Ante Up poker cruises giveaways in Aurora



Hollywood Casino Aurora will award 10 Ante Up Poker Cruise packages to players in a mega-freeroll Oct. 9. Players can qualify for the mega-freeroll at the casino in Aurora, Ill., near Chicago, by advancing in qualifying freerolls on Aug. 7, Sept. 4 and Oct. 2.

To qualify for the monthly freerolls, players must log at least 60 hours of live play or enter at least four Wednesday tournaments in the month preceding each freeroll. Players will start with 6K units and can earn more based on their live-play total or combining a minimum amount of live play with their entry into the four Wednesday tournaments. The top 10 players in each of the monthly freerolls will win an entry into the mega-freeroll plus a share of $8K.

In addition to the 30 players who win their way into the mega, the 100 players with the most live-play hours from July 1-Sept. 30 will gain entry into the mega.

Players who qualify for the Oct. 9 mega will start with 10K units and have the option of getting 5K more with a $20 dealer add-on.

The top 10 finishers all win a balcony stateroom Ante Up Poker Cruise package for two for the Nov. 14 sailing out of Tampa, Fla., aboard Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas and $1K in travel money, and will share in $25,440 based on their finish.

Also from July until September, the poker room is running a Get Paid to Play promotion, giving players $1 an hour for live play of between 60-99 hours and $2 an hour for 100 or more hours. Players with more than 200 hours get a Producer Card. Contact the casino for full details on these promotions.

WSOP UPDATES: Five Chicagoland players won bracelets in this year’s World Series of Poker, with four winning their first.

Benjamin Keeline from Oswego, who was down to less than a big blind on Day 1, collected $1 million after winning the Colossus II, the second largest live tournament in history with 21,613 entries.

Naperville’s Kyle Julius won the $1K turbo and $142K. The 29-year-old pro was runner-up at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2012.

Jean Gaspard of Chicago captured the $10K dealer’s choice six-max event for $543K. The 44-year-old Haitian-born pro once played pro basketball and attended Bulls training camp.

Alexander Ziskin of Chicago won the $1,500 Event 29 after one of the longest heads-up contests in WSOP history, earning $401K.

Brandon Shack-Harris won the $10K eight-handed pot-limit Omaha championship for $894K. This was the Chicago pro’s second bracelet and he was runner-up for player of the year in 2014.

In other Las Vegas accomplishments, Naperville’s Mike Holm won the Wynn Summer Classic Seniors event for $34K. Dan Zogman from McHenry collected $7,500 after outlasting 268 entries at the Golden Nugget, including HPT Player of the Year (and his wife) Mary Jo Belcore-Zogman. Jim Kasputis Jr., who won his seat at Hollywood Aurora, finished 10th for $22K at the HPO Championship at the M Resort.

HARRAH’S JOLIET: The Mega Bad Beat Jackpot was at $606K (quad eights) at press time. The mini-bad beat was $19K.

WINDY CITY POKER LEAGUE: Apollo Katriadakis won the championship tournament after a lengthy heads-up match with Leroy Carver Jr.

TROPICANA EVANSVILLE: The Indiana State Championship runs Aug. 13-21. Call the poker room for schedule and details.


NEW POKER ROOM: Rhythm City Casino opened a location on land in Davenport in June, giving the state another poker room. Jesse Holm is the poker room manager so be sure to stop in to say hello and see what’s happening in the large 14-table room.

The new building is impressive and you’ll recognize the design because the casino is owned by the same group that owns Riverside and Grand Falls. While Holm is still feeling the water to determine what tournaments will work best in this room, there are regular weekly events with affordable buy-ins at 6 p.m. on Mondays ($30) and Wednesdays ($40). On the last Sunday (Aug. 28), there’s a $100 no-limit hold’em tournament. Holm said satellites will run for some of the bigger tournaments at Riverside Casino, so this should save the quad-city crowd some driving. We’ll keep you updated as the room matures and stretches its wings.

Rhythm City Casino is near the I-80/I-74 junction and is accessed from I-74. Rhythm City also has a hotel if you’d like to stay and play.

RIVERSIDE CASINO: They 10th anniversary Poker Classic runs Aug 19-21. This is a $250 event that normally gets a big turnout. There will be $30 satellites every Wednesday at 6 p.m. until the event begins. Also, congratulations goes to Kenny Wessels, who won the July 4 Stars & Stripes tournament for $6,067.

GRAND FALLS CASINO: The Mid-States Poker Tour stops here in the northwest part of the state in August. There will be satellites Aug 20-27 at various buy-in levels. The $1,100 main event is Aug. 26-28 and has a $150K guarantee. The schedule can be found at

HORSESHOE COUNCIL BLUFFS: The RunGood Series is Aug 17-21. The $1,100 main event, which begins Aug. 19, has a $100K guarantee. Also, the Horseshoe has brought back the Aces Cracked promotion. Starting at 8 a.m. the first three players to have their pocket aces beaten win $100.

PRAIRIE MEADOWS CASINO: A $200 deepstack event runs at noon Aug 21. Also, you can follow the Prairie Meadows Poker Room on Twitter @pmeadowspoker.

DIAMOND JO CASINO: The Worth property has a bad-beat jackpot that surpassed the $200K mark at the beginning of July.


