SoCal’s Barnette earns poker gold at WSOP



Brandon Barnette from Corona, Calif., claimed the first bracelet of the World Series of Poker in Event 1, the Casino Employees tournament. Barnette, a dual-rate dealer/floorperson at Pechanga Resort and Casino, made it past 687 players to take the top spot in the $565 event that generated a $344K prize pool.

After two days of serious competition, heads-up play began about midnight with Barnette’s stack at 2.5M and Greg Seiden’s at 885K. Play went back and forth for about an hour and several hands rattled Barnette’s nerves as he found himself at just 200K chips while Seiden held 3.2 million.

“I knew I needed to fight my way back over the course of the next few hands,” Barnette said. “I just stayed confident and it worked out for me.”

He fought back, going all-in several times, and then came Hand 158. Seiden opened to 140K and Barnette went all-in. Seiden called and showed 4-4. Barnette showed 8-8 and Seiden never improved. Barnette earned $75,704 and Seiden of Las Vegas pocketed $46,735.

“I’m looking at the bracelet in my hand right now,” Barnette said after his victory. “I can’t believe it’s here. It really hasn’t hit me yet and the whole thing is really surreal.”

Michael Kahn of San Diego made a great run, finishing fifth ($16,622). Kahn is a prop player at Ocean’s 11 Casino in Oceanside. He had the distinction of bursting the money bubble with about an hour left of Day 1 play.

CHUMASH CASINO: The Santa Ynez property is in the middle of a $170 million expansion project, so the poker room has scaled back its special events for the year, but the flagship tournaments, Friday night’s $150 High Roller and the Saturday $120 buy-in $6,500 guarantee, will continue during the construction.

There are also several promotions: Monday-Friday features splash pots from 8:30 a.m. until 10 a.m. for all live players. On Fridays and Saturdays look for multi-splash pots (10 p.m.-1 a.m.) of $20 to the pot per table, five tables max. Also, ask about the Monte Carlo high-hand promotion when you contact the room.

PALA CASINO: High hands will run 10 a.m. to 3.p.m., Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays (hold’em pays $100, Omaha $75). There also will be a Graveyard Hold’em High Hand between 1-6 a.m. on Sundays for $50 and 1-4 a.m., Monday through Thursday for $50. Rolling hourly high hands will run 5 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday-Tuesday.

The Chase for the Dough continues with 40 hours earning $60; 60 hours, $200; 80 hours, $400.

AGUA CALIENTE: July 3-5 will be $120 events with $50 rebuys and a $7K guarantee. Each day’s start time is 11 a.m. and players start with 12,500 chips.

Northern California

LODI CASINO: There will be a $20K guarantee at Lodi Casino on July 18 at 10:20 a.m. Players can earn free entry with their rewards and 30 qualifying seats will be available. There’s also one optional $100 add-on/re-entry available until the first break during the event. Lodi Casino also has some great daily tournaments throughout the week, most of which have guarantees.

CACHE CREEK CASINO RESORT: In Brooks, Calif., look for some fine promotions, including a $10K bad-beat jackpot where quads is the qualifier and a $2.5K bad beat where the qualifier is aces full of 10s. The room also adds $50 to a random table every hour, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., during the Splash the Pot promotion. Cache Creek also has other player-favorite promotions, such as high hands, Aces Cracked and royal flush payouts.

STONES GAMBLING HALL: The Citrus Heights poker room has some great daily promotions, including a $5K Aces Full Hold’em Jackpot from noon to 2 and 7-9 p.m. It also runs a daily $200-$300 Rack Attack at 3 p.m., 4, 11 and midnight and a $200-$300 Aces Cracked from 6-7 p.m. Stones also has a Wheel Spin Giveaway with three total winners 5-10 p.m.

NAPA VALLEY CASINO: Here is a great spot for Sunday tournaments with a friendly atmosphere and flatscreen TVs throughout the room. Each Sunday is a $50 event at 10 a.m. (3K chips). New players get a $30 coupon at Napa Valley has some great promotions, offering a $50K Monster Bad Beat Jackpot (quad eights) an two other bad-beat jackpots. It also offers a free catered dinner every night for players.

Pacific Northwest

WSOP UPDATE: The Pacific Northwest was represented in the opening WSOP event by two players in the top 20. Congratulations to Jesse Kertland of Ellensburg, Wash., (14th) and Derek Shoemaker of Yakima, Wash., (20th). Last year, Pacific Northwest players won three bracelets, so stay tuned for results.

PROMOTIONS: Not hung over from your trip to Las Vegas for the WSOP? Head to the Wildhorse Resort and Casino on July 15-19 for the Summer Poker Round-Up. There will be five events with buy-ins from $120 to $325 and lots of cash games springing up as the tournament tables break.


PEPPERMILL RESORT CASINO: Adam Ghattas grabbed the NV Spring Challenge title and $46K, beating nearly 150 players in the $100K main event. The final table had plenty of regulars, including Dustin Fox (second, $26,640), Jed Hoffman (fourth, $11,880) and Shawn Daniels (ninth, $2,880). Gerald Morell beat 206 players for $12,524 in the $40K guarantee.
In Event 10 ($350 heads-up), it was Mitchell Cogert who earned $2,500, beating Reno local Ben Deach ($1,250).

Las Vegas

MIRAGE: Just in time for the WSOP, the Mirage opened its newly remodeled poker room in late May. The room had been closed since January but is now a beautiful 12-table facility in the same area as the old room, near the sportsbook.

Though the main game spread is $1-$2 no-limit hold’em ($100-$300 buy-in), the room also spreads a popular $3-$6 limit game with a $30 minimum buy-in. Promotions include high-hand bonuses of up to $500 for royals, Aces Cracked and a bad-beat jackpot. Players earn $2 an hour in comps, there’s free wi-fi and you can charge your mobile devices at the tables.

