The inaugural PokerStars Festival debuted in Atlantic City at the Resorts Casino Hotel on Oct. 29-Nov. 6 and Jason Acosta won the $1,100 main event, topping a field of nearly 210 players. He defeated Mike Gagliano heads-up for $38,220. The 30-year-old recreational player from Little Ferry, N.J., qualified for the event on PokerStars, parlaying 500 StarsCoins into the largest payday of his tournament career.
“I thought the event was run really well,” he said. “The floor people were good, the dealers were good and the set-up is great. I’ve won tournaments online before, but nothing for this amount of money. It was a really tough field. There were a lot of solid players. This the top for me.”
The schedule also featured the third annual Chad Brown Memorial charity event with a large group of PokerStars pros attending, including Daniel Negreanu, Chris Moneymaker, Jason Mercier, Vanessa Selbst and Barry Greenstein. The $200 event with unlimited $100 rebuys raised $20K for the T.J. Martell Foundation for Leukemia, Cancer and AIDS research.
Team PokerStars Pro Jason Somerville took the top spot, earning $4,290 and a $5K PokerStars Championship Main Event seat. Somerville beat Jen Shahade, who picked up $3,225 along with a PPC main-event seat. Rounding out the top three was former TV reality show Survivor star “Boston” Rob Mariano, who took home $2,425.
A lack of advertising and publicity meant low turnout. The $340 PokerStars Cup event opener got 107 entrants for a prize pool of $31,137. Je Wook “Mikey” Oh won the event and $6,520.
“Honestly, I came on Sunday to play the $2,200 six-max,” he said. “But I only saw five registrants, so I jumped in the $340. … I’m so glad to win this event despite the small turnout. A win is a win.”
PARX: Michael Gagliano took down the Big Stax $1,100 main event for $104,999 after going heads-up with Tom Thomas, who won $66,572.Other prominent players at the final table were Aaron Mermelstein, Mike Linster and Jeff Izes. Gagliano, a 2016 WSOP bracelet-winner, adds to his poker resume at $1.4M.
The next Big Stax is Dec. 5-19. Parx will run two trophy events this time with buy-ins of $340 and $550.The series will include a special Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association charity event in memory of Carlos Juarez, a well-respected notable local player who died from complications of CMT. A donation of $25 from each $175 buy-in will go toward the CMTA.
Constantine Moustakis and Je Wook Oh chopped the $2,700 World Poker Finals Main Event at Foxwoods Casino Resort in Mashantucket, Conn., as each earned $108,651. The event had 226 entrants for a $548K prize pool. Moustakis earned the trophy and was followed by Matt Wantman ($54,257), Gennadiy Kostrov ($43,844) and Brad St.Vincent ($32,883).
Jiqiang Tong outlasted nearly 960 entrants to win the $600 event. Tong, playing out of Connecticut, collected $74K.
Emanuel Failla received $65,151 for finishing second. It marked the 192nd time Failla, who has made more than $5.1 million playing live, has cashed. Gennadly Kostroy, who was third, earned $38,282. Of his 18 cashes, 16 have come at Foxwoods. You can find all of the results at foxwoods.com.
The property hosts the $975K guarantee MegaStack Challenge from Dec. 2-12. Featuring 11 events, the challenge includes the $1,650 championship, which starts Dec. 10. The tournament has a guaranteed prize pool of $250K. The series gets under way with a $600 tourney with $500K guaranteed. A $400 event with a $100K guarantee begins Dec. 7.
MOHEGAN SUN: The $230 Holiday Hangover Tournament runs Dec. 26-29 with a $50K guarantee. See the ad on Page 33 for the multiflight schedule and room rates.
The poker room also hosts guarantees every Wednesday ($120, 6 p.m.). Seating is limited, so players are urged to register early. There will be no tournaments on Christmas, but there is a special; $330 event on Dec. 18 at 11 a.m. with a $30K guarantee. It will have 30K chips and 30-minute blinds.
TURNING STONE RESORT & CASINO: Steven Song edged Taylor Dean-Lipson to win the $570 tournament at the October Poker Weekend, earning $32,927.
Dean-Lipson of New York earned $20,787 and Joshua Colwell was third ($12,957).
Collin Reilly finished fourth, adding $9,152 to his bankroll. Robert Colao picked up $6,624 for fifth.
Overall, 232 players entered the event, which brought the prize pool to $116K.
Nicola Piccirillo was first in the $230 bounty for $1,489. Sahar Khalavi was second ($1,093) and Amin Khalavi ended up third ($1,010). With 37 entrants, the prize pool was $5,550.
