David Paredes finally has some major vindication. Borgata hosted its Summer Poker Open on Sept 8-27 and Paredes took advantage by winning the $3,500 World Poker Tour Main Event for $723K. Paredes placed second here in the 2014 Winter Open, pocketing nearly $500K but no title. That all changed when he found himself heads-up again for the title with Jim Gilbert after knocking out three players at the final table.
Gilbert, who has a little more than $1M in tournament earnings, nursed his short stack to get into second place for $434,598, but he couldn’t overcome Paredes, who outlasted 1,027 players for the crown.After playing three-handed for three hours, Joe Kuether finished third for his biggest WPT score ($262,994).
Event 1, which had a $2 million guarantee, began with 3,922 entrants over four starting flights. Federico Ottenio came to the final table as chipleader and continued to dominate until he was the last player standing. Ottenio claimed his second Borgata trophy and $325,127.
The final table had many familiar faces, including Jessica Dawley, Will Failla and Travis Greenawalt. Chris Limo, who came to the final table second in chips, was knocked out in ninth place by Dawley’s runner-runner straight.
Sirous Jamshidi took home third ($139,376) and Nickolai Orlov was second, adding $211,005 to his tournament resume. Failla, who holds seven Borgata titles, was seventh for a little more than $50K. Limo later made another deep run, winning Event 10 for his first Borgata trophy and $168,873.
Up next at Borgata is the Junkies Open on Nov. 12.
GLANTZ LEAVES PARX: After three years of serving as Parx’s poker ambassador, Matt Glantz plans to leave his role after completing his multiyear contract. Glantz has changed Parx’s popularity from regional players to national pros through designing the Big Stax Series. Against all odds, Big Stax has survived tough times, the establishment of New Jersey online gaming and Atlantic City’s decline in revenue. The affordable buy-ins were assigned to bring in any local players interested in tournaments. The average number of players has increased at every series, making it unnecessary for the events to offer a guarantee.
Since the Big Stax boom, Parx’s action has increased dramatically, establishing bigger limits and larger mixed games, while other regional poker rooms have picked up similar tournament structures with deeper stacks and longer levels.
Esther “ETay” Taylor Brady, who has been Parx’s ambassador since June, will replace Glantz starting this month. “I am very fortunate to have this opportunity,” Brady said. After a four-year hiatus, Brady returned to the game at Parx in 2013.
“When my daughter turned 5, I found myself having more time and I realized that the game had changed drastically and so it took a long time for me to adjust.”
Brady plays her tournaments unpredictably, being as creative as she can make it while adjusting her game through experience. Her main game, however, is in mixed cash games, particularly stud/8.
“Glantz has laid down an amazing foundation for the Big Stax series here at Parx,” Brady said. “The structure is definitely one of the best out there and he designed it with the player’s wants and needs as first priority. I have watched him build it from the ground up and we will work hard to maintain, grow and make changes necessary to keep it current and, most important, always consider players’ input.”
Among some of the changes to come, DeepStacks Poker Tour will be joining Big Stax in 2016. Big Stax XIII was running at press time so results will be recapped in the next issue.
DOVER DOWNS: The Crown Royal Poker Room at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino in Dover, Del., has announced the Getaway Weekend will be over the Thanksgiving holiday, Nov. 26-30. See the ad in our November issue for the schedule.
There are many cash-game promotions in November, too, including after 25 hours of play, players will receive $2 per hour in comp dollars. There will be other comp promotions throughout the month so see the poker room for details.
MARYLAND LIVE: Aaron Mermelstein joined an elite group of World Poker Tour players when he won the inaugural WPT Maryland on Sept. 29 for his second WPT title. Mermelstein joins 24 repeat winners, including Season XIII WPT Player of the Year Anthony Zinno and fellow three-time winners Gus Hansen and Carlos Mortensen.
Mermelstein topped a field of 337 players and a final table that included two-time World Series of Poker bracelet-winner Greg Merson to capture the title and $250,222, including a seat into the $15,400 WPT World Championship.
At the start of the day, the final six players made their way back to Maryland Live for the final table with Merson leading the pack.
