A mixed bag of S. Oklahoma poker success at the WSOP

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Cristobal Romano, 58, from Irving, Texas, and well-known player at WinStar World Casino and Choctaw Casino Resort, traveled to Las Vegas for the first time and played in the Senior Championship at the World Series. We flew out together and shared a room at the Rio. We both found some success playing the SNGs and each won more than enough for our $1K senior buy-in. The event attracted 4,425 entries on June 6.

The field included actors James Woods and Lou Diamond Phillips, Shelly Sterling of Clippers fame, Sammy Farha, who lost the 2003 main event to Chris Moneymaker and had a hand in the poker boom, Darvin Moon, another main event runner-up in 2009 … and these were just players seated near me in the Pavilion room.

Romano was in the Amazon room and was his table’s chipleader the entire day until his table broke. I was my table’s short stack most of the day and was down to two chips twice. Luckily our table broke and I got a new table that kept folding around to the small blind and I had only three big blinds left. Picking my spots, I started jamming my stack and everyone would fold and I started chipping up. After finally going on a late rush, I bagged up 42,700 for 85th out of 486 players making Day 2.

Romano was again chipleader at his table until tournament director Dennis Jones announced there would be three more hands played before bagging for the night. On the first hand, he got his aces cracked by a Q-J and was left with about 14K chips. He told me he was on major tilt and for some reason jammed with A-Q on the final hand only to be called by the same guy with A-K. He was knocked out on the last hand after leading his tables the entire day. The money bubble broke the next day at 468 and I went out 314th trying to chip up to make a deep run. My poker buddy, Dan Heimiller, won the event for his first bracelet and a cool $627,462.

Local notables who did well in the 7,977-entrant Millionaire Maker (Event 8) were Matt “Atomic Bomb” Newcombe (108th) and Pej “Premo” Niyati (104th) for $8,830 each. Well-known local player Earl “Mitch” Merritt outlasted 7,814 players for 48th place in the Monster Stack (Event 51) and earned $26,534. Congrats to all of the Southern Oklahoma and Texas players who cashed in this year’s WSOP.

— Email John at anteupjohndshort@gmail.com.