Northern California residents made the Bay Area proud by making it to the World Series of Poker November Nine. Max Steinberg of Oakland and Neil Blumenfield of San Francisco have marked their names in the history books by making the final table in the most recognized tournament in the world. They will each receive a minimum of $1 million with a potential first-place prize of $7.6 million.
Steinberg, 27, is a seasoned WSOP bracelet-winner who captured gold in a $1K event in 2012 for $440K. He has
11 WSOP cashes and five six-figure scores as this main event guarantees him his first million-dollar payday.
This tournament puts him near the $3 million earnings mark. Steinberg is fifth at the final table with 20.2M chips or 50 big blinds.
Blumenfield, 61, is a Silicon Valley CEO who bagged 22M chips (55 big blinds) and is third going into the biggest final table of his career. Blumenfield had a 285th finish in the 2012 main event ($38K) and he was fifth at the HPT at Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln, Calif., in 2014 ($37K).
Other NorCal players who made deep runs were Andrew Jenkins (Monterey, 62nd, $113K), Brian Mintz (Cloverdale, 145th, $47K) and David Yu (Foster City, 193rd, $40K).
OAKS CARD CLUB: The Emeryville room recently paid the largest bad-beat jackpot in its history, awarding $200K.
STONES: The Saloon at Stones Gambling Hall in Citrus Heights hosts 17 poker tables, flatscreen TVs and a dedicated bar. It has exclusive benefits for players, including points earned for participating in cash games. There’s a new membership kiosk where players can redeem points for food and gift cards at the restaurant.
Mario Sequeira from Hanford, Calif., doesn’t regret anything on his journey to 21st place at the WSOP main event. He won his seat in his local home league, this year, after buying in directly in 2014. Until the last game of the season, he wasn’t sure he would earn a seat as he was having a horrible year, but he had a great run and earned one of three seats.
Sequeira, who won the Ante Up Thunder Valley Players Championship in August 2013, has a solid résumé. He has been playing poker seriously for about seven years.
“I’m very competitive,” said Sequeira, who also enjoys playing chess. “I like the mind game and strategy of poker.”
On Day 5, Sequeira got a morale boost after he moved all-in with A-Q for 525K and was called by Brandon Adams with K-K. Sequeira made quad aces to eliminate Adams and easily propelled him well into Day 7. He was eliminated holding Q-Q after shoving to a king-high flop. He and earned $262K. Did he ever consider folding the queens?
“I didn’t go into the tourney to fold to a higher payout,” he said. “I went with my gut and my read the entire tournament, so I wasn’t going to change now and I didn’t think he had a king. … It’s bittersweet to be so close to the final table, but I’m happy with how I played.”
BIKE: James Gorham won the WPT DeepStacks Main Event $300K guarantee at the Bicycle Casino near L.A. There were 367 entries for $356K pool. Gorham took home $95,290. Chris Berger was second ($56,960).
PALA CASINO: The poker room will host the WPT Foundation on Sept. 4-13 and sports a $100K guarantee main event. This will be a nine-event series with $100-$1,100 buy-ins. Satellites to Day 1A or 1B run all through August.
VENETIAN: The $5K main event for the Deep Stack Extravaganza finished July 17 with nearly 550 players generating a prize pool of more than $2.5M. The top three were Samuel Bernabeu ($537K), Doug Lee ($330K) and Hans Winzeler ($240K).
Venetian hosted the Mid-States Poker Tour on June 1-3. The buy-in was $1,100, the prize pool was nearly $2M and there were close to 2K players. Angelina Rich won $215K in a chop, becoming the first woman to win an MSPT event.
DSE 3.5 runs Sept. 10-Oct. 4. The series offers more than $1.7M in guarantees. The championship event has three starting flights beginning Sept. 25 with a $1,600 buy-in and a $400K guarantee. Most of the noon events are priced at $250, $300 and $600. The 7 p.m. events are $200 or $300, with a mix of bounty, survivor and rebuy tournaments. Several Omaha/8 or PLO tournaments are sprinkled throughout the schedule at 4 p.m. All events have guarantees.
