The bestbet Jacksonville poker room’s massive bad-beat jackpot hit on April 27 in a nine-player $2-$5 no-limit hold’em cash game, setting the state record at $605K. The winner hailed from Orlando and took home a hefty $302K payday for beating local player Rayshun Edwards’ 10-high straight flush with a queen-high straight flush. Rayshun, a resident of the north side of Jacksonville, would leave with $151K and the other seven players at the table earned a share worth $21K each.
The bad beat fueled a record month at bestbet, attracting players from all over the country. This also was helped by the popular $1K high hand with $200 table share every 30 minutes, which will returns May 30 from 2 p.m. until midnight.
In tournament news at bestbet, D.J. Lyons took down the April $50K guarantee, besting 400 players and pocketing $10K for first. The win capped off a long series of deep runs for Lyons, who finally broke the barrier with a big win.
DAYTONA BEACH KENNEL CLUB: The Deep Stack Charity Classic had yet another remarkable run. Poker legends Jan Fisher, Linda Johnson, Jennifer Harman and Phil Hellmuth rubbed elbows with local players who not only came to make a little bit of extra change for themselves, but some change for the world at large by giving back. Local player Sandra Brown’s willingness to give came back to her a hundred fold as she became the weekend’s biggest winner, flopping a royal flush in diamonds and taking home a special prize package worth more than $100K, including a new car and a trunk full of cash. Legendary poker commentator Norman Chad also took part in the event.
The eventual winner of the main event was Jeff Slade, winning $11K and a trip to Las Vegas for entry into this summer’s Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza. All players who made the final table also received a free trip to Las Vegas.
EBRO GREYHOUND PARK: The Emerald Coast Spring Classic Main Event brought out 67 players and garnered a $33K prize pool. Local player Rick Basham won the title, banking $8.2K.
Also, Brian Roper won won the March Madness Heads Up event.
SARASOTA KENNEL CLUB: One-Eyed Jacks Poker Room’s Spring Fling Series, which had six events, including a $440 main event with a $50K guarantee, recently ended at the One-Eyed Jacks Poker Room.
The turnout was great, especially for the main, which attracted 208 players. In the end, five players chopped, including Mike Gallo, “Tampa Bay” Ray Del Cueto and Chris Duscay. Pro Carlos Loving busted just before the chop in sixth, but had taken down the min-max along with fellow pro Michael Laake.
Also just announced, the room will host a tournament called Wacky No Take on Wednesdays.The $100 buy-in has no rake plus a $10 add-on gets you 20K chips with 20-minute blinds.
HARD ROCK TAMPA: The $150 Little Slick, which sports a $100K guarantee, drew more than 1,700 players for a $210K-plus prize pool. When the field whittled to 13 players, they chopped for about $10K each.The poker room’s deepstack series, which was running at press time, will be recapped in a future issue.
LEAGUES: On April 26, the Derby Lane Poker League and the Bay Area Poker Club (Tampa Bay Downs)met at the Hard Rock and battled for cash,prizes and bragging rights.
The Hard Rock provided a generous structure for the 34 players as the Bay Area Poker Club took the title.Eventual winner John Kennan even knocked out three players on one hand when his jacks held against A-Q, A-6 and 9-9.
Keenan and Jim Brinkley chopped first and second, followed by A.J. McLaughlin and Fred Kirkland. Plans are in the work for future events.
TAMPA BAY DOWNS: On May 3, 70 players came out for good food, cards and a great cause, raising more than $10K for the Leukemia Society.
HARD ROCK HOLLYWOOD: Imagine having a few days in the South Florida sunshine in April with your girlfriend and permission to mix in a little poker. That sounds like an attractive vacation for any 22-year-old guy, but when you return home to California as a millionaire, that is a trip of a lifetime.
That’s what Griffin Paul experienced, a Northridge, Calif., resident who owned just seven career cashes before capturing the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown Main Event, defeating veteran Joe Ebanks to put his name on the WPT Champions Cup.
After cashing in last summer’s WSOP main event for almost $26K, Paul made a deep run in March at the WPT event at Bay 101, which gave him the idea to travel to Florida to give the Showdown a shot.
“I just started playing tournaments not too long ago so I thought it would be nice to travel with my girlfriend and my sister and take a little vacation,” he said. “It looked like fun.”
The tournament attracted many of poker’s biggest stars among the 1,476 entries, including former WSOP champs Carlos Mortensen, Jamie Gold, Jonathan Duhamel and Ryan Riess. All four failed to cash, though Riess took down a $2,200 six-max event before the main began. Paul was still concentrating on having fun on his vacation with such a tough field to navigate.
