Online players invade Louisiana State Poker Championships

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Richard Chandler stood from the final table of the Louisiana State Poker Championship Main Event and quietly took a spot near the rail to watch the remaining players compete for the coveted bracelet. The online player from Conroe, Texas, was contemplating his forced transition to live poker.

“It’s tough,” said Chandler, who finished fourth. “I’ve been primarily an online player for several years and I played every day to earn a living. Now, this is the only option for me and many others. I’ll have to adjust.”

There were similar stories being told all week at the Isle of Capri Lake Charles as online players from several states attempted to stake their claim in the championship events. In the end, however, they came up short; live poker specialists ruled the day.

Some seemed surprised that old-school skill trumped Internet savvy, but the biggest surprise of the week came late on Saturday. The LSPC, which ran April 25-May 8, has its first female main-event winner. Ly Do combined some well-timed aggression with an uncanny ability to read her male opponents to capture the bracelet and a $10,340 payday. Do built a massive lead from the early stages and hit the final table with victory on her mind. She used her stack to effectively bully her way to the top, shoving all-in every time she sensed weakness. She also got lucky once or twice. With four players remaining, Do shoved from the button with K-Q and was snap-called by the blinds, who held A-Q and A-3. When a king hit the flop, Do’s cheering section exploded as a double-knockout left her with one man to beat, Dimitriy Shilnikov. He put up a brave fight but Do’s lead was too much to overcome.

“I really enjoy tournament poker,” she said. “I’m going to continue to focus on that and do my best.”

Her biggest challenge may be at home as her husband, Al, won a bracelet in this series. Al was her biggest supporter, never straying from the rail as she cruised to victory.

The state championship was an unqualified success. The guaranteed purse money was exceeded in many events, including the main. This is very good news for David Stewart, who officially assumed leadership of the Isle’s poker room just before the series. Stewart, known as Stew, hails from neighboring Sulphur and has amassed quite a poker resumé since leaving the military in 1996. He opened the first poker room at the Isle of Capri in 1997 as a dealer and then progressed to a dual-rate and supervisor for Harrah’s. Since 2007 Stewart has served as a tournament director and shift manager for Lake Charles. Stepping into the role of manager was a logical progression for Stew, who vowed to work hard to enhance and expand the Isle’s product.

“We’re doing some very good things here and we’ll keep pushing our tournaments and promotions to stay on top of the heap. Our local players mean a lot to us and we’re going to keep making them a priority by providing the best poker experience we can, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The staff here is very strong. Good people. And the folks of this city, who come out daily to support our room, are the best. We really appreciate them.”

While some gaming operations have chosen to place their poker rooms under the supervision of the pit, the Isle chose to retain a poker room manager.

“I’m not knocking what other rooms do, but I think having an actual manager in the room works best,” he said. “It establishes a chain of command and ultimately results in better customer service for the player, which is tremendously important. When a tough call or ruling has to be made the players need to have the confidence that it will be made right and that the buck stops here, so to speak. So, having an actual manager in the room creates a better environment for our players, which is what it’s all about.”

NEW ROOMS: While the Isle and Coushatta Casino have long dominated poker in Southwest Louisiana, two nearby casinos are preparing to open poker rooms. I have confirmed the Hollywood Casino in Baton Rouge and L’Auberge du Lac in Lake Charles have begun construction on new poker rooms that will open by the end of the summer. Details from Baton Rouge are still being worked out, but the room at the L’Auberge is slated to have seven tables once it begins operations and will be supervised from the pit.

This is indicative that poker remains strong in the southern portion of the state. With the unavailability of online poker, live rooms are looking to capitalize.

“We’ve seen an immediate increase in our numbers,” Isle supervisor Christopher John said.

BOOMTOWN GRAND RE-OPENING: Robert Horvath and staff are gearing up for the grand re-opening of an expanded poker room at Boomtown New Orleans. As of press time the re-opening is slated for June 15 and will feature various promotions and tournaments. To get the latest information call the poker room at 504-364-8842.
— Scotty “The Spokesman” Rushing is a poker professional and sports journalist.

LSPC Results

$7,500 guarantee
1. Mahle Jackson, $4,860
2. Joseph Bradley, $2,880
3. Jeremy Lewis, $1,800
4. Henry Chow, $1,350
5. Adam McCoy, $1,080

$10K guarantee
1. Chris Chancellor, $1,467
2. Emil Gonzalez, $1,467
3. Marsha Normand, $1,467
4. Francisco Robles, $1,467
5. James Beetz, $1,467
6. Richard Estep, $1,467
7. Daniel Tupper, $1,467
8. Sharon Garrison, $1,467
9. Gilbert Miller, $1,467

$15K guarantee
1. Cameron Ainsworth, $8,640
2. Danny Doucet, $5,130
3. Russell Melancon, $3,510
4. Christopher Gamboa, $2,430
5. Robert Cote, $1,755
6. William Parker, $1,485
7. Joseph Golias, $1,350
8. Lovis Lewis, $1,080
9. Thomas Franklin, $1,080

$25K guarantee
1. Christopher Gamboa, $13,120
2. Frederick Turner, $7,790
3. Jess Brooks, $5,330
High Heels Poker Tour
1. Kerri Dorsey, $2,553
2. Denise Blanton, $2,100
3. Daphne Turner, $2,553

$7,500 guarantee
1. Al Duong, $3,924
2. Michael Fontenot, $1,093
3. Daniel Hulsey, $1,093
4. Gerry Trahan, $1,093
5. Melanie Salgaonkar, $1,093
6. Stephen Buttieri, $1,093
7. David Bolch, $1,093

$10K guarantee
1. Christopher Buller, $4,992
2. Scott Curtis, $2,964
3. Jobeth Linzy, $1,404
4. Forrest Caldwell, $1,014
5. Blake Barousse, $858
6. Mark Harken, $780
7. Tim Dishman, $624
8. Jeffery Shelton, $546
9. James Isle, $390

$20K guarantee
1. Richard Estep, $1,590
2. Scott Curtis, $1,590
3. Rodney Silva, $1,590
4. Andrew Moon, $1,590
5. Aaron Odom, $1,590
6. Frank Whipps, $1,390
7. Danny Nguyen, $1,390
8. Greg Benoit, $1,390
9. Dwight Delozier, $1,390

PLO
1. Namphong Duong, $4,950
2. Danny Nguyen, $4,950
3. Kenneth Ledoux, $500
4. Bruce Walters, $500

$75K Main Event
1. Ly Do, $10,340
2. Dimitriy Shilnikov, $10,340
3. Gregory Besse, $10,340
4. Richard Chandler, $10,340
5. Gilbert Miller, $10,340
6. Todd LeBlanc, $10,340