As chop negotiations go, the one that ended the Ante Up Poker Tour North Bay Poker Open was fairly seamless. Seamless until the final three players had to decide who would appear on the cover of Ante Up Magazine.
Shortly after Chris Hinchcliffe lost a $300,000-plus pot with pocket queens to Fernando Moncado, who flopped trip eights, he gave Moncado and Shawn Roberts a one-time offer of an even three-way chop of the remaining prize pool. Roberts agreed, provided he took home the $1,650 entry in the Ante Up World Championship Main Event. Moncada was swayed when he was awarded the championship bracelet, and just like that, the North Bay Poker Open Main Event was over.
Except for, well, the matter of who would be featured on the cover of Ante Up Magazine. The three quickly agreed to play out one blind hand, and Roberts’ 8-2 improved with an eight in the window and held up. And in a final gesture that questions whether poker always has to be a dog-eat-dog game, Roberts graciously gave the cover shot to Hinchcliffe, meaning the final three each got something extra on top of the $9,221 each received from the prize pool.
"I’m very honored," said Hinchcliffe of Olympia, Wash., who was the chipleader for most of the final day and says he balances his playing time between The 101 and Thunder Valley Casino Resort. "I read the magazine, and I’m really looking forward to that."
For Roberts, the seat in the Ante Up World Championship was more important, as the event with a $250,000 guaranteed prize pool will be at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, Calif., Aug. 1-11, literally just down the road from his home in Rocklin.
"I get to sleep in my own bed," Roberts said with a laugh. "I just tried to be patient today. My hats off to Chris and Fernando; they’re both great players. I really feel like my career is just starting."
Moncada of Rohnert Park, Calif., a regular at The 101 Casino, held his own against Hinchcliffe and Roberts, both seasoned players, each with World Series of Poker Circuit rings.
"I’ve been playing since I could play," he said. "I love the game."
The North Bay Poker Open played out at The 101 Casino, a stylish cardroom literally right on the historic 101 Freeway in Petaluma, Calif., just north of San Francisco.
All five events far exceeded the guaranteed prize pools, which totaled more than $50,000. The Main Event featured three starting flights and two mega satellites. The 101 Casino also ran its own Tournament Leader Board for the event, awarding more than $500 in prizes to the top-five players. Roberts was the series leader by virtue of having the most chips when the Main Event deal was reached, earning a $240 Super Stack tournament entry. John Sheehan of Petaluma was the series’ only three-event casher.
The 101 Casino is aggressively staking itself out as the place to play tournaments north of San Francisco. The North Bay Poker Open comes on the heels of an equally-successful 2 Pair Poker Tour event just a few months earlier.
"We’ve done a huge amount by changing structures and making tournaments more player-friendly," said Nichole Bettencourt, tournament director for The 101 Casino. "We asked players what they wanted and went with it. It makes the tournaments last longer, but I’d rather our events last twice as long and have twice as many players as not."
Betancourt said the goal now is to build off its momentum of the past couple of months.
"We’d like to have a major event at least quarterly," she said. "They bring in huge crowds. I’ve been here four years, and in the last six months, we’ve had tons of players come through here who I haven’t seen before."
Jerry Cohen, a 2 Pair Magazine Pro, helped The 101 Casino design the structures for the North Bay Poker Open and for the new three-day Monthly Super Stack, which will run the last weekend of every month using the same structure as the North Bay Poker Open Main Event but with a $240 buy-in.
"I wanted to give players the most amount of play, take out the unnecessary early levels and add more play in the middle and end," Cohen said. "I took all the things I love about poker tournaments and put them in. Players loved it. I can proudly tell them that I helped design it, and they’re even more stoked that it came from a player."
When not at the tables, players enjoyed cash games, blackjack, baccarat and more in the well-appointed casino and dining in the City Limits Restaurant & Bar and tableside. Several players raved about the $9.99 prime rib special, saying it was one of the best values in town.
Dan Ross and Harold Sugarman of Hold’em Radio broadcasted live from The 101 Casino for all but the first two events, just as they did for the February series.
"The 101 treated these players great. All the players we spoke to are willing to come back," Ross said. "When you talk about from here to San Jose to Sacramento, that’s a 250-square-mile area. For players to say they’ll drive past other card rooms to come here because of how they were treated at this tournament, that’s a big statement for a 10-table cardroom."
NORTH BAY POKER OPEN
158 entries – $51,824
1. Shawn Roberts, Rockin, Calif., $9,221 + $1,650 seat
1. Chris Hinchcliffe, Olympia, Wash., $9,221
1. Fernando Moncada, Rohnert Park, Calif., $9,221
4. Jim Garris, Santa Rosa, Calif., $5,050
5. Joe Kenney, San Rafael, Calif., $3,800
6. Mariano Garcia, San Francisco, Calif., $2,900
7. Robert Hancock, Sonoma, Calif., $1,950
8. Tanya Kirk, San Jose, Calif.,$1,500
9. Rafael Craft, Rohnert Park, Calif., $1,200
10. Matthew Jordan, Petaluma, Calif., $1,200
11. David Mintz, Santa Rosa, Calif., $1,000
12. John Sheehan, Petaluma, Calif., $750
13. David Silva, Winters, Calif., $750
14. Sean David, Vacaville, Calif., $750
15. Simone Nunes, Emeryville, Calif., $620
16. Bill Wendling, Santa Rosa, Calif., $620
17. Shane Raleigh, Santa Rosa, Calif, $620
18. Ryan Park, Mountain View, Calif., $500
19. Stephen Durler, Santa Rosa, Calif., $500
Event #1 – $100 No-Limit Hold’em
55 entries – $4,220 prize pool
1. John Sheehan, Novato, Calif., $1,550
2. Oliver Tse – San Francisco, Calif., $850
3. SB Bullen, Novato, Calif., $630
4. Tona Katkuoy, Petaluma, Calif., $440
5. Jon Morales, San Rafael, Calif., $330
6. Gabe Nahas, Rohnert Park, Calif., $250
7. David Golden, Rohnert Park, Calif., $170
Event #2 – Pot-Limit Omaha
39 entries – $3,440 prize pool
1. Billy Liskey, $1,560
2. Oliver Tse, San Francisco, Calif., $860
3. Anthony Poznekoff, Rohnert Park, Calif., $560
4. Michael Vlastnik, Santa Rosa, Calif., $440
5. Shane Raleigh, Santa Rosa, Calif., $320
Event #3 – $140 No-Limit Hold’em with Bounties
37 entries – $3,550 prize pool (plus bounties)
1. Shane Raleigh, Santa Rosa, Calif., $1,450
2. Anthony Poznekoff, Rohnert Park, Calif., $830
3. John Sheehan, Novato, Calif., $530
4. John Kennedy, Healdsburg, Calif., $420
5. Brogan Lee, Rohnert Park, Calif., $320
Event #4 – $240 No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack
38 entries – $7,295 prize pool
1. Matt Carter, Petaluma, Calif., $2,970
2. Jim Garris, Santa Rosa, Calif., $1,650
3. Emmett McGill Novato, Calif., $1,150
4. Stewart Levy, Petaluma, Calif., $875
5. Chad Burum, Novato, Calif., $650