Jeremy Fallaw topped a field of 646 players in bestbet Jacksonville’s May $50K guarantee, which actually was doubled because of the tremendous turnout, creating a $106K prize pool. The final four players at the table agreed to a chop after 10 hours of play on Day 2. Britt Campana, Mikhail Zdanovsky and Bryant Duke each took home $10K of the remaining prize pool while South Carolina native Fallaw, who controlled 5 million of the 7 million chips in play, pocketed $21K.
The Jacksonville property hosts another series in August with $1,500 main event sporting a $300K guarantee. Daily satellites will be available in July, with two 20-seat guarantee events on July 11 and 24. See the ad on the facing page for schedule details.
DAYTONA BEACH KENNEL CLUB: The massive, multiflight Great American Poker Tournament was under way at press time. The $125 event is sure to have a massive turnout and we’ll have all of the results for you in the nest issue.
EBRO GREYHOUND PARK: Showing that its no stranger to innovation, the poker room celebrated local veterans throughout Memorial Day weekend with $100 high hands running every 30 minutes almost all day. In addition, the room also paid a mini-beat every three hours. A mini-beat is the universal opposite of a high hand, rewarding those who didn’t drag a pot at the end of the hand, but had the best “worst” hand. These came with a hefty payoff of $525 as well as the grand finale paying out $1,525.
HARD ROCK TAMPA: The poker room continued its tournament surge with a deepstack series just before sending players to Vegas. The six-event series included pot-limit Omaha, two turbos and three multiday $100K-plus guarantees.
The two weekend tournaments were a $350 and $560 buy-in. The $150 weekday multitable went to Norbert Kara, a Tampa pro who has had success in the area and at other tournaments around the country.
He followed up that win with a deep final-table run in the $560, but eventually busted seventh. He walked with more than $30K for a week’s worth of work. The $350 was chopped three ways with Brad Patton declared the winner.
The $560 was chopped four ways and Claudemir Osario took home the title and $41K.
TAMPA BAY DOWNS: The PPC’s North American Championship, which had 10-plus events at the the Silks Poker Room, which sent more than a dozen players to the Aruba championship. With buy-ins from $25 to $440 and some nice guarantees, turnout was impressive. The $50K guarantee was chopped by Brenda Lane Worley and Jim Brickman for $10K and trips to Aruba. As for the $440 main event, that was chopped between Tom Clements and Shawn Barnett for $25K-plus and packages to Aruba. Three others in the $440 got a ticket as well: Ken Fishman, Chris Miller and Allen Wiseman. Brickman also won a second package to Aruba. One of the more unique features of this event was that a table was designated the TV table and was live-streamed over Twitch TV, a great feature for events at the Silks.
DERBY LANE: The St. Petersburg poker room hosted the Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge and had 200 players show up to support the charity.
The $210 buy-in boasted an $25K-plus prize pool and raised more than $15K. As for the poker, 20 places got paid with more than $6K for the winner plus a $5K Vegas package. Check out anteupandrew.wordpress.com for photos, videos and to see more info on this charity and other Tampa Bay-area events.
HIALEAH PARK: After years of struggling to survive, thanks to the decline of horse-racing revenue and the eventual loss of parimutuel licenses from inactivity, Hialeah Park owner John Brunetti was down, but not out. Instead, he rejuvenated his historic facility by building a slots casino and bringing back quarterhorse racing, along with a top-notch poker room. After opening the 22-table room in August 2013, Hialeah management immediately knew it didn’t have enough room to take care of a growing poker clientele.
Under poker manager Nelson Costa, the room has zoomed to the top of Dade County facilities, and not by just a little. In the current fiscal year, which ends this month, revenues for poker at Hialeah Park are substantially higher than all other Dade poker rooms combined.
So, Hialeah Park expanded, opening an adjacent 11-table room to the existing facility, creating a place for tournaments and high-roller action. Known as the King’s Court, this additional area opened on April 10 and features regular events on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Keeping up with new technological demands, each seat at every table has USB ports for easy Internet access for cell phones, tablets and laptops.
“Mr. Brunetti has built a beautiful place,” Costa said. “I think it is one of the prettiest poker rooms in Florida and we have been very strict since Day 1 about kicking out people who disrespect others. Rough clientele has been eliminated and that is how we are able to grow. People are comfortable when they see that our supervisors are on top of things.”
With the Miami crowds flocking to Hialeah, Costa has set his sights north to attract players from Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
“I interact with the customers to see what they want and what makes them happy, so now we’ve really tried hard to attract people from Broward and Palm Beach counties,” he said. “At times, I give them a $10 bonus play card if they show they are from Palm Beach and they always seem to love the room.”
