Banerjee wins WSOPC opener at Bike



The World Series of Poker Circuit at the Bicycle Casino kicked off Dec. 3 near Los Angeles, and while it was still running at press time, here’s a look at some of the early results.

Dave Banerjee of Diamond Bar, Calif., took down Event 1 ($365 NLHE) for $24,265, which brings his overall earnings to $265K-plus in addition to his first ring. Banerjee started the final day sixth in chips out of the final 23, but a few hours later he was heads-up with Justin Rackley of Playa Vista, Calif., who started at the final table with the lead. It only took a couple of hands to end it as Banerjee moved all-in with quad jacks, besting Rackley’s full house. Rackley won $15,010 from an event that drew 385 entries for a $110K prize pool. Banerjee has been on a nice run recently, coming in fourth at Hustler’s Holiday Classic for $17,525.

Event 2 ($365 bounty) drew 140 players as Alan Myerson of Sherman Oaks, Calif., eliminated Wendy Freedman of Las Vegas for $7,830 and his first ring, denying Freedman ($4,845) her second. The win, though only a four-figure cash, was significant to Myerson.

“I’ve been playing poker for 10 years; it’s always nice to win a tournament and it’s nice to go over the million mark. It’s a good way to end the year.”

There were non-ring events, too, as Erkinbek Ozumbekow won the $100K guarantee for $13,150. With an $150 buy-in, the event drew 1,054 entries.

Look for the rest of the results in Ante Up’s February issue.

HUSTLER CASINO: Leon Marziller took home the trophy and $30K in the $250K guarantee Holiday Classic. Peter Hengsakul was second ($26,325) followed by Erich Karle ($24K), the aforementioned Banerjee ($17,525) and Britton Purvis ($14,850). Hengsakul recently took second in the Vegas WSOPC for $215K.

PALA CASINO: The River Card Quest for the Cup mega tournament runs Jan. 28-31. But the event will start with four $125 satellite warm-up Saturday events at 7:15 p.m. on Jan. 2, 9, 16 and 23. These events will award five seats each.

Day 1s of the $235 mega begin at 2:15 p.m. Jan. 28-30 with 20 percent of the field or Level 15 of each day advancing to the Day 2 final at 1:45 p.m. on Jan. 31.Re-entries are allowed for the first seven levels and there will be an optional $15 staff bonus.

Also, the popular Thursday deepstack turbo and Friday night $2K tournaments are continuing, as are the football splash pots. Call the poker room for details.

Pacific Northwest

WILDHORSE RESORT AND CASINO: The property near Pendleton, Ore., recently wrapped up the largest of its three-times-per-year Round Ups (Nov. 6-15) and this one featured $40K added to the prize pools.

Here’s a look at all of the winners: Aaron Thivyanathan from Renton, Wash. (Event 1, $12K); Corren Spargur from W. Richland, Wash. (Event 2, $20K); Mark Maze from Boise (Event 3, $9K), Kit Jackson from Ponca City, Okla. (Event 4, $10K); Tam Nguyen from Salem, Ore. (Event 5, $6K); Marc Martell from Olympia, Wash. (Event 6, $3K); Ricardo Ramirez from Hillsboro, Ore. (Event 7, $13K); Michael Kinney from Sandpoint, Idaho (Event 8, $19K); Michael Lucas from Lake Oswego, Ore. (Event 9, $14K); Ron Brown from Sprit Lake, Idaho (Event 10, $24K), Minh Thy Leadao from Portland (Event 11, $42K); and Adam Kelsch from Wilsonville, Ore. (Event 12, $3K).
Jorge Canada won the overall tournament championship with a third-place finish in Event 10 and a fourth in Event 9.

Las Vegas

The daily tournaments with $100-plus buy-ins tend to get the most attention, but many players who come to town for just a quick two- or three-day visit may not want to commit to playing in a tournament that could easily take 10 hours or more if they run well. After all, people also come to Vegas to see shows, go to nightclubs, sunbathe at the pool and enjoy some fine dining. So let’s take a look at some of the regular more affordable buy-in tournaments that won’t take too much time, even if you’re fortunate enough to finish first.