Heading into Day 3 with 92 players remaining, Paul found himself in the middle of the pack, but ended the day in second place behind Eli Levy with 6-million-plus chips. He stayed at the top as the field narrowed from 18 players to the final TV table, and held a 4-million-chip lead over local Andre Crooks of Lake Worth heading into the TV production.
Ebanks of Kent, Ohio, was the most experienced player at the final table, having a WSOP bracelet from 2010 along with nearly $2.4 million in career earnings. Ebanks said the night before the final table that he had a decent chance to win.
“I think I have a good chance with my experience; you have more confidence when you have been through a high-pressure situation like this before and I should be a little more focused.”
Ebanks was well on his way to fulfilling that prediction when he got some luck in the form of a nine on the turn to give him a set vs. Crooks’ pocket kings, which cruelly eliminated the last South Florida hopeful in front of a large group of family and friends, setting up a 2-to-1 lead for Ebanks over Paul moving into heads-up action.
After just 15 minutes of heads-up play, Paul flipped positions into the lead when he five-bet shoved with ace-jack offsuit and was quickly called by Ebanks’ pocket sixes, then paired his ace on the flop. Just 23 hands later he took home the trophy a paycheck with a one followed by six zeroes. And with that, a nice vacation came to an end.
In other news, the inaugural Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in 2013 shocked the poker world, first by guaranteeing a $10 million prize pool, then shattering that number when the huge number of entries ballooned that pool to nearly $12 million. Last year, however, the scene reversed itself as 1,499 entries created a nearly $2.5 million overlay and the facility had to dig into their pockets and come up with the shortfall.
While many players expected the $10 million guarantee to return this August for the third straight year, the Hard Rock decided to mix things up with a single-entry format and a slightly smaller buy-in ($5,250), both factors necessitating a safer guarantee of $5 million.
And while many players with plenty of disposable cash might complain, pointing out that it may be difficult to travel to South Florida with the risk of an early exit and no chance to rebuy, tournament consultant Matt Savage has an answer for that. Three other events will start after some of the SHRPO opening sessions and will feature large guarantees and be recorded for airing on the CBS Sports Network in 2016, with all four final tables to be played the same day (August 18).
“The events carrying massive guarantees ensure that even if a player busts out of the championship event, there are more ways to make a huge score,” Savage said. At the same time, players with less experience, and/or less money, will be happy that they are not again “moneyed-out” by many of the star players. “With no re-entry (in the main event), the format becomes a level playing field for poker pros, satellite winners and recreational players alike.”
Last year’s breakout star, Dan Colman, is the defending champion, and the four-event finale will provide something for everyone. In addition to the main, there will be and $1,100 event, a $2,500 tournament and a $25K high roller.
Superstar Phil Hellmuth will provide commentary for the TV broadcast and the final tables will be streamed live.
The series begins July 30 with onsite registration opening earlier in July. An extensive schedule of satellites for the main will be held this summer at five Seminole properties: Hollywood, Coconut Creek, Tampa, Brighton and Immokalee. Also, the Charity Series of Poker will return for the second straight year, featuring an event that benefits Habitat for Humanity.
BOOMTOWN NEW ORLEANS: The property in Harvey, La., has reopened its seven-table room on the third floor. Though the location has moved, players can still expect the same superior guest service and exciting live and tournament action that is hallmark to Pinnacle properties. Poker room manager Fallando Antoine has continued the tradition at Boomtown of listening to his customers and offering great weekly promotions, such as progressive Aces Cracked and high hand of the hour.
Boomtown offers events on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, plus a $500 freeroll on Tuesday mornings at 11. For more information, call (504) 364-8848 for all of the latest jackpot, tournament and promotion updates.
HARRAH’S NEW ORLEANS: The annual WSOPC stop had its first three events end just before deadline. Event 1 ($365 NLHE) was a $75K guarantee as Eddie Pepper of Biloxi, Miss., outlasted a field nearly 300 players for his first WSOPC ring and $21,455.
Omaha specialist Joe Castaneda of Houston took down Event 2 ($365 PLO) for his first ring and $8,192, besting 90 players. Atlanta pro Yuval Bronshtein won Event 3 ($365 NLHE), beating 179 runners, adding $14,500 to his $1M-plus lifetime earnings and picking up his second WSOPC ring. Results of the remaining events will be in next month’s issue.
RIVER CITY CASINO: The Heartland Poker Tour stop at River City Casino saw its $1,675 main-event final table heavy with St. Louis-area players in April.
Paul Belken ran a $375 satellite seat to a $95,645 first-place win from an event that sported a $415K prize pool. Reginald Roberts, with seven HPT final tables, finished second ($61,134). Vadim Klaydman, who was eighth ($12K), would go on to the Hollywood Poker Open regional and win Event 1 and make the main-event final table there as well. Roberts of Springfield, Mo., was followed by Paul Fehlig (St. Louis, $40,964); Ryan White (Leawood, Kan., $28,904); Cullen Oldham (Sullivan, Mo., $21,626); Michael Rieck (Louisiana, Mo., $17,467); Jason Bliven (Trenton, Ill., $14,556), Kleydman and Philip Gilreath (Columbia, Ill., $10,439).
