Zeller nabs River Card title in Southern California

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Joseph Zeller of San Diego took home $12K and the trophy for the River Card Quest for the Cup mega tournament Jan. 31. He navigated his way through nearly 400 players across four days. The event had a $78,400 prize pool and 40 spots were paid. Rounding out the top 10 were Jon Bergstrom, San Diego (second, $8,830), Ori Kossonogi, San Diego (third, $8,400), Kurt Musick, Murrieta (fourth, $5,930), Greg August, San Diego (fifth, $5,643), Josh Stone, San Diego (sixth, $5,354), Bob Hoag, San Diego (seventh, $4,923), Steve Healis, Palm Springs (eighth, $3,088), Jerrymee Jose, Chula Vista (ninth, $3,053) and Jimmy Duh, San Diego (10th, $2,445).

BICYCLE CASINO: The World Series of Poker Circuit returns this month as part of the Winnin’ of the Green event, running March 3-31.

There will be 26 events with buy-ins ranging from $130 to $4,300. The schedule will include 12 ring events, including $365 Omaha/8, the $1,675 main event and the $3,250 high roller.

Non-ring events will include a $180 buy-in $75K guarantee, $150 HORSE and $345 deuce-to-seven triple draw/badugi. There will be multiple satellites for the main event and Mega Millions. For a full schedule, see the ad on Page 45 of the March issue.

SAN MANUEL CASINO: The NHL’s Kings and Ducks will trade-in skates, pucks and sticks for cards and chips on March 10 for the annual Kings vs. Ducks charity event that benefits both teams’ foundations. With a $25 buy-in, fans can play with players from both teams. Check with the poker room to see who commits this year.

Some promotions include Double Jackpots, midnight to 6 a.m. Mondays and every other hour from noon-midnight Mondays and Wednesdays. High hand of the hour noon-midnight Tuesdays and Thursdays pays $250. Omaha players earn $50. Qualifying begins at 11 a.m. On Fridays from noon-10 p.m., get a full house or better and get entered for a chance to spin the Money Wheel to win $200-$1K.

Pacific Northwest

TULALIP CASINO: The Washington property recently concluded its Poker Pow Wow, which had $15K added to the prize pool and Kevin Potkin from Burnaby, B.C., won the opener for $11K. Gordon Taft of Shoreline, Wash., got the biggest piece of an eight-way chop of the pot-limit Omaha/8 event for $2K. Arthur Reber from Point Roberts, Wash., won the seniors event for $6K, Mike Palo of Woodinville, Wash., won the PLO event for $4K and James Hunt of Whitesville, Kent., and Joel Micka of Everett, Wash., chopped the main event for $30K each.

MUCKLESHOOT CASINO: The Spring Classic runs March 16-20, including five tournaments with a total of $55K added: a $150 shootout and four events costing $200, $300, $500 and $750. Muckleshoot is 31 miles southeast of Seattle in Auburn, Wash., and is the largest room in the region with 32 tables.

And it’s not too late for cash players to qualify for the $100K freeroll. Call the poker room for details.

Las Vegas

CAESARS PROPERTIES: The WSOP.com site is sponsoring the Players Choice Tournament Series at six Caesars Entertainment poker rooms in Las Vegas. These are weekly $125 buy-in tournaments in each room. Online $10 satellites will be offered at WSOP.com to give players the opportunity to win seats to these tournaments.

The schedule for the live tournaments is as follows: Rio, Sundays at 7 p.m. ($2K guarantee); the Linq, Mondays at 1 p.m.; Planet Hollywood, Tuesdays, at 11 p.m. ($500 guarantee); Harrah’s, Wednesdays at 10 p.m., ($2K guarantee); Caesars, Fridays at 6 p.m. ($2K guarantee), and Bally’s, Saturdays at 8 p.m. ($2K guarantee).
All players who enter these tournaments receive WSOP.com card protectors and the winner of each tournament receives a champion’s WSOP.com coin. Additionally, the winner will receive entry into a $1K online monthly freeroll. The prize pool of the freeroll is funded by WSOP.com. The freerolls will be March 25, April 22 and May 20.