ARIA: The second WPT500 completed July 6 as more than 5,100 entrants competed over the course of 10 flights that started in late May. It was the largest field in WPT history. The final three finishers were Craig Varnell ($330K), Lucio Antunes ($223K) and Alexander Lakhov ($150K). The prize pool for the $565 buy-in was more than $2.5M.
Aria also hosted the Senior Poker Tour on June 17-18. The $350 buy-in event had a field of 325 with a prize pool of $97,500. Top prizes went to Jerry Zickert ($15K), Konstantin Novoa ($12K) and Wayne Clarke ($11K).
Aria’s Super High Roller Bowl ran July 2-4. The $500K buy-in drew 43 players for a prize pool of $21.5M. Brian Rast ($7.5M), Scott Seiver ($5.1M) and Connor Drinan ($3.2M) took home the biggest prizes but, honestly, there weren’t any small prizes.
PLANET HOLLYWOOD: The PHamous Poker Series Goliath Main Event was June 25-28 as more than 1,600 entrants paid $1,150 to compete for more than $1.6M. The top three were David Schultz ($278K), Jonathan DiMatteo ($172K) and Phillip Mighall ($130K).
The LIPS National Championship ran June 27-28 and had 430 players for an $83K-plus prize pool from the $250 buy-in. Top three prizes: Persia Bonella ($18K), Cindy Kerslake ($11K) and Kimberley Kilroy ($8K).
WYNN: The main event, played July 3-6, had a $620K prize pool for its $1,600 buy-in. The field was 400-plus players and the top three were: Raymond Rice ($103K), Fadh Hamad ($95K) and Dan Larson ($89K).
HOLLYWOOD POKER OPEN: After a year-long qualifying process that spanned the Hollywood Casino properties across United States, Kevin Stammen captured the $2,500 Hollywood Poker Open Championship title at the M Resort on June 26-28. The event sported a prize pool of $1.5M as Stammen earned $347K, followed by Joe Serock ($214K) and Alex Keating ($140K).
BINION’S CLASSIC: The $1K main event on June 18-19 drew 150 players. The top three prizes from the $137K prize pool went to Paul Vacchio ($28K), Rueben Hoang ($31K) and Timothy Acker ($14K).
The Masters Poker Series, for players age 45 and older, ran June 21-22. The buy-in was $400, the field was 320 and the prize pool was $105K. Top three: David Klutchman and Norman Hall ($20,360 each) and Scott Yeates ($10K).
BELLAGIO CUP: Held July 10-14, the $10,400 event had 301 players and a prize pool of almost $3M. Top three players: Sean Winter ($562K), Dominik Nitsche ($429K) and Byron Kaverman ($409K).
ORLEANS OPEN: The $540 main event finished May 27 with 89 players and a $43K prize pool. Winners were Ethan Wermer and Brandon Setzer ($11K), followed by Joshua Takesky ($6K).
FLAMINGO: New promotions include an hourly $50 high hand between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Only one card needs to play to qualify. Between 2-9 a.m., there is a flop-a-flush promotion that pays $100, $200, $300 and $500 as each suit pays until all suits are hit. The weekly freeroll is worth $6K with 30 places paid and 12 hours of play are required to be eligible. The new single-table bad-beat jackpot pays $1,500 to the loser, $599 to the winner and $150 each to the other players at the table. High hands remain $50 for quads, $100 for straight flushes and $300 for royals.
EASTSIDE CANNERY: The four-table locals room on Boulder Highway just added a $45 HORSE tournament. It runs twice a month on the first and third Thursdays. With an optional $5 dealer bonus, players receive 8K chips. The second and fourth Thursdays feature a $50 Beat the Boss tournament that has a $400 bounty on the boss and a $10 bounty on the other players. The starting stack is 5K.
Every Tuesday there’s a $45 Omaha/8 tournament. Fridays at 7 p.m. is a $45 deepstack (10K stack if you take the optional $5 dealer bonus). Saturday and Sundays at 7 p.m. there is a $25 tournament (2K stack, 15-minute levels). All other tournaments have 20-minute levels.