HOLLYWOOD ST. LOUIS: Linda Lieder of Granite City, Ill., won the HPO regional main event on April 26, turning a $45 satellite into $48,440. WSOP bracelet-winner and multiple WSOPC ring-winner Kyle Cartwright came into the final day as chipleader. After knocking out George Cepicky in fifth ($10,726), Lieder took the lead and didn’t look back, beating Cartwright ($29K) heads-up. Chris Moneymaker tried to repeat his win in St. Louis last year, but fell just short of cashing. This $1,115 event with 173 entries showed good growth over 67 entries last year.
Cartwright, of Arlington, Tenn., was followed by Damjan Radnov (Memphis, $19,030); Joshua Lozada (St. Peters, Mo., $13,840), Cepicky of Columbia, Ill., Kory Harbour (St. Charles, Mo., $8,650); Garrett Riley (Quincy, Ill., $7,266); Barbara Hunsel (St. Charles, Mo., $6,401); Ben Klein, San Francisco, $5,190 and Kleydman ($4,844).
The HPO was noteworthy for the success of women as Lieder wasn’t the only female player taking home titles. Event 18 went to Barbara Hunsel and Lori Lindley won Event 30.
Recent St. Louis WSOPC main-event winner Joshua Turner won Event 20 for almost $12K and made several HPO final tables.
HORSESHOE TUNICA: Plan ahead by booking rooms for the PPC $100K main event, which begins Aug. 21 with a $350 buy-in. Satellites will be running several times a day leading up to the main. The player of the series will win a $5K PPC Aruba World Championship package including flight, hotel and tournament entries. Get more information at PPCPokerTour.com.
BEAU RIVAGE: The Gulf Coast Poker Championship runs Aug. 27-Sept. 7. The event details are expected any time now and will be posted at BeauPoker.com.
It’s safe to say book your rooms now as the poker rate always sells out for this event and the earlier you make your travel arrangements the better.
HARRAH’S CHEROKEE: A hometown hero was crowned at the WSOPC main event as North Carolina native Ryan Jones took down the title. The 24-year-old Jones earned $235,804, nearly doubling his lifetime earnings while claiming his first ring.
“Winning at home was pretty special for sure,” Jones said. “It feels pretty good. I’ve had a couple of deep runs and couldn’t close the deal, so it felt good to finally get it done. I’d like to thank my mom and my grandma for taking care of me all my life, and now I get to pay it back.”
Here is a recap of the other winners: Event 1 saw Tony Sewell defeat 466 players ($365 NLHE) for $30,050; Event 2 featured John Morris beating 242 players ($365 PLO) for $17,787; Matthew Lee defeated 581 players in Event 3 ($365 NLHE) for $36,598; Chris Russell won Event 4, besting 2,937 players ($365 NLHE re-entry) for $125,559; Event 5 went to Ed Willis, who defeated 451 players ($365 NLHE) for $29,079; Tyler Morris won Event 6, beating 400 players ($365 six max) for $28,794; Kyle Cadman won Event 7, outlasting 349 players ($365 NLHE) for $24,084; Event 8 was Troy Thornton victory, defeating 703 players ($365 monster stack) for $43,240, and Steve Nussrallah eliminated 334 players in Event 9 ($580 NLHE) for $38,412.
Meet Keith Moore & Jared Walker
Ebro Greyhound Park’s poker room has a unique situation in that it has two poker directors: Keith Moore and Jared Walker.
When did you first get into the poker business? Moore: I went to Ebro’s class in December 2006. I was looking for a part-time job while I was teaching high school and poker dealing gave me the opportunity to work part time during the school year and full time during the summer.
Walker: I first got into the poker business in April 2006 after I flew out West to a dealing school in Sacramento. As a child, my grandparents introduced me to various poker games … I’ve been around poker my whole life.
What do you love about Ebro that sets it about from other poker rooms in the state? Moore: The location is amazing. We have a great mix of players, from small towns and farms to beach towns and cities. We also get seasonal repeat customers who visit the area every year and come back to see us. The mix of tourists, seasonal repeat customers and regulars gives us a lot of opportunities to provide exceptional customer service.
Walker: What I love most about Ebro is the location and the overall hospitality given by the staff and players. We are also always changing with different promotions and tournaments with the help of our new addition to the room the jackpot drawing machine, which gives us plenty more ways of doing promotions. We’re excited to be managing the place we started working and for the players we have been working with for so long. — Charles Allison