We all know about Vegas, Los Angeles and Atlantic City when it comes to poker hot spots, but what do you know about Jacksonville? In November the city jumped into the poker universe’s spotlight as the World Poker Tour came to town for the WPT Jacksonville Fall Series at the Orange Park Poker Room. This stop featured 11 tournaments and a $3,500 main event, which guaranteed a $500K prize pool.
The series started with a bang in the first event, which attracted 690 entrants and crushed the $100K guarantee with more than $200K in the prize pool. In the end, Event 1 chopped three ways (Jeremy Goldman, Herbert West and Jie Hong Liu each pocketed more than $30K).
All events had a great turnout, each easily covering their guarantees, which led to high expectations for the $3,500 main event. The championship tournament had a star-studded field, including nine former WPT champs. Among the roster were reigning WPT Player of the Year Andy Frankenberger, Ante Up columnist and WPT Season 6 POY Jonathan Little, Nick Schulman, Dwyte Pilgrim, Lee Markholt, Victor Ramdin, Will Failla, Allen Carter, Jason Mercier, Darryl Fish, Shaun Deeb and WPT commentator Tony Dunst.
Those high expectations were well-deserved as 393 players entered the main event, generating an incredible$1,277,250 prize pool, the largest in North Florida history and the largest prize pool in a non-casino Florida poker room. It would take four days to get to the final table and the $325K first-place prize, which included a seat to the $25K WPT World Championship in Vegas. Michael Wessick (ninth), Alexander Venovski (eighth) and Matthew Ezrol (seventh) were the webcast bubblers.The final six had their play streamed live (30-minute delay) on WPT’s website with hand-by-hand analysis and comments from Dunst.
Fish was the first casualty, taking home a little more than $46K. He would finish second at Hard Rock Tampa’s WPT main event a few weeks later. Arturo Rodriguez busted in fifth ($55K) and Victor Coelho settled for fourth (a little more than $75K). The last woman standing in the event was Lisa Hamilton, who hails from Las Vegas and banked a little more than $110K for third.
Sam Soverel and Anthony Ruberto entered heads-up play with Ruberto holding a 4-1 chip lead. Soverel made a match of it early, but ultimately the chips went in the middle with Soverel holding K-7 vs. Ruberto’s K-J. Ruberto flopped a jack to earn the first major WPT title at Orange Park and $325K. Soverel pocketed about $180K for second.
The Orange Park Poker Room received high marks from the top pros that travel the WPT circuit.
• Jacksonville hosted its inaugural All In for a Cure tournament on Nov. 19 to benefit research to fight pancreatic cancer. The event, which attracted about 100 players and volunteers, raised about $7K.
• Professional Dealer and Player School Inc. in Jacksonville has been granted certified status with the Florida Commission of Independent Education.
“It has been a long, sometimes frustrating and costly endeavor to reach this milestone goal,” said owner Charles “Chaz” Allen, former poker room manager at Ocala Poker. “But I am very happy the school has achieved this status.”
Call (904) 317-6537 or visit professionaldealerschol.com.
— Troy Lennon is the Ante Up Ambassador for North Florida. Email him at email@example.com.
Event 1 • $340 NLHE
Entries: 690 • Prize Pool: $207,000
WINNER: Jeremy Goldman, $30,362
Event 2 • $560 NLHE
Entries: 108 • Prize Pool: $54,000
WINNER: Nancy Birnbaum, $12,042*
Event 3 • $340 NLHE
Entries: 97 • Prize Pool: $29,100
WINNER: Michael Schneider, 10,000
Event 4 • $340 NLHE
Entries: 139 • Prize Pool: $27,800
WINNER: Matthew Selman, $5,339
Event 5 • $230 Omaha/8
Entries: 73 • Prize Pool: $14,600
WINNER: Edward Sojack, $1,993*
Event 6 • $340 PLO/8
Entries: 97 • Prize Pool: 29,100
WINNER: John Holley, $11,508
Event 7 • $340 6-Max NLHE
Entries: 100 • Prize Pool: $30,000
WINNER: Chris Conrad, $8,600
Event 8 • $560 NLHE
Entries: 126 • Prize Pool: $63,000
WINNER: Will Failla, $21,987
Event 9 • $340 NLHE
Entries: 165 • Prize Pool: $49,500
WINNER: Larry Little, $14,013
Event 10 • $230 NLHE
Entries: 104 • Prize Pool: $20,800
WINNER: Michael Call, $3,895*
Event 11 • $230 NLHE
Entries: 86 • Prize Pool: $17,200
WINNER: Teresa Bell, $5,073
$3,500 Main Event
Entries: 393 • Prize Pool: $1,277,250
WINNER: Anthony Ruberto, $325,928
* Denotes victory via chop