HPC goes to Hall at Hollywood Toledo

October 01, 2017, Brian Bly, John Somsky, Ken Warren, Joe Giertuga, Josh Jetton, Chad Holloway  

The Hollywood Poker Challenge at Hollywood Casino in Toledo, Ohio, ran Aug. 24-Sept. 4, with Shane Hall winning the $1,100 main event after a five-way chop.

The main drew 219 entries for $196,850 prize pool, smashing the $150K guarantee. There were three Day 1 flights and several players took multiple shots at qualifying for Day 2. Four successfully qualified twice and were allowed to sell back their shorter stacks for $4K. Wayne Smith, however, pulled off an impressive hat trick by qualifying all three times, moving on with his largest stack and scoring $8K.

Hall took home the most money ($25,430), followed by Andrew Keeney ($22,277) and Alec Lenander ($21,619). The other choppers were Steve Williams and Scott Fitzhugh as 27 players finished in the money.

Other hold’em events included a $350 tourney that had 358 entries for a $107,330 prize pool. That event ended with a six-way chop, with each player earning $11,005. This event featured two Day 1 flights and three players qualified both times, scoring an extra $1,500 for their smaller stacks. Jason Carmel won the $60 Uber Stack Turbo for $424. Two players chopped the $110 six-max for $1,178 each.

There were three $110 Green Chip Bounty events and the winners were Andrew Walsh ($1,010), Joe Riner ($1,081) and Brian Ballantine ($1,447). The $110 seniors event drew an impressive 175 entries and culminated in a three-way chop.
In non-hold’em action, Sean Fleming won the $110 HORSE tournament for a $1,530. The $110 PLO event went to Mike Peters ($1,532).

JACK CASINO CLEVELAND: The $100K Pigskin & Poker promotion runs through Dec. 31. Cash-game and tournament players earn tickets by making big hands (aces full or better) from noon until midnight. Each Sunday during the promotion, one ticket will be drawn every hour from noon until 8 p.m., with each winner receiving $500 in chips. On the final Sunday (New Year’s Eve), prizes will range from $500 to $10K in chips.


RUNNING ACES: The Midwest Poker Classic Main Event ended in a five-way chop. Andrew Johnson of West St. Paul, Minn., took $20K, Kou Vang took $20K and the trophy, and Diego Lema, Blaise Poupore and Matthew Leverty took $15K, $12,740 and $11K respectively. This was Johnson’s best career cash.

The $500 main event drew 262 entrants for a $114,363 prize pool. Other notable results from the series include Scott Johnson of White Bear Lake, Minn., who beat 72 opponents to win the $200 six-max event.

He took home $4K of the $13,873 prize pool. Anthony Lambert of Minneapolis won the $150 doublestack, outlasting 63 entrants for $2,826. Andre Brown of Burnsville, Minn., won the $300 bounty event for $3,177 plus bounties.

CANTERBURY PARK: Paul Cross of Minneapolis won the $350 Mid-States Poker Tour regional event in Shakopee. Cross earned his largest career cash ($61,911), outlasting 1,169 entrants (a state record).

“It’s humbling and overwhelming,” Cross said. “I actually got pretty emotional. I have been grinding these tournaments for a long time and have made a few final tables, but a MSPT final table was a big goal for me. It is the most prestigious tour that comes through Minnesota. So, to make my first and go on the heater of a lifetime was unbelievable.”

The event generated a $339,179 prize pool, rivaling $1,100 main events.


Ahmed Taleb won $54,089 after topping the field at the MSPT main event at Grand Falls Casino. Taleb is a 25-year-old student from Morocco and he waited to jump into the tournament until the final moments.

He beat 215 entrants to claim the title. The MSPT returns to Iowa during the last few days of October and into the first weekend of November at Meskwaki Casino. There will be satellites all week and the $300,000 guarantee main event will run Nov. 3-5.

RIVERSIDE CASINO: WPT DeepStacks runs Oct. 13-23. There are many events during the 10-day series, culminating in the $100K guarantee $1,100 main event, which runs Oct. 20-22. While most of these are NLHE events, there is an Omaha/8 event Oct. 26.

HORSESHOE CASINO COUNCIL BLUFFS: The RunGood Poker Series will be Oct. 24-29.

DIAMOND JO CASINO: The monstrous bad-bet jackpot in Worth reached $275K at press time.


FIREKEEPERS CASINO: The poker room will host the MSPT Oct. 7-15.The $1,100 event has a $300K guarantee and will have satellites running daily for $250. The last time the MSPT stopped in Battle Creek, it was the largest tournament field in state history. Oct. 7 is the third-quarter Tournament of Champions at 10 a.m. See the poker room for qualifying details.

Oct. 29 is a special Fifth Sunday tournament for $400 and 40K chips at 10 a.m. The last one had 415 entries for a $145,250 prize pool. Also, Nov. 18 is a $100 ladies event at 2 p.m.

