Winzeler wins Florida State Poker Championship

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Every summer, thousands of players from all over the world make the trip to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker. Of course, many Miami-Ft. Lauderdale residents are included in that group, and as the South Florida Ambassador, I try to keep a close eye on their continuous chip counts and the eventual results. Matt Waxman of Parkland was the only bracelet-winner this year from South Florida, though Amir Lehavot, who lives in Weston, is alive to bring home the bracelet with the most diamonds as a member of the November Nine (he sits in second place).

Several area players came extremely close: Noah Schwartz of Miami Beach (PLO) and Steve Wolansky of Cooper City (eight-game mix) lost big leads (and the bracelet) in heads-up play. Former Ante Up Player of the Year Darryll Fish, Rob Mizrachi and Ronnie Bardah each got a third-place finish, while Michael Mizrachi, Alexander Barlow of Pembroke Pines, and Brian Hastings of Miami Beach took home fourth-place scores. Other final-table appearances came from Ashton Griffin of Lake Worth, Ivan Schertzer of Miami Shores, Chris Bolek of Boca Raton, Mike DeGilio of Miami and Fernando Halac in the seniors event.

But for all the success, there were many South Florida players who came up empty-handed or had just a few small cashes that left them sorely disappointed. Jason Mercier of Davie, ranked No. 1 in the Global Poker Index for much of the year, had six cashes, but none more than $8K until a 16th-place finish in Event 44. Tristan Wade of Boynton Beach had only one cash, an 88th-place finish. That should give you an idea of just how difficult it is to make a final table at the WSOP, much less bring home a sizable profit.

FSPC: And of all that pales in comparison to the seven-week nightmare suffered by Hans Winzeler of Miami. The South Florida native, who cut his teeth in poker by playing in small SNGs at Seminole Hard Rock, went 0-for-38 in Vegas. That’s right, zero cashes. This performance came on the heels of three final tables (all in PLO) over the past two summers in WSOP play for more than $580K. In 2012, Winzeler came home after the series to finish third in the Florida State Poker Championship at the Isle Casino, good for $151K. This year, he felt even more pressure to redeem himself for the goose-egg at the Rio.

Let’s just say the Miami native was up to the task. In a dominating performance in which he carried a huge lead over the final day-and-a-half, Winzeler took home the trophy of the FSPC main, along with $161K. I think he was more relieved than overjoyed, as he told me, “In the World Series I ran so bad, and now today I just ran really good. I guess it helps being home and being with familiar faces.”

Watching him finish it off, it was apparent there was no way he was going to blow the big lead and also no way he was going to chop, so most of the drama on the final day was seeing who would take second. Wolansky and Deerfield Beach’s Eric Riley trailed Winzeler by about a half-million chips, so it was clear the battle for $32K difference between second and third was going to last awhile. Riley, an Isle regular who satellited into the event at the last second, finally crippled his more experienced opponent when he raised on the button, saw Wolansky raise him back, then jammed with A-Q offsuit, dominating Wolansky who called with A-10. The board ran out and Riley had clinched a nearly six-figure payday ($95K), by far the largest of his life. Wolansky, who earned $139K for his runner-up finish in June at the Rio, took home $63K.

LEWIS WINS AT CALDER: The Studz Poker Club at Calder Casino & Race Course hosted a Poker Players Championship series over the first weekend in August, and with six opening sessions the $150 buy-in drew an impressive 837 entries.

The final five chopped, but Chris Lewis took home the trophy and the largest share of the prize pool, earning $14,500 in addition to his prize package. He was followed by Frankie Zayas ($9,500), Damien Simon ($7,800), Jennifer Patrice ($6K) and Oneal Dowaild ($4,276). They each received poker-travel packages as well.

— Email Dave Lemmon at bigdave@pokeractionline.com.

Florida State Championship

Isle Casino, July 11-30
Event 1 • $350 NLHE
Entries: 817 • Pool: $285,950
Denian Costa, $47,394
Event 2 • $260 Bounty
Entries: 121 • Pool: $37,900
Scott Zakheim, $7,120
Event 3 • $170 NLHE
Entries: 254 • Pool: $43,180
Evan Teitelbaum, $9,006*
Event 4 • $200 O/8
Entries: 84 • Pool: $7,590
Patty Vorbeck, $5K*
Event 5 • $200 Bounty
Entries: 197 • Pool: $19,700
Matthew Burnitz, $4,826*
Event 6 • $200 HORSE
Entries: 57 • Pool: $11,400
Bradley Young, $2,800*
Event 7 • $300 Seniors
Entries: 105 • Pool: $31,500
Michael Tufaro, $6,773*
Event 8 • $230 PLO
Entries: 59 • Pool: $20K
Michael Ortiz, $5,229*
Event 9 • $150 NLHE
Entries: 239 • Pool: $29,875
Jonathan Hopson, $5,129*
Event 10 • $200 NLHE
Entries: 242 • Pool: $40K
Mike Bennett, $5,009*
Event 11 • $500 Bounty
Entries: 143 • Pool: $64,350
Lee Miller, $7,718*
Event 12 • $560 NLHE
Entries: 123 • Pool: $61,500
Andre Crooks, $13,575*
Event 13 • $400 NLHE
Entries: 76 • Pool: $30K
Daniel Blum, $10,200
Event 14 • $1K Bounty
Entries: 123 • Pool: $100K
Micah Smith, $25K*
$2,500 Main Event
Entries: 251 • Pool: $577K
Hans Winzeler, $161K
Event 16 • $170 Bounty
Entries: 113 • Pool: $19,210
Theo Lawson, $1,568*
Event 17 • $180 NLHE
Entries: 65 • Pool: $10K
Brent Philbin, $3,700
Event 18 • $230 NLHE
Entries: 88 • Pool: $17,600
Kim Scoratow, $3,020*
* Denotes chop