A week of Ante Up Poker Tour tournaments in California’s Wine Country turned into a tale of two brothers as Tona and Tony Katkuoy dominated the $40,000 guaranteed North Bay Poker Open Main Event at The 101 Casino in Petaluma, Calif.
Tona defeated his brother heads-up, winning the $12,000 first prize, plus a spot on the cover of Ante Up Magazine’s June issue, an entry into the Ante Up World Championship Main Event, a personalized tour champion’s jacket and a champion’s bracelet.
"We play a lot of cash games, but not a lot of tournaments," said Tona, while Tony said he and his brother had never been heads-up against one another in a tournament.
"We do get heads-up playing cash a lot, though," Tony said with a chuckle.
Tony kicked off the main event weekend by finishing Friday’s Day 1A as chipleader, only to have brother Tona come along and finish day 1B Saturday afternoon with 70,000 more in chips than anyone else.
With 20 players returning for Sunday’s final day, the brothers kept clear of the field most of the time, and once heads-up play came around, there was only a sibling rivalry with which to deal.
Tony talked about how they might divide up the prizes, and Tona responded by three-betting preflop.
"I am going to play at Thunder Valley, I played there a few months ago and cashed, I like playing there," Tona said after the match.
Trip queens for Tona was too much for his brother to overcome in the heads-up match that lasted about 20 minutes, with the rail having a lot of fun watching the brothers joke, laugh and three- or four-bet one another.
Tona never gave up his chip lead throughout Day 2, holding nearly 40 percent of the chips when it was seven-handed. This kept him putting pressure on all the players, including two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Howard "Tahoe" Andrew.
At age 81 and preparing to play his 43rd consecutive WSOP, Tahoe knows when to push hands, and when to get away from them. Though he was the final table’s short stack, he was not about to give in to Tona’s big-stack-bullying. Tona raised 3.5x from late position into Tahoe’s big blind, and that’s when the fun started.
Tahoe saw the small blind take a while to debate the 35,000 raise from Katkuoy before folding, then looked down at his own hand and needed some time to debate what to do.
"Tahoe, you push and I call," said Katkuoy, who has more than 700,000 in chips, at least 400,000 more than second place at this point seven-handed.
"How tight do you think I am?" Tahoe said with a sly grin, and he flashed AQ, drawing gasps from a few and quite the reaction from Tona.
"How can you fold that there?" a semi-exasperated Katkuoy says as he flipped AK onto the felt in a none-too-soft manner.
Players chuckled and Jay "Lucky" Sheets on the rail said, "That’s what 60 years of experience gets you."
On break about five minutes after that hand, Tahoe came over and said there were two reasons he laid that down preflop. One, he said the 3.5x raise from Katkuoy caught his attention, saying he knew Tona is a good player and felt that tipped him off there was a big hand brewing. Two, the small blind tank-folding was an indication another big ace had been folded.
"I knew I was in a bad place there, some of the young kids would have snap-called there, being the shortstack, but I knew better," he said
Tahoe closed out the day in seventh place, winning $1,772.
While Tona and Tony were running well all through Day 2, two players made substantial moves to make the final table.
Jason Patterson knocked out a few players early and threatened to knock Tona off the chipleader pedestal, climbing up to nearly 400,000 from his Day 2 starting stack of 144,000 just two hours in to Sunday. He finished in fifth place, taking home $3,544.
Joe Mussat was one of the day’s short stacks, starting Day 2 play with fewer than 20 big blinds. He just kept chipping up all day, never seemed to be in trouble and by time the final table rolled around he was up to nearly 300,000 chips. He finished fourth, earning $4,725.
Travis Wakefield, casino manager for The 101 Casino, said he was pleased with the turnouts each day and that every North Bay Poker Open event covered it guarantee.
“We crushed all our guarantees," he said. "We have a lot of regular players who come and we’ve seen a lot of new faces, too. It is a relaxed environment for people to play some poker and have some fun."
