Novak wins Isle Open in South Fla.


Ante Up Magazine Southern Poker

The main event of the final major tournament series of the year at the Isle Poker Room in Pompano Beach, Fla., was won on Halloween by Edward Novak Jr., who took home $166K. The $1,500 event easily met its $500K guarantee by attracting 466 entries.

Isaiah Goldman, a cash-game player who finished as runner-up in the Florida State Poker Championship at the Isle in late July for his first major cash, also finished second here.

“I guess this is my lucky casino,” Goldman said. But when asked if he was making final tables in tourneys a regular proposition, he said, “I’m about 0-for-6 since that last one, so this is just my second cash. I guess I just run good here.”

There are a few noteworthy events running this month, too. On Dec. 5 and Dec. 18 will be the $150 Structure Beast, which has a $20K guarantee, 30-minute levels and 12K chips. There also will be a $20K guarantee on Dec. 12 and Dec. 26 for $130. But the big event is the $75K guarantee Dec. 14-18, which costs $130 and has 10 starting flights with Day 2 at noon on Dec. 18. Call the poker room for details.

WSOP: South Florida resident Jerry Wong was the second player eliminated from the World Series of Poker’s November Nine, but collected $1.1M for his eighth-place finish. Originally from Brooklyn, the Coconut Creek resident was knocked out by Vojtech Ruzicka when his pocket jacks ran into Ruzicka’s pocket queens about four hours into the action on Oct. 30.

Wong was the chipleader at the end of Day 5 in July when there were just 80 players left in a tourney that started with 6,700-plus entries.

Known primarily as a cash-game specialist, Wong’s previous best cash came at the 2013 PCA main event in the Bahamas (third, $725K). He also recently finished ninth in the $2,650 event at the Hard Rock Open in August ($25,575).

Wong, 31, sported a Knicks jersey for the November Nine, which led to a hilarious exchange before the final table. An usher asked for his ticket as he entered the Penn & Teller Theatre and Wong replied, “No, dude, I’m playing!”


AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES: The Heartland Poker Tour returned Oct. 26-Nov. 7, marking the 11th time the HPT has hosted an event in the St. Louis area. The $1,650 main event drew 407 entries over three flights, for a prize pool of $577,940.

Matt Donaldson of Kansas City earned the first main-event title of the season and $132,917, the largest score of his career, after defeating popular pro Ari Engle. Local player Mary Sturges was the first eliminated from the final table, falling victim to Engle, who later knocked out local Nick Weber in eighth and sent Derek Schroeder of Illinois to the rail in fifth.

Andrew Eisen of Ballwin, Mo., finished fourth for $37,855. Nicholas Constatin of Illinois, who eliminated Eisen and was the oldest player at the table, was third ($54,615).

Engel and Donaldson entered heads-up play with roughly the same amount of chips and it wasn’t long before they got it all-in preflop in a five-bet pot. Donaldson would make a flush for the title, awarding Engel $82,067 for second.


The next Million Dollar Heater will run Jan. 5-17 at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Miss., and will feature some fantastic guarantees.

Event 1, with just a $345 buy-in, guarantees a $600K prize pool. And since these events almost always exceed expectations, you should consider registering early to avoid being on a long alternates list. The seniors event and Monster Stack promise a $50K guarantee, which is a new spin.

The senior tournament is Jan. 10 with a $250 buy-in. Though overlays are rare at the Beau, this might be a great value for mid-week players.

This also is the case with the $355 Monster Stack, which starts on Jan. 11. With a mid-week start, this could turn out to be an exceptional value.

Another exciting addition is the $245 Big O tournament. There aren’t many opportunities to practice your Big O game outside of Las Vegas and California, and it’s even more rare to see it in a tournament format. The MDH also features a six-max event, PLO event and an O/8 tournament.

The $2,700 main event guarantees a $300K prize pool and has two flights, one each on Jan. 14 and Jan. 15. Don’t let the large buy-in scare you; there are plenty of mega-satellite opportunities scattered throughout the event roster.

The Beau Rivage is a gorgeous resort with top-notch guest service. Good rates for a hotel room always are available during events but they book up fast. Visit for more information on how to make your reservation.

After the MDH, you can look forward to the World Series of Poker Circuit stop in Tunica on Jan. 19-30. Look for details to that series in our next issue.

HORSESHOE TUNICA: Every Saturday is a $10K guarantee for $150. Players start with 10K chips and can get 2K more for an optional $10 add-on. Call for details.


COUSHATTA CASINO RESORT: The $440 Fall Blowout ran Oct. 21-23, attracting 141 entries as Michael Thibodeaux of Lafayette, La., won the title and $12,214.

Ronnie “Capt. Ron” Hope was second ($8,142), followed by James Beetz ($6,514), Derrick Sonnier ($4,885), Jordan Hollier ($4,342), Richard Margolin ($3,799), Jacob Seale ($3,257), Donna Tacone ($2,714), Leyton Brown ($2,171) and Greg Degenhartd ($1,628).

On Dec. 27-30, there will be a $250 three-flight event with the finals on Dec. 30. Call the poker room for more details.

North Florida

Sam Panzica became the latest World Poker Tour champion on Oct. 18 when he won the bestbet Bounty Scramble title, earning a spot on the WPT Champions Cup.

Panzica earned $354,335 after beating nearly 380 players and scored a seat into the season-ending Tournament of Champions.

