Waxman’s huge year; Isle Classic is Jan. 2-21

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A slight change in lifestyle and a little added patience contributed to a memorable 2013 for Matt Waxman, a Florida Atlantic University graduate and poker pro. The 28-year-old veteran closed out November with a victory at Seminole Hard Rock’s Rock & Roll Open in Hollywood.

Waxman made an equal chop with Yan Shen as both collected more than $123K, but Waxman was awarded the trophy thanks to having slightly more chips. Waxman earned his first World Series bracelet this past summer in a $1K NLHE event after an epic seven-hour struggle with Eric Baldwin, and he managed to be part of a four-way chop at the Isle in Pompano Beach in late October. His recent success at the felt moved him into 73rd place on the Global Poker Index.

“I think I can attribute it to waiting things out,” he said. “Instead of butting heads with everybody, I’m picking my spots more carefully, letting everyone else collide while I sit back and pick up a few blinds here and there and wait for a big hand.”

Waxman also said he thought the time was right to make some changes away from the tables.
“I’ve definitely been taking poker more seriously as a profession and avoiding all the late-night partying. I’ve been trying to be more responsible and I think it’s paying off.”
After seven cashes in Vegas this summer, the two deep runs in South Florida were especially gratifying for the Parkland resident. “I’ve been playing at the Hard Rock since they opened for poker and there’s something special about having the locals that I’m friendly with shout out encouragement and support you. I have lots of results there, but this one is definitely my biggest one.”

ISLE POKER CLASSIC IS JAN. 2-21: Heavy competition will be the norm in the poker world in 2014, and it starts with a bang in January as three major events go head-to-head in the southeast and the Bahamas. With the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure running Jan. 5-13 and the Million Dollar Heater at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Miss., going Jan. 3-14, a move to one week earlier in the month by poker director Stan Strickland for the Isle Classic seemed at first glance to be suicidal.

However, a closer look at the three main events proves that for serious players, attendance at all three can be easily accomplished. Since the main event of the PCA at the Atlantis falls in the middle of that series from Jan. 7-10, and the main of the MDH is Jan. 11-14, the world’s top players have plenty of time to arrive in South Florida for the Isle Classic’s $300K guarantee Jan. 16-21.

There have been several changes in this series with 11 events, which will kick off with a $115 buy-in re-entry event featuring six opening sessions and a $100K guarantee. The championship event, won last year by Chris Bolek of Boca Raton, will have three Day 1s (Jan. 16-18), but will have smaller buy-ins, going from 2013’s $2,500 to $1,090 this year. The guaranteed prize pool will be $300K, the same as in 2012, but smaller than last year’s half-million dollar guarantee.

The Isle poker room will feature three new tables for 3-Card Poker, slated to open just before Christmas. Since state law does not allow the casino to bank these games, customers that wish to volunteer to bank them can be put in place, depending on customer demand. While this style of poker has been a part of the offerings at the South Florida Indian casinos for several years, the Isle will be only the second parimutuel in South Florida to spread it; Palm Beach Kennel Club has offered it occasionally for about a year.

CALDER MOVES STUDZ: The Studz Poker Room at Calder Casino & Race Course has a new home, which opened its doors on Dec. 17.

“We’re always looking for new ways to improve our guests’ experience,” Calder president Maureen Adams said. “The new poker room will give them another reason to call Calder their home.”

The 14-table room is surrounded by more than 40 flatscreen TVs and features easy access to three dining venues and valet parking. Just outside of the room, guests will have access to the newest electronic blackjack and roulette games. The room is just inside the South casino entrance.

“We see a large amount of crossover play between our poker and slot guests,” senior director of marketing Wade West said. “The move will give our guests the complete gaming experience of poker, thoroughbred wagering, and now slots as well as more dining options, all within just feet of the room.”

Studz will have a special ribbon-cutting ceremony with light refreshments at 1 p.m. on Jan. 1 to celebrate the room. Also, Studz will ring in the New Year with a weeklong high-hands promotion from Jan. 1-8, awarding $200 every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. to the player with the best qualifying hand.

— Email Dave Lemmon at bigdave@pokeractionline.com.