The World Poker Tour made its fourth and final Florida stop in an unprecedented 50-day span with a regional series at Derby Lane in St Petersburg, and what made this series so remarkable was the local poker economy.
“I’d like to thank the players for supporting this event so close to the holidays,” Derby Lane director of cardroom operations Jeff Gamber said. “It’s a victory for the players because without their support it wouldn’t have been a success.”
Indeed, for in spite of Hard Rock Tampa (just a quick jaunt up I-275) squeezing in its WPT Winter Poker Open just nine days before Derby Lane’s already scheduled stop, the players still came out in droves for the final WPT series of the year.
The $1,300 main event drew 323 players, the third event in the 12-day series to attract more than 300 players, a testament to how solid this poker economy is and how dedicated Derby’s players are.
The main event stretched to three days (the structure was that good) as Tampa’s Doug Lang dispensed of Carlos Loving, a popular dealer from Sarasota Kennel Club, for the title and nearly $78K. The heads-up players had chopped the remaining prize pool and left $10K to play for, which Lang was glad to win.
“It’s awesome,” said Lang, who’s better known as ou_dlanger610 online and had once won the PokerStars Sunday Million. “This is why I play and put in the hard work, so I can make it to this point. … I moved to Florida after online poker went down, because I wanted to go somewhere there’s a decent live scene.”
This was the first big live victory for Lang, who said he started playing poker seriously back in his University of Oklahoma days a handful of years ago.
Loving, who had the chip lead for a good part of this tournament, had a lot of supporters in the small crowd gathered behind the roped-off area around the final table. If the final hand hadn’t been so unfortunate he might have taken this title.
“It was just basically a cooler hand,” said Lang, who had some moderate live success before this, including some deep WSOP runs. “I woke up with queens the last hand before break and three-bet him, which I had been doing a decent amount, and he had eights so there’s no way he’s getting away from that. He’s a really good player; he’s solid, aggressive, mixes it up really well. It’s tough to put him on a hand.”
The WPT is scheduled to land at Derby Lane again March 17-24 for the Derby Lane & WPT Poker Challenge.
“They run it really well here,” Lang said of Derby Lane. “The dealers were all really nice. The staff was great.”
And what’s Lang going to do with the bankroll influx?
“I’m pretty conservative with money so I’m probably going to invest, play other live events and travel a little bit.”
— Christopher Cosenza is co-publisher of Ante Up and you can email him at email@example.com.
WPT AT DERBY LANE
Event 1 • $600 NLHE
Entries: 171 • Prize Pool: $102,600
WINNER: Samir Agamiyev, Tampa
Event 2 • $245 NLHE
Entries: 322 • Prize Pool: $70,840
WINNER: Michael Karnezis, Red. Beach
Event 3 • $170 6-Max
Entries: 346 • Prize Pool: $51,900
WINNER: Kellan Schneider, Clearwater Bch.
Event 4 • $365 NLHE/PLO
Entries: 114 • Prize Pool: $37,620
WINNER: Wade Collier, Long Boat Key
Event 5 • $365 PLO
Entries: 83 • Prize Pool: $27,390
WINNER: Brandon Allen, Port Orange
Event 6 • $200 Seniors
Entries: 250 • Prize Pool: $45,000
WINNER: Walt Meredith, Lutz
Event 7 • $550 NLHE
Entries: 55 • Prize Pool: $27,500
WINNER: Christopher Hyden, St. Pete
Event 8 • $170 Limit Hold’em
Entries: 65 • Prize Pool: $9,750
WINNER: Norbert Kara, Clearwater
$1,300 Main Event
Entries: 323 • Prize Pool: $387,600
WINNER: Doug Lang, Tampa, $78K*
Event 10 • $520 NLHE
Entries: 98 • Prize Pool: $49,000
WINNER: Filipp Khavin, St. Petersburg
Event 11 • $245 Ladies
Entries: 77 • Prize Pool: $16,940
WINNER: Dedra Hern
* Denotes chop amount