,990) and Kevin Currey was fourth ($25,722).

The World Poker Finals closed with Event 20, a $300 big stack that went to Laurel Hilton. Playing out of West Simsbury, Conn., Hilton earned the trophy and $6,236 in a four-way chop, but Mark Walsh of Chelsea, Mass., was the top-earner ($9K) despite finishing second. There were 162 entrants for a $40,856 prize pool.

Other winners included Boston’s Curt Kohlberg in the $400 high rollers ($31,331), John Barucci of Stoughton, Mass., in the $250 superstack turbo ($8K) and Joe Starratt of Middleboro, Mass., who chopped $300 freezeout for $3,500 and the trophy.

MOHEGAN SUN: The Holiday Hangover Tournament runs Dec. 26-29 and sports a $50K guarantee.

The $230 event has multiple flights (Dec. 26, 11 a.m., Dec. 27, 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., Dec. 28, 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.) with Day 2 being Dec. 29 at noon. See the ad on the facing page for special room rates and more details.

New York

TURNING STONE RESORT AND CASINO: James Willey won Event 1 ($250 NLHE) of the October Weekend Poker series in Verona. Willey earned $15K for beating nearly 400 players. Aiman Abbassi collected $12,042 for second and Adam Foster was third ($12,042) after the chop. The prize pool was $83,790.

John Corning got $1K for winning the bounty event and Marek Rozwood was second ($800).

Pennsylvania/Atlantic City

The wait has come to an end. Pennsylvania, after four years of legislation struggle, has become the fourth state in America to regulate online gambling. Gov. Tom Wolf signed the gambling expansion bill in late October. The Pennsylvania tax revenue is projected to exceed $400M in five years, with an estimate of $154M in the first year while reaching nearly $275M in the fifth year.

Though New Jersey online gaming tax revenue increases monthly, most of the money comes from the casino rather than poker play. The next step in reviving online poker for the region is in the works to combine the Jersey player base with Nevada and Delaware.

“Pooling players with Nevada and Delaware will enhance annual revenue growth, attract new consumers, and create opportunities for players and Internet gaming operators,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in an Oct. 13 news release. “This agreement marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for online gaming, and we look forward to working with our partners in Nevada and Delaware in this endeavor.”

SUGARHOUSE: Poker Night in America returned to the Philadelphia poker room for a third time Oct 24-29. The series kicked off with four sessions of Locals Live $2-$5 no-limit hold’em where five players are randomly drawn for each session to play with two designated pros. SugarHouse Pro Joe “Worm” Palma and Ante Up Ambassador Jo Kim were among the pros in the lineup.

“Poker Night in America tries to cater its production to the preference of the local players in the area,” said Matt Glantz, PNIA’s producer and SugarHouse’s Poker Ambassador. “So when we come to Philadelphia, we rely on the poker room manager, Vicki Sims, to guide us with what format would work best for her room. Her concept of $2-$5 Locals Live has received a tremendous response and I would definitely expect to run Locals Live again next year.”

The event also featured King of the Hill, a heads-up crowning match between Daniel Colman and Brandon Adams, who defeated Olivier Busquet and Scott Blumstein, respectively.

“I really enjoyed the experience of working and playing on a PNIA production,” said 2017 WSOP champion Blumstein, who also commentated on the live stream. “Any time poker is getting exposure on a broad level, it’s a good thing for the game. So to be able to battle with some great players and pro.vide entertainment to poker fans was something I really en.joyed doing.”

The filming crew wrapped with PNIA’s $25-$50 cash game featuring Glantz, Doug Polk, Brad Garrett, Mike Siegel, Jeremy Kaufman, Andrew Micali and Ryan Miller.

Coinciding with PNIA, the $100K SugarRush tournament ($250 buy-in) concluded in a nine-way chop, with Norman Rogers, Nasim Tukhi and Linh Dinh as the top three players paid $13,448, $12,214 and $10,527, respectively.

There were 511 entries for a $114,766 prize pool after eight starting flights.

SugarHouse welcomed its new poker director, Tom Bates, from Hard Rock Tampa in November. Bates has worked on the East Coast before at the Borgata.

PARX: The Big Stax $1,200 main event drew 543 entrants for a $579,381 prize pool. After three days of play, Mark Perry, Will Corvino and Joe Liberta chopped for $100,680, $89,784 and $79,180 respectively.