• MGM runs one of the most popular morning tournaments at 11, sporting a $70 buy-in, $2K guarantee and a 15K stack.The first nine levels are 15 minutes and 20 minutes after that.The same tournament is offered Sunday through Thursday at 7 p.m. without the guarantee. The room has turbos daily at 2 p.m. and Sunday through Thursday at 10 p.m. The $50 buy-in gets you 10K chips and 10-minute levels.

• Treasure Island offers $75 tournaments at 2 p.m. ($750 guarantee) and 10 p.m. ($1,500 guarantee).The starting stack is 12K and the levels are 20 minutes. There are daily 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. tournaments for $65, with 20-minute levels and an 8K starting stack.

• The Rio has $60 tournaments daily at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and
9 p.m.They all have $500 guarantees and start with 10K chips and 20 minute levels.

• The Stratosphere’s daily tournament starts at 7 p.m.On Monday and Wednesday, it’s a $70 buy-in with $20 bounties. The starting stack is 6K and there’s a $20 add-on for another 6K. The rest of the week it’s $50 for a 4,500 chips and the same $20 add-on for 6K extra. The levels are 20 minutes.A nice bonus is free pizza during the first break.

• South Point has a $60 tournament daily at 10 a.m. and 2 a.m., plus a 7 p.m. event every day except Wednesday and Sunday.These tournaments have a $5 bounty, 20-minute levels and 4,500 chips.The Wednesday and Sunday evening tournaments start at 6 and have a $100 buy-in.The starting stack is 7,500 and offers a $10 add-on for 2,500 more.

• Daily $40 tournaments at Excalibur start at 9 a.m. with 15-minute levels. The buy-in at 1 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. is $45 with 20-minute levels.The starting stack for all tournaments is 5K.

• Luxor’s tournaments are daily at 10:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.(5K chips, 20-minute levels, $45 buy-in).

• Monte Carlo has a daily 9 a.m. tournament with 4K chips and 20-minute levels.On Wednesday, it’s $60 with $10 bounties; the other days it’s $50 to enter.The 2 p.m. and 11 p.m. tournaments have a $40 buy-in for 4K chips, with a $20 add-on for 4K more. The levels are 20 minutes. The 6 p.m. tournament offers 10K chips and 20-minute levels. Wednesday the buy-in is $75 and there’s a $10 bounty, the other days it’s $65.

• Mandalay Bay has a daily $40 event for 4K chips at 10 a.m. There is a $5 add-on for another 1K.The levels are 20 minutes. The other two dailies are 15-minute levels. The 3 p.m. is $40 for 5K chips with a $20 add-on for another 5K.The 10 p.m. is $65 and starts with a 10K stack.

GOLDEN NUGGET: Golden Weekend was a huge success. The $140 buy-in, $50K guarantee main event on Nov. 28 had 787 players and a prize pool of $82K-plus. The final table agreed to a chip-chop as the top prize of $7,373 went to Michael Gatto of Las Vegas. Robin Hamilton of California earned $5,775 for second and Colin McAliece of Ireland received $5,411 for third.

CAESARS PALACE: The tournament schedule has been revised.There are four daily tournaments, all with 20-minute levels. The 10 a.m. tournament has a $100 buy-in for 10K chips and a $1,500 guarantee.At 2 p.m. it’s $125 for 12K chips and a $2K guarantee. The 6 p.m. tournament has a $125 buy-in, 15K chips and a $2K guarantee.The 9 p.m. ($150) has a 15K starting stack and a $2,500 guarantee.

The cash games are always busy as the $1-$2 NLHE has a $100-$300 min-max buy-in.The $2-$5 game is $200-$1K. The room offers $2/hour comps and max rake is $4.

PLANET HOLLYWOOD: Sean Berrios of the Virgin Islands earned $347K for winning the main event of the WSOPC on Nov. 23. Two Southern Californians, Peter Hengsakul ($215K) and Antonios Roungeris ($157K) took second and third, respectively.More than 1,300 players competed for a prize pool of nearly $2M in the $1,675 event.

VENETIAN: Mohammad Eshagi of Las Vegas won $137K and the title in the $1,600 Deep Stack Extravaganza’s Main Event Nov. 18. Nipun Javia of California claimed $85K for second and Christian Soto from New Jersey earned $62K for third.The prize pool was $625K with more than 425 entrants.

