Miss Poker hits the Beau for Southern hospitality

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Maybe it’s the allure of a televised final table that draws them. Or perhaps it’s the top-notch pros who come out to compete. It might be the impressive $10,000 main event buy-in that lures would-be champions to test their skill. Whatever the reason, the Southern Poker Championship at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi is without a doubt an event of epic proportions for the Magnolia State.

From Jan. 6-27, thousands of players clocked hundreds of hours on the felt, competing for several million dollars in collective prize pools. With more than 60 tournaments, including the nightly games and mega-satellites, it’s no wonder so many players begin the new year with this World Poker Tour stop.

The championship is not for the faint of heart. The buy-ins range from $340 to $10,000 and has a long-standing reputation for attracting some of the best in the game. This year was no different with pros Scotty Nguyen, Gavin Smith, Chad Brown, Dwyte Pilgrim, November Niner Joseph Cheong, Lee Markholt, Matt Affleck, Leif Force and Jason Mercier in attendance, as well as champions from years past: Hoyt Corkins (2009), Allen Carter (2008) and Bill Edler (2007).

The month-long journey to the main event helped boost a few “up-and-comers” into the limelight. “Uncle” Mike Shafer of Detroit captured the $1,060 no-limit hold’em event. Shafer, a relative newcomer to the circuit who took home a bracelet, trophy and $43,500 for his efforts, said, “This felt great. I’ve only had the chance to play in four large events so far, but I definitely plan on making more of them now. This is my best poker moment to date.”

Shafer said he gets his poker advice from his friend and pro player Robert Williamson III. “I also enjoy watching any footage I can of David “Chino” Rheem. He’s got great presentation.” The best part of this victory? “This definitely makes my brother (platinum recording artist Uncle Kracker) happy, because it buys him time before I come to him with my hands out.” Shafer, who is always joking and cutting up, is no laughing matter when it comes to poker. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

Local player Brad Peterson also took home the trophy and $14,108 in the pot-limit Omaha rebuy event. Peterson, who plays live and online, was ecstatic about his win. With more than a few friends around to support him, this Gautier, Miss., resident definitely had the homefield advantage working in his favor.

Really, though, all eyes were on the $2,008,100 prize pool of the main event, which included a $25,000 seat to the WPT World Championship at the Bellagio in May. For five long days, 214 players fought for the bragging rights and first-place money.

The final table included Stuart Breakstone (ninth, $35,750) of Memphis, who had the unwavering support of his wife, Lori, and mom, Donna, pulling for him; Ryan Hughes (sixth, $89,735) from Place Chandler, Ariz., who boasts more than $1.5 million in career winnings and two World Series of Poker bracelets; Shannon Shorr (fourth, $144,985) of Birmingham, Ala., who is part of the Gulf Coast Poker blogging team; Allen Carter (third, $218,471) of Lewisville, Texas, who took down a first-place win in this same event in 2008; Leif Force (second, $315,790) of Tallahassee, Fla., with almost $1.8 million in lifetime cashes; and the event champion, Alexander Kuzmin of Moscow.

Kuzmin is no newcomer to the game. With cashes dating to 2001 and lifetime winnings of more than $1 million, this victory is arguably Kuzmin’s most significant to date. Literally on his way back to Russia, he popped into the Beau Rivage between layovers and left with $575,696 and an invitation to the Bellagio in May. Poker Hall of Famer and WPT commentator Mike Sexton commended Kuzmin’s ability to adjust under pressure.

“Alex played terrific,” Sexton said. “He came in as chipleader, lost a lot of chips and went to lock-down mode. He was able to change gears and played superbly once we got down to three-handed poker. He deserved to win.”

Within hours of the curtain closing on the final table at the SPC, devotees to the grind took off for Tunica for the impending arrival of the WSOPC event at Harrah’s. Details to follow in next month’s column. Look for Ante Up to be in Biloxi again for the Spring Break Classic, which runs March 17-27 at the Beau Rivage).

— Jennifer Gay can be reached at facebook.com/aceofjewels.