WSOP RECAP: Ryan Laplante of Brainerd, Minn. had an outstanding showing at the WSOP. He won his first bracelet in Event 12 ($565 PLO), which had 2,483 entrants to make it the largest non-hold’em event in WSOP history. Laplante had cashed in 12 events over the course of the series for a $232K. Showing he’s not a one-trick pony, he cashed in hold’em, Omaha and HORSE. He also, at one point, reached second in the GPI WSOP Player of the Year race and finished the summer in the top 20.

Several other Minnesotans had an impressive WSOP. Aaron Johnson of Redwing had the second-most earnings of $108K, largely from finishing 72nd in the main event. Eric Worre of Eden Prairie had the third-most earnings of $66K from a seventh-place finish in Event 39 ($10K six-max). Everett Carlton cashed in 10 events featuring varieties of hold’em and Omaha for almost $25K. John Marlowe cashed in eight events for almost $25K and Jared Koppel had seven cashes for $38K. Kou Vang cashed in five events for $19K. Aaron Johnson, Carl Carodenuto, Gennady Shimelfarb and Joseph Barnard cashed in four events, while 12 Minnesotans cashed in three events. Overall, 132 Minnesota players cashed a combined 224 times in 43 events for $1.4M.

RUNNING ACES: The Easy Money series again allowed local players to battle it out while many of the best players were in Las Vegas. Darrin Hughes of South St. Paul, Minn., came out on top for $19,306. The $350 event attracted 267 players to generate a $68,967 prize pool.

CANTERBURY PARK: Venka Mogalopalli of Plymouth, Minn., took down the $250 Cheap and Deep event for $30,503. The event drew 703 entries for $143,201 prize pool.


POTAWATOMI HOTEL & CASINO: For the first time, the World Series of Poker Circuit will visit the Badger State. From Feb. 2-13 2017, the WSOPC will be in Milwaukee for 12 ring events, culminating in a $1,675 main event from Feb. 10-13. The schedule will be released soon.

HO-CHUNK GAMING NEKOOSA: Amateur Travis Barritt of Wisconsin Rapids had some luck off the table in early June. That’s because the father of three was the grand-prize winner of the American Muscle Car Giveaway, which awarded him a 2016 Dodge Challenger R/T valued at $40K.

HO-CHUNK GAMING WISCONSIN DELLS: The Tellurian Celebrity Poker Game Night, a charity fundraiser in early June, saw 108 players square off against former Packers from the winning Super Bowl XXXI team.

Among the football players in attendance were Antonio Freeman, Derrick Mayes, Andre Rison, Shannon Clavelle, Mathew Dorsett, Sean Jones, Dorsey Levens, Doug Evans, Bruce Wilkerson and Travis Jervey, who was the last football player standing.

Joe Scarpelli Jr. walked away with a $1,250 first-place prize plus a cooler filled with items, including a Packers helmet and an autographed football.

Ohio/Western Pennsylvania

JACK CINCINNATI CASINO: The former Horseshoe Cincinnati rebranded itself as Jack Cincinnati Casino in early June, but poker will continue with its same great events. The first Saturday of the month is a $50K guarantee at 12:15 p.m. with a $400 buy-in, 12K starting chips and 40-minute levels (Aug. 6). Call the poker room for details.

The third Saturday is a $25K guarantee turbo at 12:15 for $300, 16K chips and 15-minute levels. There’s also a $10K guarantee every Monday and Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. for $160 (10K chips, 30 minute-levels).

MEADOWS CASINO: If you’re looking for an affordable daily tournament in the Pittsburgh area, check out the $31 re-entry events at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are 12-minute blinds and 8K chips, though you can get 2K more with a $5 dealer add-on. And if you see this in time, there’s a $201 deepstack on June 19 at 11:15 a.m. for 20K chips and 30-minute levels. A $10 add-on gets you 5K more in chips.

NEW AMBASSADOR: Ante Up would like to welcome Brian Bly as our ambassador for this region. If you’d like to contact him with info from your room or maybe there’s someone you think he should interview, email him at

Meet Jeremy Smith

At 6 feet, 8 inches, Jeremy Smith’s towering figure has been a familiar sight in Chicagoland poker rooms. He has been involved with those local rooms almost from their beginning, starting as a dealer in 2000 at Harrah’s East Chicago.Smith quickly moved up, gaining the respect and loyalty of area players. His passion and expertise in the poker industry make him one of the top poker leaders in the business.

In 2006, Smith became the first tournament director for a televised event in the Chicago area and assisted many tournaments, including the World Series of Poker Circuit. He now travels the country as the Heartland Poker Tour’s tournament director. Smith is married and has two boys who play in basketball leagues.

What was your most memorable experience with the HPT? When Jaymz Larson started doing the TV commentary and I stepped in doing the live final-table commentary.

How did you get interested in the poker industry? I always enjoyed playing poker and one of my friends was a dealer, so I applied and the rest is history.

What’s your favorite part working with the HPT? Getting to meet so many different players around the country. I also love to travel and get to work in many different places. The HPT staff that travels with us is also the best. — Joe Giertuga

Ante Up Magazine

Ante Up Magazine