FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek, Mich., hosted the Michigan State Poker Championship as part of the Mid-States Poker Tour and once again sported one of the largest tournaments in the state.
While the MSPT didn’t top its turnout from earlier this year, there were 559 entries to produce a $559K prize pool and a first-place prize of $134,642, which went to Michael Ferrarotti of Livonia, Mich.
Linda Callear of Morley, Mich., was the “Last Woman Standing” and nearly became the second female MSPT champion. She made the final table but lost a flip to Bill Rogers, who three-bet all-in with K-Q. Callear called with 7-7 but Rogers flopped a queen, sending Callear home with $38,662 for fourth place.
Ferrarotti’s victory also was his first MSPT cash, beating Rogers of Midland, Mich., in heads-up play. Rogers took home $75,703 after a wild final hand of the tournament. Ferrarotti raised to 160K with K-5 and Rogers, holding A-Q, made it 500K with 1.5M behind. Ferrarotti moved all-in for 9.1M and Rogers snap-called. The flop came K-10-K and Rogers was down to four outs. He hit a jack on the turn for Broadway and the lead, forcing Ferrarotti to hit one of 10 outs for the title. A five on the river paired his other hole card for a full house and the Michigan State Poker Championship.
HOLLYWOOD COLUMBUS: The property is excited to kick off its premier tournament series this month, running the popular Ohio Championship on Dec. 4-13, featuring $150K in guarantees, including a multiday $100K guarantee $550 main event.
HOLLYWOOD TOLEDO: The poker room is gearing up for a big month as the annual Arctic Blast series runs Dec. 10-20. Things kick off with a $330 tournament that has a $50K guarantee. The 11-day series wraps up with a $100K guarantee $660 main event.
HORSESHOE NEWS: Rock Gaming LLC has taken over management operations of the Horseshoe Cleveland and Horseshoe Cincinnati properties. Each casino will be rebranded and transitioned from the Caesars Rewards programs and brand to new names and rewards programs by Rock Gaming.
RIVERS CASINO: The property is bringing back its popular New Year’s Eve hot-seat promotion, which features hourly $500 hot seats from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., and culminates with a $5K hot seat at 2 a.m. This has been a huge draw in past years and has become a favorite way for locals to ring in the New Year.
HOLLYWOOD CHARLES TOWN: The poker room features a great tournament calendar with daily tournaments ranging from $85 to $325. It also offers a monthly $560 megastack.
CANTERBURY PARK: The Fall Poker Classic, Minnesota’s largest tournament series, returned to Canterbury Park on Oct. 3-18, drawing many of the best players in the Midwest. Scotter Clark of Marion, Iowa, won the $1,100 main event, taking home $85,940 after fighting for more than three hours heads-up against Vladimir Revniaga.
This was Clark’s first cash that appeared on Hendon Mob. The main event drew 377 entries, an increase from 363 last year, for a $365,690 prize pool.
This year’s FPC included 15 tournaments and 11 bonus evening events. For the first time, the series included a $5,250 high-roller event that drew a respectable 32 entries for a $157,600 prize pool. Robbie Wazwaz of Brooklyn Park, Minn., took the top spot for $70,920. Tony Hartmann and John Morgan were second and third, respectively. Lucas Mernin of Robbinsdale, Minn., won the $550 event for $23,455. Soni Lo won the $340 HORSE event for $8,381. Derek McMaster won the $235 Omaha/8 event for $7,006.
Wazwaz was the top earner for the series with one win and two cashes for a total of $86,226. In 2015, Wazwaz has had 18 tournament cashes for $273,805, showing he has continued the trend he started in January when he won the Great Minnesota Freeze Out.
Revniaga had the second best total ($49,462) spread across three cashes to increase his lifetime Hendon Mob earnings by more than 38 percent. Mitchell Shock cashed three times for $41K. Carl Carodenuto cashed four times ($36K) and Charles Costanzo rounded out the top five with three cashes ($29K).
The Ultimate 100K guarantee preceded the FPC. Thomas Sawyer of Lake Delton, Wis., won the title for $23,698. The event had a $150 buy-in and drew 1,114 entrants across six Day 1s, generating a $128,110 prize pool.
RUNNING ACES: The poker room’s signature tournament, the $280 Hallow Scream, drew 616 entrants across six Day 1s for a $134,205 prize pool. Luke Vierkant of Sauk Rapids, Minn., outlasted the field for $34,308.
HO-CHUNK GAMING MADISON: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case regarding the Ho-Chunk Nation being able to offer poker via electronic tables, meaning the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling from April, which stated video poker at the casino was legal, will stand.