All CET poker rooms, including the Flamingo, are offering players a free buffet for playing poker. Players who earn 50 tier credits in a 24-hour period will get a coupon for the buffet of their choice, with the exception of the buffet at Caesars Palace. It takes three hours of live play to earn that number of credits, except at Caesars, where only 1.5 hours of live play is required.

LINQ: The four-table room on the center Strip added a new promo. Cash drawings are twice a day, at 5 p.m. and midnight. Two $100 winners are awarded each time. Players earn tickets by making hands. Each straight earns one ticket, two tickets for a flush, three tickets for a full house, five tickets for quads and 10 tickets for a straight flush or a royal. Only one card in the player’s hand must play. You must be present to win, but need not be playing at the time of the drawing. Tickets earned before 5 p.m. remain in the drum for the midnight drawing, after which the drum is emptied.

The Linq still offers high-hand bonuses. It’s $50 for quads, $100 for a straight flush and $200 for a royal. Daily $45 tournaments are offered at 11 a.m., 3 p.m., 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.

The main cash game is $1-$1 NLHE. The minimum buy-in is $50 and the max is $300. Sometimes a $1-$1 PLO game spreads (also $50-$300 min-max) and a $1-$3 NLHE game with a $100 minimum and no max.

BALLY’S: The 14-table room announced it’s decreasing the maximum rake for all cash games to $4. The main cash game is $1-$2 NLHE, with a $100-$300 min-max. There are high-hand bonuses for quads ($50-$500), straight flushes ($100-$500) and royals ($200-$500). The room offers a $6K weekly freeroll for 12 hours of live play. The top 20 finishers are each awarded $300.

WYNN: The Wynn Classic runs through March 14. The $1,600 championship event has three starting flights beginning March 11 and offers a $500K guarantee.

SOUTH POINT: Qualifying begins March 1 for one of the city’s biggest freerolls at this locals’ favorite on the south end of the Strip. The total prize pools will be $155K with first place taking home $35K and 60 places will be paid. Players need to play 100 hours by May 31 to get a seat at the freeroll. The three players each month who play the most hours will win $2K, $1K and $500, respectively. The freeroll will be June 6-7, with the final on June 11. Entrants who don’t make the final get $100.

Busy cash games always are available. The $2-$4 limit hold’em game has a half-kill and a $20 minimum buy-in. The $1-$2 NLHE has a $100-$300 min-max buy-in.

GOLDEN NUGGET: Dan Serban took home $7,200 for winning the Golden Saturday tournament on Jan. 23. Celia Aragon grabbed $6,400 for second and Joan Champagne earned $5,800 for third. There were 577 players, each paying $140 to enter. The prize pool was $60K.

PLANET HOLLYWOOD: The $600 main event at the PHamous Weekend in January drew 388 players. Wendy Freedman of Las Vegas earned $55K for first, William Reynolds of Las Vegas took home $34K for second and Maziar Keshavarzi of San Antonio, Texas, scored $25K for third. The prize pool was $250K.

VENETIAN: The $400 River Card tournament was part of the New Year’s Extravaganza. It drew 660 entrants for a $225K pool. California’s Edward Tsai took the $46K first-place prize, with Raymond Muzyka of Canada claiming $28K for second and Reza Pazuki of Las Vegas earning $21K for third.

EUREKA: The poker room in Mesquite held its semi-annual Eureka Open in January. The main event was a $200K freeroll that players earned their way into with tournament and live play during the series. The top three finishers were Bill Thomas of Mesquite ($5K), Johnny Ibarra of St. George, Utah, ($3,500) and Jed Kimber ($2K). Nearly 150 players entered. — Check out Rob Solomon’s blog at robvegaspoker.blogspot.com.

Reno

PEPPERMILL CASINO: If you are looking for larger-than-average cash games in the Reno area, then this is the poker room for you. Jimmy Horikawa (see our interview with him down below) has been running some big games for the Peppermill.

“We have had very strong $5-$10 no-limit hold’em and $20-$40 limit games running consistently on the weekends for several years,” he said. “Recently we have even run some larger games, $10-$25 no-limit and $10-$25-$50 no-limit. We usually have large amounts of money on the table, and regardless of the stakes, huge pots are very common. Win or lose, people have a good time in our games and go home reporting a great experience. As such, the games have continued to get stronger and more consistent.”