Southern Poker results

Event #1 • $550 NLHE
Players: 290 • Prize pool: $140,650
1. Carl McGowan, Pearson, GA., $42,193
2. Ben Mintz, New Orleans, $22,504
3. Peter Sheppard, Sunset, WA, $12,659
4. Mark Wild, Biloxi, MS, $9,846
5. Mike Woods, Wellston, OH, $8,439
6. Larry Moore, Whitehouse, TN, $7,033
7. Kenneth Milam, LaPlace, LA, $5,626
8. Robert Park, Atlanta, $4,220
9. Joshua Wilcox, Atlanta, $2,813

Event #2 • $340 Omaha/8
Players: 113 • Prize pool: $32,883
1. Todd Burrows, Friendswood, TX, $11,838
2. Henry Hull, St. Augustine, FL, $6,248
3. Mitchell Smith, N. Miami Beach, FL, $3,946
4. Richard Crawford, Nashville, TN, $2,631
5. Anthony Bellao, New Orleans, $2,302
6. David Eller, Port Orange, FL, $1,973
7. Tim Burt, Grenada, MS, $1,644
8. Vincent Phan, Mobile, AL, $1,315
9. Charles Edwards, Lynchburg, TN, $986

Event #3 • $340 NLHE
Players: 434 • Prize pool: $126,294
1. Ron Mattingly, Springfield KY, $34,100
2. David Bearden, Dawsonville, GA, $18,944
3. Phong Huynh, Lilburn, GA, $11,114
4. Jeff Ahmadi, Charlotte, NC, $8,588
5. Doug Cox, Northport, AL, $7,325
6. Aaron Lasater, Atlanta, $6,062
7. Steve Ma, Atlanta, $4,799
8. Deeanna Laurence, Bossier City, LA, $3,536
9. John Durio, New Orleans, $2,273

Event #4 • $340 Stud
Players: 38 • Prize pool: $11,058
1. Roland Israelashvili, New York, $4,976
2. Brent Carter, Oak Park, IL, $3,317
3. Tennyson Phillips, Moultrie, GA, $1,659
4. Roger Barlow, Center Point, AL, $1,106

Event #5 • $550 NLHE
Players: 195 • Prize pool: $94,575
1. Luke Priour, Austin, TX, $31,207
2. Joe Greene, Panama City, FL, $17,213
3. Alex Tassin, Houma, LA, $9,458
4. Scott Culver, New Haven, KY, $7,566
5. David Jackson, Atlanta, $5,675
6. Thomas Doussan, Metairie, LA, $4,729
7. Frank Alpandinar, Baton Rouge, $3,783
8. Randy Krams, Houston, $2,837
9. Jerry Monroe, Columbus, GA., $1,892

Event #6 • $340 PLO w/rb
Players: 63 • Prize pool: $33,756
1. Joe Poole, Loris, SC, $12,152
2. Ryan Lenaghan, New Orleans, $6,414
3. Matt Humphrey, Avon, IN, $4,051
4. Robert Hurley, Atlanta, $2,700
5. Marty Muncus, Lewisville, NC, $2,363
6. Roland Israelashvili, New York, $2,025
7. Slade Whitt, Lima, OH, $1,688
8. John Bitting, Houston, $1,350
9. Gene Timberlake, Houston, $1,013

Event #7 • $340 NLHE
Players: 277 • Prize pool: $80,607
1. Sean Williams, Dallas, GA, $24,185
2. Charles Tidmarsh, Greenville, SC, $12,897
3. Joe Bueche, Houma, LA, $7,255
4. David Luce, Fleming, Island, FL, $5,642
5. Jack Clark, Trenton, GA, $4,836
6. John Alredge, Gautier, MS, $4,030
7. Rohan Long, Windsor, CT, $3,224
8. Morten Hvitved, Santa Rosa, FL, $2,418
9. Michael Husar, Metairie, LA, $1,612

Event #8 • $340 Stud/8
Players: 68 • Prize pool: $19,788
1. Kai Landry, Biloxi, MS, $7,124
2. Barron Luhipple, Gulfport, MS, $3,958
3. George Krafft, Absecon, NJ, $2,572
4. Tom Franklin, Gulfport, MS, $1,781
5. Diana Davis, Largo, FL, $1,385
6. Rich Chiovari, Chicago, $1,187
7. Sal Mortillaro, Metairie, LA, $989
8. Johnny Livingston, Selma, Al $792

Event #9 • $230 NLHE w/rb
Players: 200 • Prize pool: 87,688
1. Adam Lippert, Brooklyn, $28,936
2. Anthony Vidmer, Nashville, $15,959
3. Patrick Heneghan, Chicago, $8,769
4. Allen Barrie, Atlanta, $7,015
5. Brian Bass, Pensacola, FL, $5,261
6. Ray Bonavida, Los Angeles, $4,384
7. Mark Rose, Orlando, FL, $3,508
8. Moshe Nizan, Dade City, FL, $2,631
9. Eskimo Clark, New Orleans, $1,754