State Attorney General Brad Schimel and Assistant Attorney General Clayton Kawski asked the court to hear the case, which focused on whether video poker was a Class II or Class III game.
If the latter, where players bet against the house, it would be prohibited as described by the IGRA. The tribe maintained it was the former because it was not banked by the house.
The Supreme Court declined the case, which was among 1,600 other passed cases, with no comment.
POTAWATOMI CASINO: On Nov. 2, a massive $213K bad-beat jackpot hit. Cero Zuccarello’s quad fours lost to the quad eights of Robert Michelini Jr. Both players flopped a set and the turn and river improved both. Zuccarello (top right) of Monona received $64,015, Michelini of Pewaukee won $42,678, five other players at the table earned $12,803 and 57 others in the room won $748.
HORSESHOE SOUTHERN INDIANA: After an epic heads-up match in the World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event that lasted more than six hours, Russ Head eliminated Abhishek Yerra to earn the title and the $133K at Horseshoe Southern Indiana.
“I am going to win it,” Head said beforehand. “Last year I got second and this year I am going to win it.”
Robert Cheung of Vancouver won his first WSOPC ring along with $10K, defeating 124 entries in the turbo event.
“The game has changed a lot,” said Cheung, who won a WSOP bracelet in 2007. “In 2007, everything was so much easier. Now that everyone knows how to play, the entire final table was really strong.”
Cody Pack from Cartersville, Ga., won the six-max event for $13K, picking up his third ring this year. He defeated more than 160 players, which generated a $49K prize pool.
HORSESHOE HAMMOND: Amanda Heidbrick won the $365 opener of the WSOPC in Indiana, earning $101K. But it was Krysztof Stybaniewicz who captured the coveted main event for a whopping $365K. It was the Denver amateur’s first ring.
“I was pleasantly surprised with the competition,” Stybaniewicz said. “People were not going to sit down and let themselves get pushed around. They were all extremely aggressive and very good players. It was an extremely tough grind.”
AMERISTAR EAST CHICAGO: The Heartland Poker Tour returns the property on Jan. 14-25. The $300 buy-in opener will again have a $100K guarantee. Last August’s opener had 989 entries.
MAJESTIC STAR: The seniors tournament fell short of the $4K guarantee, drawing just 21 entries. Andre Pierrewon $2K and the title after a lengthyheads-up tangle with local pro Nadim “King” Saleh. WPT DeepStacks winner Tim McCarthy made the final table along with Gary Herstein, who leads the list for the most tournament cashes here.
TROPICANA EVANSVILLE: The Mid-States Poker Tour visits on Jan. 23-31 with a $50K guarantee for its $350 buy-in.
MESKWAKI CASINO: The MSPT returned to Tama and beat the $300K guarantee to pay out more than $400K. Rich Alsip, a pro from Eden Prairie, Minn., who was runner-up in this event in March, came back with a score to settle, and this time he took down the top prize of $101,229.
The final table began with pro Matt Alexander sporting a huge chip lead, but he went out seventh after losing most of his chips in a flip. Derek Dempster and Alsup traded blows once head-up play got going until Alsup turned bottom pair into trips on the river to disappoint Dempster’s top pair. Then, to make matters worse, Dempster shoved his short stack with 5-4 offsuit and Alsup called with the same hand, only to see Alsup earn a flush.
HORSESHOE COUNCIL BLUFFS: The Holiday Poker Classic again runs during the last week of the year with the $550 main event kicking off Dec. 26 at noon with play continuing the next day at 1. There will be several main-event satellites as well as many $150 fat-stack events to give players plenty of time to play.
Meet Josh Reichard
Hailing from Janesville, Wis., Josh Reichard, 24, is a poker pro who has been traveling the tournament circuit for four years. He captured his fourth World Series of Poker Circuit gold ring in late October at Horseshoe Hammond in Indiana. Reichard, who won the Mid-States Poker Tour stop at Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells in 2013, topped a WSOPC field of 216 to win Event 12 ($365 turbo) to capture the $16,201 first-place prize.
He also had second- and third-place finishes during the series, which gave him 117.5 points and the Casino Championship title, earning a seat into the first WSOP Global Casino Championship.
It’s the third time he has qualified for the season-ending championship, but is he optimistic this time?
“The first one was disappointing,” he said. “I ran deep and got it in good with 25 left and lost. The second one I was one of the first eliminated. … I look forward to having another shot at it.” — Chad Holloway