Backa earns nearly $40K by winning at Mohegan



By Dave Lukow

Marsel Backa is back on top. A native of Albania, Backa outlasted 164 players to win the $1,100 main event of the Mohegan Sun Fall Showdown. The victory, which paid $39,801, was the second of Backa’s career.

David Stefanski earned $27,897 for second while Dominick Pelli was third ($17,942) as the main event generated a $160K prize pool. With the win, Backa has cashed 13 times, including four in 2014. He’s totaled $77,850 in winnings, more than double what he had before the tournament.

The cash was the 15th of the year for Stefanski of Waterford, Conn., who has 59 in his career. Pelli has 19 cashes and more than $52K in earnings. His showing in Uncasville marked the seventh time he’s made a final table.

Kenneth Frey was fourth ($13,284), followed by Andrew Lauer ($9,971).

SENECA NIAGARA: Rick Block emerged first after a three-way split in the $1,000 main event of the Fall Classic. Block earned $40,050 for the win, his second on the live circuit. It was the third time he’s cashed.

“They chopped it three ways; I think they were tired,” shift supervisor and tournament director Jason Brooks said. “Rick Block’s an exciting player, so he made the final table very interesting.”

Veerab Zakarian, a 19-year-old from Toronto, was second, collecting $40K for his first cash.

David Grana was third ($39,445). A resident of nearby Grand Island, N.Y., Grana cashed three times in Niagara Falls.

Overall, 263 players entered the main event, pushing the prize pool to $230,955.

“For the main event, we surpassed our guarantee,” Brooks said. “Participation has definitely been going up and up.”

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