Ohio Valley poker shines over Labor Day weekend

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The Ohio Valley region boasted an amazing accomplishment over Labor Day weekend, drawing 750-plus players in $1K-plus events at Horseshoe Cincinnati and the Hollywood Poker Classic in Toledo. Jason Newman of the Horseshoe and Ken Lambert of Hollywood Toledo have long-standing traditions of creating large-scale events and neither has let down our region.

Combine this with the Rivers and its PPO series and Hollywood Columbus and the summer has been a good one for the region. The emergence of Toledo as a force in the regional tournament scene is a much-needed and well-deserved situation for Northern Ohio, Detroit-area and Northwest Indiana players.

The Labor Day DeepStack at Horseshoe Cincinnati paid out more than $650K. Gary Chan, 31, of Cincinnati won the title and $140,777. Eric Lisle of Trenton, Ohio, won $87,036 and 24-year-old William Kopp of Brecksville, Ohio, took home $63,583 for third.

Angelo Fuscone of Chicago took the HPC bracelet by defeating Patrick Steele and Philip Wojpuniceki after a three-way chop had been closed ($31,100 each). Cleveland native Joe Hanna won the opening $330 event for $17K in a chop ending the 400-plus-player event that crushed its $50K guarantee.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT, THOMAS SARRA JR.: If you don’t know who Tom is, that will soon change. He’s a former dealer at Mountaineer, a fixture in the Youngstown-area poker scene and a soon-to-be ESPN sensation after his 15th-place finish in this year’s WSOP main event.

“I was in survival mode on the most important day of my poker life, while playing for millions of dollars in front of the poker world,” he said. “I knew I had an edge of half of the players left in the field, but in the moment, I could not shake the feeling that in every situation I was playing for survival.”

He is a fit, athletic man, but nothing can prepare someone for the mental grind that is a deep run in the WSOP. Unlike others who have coaches, mentors and a thick rail to stabilize his mind, Sarra was going on instinct.

You can here him in an interview with Division of Poker Radio at ESPNCleveland.com/poker.

— Dan Harkenrider hosts the Division of Poker and Chris Moneymaker radio shows. Email him at anteupdan@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @DivisionofPoker.