Chicagoland celebrates 10 year-mark in poker

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Ten years ago, Chicagoland’s first major tournament, the Chicago Poker Championship, launched at Harrah’s East Chicago. Thomas Doyle won the main event. The next year, Doyle did it again, and remains the only Chicagoland player to win back-to-back main events. The second CPC main event had Annie Duke among the field, making her the first nationally known poker pro to play a major tournament here.

HOLLYWOOD AURORA: The Tournament of Champions had Neil Yates taking home the huge trophy along with $9K. Yates, who regularly plays in the $10-$20 limit games, beat 79 players to earn his share of the $24K prize pool.

The TOC is one of Chicagoland’s more unique tournaments as winners and runners-up from Wednesday tournaments during the year advance to the December TOC.

HORSESHOE SOUTHERN INDIANA: The new tournament schedule can be found in the Where to Play section. All tournaments will allow re-entry up to Level 5. Wednesday’s noon tournament will have a final-table jackpot. Players’ names will be drawn randomly and must be present to win or money will roll over.

Also, the Horseshoe released its 10-event, Midwest Regional Poker Championship schedule on Facebook. It begins Feb. 28 and has a $760 main event on March 8. … Its bad-beat jackpot for the Tuesday and Thursday tournaments was $7K at press time. … Rayz Rayl won the Horseshoe Poker Classic in November.

FACEBOOK: Both Horseshoe poker rooms in Indiana now have Facebook pages: Hammond is Horseshoe Chicago Poker Room and Southern Indiana is HSIPoker. Both offer the latest poker-room information.

HORSESHOE HAMMOND: Jason Summers won the $200 Sunday tournament, pocketing $5K. The prize pool was $18K with 102 entrants.

SMITH UPDATE: One of Chicagoland’s most popular poker room managers, Jeremy Smith, is with the Heartland Poker Tour as a tournament director/advisor. Smith has been a familiar towering figure around many Chicagoland poker rooms.

“I hope to bring a consistent and exciting experience for all HPT players at upcoming events,” Smith said.

Smith started as a poker dealer at Harrah’s East Chicago in 2000 and worked his way up the management ladder. He dealt the first final table of the first tournament at Harrah’s, and was the first tournament director for the HPT at Majestic Star, working some of the largest HPT events there.

Smith’s extraordinary management style was instrumental with the successful opening of Horseshoe Hammond’s 34-table poker room in 2008 and was part of the team that created the Midwest’s largest tournaments.

Recently, Smith opened Cleveland’s Horseshoe 30-table poker room with a staff of 140 managers and dealers having little or no experience. After opening Ohio’s first poker room, Smith left for Las Vegas to help run the Venetian’s Deep Stack Extravaganza. He also helped with the Hollywood Poker Open in West Virginia and the HPT in Daytona Beach, Fla.

— Email “Chicago” Joe Giertuga at chicago.joe@comcast.net.