The Mirage has two daily tournaments (11 a.m. and 7 p.m.). The morning tournament offers an 8K starting stack and 20-minute blinds, except on Saturdays when the popular “Stack” tournament is held. This one features 25K starting stack for $120 and 25-minute levels. Friday evening is the $100 bounty tournament with a 15K stack and 20-minute levels. The rest of the week the tournament is the same $65 tournament held in the morning.

SUNCOAST: The locals room in Summerlin just started running a $100 stud/8 tournament on the last Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. The starting stack is 7K and a $10 dealer bonus gets you 3K more chips. The levels are 30 minutes. The first one drew 40-plus players.

Suncoast features daily $45 tournaments at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. On the first Friday of every month, there is a $100 deepstack at 6 p.m. with a 10K stack and an optional $20 add-on for another 5K chips. This tournament has 30-minute levels and the winner gets a watch valued at $180.

On Wednesdays, the Suncoast spreads a $4-$8 dealer’s choice game for a $40 minimum buy-in. There are 17 games to choose from, including 2-7 triple-draw, badugi, badeucey, razz, pineapple and Omaha/8.

Suncoast still hosts the long-running “Hoggy” $2-$8 stud/8 game Mondays and Fridays at 11 a.m. The qualifying low hand is eight or better and a pair of jacks or better is the minimum high hand.

PLAZA: The downtown room with five electronic tables has named Gary Vickery as its manager. Vickery comes from Philadelphia, where he ran a poker league. He moved to Vegas last August to work in table games at the new SLS casino (formerly the Sahara) but is happy to get back into poker.

The Plaza specializes in affordable buy-in tournaments, as cheap as $5 at 10:30 a.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The 2 p.m. and

9 p.m. tournaments are $12, except for the Thursday night $35 deepstack. Mondays at 10 p.m. is a $12 stud tournament and Tuesdays at 10 p.m. is a $12 PLO event. These tournaments are great for beginners, but many experienced players who play these and have a blast with them, not having to worry about losing much. All of these tournaments have guarantees.

POST WSOP: With the WSOP closing shop for another year, players will miss the big buy-in tournaments that were all over town. As things return to normal, assuming anything in Vegas can be described that way, players still have a multitude of great options, though the buy-ins and the prize pools will be a lot smaller.

The Aria’s $125 tournament is one of the most popular dailies in town. It runs twice a day, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., and costs $125 for 10K chips and 30-minute levels. Players who bust out early are allowed one re-entry.

The Venetian also has two tournaments a day at noon and 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays at noon it’s a $150 event that starts with a 12K stack and 30-minute levels. Re-entry is unlimited. The Friday and Sunday tournaments are $200 bounty events. Same levels and starting stack and the bounty is $50.

Saturday is a $100 bounty tournament with a $300 buy-in and the same details otherwise.
The evening tournaments are $125 on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and $200 on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The Friday tournament is a rebuy event, players are allowed a $200 rebuy for 12K more chips and that can be taken for the first two hours any time the stack is at 6K or worse. All of the rebuy goes into the prize pool with no rake and all of the tournaments have guarantees between $5K and $20K.

The Wynn offers a popular $140 tournament Mondays through Thursdays with a 10K stack and 30-minute levels. On Fridays and Sundays, there’s a $10K guarantee and it’s $200 with a $100 add-on for an extra 5K chips. Saturday offers a $25K guarantee with 40-minute levels and unlimited $200 rebuys through the first two hours. The starting stack and the rebuy chips are 10K.

The Orleans features two tournaments a day at noon and 7 p.m., but the can’t-miss event for tournament lovers is the Friday-night event. The $125 buy-in has a 12.5K starting stack and 30-minute levels. This is the most popular regular tournament in town and regularly attracts 225-plus entrants. Though re-entry is allowed for the first 90 minutes, there are usually so many alternates that those wishing to re-enter are frequently shut out. With a prize pool that exceeds $22K regularly, a winner is seldom declared before the wee hours of Saturday morning.

And don’t forget the Binion’s Saturday deepstack with its $10K guarantee. The $140 buy-in brings a 20K starting stack with 30-minute levels. It starts at 2 p.m. and the last few entrants are usually battling it out past midnight.

No bracelets on the line, but as you can see, there’s always great tournament action in Vegas.

— Check out Rob Solomon’s blog at

Meet Angela Jordison

It looked for a while that the only winner at the Wildhorse Resort’s Spring Poker Round Up would be Angela Jordison as she accomplished the statistically improbable feat of winning the first three events, defeating fields of 537 players, 448 players and 214 players.

That’s a 1-in-51.5-million shot if she were an average player in the field, which she clearly was not. Fortunately for the rest of the players, she took the next four days off before bubbling the 10th event and busting early in the two-day main event.

Angela has been a pro for the past 10 years after working for Morgan Stanley and operating bar businesses. She got her start in poker in competitive family games and now mostly plays cash pot-limit Omaha/8 in a Bend, Ore., casino near her Terrebonne home. Though she generally attends the Round Ups, she rarely gets away to play other tournaments. Before her Wildhorse breakthrough, her biggest thrill in poker was going deep in the 2010 WSOP women’s event and finishing 42nd.

She retains the killer instinct honed in her family games and her time as a broker as evidenced by her dislike for chopping, though she did agree to a partial payout to the last five in the first tournament she won, but only because the average stack at that point was 11 big blinds.

Asked about why she left in the middle of the series, she said she likes to maintain a healthy poker/non-poker balance, with two children and a bar business that she’s in the process of fixing up for sale.

But watch out for her during the WSOP; she’s planning a strategic strike on multiple events and she won’t chop those, either.

— Jay Zeman

Ante Up Magazine

Ante Up Magazine