SENECA NIAGARA FALLS: The poker room in Niagara Falls is hosting $5K 12 Hours of Christmas on Dec. 12 and Dec. 14. From noon until 6 p.m., the room will be paying $500 high hands and $100 hot seats every half hour.
This poker room has 23 tables and offers free drinks, player rewards, 13 big-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi.
SENECA SALAMANCA: The poker room’s First Saturday of the Month tourney is Dec. 2. Buy-in is $160 for the 7 p.m. event and that gets you 15K chips and 30-minute blinds.
Also, Dec. 9 is the second annual Holiday High Hand-Out Jackpot. All told, the promotion pays $2,500 as one $500 high hand is paid during five payout sessions: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 2-5 p.m., 5-8 p.m., 8-11 p.m. and 11-2 a.m. There is no minimum to qualify, merely the highest hand during the session earns the cash.
NIAGARA FALLSVIEW CASINO RESORT: The Niagara Falls property hosts the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic from Feb. 17-24.
DOVER DOWNS HOTEL AND CASINO: The Dover, Del., property hosts a Getaway Weekend on Dec. 9-11. On Dec. 5 and Dec. 7 at 7:15 p.m. there are $25 satellites for the $15K guarantee on Dec. 10. One in 10 wins a seat into the $15K.
On Dec. 9 at 11:15 a.m., there’s a $10K guarantee for $125. The starting stack is 20K with 25-minute blinds. The $15K guarantee is Dec. 10 at 11:15 for $150. The blinds are 30 minutes and you’ll start with 20K chips. To wrap up the weekend on Dec. 11 at 11:15, there’s a $2,500 guarantee for $45. The blinds are 15 minutes and you start with 10K chips. Dec. 29-Jan. 1, there will be a series of guarantees: Dec. 29 ($2,500 guarantee), Dec. 30 ($30K), Dec. 31 ($2K) and Jan. 1 ($2K).
Dover Downs also is running the best cash-back promo in the country with $400 a week available for cash play. This cash back is in addition to one comp dollar for each hour of play. See the poker room for details.
MARYLAND LIVE: Late Night High Hands and Holiday High Hands highlight the promotions this month.
Late Night High Hands will pay $300 every 30 minutes from 2 a.m.-7 a.m. But the poker room takes it a step further with its Holiday High Hands. Players will earn $500 for high hands every 10 minutes Dec. 7-11 from 2 p.m.-2 a.m.; every 15 minutes Dec. 11-16 from 11 a.m.-1 a.m.; every 20 minutes Dec. 17-22 from 11 a.m.-1 a.m. and every 30 minutes Dec. 26-30 from 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Call the poker room for more details.
MGM NATIONAL HARBOR: The property will have a 39-table poker room when it opens Dec. 8. Johnny Grooms, who used to run the Beau Rivage poker room, will oversee this room.
“We plan to host daily tournaments beginning in January, offering multiple game types and buy-ins to appeal to both the recreational poker player and the seasoned pro,” Grooms said. “Poker promotions such as high hands are scheduled to begin in February and we also are in the early stages of planning a large poker series that could change the landscape of tournament poker on the East Coast.”
Meet Jason Trzebny
Jason Trzebny is adeaf poker player from Washington. He plays regularly throughout the area, but his main expertise is tactile and close-vision interpreting for deaf-blind consumers, emergency legal-police interpreting and some conference interpreting. He has been interpreting professionally since 2001.
How long have you been involved with poker? I actually didn’t learn poker until college. It was a great addition to my college experience; I would be going to house games and hosting a lot. It was also when I was introduced to online poker. There used to be regular deaf members-only tournaments (online). Playing online poker taught me a lot about how to play and removed communication barriers.
Where do you usually play? Locally, there aren’t a lot of home games lately, but when I can, I go to charity tournaments in the D.C. area (allinenterprises.org). I haven’t won one of those charity tournaments yet. As for casinos, I go to Maryland Live and the Horseshoe in Baltimore. I’m looking forward to going to the new MGM National Harbor. The last time I won a tournament, it was a few years ago for almost $5K at the Showboat in Atlantic City.
What is your involvement in the deaf poker community? Poker is active in the deaf community. There are regional and national tournaments in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. All kinds of tournaments: women only, deaf-hard-of-hearing and tournaments open for anyone as long as they know sign language. Info can be found at deafpokerworld.com.
— Michael Young