Who are the Eastern Pa. players to watch in 2012?

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By Mark Hoke

As Eastern Pennsylvania begins to emerge as a powerhouse in the poker community, it’s no surprise area players are making their mark in the poker world.

Jamie Kerstetter and Jennifer Shahade of Philadelphia joined well-known online players Katie Stone and Katie Dozier to form the Grindettes. Kerstetter had three cashes at the World Series, including 590th place in the main event. Kerstetter is a regular at Parx and Borgata events. Shahade, a two-time U.S. Women’s chess champion and grandmaster, cashed back-to-back in the WSOP women’s event.

Another rising star is Jesse Cohen from Ardmore, Pa. Since his first major cash at the 2009 WSOP, Cohen has had 29 major cashes, including his first win at the Isle Open in Pompano Beach, Fla., in October. Cohen tacked on five cashes at the WSOP and, returning to his home turf, added three cashes at the Borgata Open. Cohen has enjoyed success at Venetian DeepStacks events with four top 10 finishes.

Amanda Musumeci of Philadelphia went from being an online sensation to taking the live world by storm. Musumeci had four cashes at the WSOP, including 62nd in the main event. She was the next-to-last woman to be eliminated. Look for the former Kutztown University student to make a huge splash in 2012.

Online players are quite familiar with West Chester native Paul Volpe, a.k.a. as paulgees81. Volpe, a winner of the 2011 PokerStars Sunday Million, was ranked No. 2 in the online world before Black Friday. He cashed a whopping six times at the WSOP, including 12th in Event 54 and 192nd in the main event. Volpe recently left for Canada to continue his online career, but no doubt he’ll continue to be heard from live and on the virtual felt.

Matt Glantz of Lafayette Hill, Pa., continues his meteoric rise in the poker world. Glantz, with more than $4 million in tournament winnings (six WSOP final tables and 20 cashes), has become one of the most feared cash-game players in the world. He organizes what has become the biggest high-roller mixed game on the East Coast at the Borgata and has been hitting it big on the major tournament circuit. Glantz was one of the most consistent finishers in the first two Epic Poker League events (14th and 12th), then followed up with two 12th-place finishes at the WPT Championship at the Borgata Open and World Poker Finals at Foxwoods. He also won the Borgata Deep Stack Double Play Main Event this year and was named by PokerBlog.com as one of the top 20 cash-game players of all-time.

With more poker rooms opening in the area next year who knows who else might emerge as a player to watch in 2012?

— Mark Hoke is the Ante Up Ambassador for Eastern Pennsylvania. Email him at hokeshouse@aol.com.