MESQUITE: A little more than an hour from Las Vegas on the Utah border, the town of Mesquite has one poker room, at the Eureka Casino Resort. Twice a year, it hosts the Eureka Open.The next one runs Jan. 15-24.Most of the events are $80-$100 no-limit tournaments. The series ends with a $20K freeroll on Jan. 24.Entry is earned with a minimum of 25 hours of live play starting Jan. 10, with more starting chips awarded for more hours of play. Players can enter this tournament for $500.Many Las Vegas pros make the drive to play in this series.
— Check out Rob Solomon’s blog at

Northern California

THUNDER VALLEY: The Up the Ante Poker Room at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, Calif., is kicking off the year right with satellites and large guarantees. Look for $100 multitable satellites on Jan. 1-2 at 7 p.m. as winners receive entry into the World Poker Tour Rolling Thunder Main Event. On Jan. 3, the $100 turbo satellite begins at 11 a.m. followed by a $400 super mega-satellite at 1 p.m., which will have 20 entries to the $3,500 WPT main event guaranteed.

Thunder Valley also hosts a $25K guarantee New Year’s Day at 11 a.m. for $150. But the most popular event will be the $100K guarantee WPT California Swing one-day event Jan. 2nd at 11 a.m. This event will be $400 and will draw players from all over the region. This same event last year drew an amazing 561 entries with the eventual winner being Charles Schlinger from Los Banos, pocketing $18K-plus.

GRATON RESORT & CASINO: There are some great promotions and tournaments this month in Rohnert Park. High hands can pay $100 from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and Omaha high hands pay $50. Graton offers players $100 for an $80 buy-in during early bird hours (Monday-Friday, 8-10 a.m.).

Graton offers $60 tournaments on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10 a.m. $35 events on Tuesday and Thursday at
10 a.m. There’s $140 Sunday bounty event at 10 a.m. featuring $25 bounties on every player.

TOWERS CASINO & CARDROOM: This Grass Valley poker room is north of Sacramento and hosts affordable daily tournaments, including a $25 event at noon for 2K chips and 15-minute rounds. The $60 Saturday night bounty deepstack is at 5 and starts players with 8K chips and 15-minute rounds. Towers also adds $500 to the prize pool on Saturday nights.

ARTICHOKE JOE’S CASINO: In San Bruno, incredible jackpots have paid more than $3.3M over the past year. The room features a $100K bad-beat jackpot in hold’em, a Big Hand Double Hand Jackpot ($19K at press time), Double Hand 9-High Jackpot ($3K at press time) and an Omaha jackpot ($26K at press time).


PEPPERMILL CASINO: The second Saturday of the month event (Jan. 9) is a $235K deepstack at noon. November’s event had a $15K prize pool with $5,100 for first. Also, the annual Peppermill Poker “Big Game” party is Feb. 7 with football, cash drawings, football squares, food and splash pots.

ATLANTIS CASINO: WPT DeepStacks is returning for two events (March 17-27 and Aug. 18-28). The 40 players with the most hours of play through February will be splitting $13K and WPTDS main-event seats ($1,100 value) in the Lucky 13 promotion. In addition, any player who makes 13 bonus hands in 13 weeks will win $13K.

EL DORADO: The company recently bought the other half of Silver Legacy and all of Circus Circus Reno, so the poker room may be moving to the center casino of the three properties. Stay tuned for details. Ask about the daily bonus payouts.

Meet Miguel Cardenas

Miguel Cardenas is a shift manager at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Lincoln, Calif., and is a favorite with the players in the Up the Ante Poker Room.

How did you get into the poker industry? I got into poker as a kid and started by playing and watching my family’s home games. As soon as I turned 18 years old, friends and I started playing in my local casino in San Diego and I’ve been in the poker industry ever since.

What is your favorite variation of poker to play? I’m old school when it comes to playing poker. I still prefer playing bigger limit games like $15-$30 and $20-$40 over no-limit hold’em. It’s a harder game to find in this area, though.

What is the best part of working in the poker room at Thunder Valley? Working with such a great team and being part of the major success we’ve had the past several years.

Do you prefer cash games or tournaments? I play cash mostly. I would like to start playing more tournaments, but having a full-time job and working weekends makes it difficult.

What are your other hobbies? I’m an avid golfer. I play about three to four times a week and I like to do a little biking. I hit the gym three to five days a week as well. — Garrett Roth

Ante Up Magazine

Ante Up Magazine