SOARING EAGLE CASINO AND RESORT: The Michigan Poker Classic ran on Aug. 23 but results weren’t available. Up next is the $150 deepstack on Oct. 28 at 1 p.m. There’s an optional $10 dealer add-on for more chips.

MOTOR CITY CASINO HOTEL: The bad-beat jackpot (quads) was $782K at press time.


STATE RECORD: Local Milwaukee attorney Matthew Vignali topped a field of 1,658 entrants, the largest tournament in Wisconsin history, to win the MSPT Potawatomi $350 regional for $70,240.

REICHARD THIRD: In early August, seven-time World Series of Poker Circuit ring-winner Josh Reichard finished third in the Global Casino Championship for a career-best $130,498. He qualified for the invite-only event by becoming the WSOPC Horseshoe Council Bluffs Casino Champ.

SIMULTANEOUS FINAL TABLES: Joe Kuether, who is second on Wisconsin’s all-time money list, had a big weekend in Florida when he final-tabled the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open’s $1,100 event and $5,250 championship. He finished eighth in the former for $15,749 and ninth in the latter for $75,413.

BAD BEAT HITS: On Aug. 25, the bad-beat jackpot hit at Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells. Miro Semanisin won $34,649 after his aces full of 10s lost to the quad 10s of Judd Butterman, who received $17,324. The room share was $866.


AsGary Herstein prepared for his early final-table exit, the last thing on his mind was winning his first Heartland Poker Tour title at Ameristar East Chicago. Then his two-outer hit on the river. He managed to survive a wild and unpredictable main-event final table to win $170K-plus and a $3,600 championship package.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said after the tournament. “I had a read; and I had some help. All these guys back here,” he said as he turned to his large group of supporters on the rail.

This was the Chicago native’s biggest win and that’s saying something since he has 93 cashes and $500K-plus in live earnings. The prize pool was nearly $745K with 517 entries.

Mark Owens won the $300 Monster Stack opener for $50K. The Chicago native made a HPT main-event final table here in 2007 and the $10K regional championship at Horseshoe Hammond in 2010. With 1,180 entries, the prize pool was $342K-plus.

Emmett Horaney won the $300 seniors tournament for $6,556 after a six-way chop that included Ron Magers and Ante Up’sJoe Giertuga.Richard Roth from Villa Park collected almost $9K for winning the $200 seniors.
The HPT returns here Jan. 11-22.

MAJESTIC STAR: The America’s Poker Tour main event ended with Brian Skreens and Gary Hersteinagreeing to a chop after eliminating Mac Hill in third place, giving Skreens $39K and the title.

The final table featured this year’s WSOP seniors winner,Frank Maggio, and the popularHenry Zou, who travels here regularly from Saginaw, Mich. The event had 183 entries for a prize pool of $177K-plus.

“I had a great time in the greater Chicago area,” saidChristopher Lee Womack, who co-hosted the live stream withDerek Melicher. “I can honestly say poker is strong and they have many good players from this area of the country. Chicagoans know their baseball and Texas Hold’em poker. Always looking forward to the solid poker competition.”

Kennii Nguyen came out on top of 537 entries, winning the $200 deepstack opener for $20K.He spent five years in Las Vegas as a pro before moving to Chicago. He has $788K in all-time earnings.

Tim McCarthy came out on top of a field of 81 entries to win the seniors for $4,224. With three senior victories, McCarthy is Chicagoland’s most successful old guy.

The Munster, Ind., native, has won four titles from four tours in his home state. His biggest win was a six-max WSOPC event in Southern Indiana.

TROPICANA EVANSVILLE: Satish Thakurwon the MSPT main event after a seesaw heads-up match with“Big” Al Hedin, who had a huge stack at one point.The Michigan IT programmer’s patience paid off, winning $71K.

WSOPC main-event winnerKurt Jewellmade the final table. The prize pool was almost $309K with 320 entries.

Meet Jay Philips

The owner of two IT-computer companies, Jay Philips often can be found playing a poker tournament on weekends or the occasional evening. She’s also a Blue Shark Optics team pro and she started Kicker Problem, a poker apparel company. Despite being busy with so many projects, she’s also one of the most enjoyable opponents to have at your table.

How did you get into poker? My husband, Jason, taught me a few years ago so I had something to do while he played blackjack. Now he says he created a monster because I always want to play when I have free time.

How did become a Blue Shark Optics pro? My friend Tracey Eaton gave me a pair of Blue Shark Optics to try and I found that it helped my eyes from not drying out. I was wearing the shades for a while then (owner) Kerry Karoutsos had posted about looking for new pros, so I applied.

What are your goals as a poker player? My first goal is to cash in the World Series main event. My next goal is to win the WSOP main event. Would be great if they happen at the same time. — John Somsky