The room offers plenty of promotions, including $50 for Aces Cracked between 2-5 p.m. and 7-11 p.m. Royals earn $500. There’s a cash award for at least 25 hours of live play during the month; minimum $50, maximum $400.
STRATOSPHERE: Mark Selby is running the poker room. He formerly managed the rooms at Westgate and the Riveria. He replaces Rick Luksza, who retired.
The Strat recently added several promos. In addition to $50 Aces Cracked, the room is offering high hands three times a day and flopped high hands between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Players who flop the high hand get double the normal payout.
WESTGATE HOTEL: The property, formerly known as the LVH, closed its three-table room in June.
— Check out Rob Solomon’s blog at robvegaspoker.blogspot.com.
ATLANTIS CASINO: WPT DeepStacks runs Aug. 20-30, offering a $200K guarantee main event.
GRAND SIERRA: The Heartland Poker Tour visits Sept. 10-21. See the ad in our August issue for full schedule and details.
ELDORADO CASINO: The downtown poker room is running the Poker Challenge on Oct. 21-25. See the ad on Page 15 of our August issue for details.
Have you missed some of your favorite poker room regulars? That’s because they likely were in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker. Daniel Idema of Vancouver had a huge WSOP, including winning Event 35 for $262K, third place in Event 65 ($60K) and sixth in Event 46 ($53K).
Here are some other standouts from the world’s largest tournament series: Thomas Taylor (Victoria, B.C., ninth, Event 3, $18K); Rep Porter (Woodinville, Wash., sixth, Event 7, $47K and second in Event 67, $198K); Greg Mueller (Vancouver, ninth, Event 7, $28K); Scott Clements (Mt. Vernon, Wash., fourth, Event 21, $129K and eighth in Event 52, $12K); Cole Jackson (Seattle, second, Event 22, $197K); Jeffrey Mitseff (Portland, sixth, Event 24, $20K); Noah Merritt (Vancouver, third, Event 26, $89K); Noah Bronstein (Kirkland, Wash., third, Event 33, $54K and fourth in Event 65, $50K); Shaun Buchanan (Abbotsford, B.C., eighth, Event 44, $139K); Joseph Haddad (Portland, eighth, Event 49, $17K); Terrence Chan (Vancouver, ninth, Event 50, $27K); Ian Johns (Newcastle, Wash., 10th, Event 50, $22K) and Matt Affleck (Mill Creek, Wash., fourth, Event 55, $31K).
ROXY’S CASINO: The West Seattle poker room has begun qualifiers for the 2016 WSOP main event. Players in the $45 evening tournaments get points for a Sunday tournament. All weekly participants that make a final table on Sundays get WSOP points and qualify for a monthly tournament with more points on the line.
After 2,200 players have entered daily tournaments (roughly once a quarter), the room will schedule a tournament for the top 30 point-earners. The player with the most points going into this tournament will get $1K and the tournament winner gets a WSOP main-event entry.
Since the fee for the daily tournaments is $5, this promotion is designed to return all their daily evening tournament fees making their daily tournaments essentially no fee. Not a good enough deal for you?
Roxy’s is a 12-table room featuring $2-$10 spread-limit hold’em and $3-$6 Omaha/8. It also adds $100 to its Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday daily tournaments.
Meet Bill Bruce
Bill Bruce started in the poker industry in the early ’90s. After attending a dealer school in the San Diego area, he worked at a Southern California casino. He joined the management staff of the World Series of Poker in 2007 and eventually became tournament director for various WSOPC events.
He helped form Poker Tournament Consultants and in 2013 was named TD for the Hollywood Poker Open.
“The championship at the M Resort in June as well as the regional tournament series have been really well-received by the players,” Bruce said. “I look forward to building upon that foundation and continuing to offer the players what they want in the future.”
When he’s not on the road, Bruce spends time at home in Southern California. He has three teenage boys and has been married to Lisa for almost 10 years.
“They are my motivation as well as the support system that allows me to do what I do,” he said. “I’ve also been fortunate enough to surround myself at work with a great group of people on my team. They are my extended second family and they make it all possible.”
— Chris Cronin