Event #10 • $340 LHE
Players: 61 • Prize pool: $17,752
1. Mike Brawley, Cape Girardeau, MO, $6,390
2. Paul Sokoloff, Toronto, $3,373
3. Frank Sordi, Bethlehem, CT, $2,130
4. Vernon Harrison, Kerrville, TX, $1,420
5. Jerry Zehr, Florence, KY, $1,243
6. Larry Welker, Prairieville, LA, $1,065
7. Carol Farley, Ocean Springs, MS, $888
8. Thomas Nayes, Clark Summit, PA, $710
9. Justin Carey, Metairie, LA, $533

Event #11 • $340 NLHE
Players: 258 • Prize pool: $75,078
1. Francesco Gio Rocca, Toronta, $22,520
2. Don Rousseau, Orlando, FL, $12,012
3. Dr. Will Noyes, Thompson, PA, $6,757
4. Jack Harrod, Roswell, GA, $5,255
5. Joe Gowder, Homer, GA, $4,505
6. Steve Dauterive, Chalmette, LA, $3,754
7. Kelli Mix, Carrollton, GA, $3,003
8. Steve Tran, New Orleans, LA, $2,252
9. Nghia Le, Swanee, GA, $1,502

Event #12 • $340 PLO
Players: 49 • Prize pool: $44,814
1. Bill McBride, Thonotossassa, FL, $20,166
2. Chris Trotter, Ringold, GA, $11,204
3. Matt Thomson, Longwood, FL, $6,722
4. Brent Carter, Oak Park, IL $4,481
5. Nancy Birnbaum, Atlanta, $2,241

Event #13 • $1,070 NLHE
Players: 168 • Prize pool: $162,960
1. Mark Wilds, Biloxi, MS, $53,775
2. Fred Sigur, Chalmette, LA, $29,659
3. Eddy Mroczkowski, Jax, FL, $16,296
4. Ralph Robinson, St. Mount., GA, $13,037
5. Don Matthews, Oxford, FL, $9,778
6. Bruce Macgregor, Port Orange, FL, $8,148
7. Jimmy Davis, Anderson, SC, $6,518
8. Bob Harris, Gulf Shores, AL, $4,889
9. Danny Doucet, Lafayette, LA, $3,259

Event #14 • $340 Omaha/8
Players: 134 • Prize pool: $38,996
1. Anthony Vidmer, Nashville, $12,868
2. Yarom Limor, Beverly Hills, CA, $7,097
3. Thom Dolan, St. Louis, $3,899
4. Charles Chan, Pan. City Bch, FL, $3,120
5. George Krafft, Absecon, NJ, $2,340
6. Avner Levy, Westfield, NJ, $1,950
7. Wenzel Werner, Jacksonville, FL, $1,560
8. Raoufi Malek, Austin, TX, $1,170
9. David Peltzer, Henderson, NV, $780

Event #15 • $340 NLHE
Players: 387 • Prize pool: $112,617
1. Roland Israelashvili, New York, $30,404
2. Ezra McCord, Atlanta, $16,893
3. Alan Smith, Mobile, AL, $9,910
4. Ryan Gamston, Ft. Benning, GA, $7,658
5. James Reed, Atlanta, GA, $6,532
6. Daniel Kim, Swanee, GA, $5,406
7. Merton Toler, Princeton, WV, $4,279
8. Doug Freiss, Katy, TX, $3,153
9. Nick Rodrigue, Chalmette, LA, $2,027

Event #16 • $340 H.O.S.E.
Players: 62 • Prize pool: $18,042
1. Ron Winkelvoss, Rose Valley PA, $6,495
2. Rich Chiovari, Chicago, $3,608
3. Ashton Freemon, Atlanta, $2,345
4. Mitchell Smith, Miami Beach, FL, $1,624
5. Al Green, Weston, FL, $1,263
6. Scott Hiett, Nashville, $1,083
7. Gene Bauerlein, St. Pete, FL, $902
8. John Napolf, Daytona Beach, FL, $722

Event #17 • $340 Ladies
Players: 70 • Prize pool: $20,370
1. Holly Raba, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, $7,333
2. Julie Dawson, Daphne, AL, $3,870
3. Kerri Dorsey, Gautier, MS, $2,444
4. Theresa Gex, Baton Rouge, LA, $1,630
5. Janet Clark, Gulf Breeze, FL, $1,426
6. Gretchen Holzhauser, New Orleans, $1,222
7. Rita Little Pensacola, FL, $1,019
8. Anne Manning, Kosciusko, MS, $815
9. Paula Halata, Houston, $611