“The win feels really good and to make it through a final table of that level makes it even better,” said Perry of his biggest career tournament cash. “Hoping to top this one very soon.”

T.J. Shulman, who entered Day 2 with 10 big blinds, was fourth ($35,632). Shulman, a Florida pro, cashed in three events.

“The Big Stax Series is, by far, the best structure of tournaments I’ve played,” Shulman said. “While Borgata is great with guaranteed prize pools, Big Stax is the best in the country that doesn’t offer guarantees.” Big Stax returns with a $225 event Dec. 4-10.


MGM NATIONAL HARBOR: The room’s first series, the Potomac Poker Open, runs until Dec. 4 and features more than $1M in guarantees. The $2,700 main event, which has a $500K guarantee, begins with two opening flights, Dec. 1-2 each at 11 a.m., with Day 2 being Dec. 3.

There’s also a $50K guarantee on Dec. 3 for $365 at 11 a.m., followed by a $1,080 turbo event at 3 p.m. On Dec. 4, the series wraps with a pot-limit Omaha events at 11 a.m. for $1,120.

NAME CHANGE: The Maryland Live Casino in Hanover has changed its name to just Live Casino and has a hotel and spa slated to open in early 2018.


DOVER DOWNS HOTEL & CASINO: Two December tournament weekends feature more than $51K in guarantees at the poker room. Eight NLHE events, including a $20K guarantee and the popular black-chip bounty event, are on the schedule: Dec. 15, 11:15 a.m., black-chip bounty ($115); Dec. 16, 11:15 a.m., $10K guarantee ($125); Dec. 17, 11:15 a.m., $2,500 guarantee ($45); Dec. 28, 7:15 p.m., $3K guarantee ($45); Dec. 29, 11:15 a.m., $10K guarantee ($125); Dec. 30, 11:15 a.m., $20K guarantee ($200); Dec. 31, 11:15 a.m., $3K guarantee ($45), and Jan. 1, 11:15 a.m., $2,500 guarantee ($35).

In tournament results, the Hallowed Hold’em series, which had $55K in guarantees, ran Oct. 7-8. Matt Shoup won the $175 event, which sported a $15K guarantee. He bested 60-plus players for $3,827, chopping with Casey Montag ($3,819) and Travor Payton ($3,153).

Ty Purnell won the $225 event, which had a $30K guarantee. He pocketed $3K for first, followed by 18 players who chopped
for $1,500 each. The event drew 118 entries. Mike Scotece won the $85 event that had a $10K guarantee. He earned $2,800.

Meet Anna Antimony

Anna Antimony is a full-time East Coast tournament pro who also plays in Florida and Las Vegas.

With an increase in tournaments since the Moneymaker Era, players have more options with variability in buy-ins, fields, guarantees, locations, structures, etc. Is there a tournament you particularly enjoy playing in your annual poker schedule or does it change depending on what’s available? The Parx series is definitely my favorite local tournament to play because nothing can beat that value and structure. Obviously my favorite tournament of the year is the World Series main. I’ve only played it twice, but there’s really nothing else like it.

You recently refused to chop a Borgata Poker Open tournament and took home the trophy. You’ve also chopped a BPO tournament this year. What are some of the influences in your decision-making? I feel like tournaments are long and grueling, back-to-back days and to make a final table is always an accomplishment.

So a lot of times when you make it that deep and you’re playing for so much money, especially in the faster structure tourney where the average stack is like 20 big blinds, you’re aware of how much luck is involved and you’re just exhausted, so making a deal just seems to make sense some- times. With the last tourney during the BPO, I had a huge lead and the structure is so good so I knew we would actually be able to play.

Also, I feel like the six-max always attracts all the best players so being able to win it outright was just an accomplishment I wanted to achieve. Nobody can take first place away from you.

What do you do in your spare time? Nothing special. I like to spend time with my non-poker friends and not talk poker. I enjoy attending baseball games, going to the gym and watching the ID channel. It’s all real-life stories about murder and I’m really into that stuff. Is that creepy? Oh, I’ve also really gotten into cooking lately. I love food, so it’s fun to look up random recipes and have them come to life. — Jo Kim