WinStar poker room’s mini-River Series crushes it



WinStar World Casino just finished its Presidents Day seven-event Mini-River series, culminating with the $1K main event, which drew 225 players over two starting days (Feb. 16-17).

I was fortunate enough to make the final table of this fine event after 23 of us had survived to Day 2, and what a final table it was. After a long day we got down to the final five. On my left were Gregg “Merko Jerko” Merkow and Quan “Winning” Nguyen and to my right were Seneca “Luckbox” Easely and Matt “Atomic Bomb” Newcombe. I should have just sat there and waited out a chop, but I flopped top pair with a jack kicker against Newcombe’s ace kicker and like a donk I called his all-in. I cashed fifth for $12,656 and an hour later they chopped for $31,174 each.

Event 1, a $500 deepstack contest, went to Kevin Hayes ($18,370). Event 2 was a $230 affair that my buddy Ross Bybee took down to the tune of $20,202. Event 3 ($170 NLHE) was chopped between James Robertson, Gustavo Sldivar, Lynn Samples, Steve Rich, Karen Norman and Jorge Figueroa for $2,510 each.

Event 4 ($340 NLHE) saw another basic seven-way chop that included Jarrell Fielding, yours truly, Lynn Samples, Earl “Mitch” Merritt, Sanhty “Tray” Traymany pocketing $2,500 each with Corey Prisoc getting a bit more and Charles Clubb the most. Next up was the $340 six-max that saw another chop for $4,981 each between Mark “Dough Holder” Dunivan, Chungchin Chen and Gregory Hyman with Pejman “Premo” Niyati getting the win and some extra cash.

Event 7 was a $230 turbo bounty tournament that my amigo Cristobal Romano won for $4,176.

I’d like to commend the staff at WinStar for running an exciting and fun series and single out tournament director Keenan Billy for using the new Tournament Directors Association rules that went into effect in August. If only every poker room in America would use this standard set of rules, we could all be on the same page as far as the rules go.

CHOCTAW: April brings the Choctaw Casino Resort’s $1 million Spring Classic (April 3-13) run by the crew. The highlight of this series is the $50K added Best All Around Player points system that pays the top 30 point earners through the first 27 events. Last year’s best all-around player was Abraham Araya, who pocketed an extra $10K for his excellent play. I’m gunning for that top spot this year as I finished sixth last year out of 1,623 players with points.

— Email John at

Ante Up Magazine

Ante Up Magazine