Event #18 • $340 Seniors
Players: 270 • Prize pool: $78,570
1. Terry Garner, Hattiesburg, MS, $23,566
2. Ed Childress, Arab, AL, $12,571
3. Avner Levy, Westfield, NJ, $7,071
4. Mark Fleddermann, St. Louis, $5,500
5. John Ashley, Oxford, AL, $4,714
6. Bill Crane, Wright, KS, $3,929
7. Barbara Spano, Westfield, NJ, $3,143
8. Sandra Kroll, $2,357
9. Pete Ruszkiewicz, Wisconsin, $1,571

Event #19 • $550 NLHE/PLO
Players: 104 • Prize pool: $50,440
1. Ben Chan, Pan. City Bch., FL, $18,158
2. James Miller, Auburn, AL, $9,584
3. Joe Greene, Pan. City Bch., FL, $6,053
4. Anthony Bellao, New Orleans, $4,035
5. Tim Burt, Grenada, MS, $3,531
6. Dustin Wertz, New Orleans, $3,026
7. Robert Sturtz, Atlanta, $2,522
8. Mark Edwards, Longwood, FL, $2,018
9. Brad Peterson, Gautier, MS, $1,513

Event #20 • $340 NLHE
Players: 271 • Prize pool: $78,861
1. Barry Shulman, Las Vegas, $23,658
2. Larry Turner, Charlotte, NC, $12,618
3. B.J. McBrayer, Tuscaloosa, AL, $7,097
4. Hsien Han, Atlanta, $5,520
5. Chris Champagne, Baton Rouge, $4,732
6. Herman Stewart, Dothan, AL $3,943
7. Konstantin Suvorkin, Russia $3,154
8. Ron Cole, Sour Lake, TX, $2,366
9. Amelio Amato, Sarasota, FL, $1,577

Event #21 • $550 H.O.R.S.E.
Players: 55 • Prize pool: $26,403
1. Anthony Vidmer, Nashville, $9,330
2. Andy Hwang, Houston, $5,335
3. Avner Levy, Westfield, NJ, $3,468
4. George Krafft, Absecon, NJ, $2,401
5. Chris Sheffield, Pensacola, FL, $1,867
6. Stewart Carpenter, Walls, MS, $1,601
7. Bill Melms, New Port Richey, FL, $1,334
8. Daniel Klein, Toronto, $1,067

Event #22 • $340 NLHE
Players: 203 • Prize pool: $59,073
1. Zdenek Cicala, Czech Republic $19,494
2. Brandon Woolridge, Biloxi, MS, $10,751
3. Ethan Smith, Gulfport, MS, $5,907
4. Josh Palmer, Daphne, AL, $4,726
5. Doug Saab $3,544
6. James Puritz, Orlando, FL, $2,954
7. Robert Aguerriberri, Argentina, $2,363
8. Dale McFarland, Houston, $1,772
9. John Dahlberg, St. Louis, $1,181

Event #23 • $550 Heads-Up
Players: 64 • Prize pool: $31,042
1. Mark Edwards, Longwood, FL, $11,795
2. Jeremy Bynum $6,829
3. Arthur Young $3,725
4. Walter Chambers $3,725
5. Charles Townsend $1,242
6. Rolando Lazano $1,242
7. Christopher Authement $1,242
8. Carl Norris $1,242

Event #24 • $1,060 NLHE
Players: 136 • Prize pool: $131,920
1. Mike Shafer, Detroit, $43,534
2. Nick Rampone, Portland, $24,009
3. Martin Hornitz, Norway $13,192
4. Carlos Cuentos, Houston, $10,554
5. David Nicholson, Biloxi, MS, $7,915
6. Chad Burns, Houston, $6,596
7. Mark Wilds, Biloxi, MS, $5,277
8. Vin Luu, San Jose, CA, $3,958
9. Kevin Eyster, Lafayette, LA, $2,638

Event #25 • $340 PLO w/rb
Players: 63 • Prize pool: $39,189
1. Brad Peterson, Gautier, MS, $14,108
2. Mike Schneider, Covington, GA, $7,446
3. Brent Carter, Oak Park, IL, $4,703
4. Brian McKain, Madison, IN, $3,135
5. Allyn Shulman, Las Vegas, $2,743
6. Dave Callaghan, Ireland, $2,351
7. Gene Timberlake, Houston, $1,959
8. Daniel Klein, Toronto, $1,568
9. Gene Bauerlein, St. Pete, FL, $1,176