Driving down I-95, you can’t miss the big pink billboard proclaiming Hialeah, “The No. 1 Poker Room in Florida.” All hyperbole aside, Hialeah ranks fifth in the state in revenue among poker rooms, but as the word gets out about the new expansion, there is no doubt it certainly is moving in the right direction.
An increase in PLO has been beneficial: “When the Studz room closed at Calder, that’s when we started pushing PLO because we knew they had quite a few PLO players. We implemented some promotions for that game and reached out to those players,” Costa said. “We’ve been getting seven or eight PLO tables every day; people are curious about it and now they are seeing bigger pots, so they can make $1,500 or $2,000 in a few hours.”
Costa closed out by touting plans for bigger tournaments in the near future; a $100K guarantee was on the schedule for June and a $250K tourney will be played in July.
“Big tournament guarantees are important; if you don’t have those big guarantees then tournaments are tough to sell,” he said. Now they have the room to move in that direction as well.
WSOPC: The World Series of Poker Circuit made its annual stop at Harrah’s New Orleans on April 30-May 11. For a recap of Events 1-3, be sure to go to anteupmagazine.com and read our June issue.
The highlight of the WSOPC is always the $1,675 main event, which drew 554 players and went to Memphis rounder Damjan Radanov ($174,514). David “Lurky” Nicholson was denied his fifth ring by finishing second ($107,939).
Louisiana was represented well by Jared Ingles (third, $78,928), John Lauve (fifth, $44,068), Tai Cao (seventh, $25,994), Brennan Benglis (13th, $10,620) and Kwong Ip (15th, $10,620).
Event 4 was a $365 re-entry event that saw 1,153 entrants vie for the ring and a $63,130 first-place prize. That honor went to Baton Rouge’s Joshua Mancuso, who outlasted final-table heavyweights
Loni Harwood (sixth, $12,784) and Daniel Lowery (second, $38,990) for his first circuit win.
Hattiesburg, Miss., resident Ryan Campbell held off pro Yuval Bronshtein (fourth, $4,906) to capture Event 5, $14,976 and his first WSOPC ring.
Event 6 ($365 six-max) drew 215 runners as Cory Waaland of Wilmington, N.C., won his fourth circuit ring and $17,415 while denying Alex Masek (second, $10,760) his ninth circuit victory.
The second half of Harrah’s tournament series started with Matthew Humphrey winning his second piece of circuit hardware and $15,989 in Event 7 ($365 NLHE), which had 205 players.
Event 8 winner Christopher Sheffield ($24,017) turned a lucky high-hand promotion at Harrah’s poker room into his second WSOPC ring by outlasting 364 players in the $365 Monster Stack.
Travis Dorsey from Boerne, Texas, won Event 9 ($580 NLHE), $35,992 and his first ring by nearly 300 players.
The top three places in Event 11 ($365 turbo) all went to Louisiana residents: Vadim Balashov ($14,176 and first ring), Alex Wood ($8,760) and Judy Leblanc ($6,306).
The series concluded with Event 12, a $75K guarantee, and Dorsey ($18,750) won his second ring in four days, locking up Casino Champion and securing a seat in the $1M national championship.
COUSHATTA CASINO RESORT: The quarterly tournament series runs July 14-18. This series will begin with a new tournament, a $225 seniors event (50-plus years old). Next up will be the $300 mega satellite where each $1,500 in the prize pool will be awarded as Tournament Entry Chips.
“We are expecting to award 35-40 packages in our very popular mega tournament this summer,” tournament director Ricky Soileau said.
The final two tournaments will be the $500 and $1K events. Registration opens July 1 in the poker room and a Coushatta Players Card will be required as well as proper ID for the seniors event.
All tournaments begin at 10 a.m. during the series.
Meet Norbert Kara
From Hungary but living in Tampa, Norbert Kara is a grinder who has been playing since 2011. A fixture at Derby Lane, he has been branching out recently to bigger games.A cash grinder first, tournaments have been more upcoming in his portfolio.
How long have you been playing and what got you started? I’ve been playing for five to six years and playing in the $100-$300 ranges. Every so often I take a few shots at some of the higher levels like $560 to $1,100. I’m heading to Vegas for the first time, which should be great. Finally comfortable to head out and give the WSOP a try.
What do you attribute to your success and what advice would you give others looking to build their game? I’ve learned by watching videos, which are so much more readily available than a few years ago. But from a playing standpoint, two things I always say, especially doing this for a living: Be patient and never play above the bankroll. Both will not have you doing well. Always be learning, study, get advice and use it all to have you improve your overall game.
— Andrew Malowitz