For them, poker’s had a major impact

0
71

Is there any sport, activity or contest that can positively change your life overnight the way poker can? Doubtful. Sure, a lottery can make you a millionaire just as fast as poker can, but other than having the news announced in your local newspaper, you won’t receive the level of recognition that comes with winning a million-dollar poker tournament. And if that win came on national television? Fuhgedaboutit!

We’ve had two remarkable occasions in the past year where unknown Floridians emerged as powerhouses on the felt, landing them in the national spotlight because of their tremendous victories. Coincidently, and oddly enough, both instances occurred across the pond during European Poker Tour events less than two weeks apart.

One of those players was Jason Mercier, who was splashed across Ante Up’s cover in January. The Davie resident came out of nowhere a year ago to win the EPT’s San Remo event (and $1.3 million), and has been running over the competition since, winning the EPT High Roller in October, an undercard event at February’s L.A. Poker Classic plus a $1K tournament during the Wynn Classic in March.

And that brings us to the subject of our cover story this month: Glen Chorny. OK, so Chorny technically is Canadian, hailing from Ontario, but he spends a lot of time in Sarasota, where his parents live. (Wouldn’t you visit Sarasota often if you grew up in the Great White North’s freezing temperatures? Just ask Gavin Smith!)

Chorny had had some success before his breakout victory, including an $80K first-place finish in a pot-limit Omaha tournament at the Gold Strike World Poker Open in Tunica, Miss., in January 2008. But the triumph that put him on the map was his EPT Grand Final victory, which netted about $3 million and instant recognition in the poker world. But unlike a lot of poker pros who got their start in Florida, Chorny still plays locally, often visiting One-Eyed Jacks and playing in its larger buy-in tournaments, such as the heads-up event (coverage on page 16). He even won his seat into February’s Scott Kazmir charity tournament via satellite, and oh by the way, he won that charity event in a two-way chop. His EPT victory has opened doors, including receiving an automatic invitation to play in March’s NBC National Heads-Up Championship at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. In what can only be described as a stellar field of world-class players, Chorny finished in a tie for ninth, winning $25K.

He defeated Chad Brown, who has a home in Margate and is engaged to Hobe Sound’s Vanessa Rousso, in the first round, Everybody Loves Raymond star Brad Garrett in Round 2 before falling to eventual champ Huck Seed in Round 3. If he hadn’t won in Monte Carlo he never would have had the chance to play this event. Show us a state lottery that did that for someone.

We caught up with Chorny to see how his life has changed during the past 12 months and to find out what it’s like to be a multimillionaire from poker. His story is on page 28.

Also in this issue we tackled the very heavy tournament schedule that emerged in late March, including the Isle’s Battles at the Beach, Dania Jai-Alai’s Dan Le Batard charity event and Derby Lane’s $600@600 Poker Classic. Plus, is there such a thing as playing too much poker? See if you fit the profile on page 32.

We’ll see you at the tables.

Christopher Cosenza and Scott Long