The team of Dan Ross and Jay Sheets from HoldemRadio.com was on hand for all the events, providing live updates and radio coverage throughout.
"We love having Holdem Radio here," Wakefield said. "They always do a good job here for us and the players."
One of the most interesting tournaments during the week was the progressive bounty event. Players start with two $20 bounty chips. Knock a player out and you receive the bounty chips in front of that player.
That’s normal, right? Not so much.
When you knock a player out, you take one bounty chip and put it atop your stack, cashing out the rest in that player’s stack. So, if you knock out three players, you suddenly have five bounty chips, or $100, in front of you. The player who knocks you out cashes out $80 and adds a $20 bounty chip onto his or her stack.
Cody Casey, who won the $200 buyin half-Hold’em/half-PLO tournament, was thrilled as he closed things out. He went running through the poker room, giving and getting high-fives
"This is the first tournament I’ve ever won," he shouted.
ANTE UP POKER TOUR
NORTH BAY POKER OPEN
1. Tona Katkuoy, Santa Rosa, CA, $12,160
2. Tony Katkuoy, Santa Rosa, CA, $8,500
3. Aaron Reiff, Sebastopol, CA, $4,999
4. Joseph Mussat, San Jose, CA, $4,725
5. Jason Patterson, Petaluma, CA, $3,544
6. Dennis Markusen, Santa Rosa, CA, $2,599
7. Howard Andrew, Walnut Creek, CA, $1,772
8. Allan Kwong, Oakland, CA, $1,417
9. Druce Gammen, Santa Rosa, CA, $1,063
10. Brian Halloran, Santa Rosa, CA, $827
11. Gay Smith, Santa Rosa, CA, $827
12. Sean David, Vacaville, CA, $827
13. Barney Klein, San Francisco, CA, $591
14. Zephyr Peling, Santa Rosa, CA, $591
15. Craig Gold, Belmont, CA, $591
16. Andrey Marsavin, $472
17. Lawson James, Petaluma, CA, $472
18. Jay Kasler, Vacaville, CA, $472
19. Matthew Luther, $472
20. Palani Velloo, $472
EVENT #4 – No-Limit Hold’em Deepstack
1. Eric Escobar, Sebastopol, CA, $3,110
2. Mark Guttormsen, Petaluma, CA, $1,778
3. Matt Jordan, Petaluma, CA, $1,223
4. Michael Vlastnik, Santa Rosa, CA, $906
5. Erik Watkins, Santa Rosa, CA, $240
EVENT #3 – Pot-Limit Omaha/No-Limit Omaha
1. Cody Casey, Santa Rosa, CA, $1,607
2. Adam Langer, Chicago, IL, $1,507
3. Cliff Ziff, San Francisco, CA, $1,237
4. Brian Holloran, Santa Rosa, CA, $697
5. Ned Mantua, Bodega Bay, CA, $200
EVENT #2 – No-Limit Hold’em Progressive Bounty
1. Jonathan Chajet, Kensington, CA, $1,624
2. Jim Farenbaugh, Santa Rosa, CA, $1,000
3. Danny Shuffin, Sana Rosa, CA, $1,000
4. Mario Lopez, Ukiah, CA, $531
5. Scott Long, Safety Harbor, FL, $386
6. Gabriel Bronsztein, Santa Rosa, CA $290
7. John Rein, Sebastopol, CA, $160
EVENT #1 – No-Limit Hold’em
1. Danny Grassi, San Jose, CA, $1,400
2. Palani Vello, Petaluma, CA, $1,088
3.Brain Halloran, Santa Rosa, CA, $1,056
4.Robert Bugatto, San Francisco, CA, $732
5. Brian Morrey, Santa Rosa, $433
6. Kelly Doherty, Santa Rosa, $325
7. Doug Newland, Redwood City, $217
8. Grover G.D., Reno, NV, $162