Event #26 • $1,580 NLHE
Players: 110 • Prize pool: $160,050
1. Matt Brady, Haverton, PA, $57,616
2. Justin Scott, Detroit, $30,410
3. Patrick Mahoney, Lakeland, TN, $19,206
4. Jonathan Little, Pensacola, FL, $12,804
5. Jerry Milanos, Hillsboro, IL, $11,204
6. Alexander Kuzmin, Russia, $9,603
7. Mark Fledderman, St. Louis, $8,003
8. Bruce Perry, Nashville, $6,402
9. Tom Quinlan, Montgomery, TX, $4,802

Event #27 • $340 NLHE
Players: 169 • Prize pool: $49,181
1. George McDonald, O. Springs, MS, $16,229
2. Stan Crawford, O. Springs, MS, $8,951
3. Jodi Westendorf, Key Largo, FL, $4,918
4. Keith Davis, Millbrook, AL, $3,934
5. James Maddox, Inman, SC, $2,951
6. Michael Husar, Metairie, LA, $2,459
7. Andrew Miller, Las Vegas, $1,967
8. Josh Palmer, Daphne, AL, $1,475
9. Wayne Walker, Houston, $984

Event #28 • $2,600 PLO
Players: 29 • Prize pool: $70,325
1. Dave Callaghan, Ireland, $31,646
2. Kyle Bawker, Walton, NY, $17,581
3. Michael Nassergzad, Atlanta, $10,549
4. Karen Longfellow, Ind. Shores, FL, $7,033
5. Justin Young, Henderson, $3,516

Event #29 • $660 6-max NLHE
Players: 184 • Prize pool: $89,240
1. Mike Caruso, Ardada, Co $20,079
2. David Shadley, Bogart, GA, $11,155
3. Kevin Eyster, Lafayette, LA, $8,478
4. Steve Lovoy, Gulf Breeze, FL, $6,693
5. Ryan Tepen, Bowling Green, MO, $5,801
6. Patrick Smith, Montgomery, AL, $4,908

Event #30 • $2,600 NLHE
Players: 140 • Prize pool: $339,500
1. Russell Blattberg, Boulder, CO, $112,035
2. Paul Tros Clair, Lake Charles, LA, $61,789
3. Joe Pulliam, Westerville, OH, $33,950
4. Barbara Smith, Houston, $27,160
5. Brent Roberts, Las Vegas, $20,370
6. Mohammad Moeini, Biloxi, MS, $16,975
7. Jared Jaffee, Brooklyn, $13,580
8. Jess Yawitz, St. Louis, MO, $10,185
9. Chad Burns, Spring, TX, $6,790

Event #32 • $2,600 Heads-Up
Players: 20 • Prize pool: $48,500
1. Darren Elias, Los Angeles, $21,825
2. Tom Braband, Hunt. Bch., CA, $12,125
3. Justin Young, M’head City, NC, $7,275
4. Bill Edler, Las Vegas, $7,275

Event #34 • $2,600 8-game
Players: 7 • Prize pool: $16,975
1. Timothy Burt, Grenada, MS, $8,487
2. Joe Bradenburg, Portland, $5,093
3. Karen Longfellow, Ind. Shores, FL, $3,395

$10K WPT SPC Main Event
Players: 214 • Prize pool: $1,986,100 
1. Alexander Kuzmin, Moscow, $575,969
2. Leif Force, Tallahassee, FL, $315,790
3. Allen Carter, Lewisville, TX, $218,471
4. Shannon Shorr, Birm., AL, $144,985
5. Pat Mahoney, Lakeland, TN, $113,208
6. Ryan Hughes, Pl. Chandler, AZ, $89,375
7. B.J. McBrayer, Tuscaloosa, AL, $67,527
8. Otis Wright, Laport, TX, $49,653
9. Stuart Breakstone, Memphis, $35,750
10. Vitor Coelho, Tampa, FL, $24,826
11. Dermot Blain, Ireland, $24,826
12. Martin Zentner, New Orleans, $24,826
13. Robert Keller, Gulf Shores, AL, $22,840
14. Robert Smith, Lakeland, FL, $22,840
15. Hilbert Shirey, W. Haven, FL, $22,840
16. Chad Brown, Margate, FL, $20,854
17. Jordan Smith, College St., TX, $20,854
18. Mark Rose, Orlando, FL, $20,854
19. Hoyt Corkins, Las Vegas, $18,868
20. Andrew Batkin, New York, $18,868