Brown wins Gulf Coast Poker Championship

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By Christopher Cosenza

When Beau Rivage teamed with Hobe Sound’s Vanessa Rousso to have her “host” its Gulf Coast Poker Championship in September, the Biloxi, Miss., casino got the added bonus of having her new husband, Chad Brown, come along for the ride. Rousso was prominent in the advertisements, but in very small type there was this line: Plus, double down with well-known poker pro and TV celebrity, Chad Brown.

It turns out Brown was the one who doubled down, winning the only two events he entered, including the $5K main event. He may have gotten smaller type in the ad, but he’s getting the headlines now.

Brown, the Margate resident who was the subject of the Ante Up cover story in July, laughed when asked if people were chanting “FIX!” after the co-host of the series won twice.

“To tell you the truth,” Brown said from London as he played in the PokerStars WCOOP series, “the feeling I got from most of the players that were at my table all along in both the pot-limit Omaha and no-limit hold’em was they were actually happy to be playing with me.”

Brown’s victories highlighted another stellar performance by Floridians at the Beau as they took five titles out of 14 events.

The first of Brown’s back-to-back wins (it’s the first time he’s done that in his impressive career) came in Event 11, a $500 PLO tournament with rebuys. And he wasn’t even supposed to play in it.

“I wasn’t planning necessarily to play the PLO,” said the 2006 Bluff Player of the Year. “I got off the plane and knew the event was going on … I called up my friend who was in it and asked how much time I had to enter, and this was while I was at the airport. He said, ‘You have 10 minutes,’ because it had already been running for an hour and 20 minutes.”
Brown earned $32,301 for the victory. Then a few days later he took down the main event. There must be something in the Mississippi water that agrees with him.

“As far as Mississippi I have an amazing track record overall in Tunica and Biloxi,” he said. “Just the month prior I made the final table of the (Gold Strike World Poker Open) main event in Tunica. (In)Mississippi, I played three tournaments, made three final tables and won two of them!”

The main event had 143 starters and the $225K Brown won is his biggest score this year, plus he won a $10K main-event seat in the Beau’s upcoming Southern Poker Championship in January.

During heads-up play with Tyler Smith of Smithdale, Miss., Brown limped with 4-7 and saw a flop of 6-3-5 rainbow. Brown bet 25K and Smith min-raised to 50K. Brown moved all-in and Smith insta-called with 4-9 of clubs for the straight draw. Brown had the nut straight and the turn and river were no help to Smith.

“The fields are very soft,” Brown said, “and what I mean by that is there aren’t a lot of the young Internet players that show up there. At that (main event) final table there were like four talented Internet players. And it wasn’t by coincidence because compared to the other big tournaments around the country they’re usually loaded with Internet players. Usually all the ones in Mississippi, a lot of the old timers are still playing the game they played 10-15 years ago.”

Other notable Florida cashes in the main event include Ron Haveard of Pensacola (sixth, $34,178); Chris O’Rourke of Tampa (ninth, $13,671); Brian Hawkins of Ft. Myers (11th, $9,570); and John Dolan of Bonita Springs (16th, $6,836). Hawkins, a very successful young pro, was the subject of a cover story in Bluff Magazine recently and is famously known as Sno0oman in the Internet poker world.

• Shirley “Smiley” Slusher, who hails from Pensacola, captured Event 7, a $340 Omaha/8 tournament that attracted 122 players. She won $12,782 and said she’s extremely excited to have her first tournament win under her belt, which was her first mixed event tournament. Smiley usually plays ring games and has been playing since 2005.

• Dolan, who cashed in the main event, had tasted success when he won Event 8, a $340 deepstack NLHE tournament that saw 445 players. For his victory Dolan earned nearly $33K.

• Bruce Lankford of Orlando won the $340 NLHE deepstack event that attracted 449 players. When the final table of Event 10 reached four players they made a deal and Lankford was called the champ, winning the trophy and more than $26K. But he wasn’t the only Floridian at that final table as Kim Scorpatow of Coconut Creek finished second ($14,559) and David Andrew Clancy of Jacksonville was third ($8,541).