Mermelstein was second in chips and Xin Wang sat in third. The bottom half was rounded out by Andjelko Andrejevic, Cate Hall and Ken Holmes. Mermelstein made short order of the table in less than three hours. Wang was second ($164,765), followed by Andrejevic ($105,981), Merson ($78,449), Hall ($58,589) and Holmes ($47,091).
VA. CHARITY EVENT: A charity tournament to benefit the American Cancer Society will be Nov. 21 in Brambleton, Va. Former Ante Up strategy columnist and poker pro Lee Childs is the featured guest for the tournament, which has a $150 buy-in ($25 to charity) for 10K chips, or a $200 buy-in ($50 to charity) for 15K chips.
Both buy-ins include a $25 bounty chip and rebuys are taken for the first two hours. Registration begins at 2 p.m. at Brambleton Corner Poolhouse and cards are in the air at 3.
SENECA NIAGARA: On the heels of its October Pokerfest, which had six events with $100 buy-ins Oct. 26-30, the Niagara Falls poker room will host the Seneca Fall Classic on Nov. 13-23.
The seven-event series includes a $1K main event with a $200K guarantee. Satellites for the main run every Friday and Saturday through Nov. 8. Qualifiers, which cost $145, take place through Nov. 21.
For players who can’t get to Niagara Falls, Seneca Gaming & Entertainment also operates the Seneca poker room in Salamanca. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, the poker room is open from 10 a.m. until 3 a.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and from 10 a.m. to 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The Salamanca venue has 12 tables and offers all levels of play.
TURNING STONE RESORT: The Superstacks Hold’em Series runs Nov. 27-Dec. 6 with two $100K guarantees.
The Foxwoods Resort Casino poker room in Ledyard, Conn., is certainly keeping busy this fall, wrapping up its signature World Poker Finals as Ante Up went to press, while planning its popular MegaStack Challenge for Dec. 4-14.
Some of the highlights from the WPF series thus far include Steven Tabb of Newton Center, Mass., capturing the $1,200 Event 11 (no-limit hold’em) for a whopping $52,126. He defeated an impressive field of 260 players all vying for the $291K prize pool.
Another winner of note was Bob Courtney of Millbury, Mass., who earned the $400 seniors title and $11,500.
The upcoming MegaStack Challenge will sport more than $1 million in guarantees, including a $300K guarantee on the $1,650 main event, which has two flights on Dec. 12 and concludes the next day. See the ad in our November issue for the full schedule and more details.
In other Foxwoods poker news, the poker room staff has agreed to join Ante Up and Blue Shark Optics next year and will host a Restock the Shelves tournament on Jan. 18.
MOHEGAN SUN: The poker room holds guaranteed tournaments every Wednesday at 7 p.m. Each competition has a buy-in of $120 and a guarantee of $10K. Seating may be limited, so register early.
The Twin River Casino in Lincoln is expected to open its poker room this month. The smoke-free room, which will have 16 poker tables, is part of a table-games expansion on the second floor of the casino that was announced in June.
John Taylor, chairman of Twin River, said the expansion created about 120 new jobs.
“An important part of our business philosophy has been to listen to what our customers want, and the addition of a poker room is one of most-often-heard requests,” Taylor said. “We’re thrilled to increase the number of table games we currently offer, which also means we will expand our work force once again.”
Meet Benton Blount
Benton Blount is a semipro poker player, musician, stay-at-home father and contestant on the latest season of America’s Got Talent. Benton is a resident of Greenville, S.C. He started playing poker in college in the early 2000s and his skills were good enough that he could support himself on his winnings. He has since joined the Blue Shark Optics team.
Where do you usually play poker? I usually play at Harrah’s Cherokee in western North Carolina.
What is the largest tournament you’ve won? I cashed in a World Series of Poker Circuit event with a starting field of more than 800 players.
How has your poker playing affected your preparation for America’s Got Talent? Studying odds and reading people has helped reading the audience and competing against other artists. This is a competition, just like a poker game, and it’s important to keep in mind that at the end of the game, only one of us will win.
Do you foresee playing more or less poker after AGT? Probably playing more. If I win, I will have a larger bankroll to play with. With a larger bankroll from winning, it will allow me to get into larger events. — Michael Young