Million Dollar Heater kicks off with record

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The Million Dollar Heater started with a bang in Biloxi on Jan. 2. The opening event is always one of the most anticipated Mississippi tournaments of the year. The $345 buy-in and three starting flights give runners multiple opportunities to re-enter, adding up to a staggering 2,331 entrants for the largest event in Mississippi history.

The attendance nearly was a 20 percent increase over last year’s 1,900-plus entrants as the prize pool was $678,321, far exceeding the $500K guarantee. People come from far and wide to compete for the opening weekend prize pool keeping the field of players diverse and interesting. The top 250 earned a check with just over $85,000 going to first place.

First place would go to long-time regular contender Ralph Robinson of Stone Mountain, Ga., for $85,333. Robinson, a 24-year team leader for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, is a solid player who often makes a deep run, but this is his most sizeable cash.

The official final table represented a large array of southern states with two Georgians, three from Alabama, two from Louisiana, one visitor from North Carolina and a local from Biloxi. Second place went to Suzanne Miller from Notasulga, Ala., for $51,892. Despite recent trends toward more women competing in the large events, it’s still unusual to see a woman take top three. Congrats, Suzanne!

Robinson picked up the lead when play reached five-handed and maintained it through to the finish. It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Robinson, though. He fired three bullets just to make Day 2.

“I played every flight,” he said. “I got a little unlucky and just decided to play the last flight super aggressive.”
After making Day 2, he slowed things down a notch, carefully choosing his spots and building a mountain of chips.

Robinson said he loves playing at the Beau Rivage.

“This is a great place to play,” he said. “The staff is excellent. Top-notch. That’s why I come here.”

This issue will hit the stands right in the middle of the Horseshoe Tunica’s inaugural World Series of Poker Circuit (Jan. 22-Feb. 3). I hope to see many of you there and get your updates. I’ll also be at the Beau Rivage for the Spring Break event March 26-April 6. Come find me and keep those emails coming.

— Email Jen at jennifergay80@hotmail.com.