And what is the reason for such success? “I always focus on quality over quantity,” Horikawa said. “We care about our players and work hard to make sure they have a special experience. For starters, our poker room is immaculate and is one of very few rooms that has its own high-limit area. We have structured the rules more like private games do, so that we can better accommodate the people who travel to Reno to play. We create the waiting lists in advance to ensure that out-of-towners can get seats.”

Contact Horikawa on Twitter @JimmyHorikawa or by text at 702-286-6385.

Northern California

STONES GAMBLING HALL: The property in Citrus Heights, Calif., hosts its Championship Series this month, including six events with guarantees. The series kicks off March 5 at 10 a.m. with a $350 event with a $50K guarantee, followed by the only non-hold’em tournament ($150, Omaha/8, $5K guarantee) at
6 p.m.

The largest tournament of the series is the $550 main event with a $200K guarantee on March 6. It will be a multiday event, so plan accordingly. The $180 six-max event on March 7 at 10 a.m. has a $15K guarantee and there’s a $200 bounty event with a $10K guarantee on March 8 at 10 a.m. The final event of the series will be a $235 tourney with a $20K guarantee on March 10 at 10 a.m.

BAY 101: The annual World Poker Tour Shooting Star series runs March 6-11 and includes three unique events at the San Jose casino.

The first event is a 300-player-max $2,100 tournament March 6-7 at 11 a.m. The Shooting Star main event is March 7 and will be a five-day event. This tournament has a $7,500 buy-in with a $2,500 bounty for every Shooting Star player that gets eliminated.

Other bonuses are paid to the chipleader at the end of Days 1A and 1B, earning $10K. The winner of the main event also will receive a $15K seat into the WPT Championship at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Florida. Finally, there will be a high roller on March 9 at 4 p.m. and March 10 at 1 p.m. with a massive $25K buy-in.

THUNDER VALLEY CASINO RESORT: The World Poker Tour Rolling Thunder series runs March 9-16 and features eight events in Lincoln.

Event 1 will be a $500 event on March 9 with a $50K guarantee. Event 2 is a $1,100 buy-in on March 10 with a $100K guarantee. Event 3 caters to the mixed-game enthusiasts with a $550 HORSE event on March 11. Event 4 will be the $3,500 main event, which will be played out March 12-16 with two starting days (March 12-13). Event 5 is a $1,100 knockout tournament on March 14 with $500 bounties.

Event 6 costs $300 on March 14 with a $30K prize pool. Event 7 is a six-max tourney on March 15 and Event 8 is a $300 bounty on March 16 with each bounty worth $100 and a guaranteed prize pool of $30K. See the ad on Pages 10-11 of the March issue for the schedule and more details.

Meet Jimmy Horikawa

How did you get started at the Peppermill as the high-stakes manager? About five years back, I came to Reno to pursue a business venture. I was looking for high-limit poker games to play and had a difficult time finding action. The biggest game I could find was $10-$20 limit hold’em at the Peppermill. I wanted a bigger game to play in and, over time, I developed a relationship with the management at the Peppermill. Gaming director George Kisler expressed an interest in getting some bigger games going and asked for my help. I used some contacts and started arranging semi-private high-stakes games on the weekend. After a while, things kept progressing and it became clear that I needed to step back from playing in the games and focus on the hosting and management roles.

Do you feel your experiences as a high-stakes pro helped with your success at the Peppermill? Absolutely. I played some of the highest stakes in the world and traveled to games all over. I learned what players wanted and what was best for the game. These observations are what I use to make decisions about how the games should be run at the Peppermill and it’s a strategy that has paid off. I still love the game, but only get to play a little bit here and there nowadays.

How do you compete with the markets around you? The owners and managers, including Kisler, GM Billy Paganetti and VIP director Yolanda Basterrechea-Bean, have done a great job providing me with the resources needed to establish and maintain the games. We’ve been able to produce a superior product and, as such, the games have blossomed into something really special. — Cary Marshall