During a 2006 Heartland Poker Tour event in Northern Michigan, the HPT staff noticed a large number of players participated from the Chicago area. Later that year the HPT teamed with the Majestic Star Casino to run the first televised tournament from the Chicago area. Seven tournaments later, including two championship events, the HPT is still going strong in Chicagoland, most recently at the Majestic Star in early April.
Nate Geise, a 25-year-old mechanical engineer from Ft. Wayne, Ind., won the event, pocketing $96,516. Geise went heads-up against Dash Dudley, a seasoned poker pro from Lansing Mich., who had won an HPT tournament in 2009. Third went to James Erdman of Deerfield, a 53-year-old owner of a commercial real estate company. Imari “Doc” Love, a 36-year-old stock analyst from Chicago, finished fourth. Ashor Ochana, 36, who lists his occupation as a gambler, was fifth, and was followed by Jerry Gumila, a small-business owner from Streamwood.
Geise, who has two young daughters, said it’s tough to balance career and family with poker.
“You play the events you can play on weekends,” he said. “It’s a good structure; the payouts are great. You can’t get much better than that.”
Majestic Star Casino offers the most weekly tournaments in the Chicago area. Buy-ins range from $55 to $130. There are weekly events in the planning stage for this summer. For cash-game players the poker room spreads limit and no-limit hold’em along with stud and Omaha. This room is popular with stud players on weekends. In NLHE the room offers $1-$1 $1-$3 and $2-$5, with the buy-in as little as $40 for the $1-$1 game.
NEW POKER ROOM: On May 2 Harrah’s Joliet opened its eight-table poker room. Area players had awaited eagerly for this opening. Joliet mayor Arthur Schultz was on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Poker room manager Douglas Walters has created a spacious, comfortable, player-friendly room. It will spread $1-$3 and $3-$5 NLHE, $5-$10 and $10-$20 limit, and Omaha and stud will be offered.
Players can call the poker room at 815-740-7480 to have their names added to the waiting list. After calling players will have 45 minutes to arrive at the poker room. You can also reach the poker room on Facebook (facebook.com/Harrahs.Joliet) to get the latest information and post questions. The poker room comp for players is 50 cents an hour.
Doyle Brunson was on hand for the grand opening weekend May 21-22. He had a book signing and played at the final table in a special freeroll tournament where the winner got a seat into the World Series of Poker Main Event and $1,500.
WINDY CITY: The Windy City Poker Championship returns to TV soon with new episodes featuring poker’s elite players competing against local amateurs while helping Chicagoland charities. The program recently expanded its reach with three more sports networks to air episodes this summer. A new schedule of shows, airdates and networks will be available soon at windycitypokerchampionship.com and anteupmagazine.com. Windy City Poker Championship reaches around 20 million households nationwide via DirecTV, Dish Network and Comcast Cable.
THE DUKE: Annie Duke was in town to play in a charity tournament for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The seventh annual poker tournament and casino night was April 30 at the Windy City Fieldhouse in Chicago. This wasn’t her first time playing poker here. In 2005 she participated in the Chicago Poker Championship at Resorts East Chicago, making her the first big-name player in a major Chicago-area tournament.
— “Chicago” Joe Gieturga is the Ante Up Ambassador for the Chicagoland area. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HPT at Majestic Star final results
1. Nate Geise, Ft. Wayne, IN, $96,516
2. Dash Dudley, Lansing, MI, $48,038
3. James Erdman, Deerfield, IL, $28,955
4. Imari Love, Chicago, $22,520
5. Ashor Ochana, Elgin, IL, $19,303
6. Jerry Gumila, Streamwood, IL, $16,086
7. Jesse Vilchez, Wyoming, MI, $11,260
8. Daniel Downie, Grand Haven, MI, $9,652
9. Larry Ormson, Elroy, WI, $8,043
10. Michael Chesney, Indianapolis, $6,434
11. David Kenniston, Muskegon, MI, $5,469
12. Jeff Boehm, Bloomington, IL, $4,826
13. Devidas Monkevicius, Alsip, IL, $4,182
14. Leon Morford, Rockford, IL, $3.539
15. Nicholas Andricopulos, Palos Park, IL, $3,217
16. Alexander Popovich, Mundelein, IL, $2,735
17. Brian Majcher, Mount Prospect, IL, $2,735
18. Dusan Jovanovic, Mount Herb, WI, $2,735
19. George Dietz, Oak Park, IL, $2,735
20. Ben Castle, Hinsdale, IL, $2,735
21. Michael Komarek, Plainfield, IL, $2,188
22. Edward Kreyger, Kankakee, IL, $2,188
23. Nikola Budzakoshi, Hobart, IN, $2,188
24. Stephen Lewis, Chicago, $2,188
25. Richard Rosen, Chicago, $2,188
26. Dale Olney, Stoutsville, OH, $1,769
27. William Webb, Grand Rapids, MI, $1,769
28. John Lappin, Wapella, IL, $1,769
29. Daniel Hart, Woodstock, IL, $1,769
30. George Vazanellis, Crown Point, IN, $1,769
HPT WINNERS AT MAJESTIC STAR
October 2006: Joel Casper, Chicago
March 2007: Jimmy Kroll, New Lenox, IL
July 2007: Dan Zogman, McHenry, IL
December 2007: Leon Morford, Rockford, IL
April 2008: James Mutchler, Brighton, CO
July 2008: Shane Sigsbee, Chicago
November 2008: Ron Rogers, Edwardsburg, MI
April 2009: Dave Kiss, Hopkins, MI
July 2009: Robert Whalen, Cudohy, WI
July 2010: Paul Davis, Elgin, IL
April 2011: Nate Geise, Ft. Wayne, IN