Panzica and Richard Malone Jr. played heads-up for several hours and nearly 150 hands as Panzica overcame a 10-1 chip deficit to send Malone home in second ($237,616). Ankush Mandavia was third ($152,766), followed by Tyler Patterson ($100,643), Noah Schwartz ($77,499) and Paul Balzano ($64,183).

DAYTONA BEACH KENNEL CLUB: Ms. Amy’s $10K guarantee “Gift Giver” event runs Dec. 4 at 1:10 p.m. The $80 buy-in gets you 15K chips and 20-minute levels. Call for more details.

ORANGE CITY RACING AND CARD CLUB: The facility is set to open in January. Calling itself “Orlando’s Closest Poker,” this location is an extension of the Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Poker Room. It has a 33-table poker room, simulcast wagering and a sports bar. The poker room will have the same games and events as DBKC, with hourly high hands, special promotions and tableside dining.

EBRO GREYHOUND PARK: Christopher Taylor won the $30K guarantee Emerald Coast Championship main event. Taylor, by virtue of a three-way chop, pocketed $7,833 and a gold championship bracelet. The $280 buy-in event of Ebro’s signature series drew 203 players to easily pass its guarantee, generating a prize pool of $50,750.

Up next for Ebro will be a megastack event Jan. 27-29 followed by the Emerald Coast Spring Classic in April.

If you’re a weekend warrior, you should know the Panhandle poker room hosts three tournaments on Saturdays (1 p.m., $20; $6:30 p.m., $110; 8:30 p.m., $25) and a $220 deepstack on Sundays for $220 (2 p.m.).

Central Florida

It’s a common occurrence for the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa to host its deepstack series, which sports $350 and $560 weekend events with a few $150 and $250 tourneys thrown in. What’s remarkable is that time and time again these events destroy the guarantees.
The recent $350 had a $150K guarantee that saw 638 players enter as Tom Nguyen took top honors ($45,954) and the guitar trophy.

Usually these events see a chop deal but not this time. Nguyen eliminated second-place finisher Danny Lobato ($25,839). Brian Blanchard was third ($16,239), Bryce McVay finished fourth ($13,207) and Amelio Amato was fifth ($10,527).

Others of note were Karl Manouchakian in seventh, Michael Laake in 13th, Pamela Buzzetto in 45th and Dr. Marvin “Duckman” Karlins in 53rd.

Not to be outdone, the $570 event had a $200K guarantee and saw a star-studded field enter. Justin Zaki, Allen Kessler, November Niner John Dolan, Brian Reinhart and World Series of Poker main-event runner-up John Racener joined the local faithful looking for the $60K-plus first-place prize.

Alex Ivan and Amie Martini chopped $49,200 but Ivan was declared the winner. Daniel Griggs took third ($22,770), Anthony Astarita was fourth ($18,090) after finishing seventh in the $350, and Manouchakian was fifth ($14,168).

Others of note were Chrissy Holubeck in 14th, Anthony Pellegrini in 18th, local poker ambassador Wally Maddah in 26th and Steve Trizis in 27th.

Up next is the Hard Rock’s Winter Poker Open, which runs Dec. 1-18 and has nearly $750K in guarantees.

Dec. 1-4 is the $350 event with a $150K guarantee; Dec. 2 is the $150 ladies event; Dec. 7 is a $250 pot-limit Omaha event with a $15K guarantee; Dec. 8-11 is the $560 with a $200K guarantee. Dec. 13 is the $180 Classic Rockers (50-plus) with a $15K guarantee, and the $1,650 main event, which has a $300K guarantee, runs Dec. 15-18.

DERBY LANE: The Fall Pokerfest, featuring the popular Accumulator, was still running at press time. Look for results in a future issue. As for promotions, Derby Lane is running its Morning Madness, where if you show aces full in any jackpot eligible cash game, you’ll receive a tournament voucher that can be used toward any tournament and is valid until the second Sunday from issue date.

TAMPA BAY DOWNS: The Silks Poker Room’s $30K guarantee Halloween event drew 186 players to generate a nearly $60K prize pool. Kelvin Foster won the title and $15,088, followed by Dan Johnson ($9,321) and Joseph Parrish ($6,730). Other notables: Ari Prostak was sixth, Anthony Pellegrini was eighth and Brian Montgomery finished 11th.

On Dec. 24 from noon until midnight, the room is running its huge annual Xmas Eve Cash Giveaway. See the ad on Page 15 for more details.

Meet Jimmy Gorman

Most who work in poker got into the industry because they love playing the game; Jimmy Gorman is no exception. He dealt the first poker hand in River City’s now-closed poker room, which he managed from 2010-14. He then moved on to his current position as poker room manager of Lumiere Place, but his poker career began in 1984, dealing a home game in Denver at age 19, filling open seats late at night and becoming proficient in Omaha/8.

What was your greatest career highlight? I made Phil Hellmuth throw a chair into a wall during the 1995 WSOP at Binion’s. He flopped sixes full of twos and I turned sevens full. I crippled him, and yes, he called me everything in the book and then proceeded to spin around several times hurling his chair at a wall in a lobby area adjacent to the poker room. It was satisfying and we all laughed at him for hours.

How did you transition from poker pro to poker room manager? I played for a living from 21 to 43, when I found out I was going to be a dad, I felt it was time to become more responsible.
And how has that affected your goals in poker? I want to build the room I want to retire into. I plan on playing until I can’t. My daughter is a cancer survivor and this has changed the way I look at things. She is the only real goal I have. I’m planning out her educational funding and spending all of my free time with her while she’s young. She will be 8 this month. — Todd Lamansky

Ante Up Magazine

Ante Up Magazine