Travis Hartshorn took down another tournament after dominating Parx’s Big Stax 300 in October, claiming the $2,700 main-event trophy at the Borgata Fall Poker Open in Atlantic City.Since his first tournament in March, Hartshorn has accumulated $469,902 in winnings, including this event, which was his biggest cash at $302,978.
Though Hartshorn played sporadically throughout 2016, he’s planning on returning this year with a full schedule.
“I spent a few years grinding my way up through the live cash games, building a bankroll and working toward playing full time,” he said. “I just decided to turn my attention more toward live tournaments this year. I’ve been really enjoying it.”
Hartshorn said he will be investing in the entire upcoming Borgata Winter Open.
Justin Liberto, who won a World Series six-max bracelet in 2015, booked the BPO six-max for $40,158, followed by a third-place finish in the $1,060 bounty event.
“Six-max is certainly my favorite variant of hold’em,” he said. “Obviously, I enjoy the generic benefits of being in the action more and extra leg room you get with short-handed play. I’ve had some of my best results in six-max and feel very comfortable while playing.”
SUGARHOUSE CASINO: The Philadelphia property named Vicki Sims as poker director in early December. Sims, who worked for the Golden Nugget and Wynn in Las Vegas, and Poker Night in America producer Matt Glantz will be working together to bring back the Poker Night Classic series in the spring.
“We will be crunching the numbers and looking to optimize all aspects of the series going forward,” Glantz said.“You can be certain that we will always look to improve.”
In other news, the poker room wrapped up the year with its fourth SugarRush $100K guarantee. The tournament was designed for recreational players, meaning cheaper buy-ins and presumably a softer field, which totaled 505 players.
Three players chopped the remaining $50K after Chris Caruso went out fourth. Ed Py, Bob Capanna and John Attanasio took home $16,697 each.Attanasio drew the high card for the trophy, making it his second SugarRush chop.
The event’s popularity is consistently increasing entries despite the neighboring poker rooms running series.
“The tournament continues to draw a crowd, growing a little more each time the event is run,” said Geno Raman, who’s cashed in the event multiple times. “I’ve been a big fan of SugarHouse’s SugarRush structure since they have adjusted it to start antes at Level 1. It’s the best structure around, at this specific price point, only behind Parx’s Big Stax.The addition of a Day 2 buy-in helps generate another $20K-$30K in the prize pool, which you’ll never hear me complain about.”
FOXWOODS RESORT CASINO: John Caputo won the $400 event of the Weekend Mini Series, adding $20K to his lifetime earnings. The event had 301 players for a $101K prize pool.
Ralph Macri of Redding, Conn., won the $300 bounty event that kicked off the series, good for $5,200.
Seunghwan Lee of New York won the $300 big stack tourney for $5,827.
Maryland’s MGM National Harbor Casino in Prince George’s County opened Dec. 8 with a 39-table smoke-free poker room.
There will be 24-hour tableside dining, complimentary non-alcoholic beverage service, a full-service cashier cage, an overhead high-tech music system, 40 large flatscreen TVs, an ultramodern video wall for viewing sporting events and a separate high-limit section with two tables for the biggest games in the D.C. metro area.
“We plan to host daily poker tournaments beginning in January, offering multiple game types and buy-ins to appeal to both the recreational poker player and the seasoned pro,” director of poker Johnny 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.”
DOVER DOWNS HOTEL AND CASINO: There’s a Getaway Weekend running Jan. 6-8: The first event is Jan. 6, 11:15 a.m., a $10K guarantee, $125 buy-in, 25-minute blinds, 30K stack; Jan. 7, 11:15 a.m., $25K guarantee, $225 buy-in, 30-minute blinds, 30K stack; Jan. 8, 11:15 a.m., $2,500 guarantee, $45 buy-in, 20-minute blinds, 15K stack.
CHARITY POKER: All In Enterprises host its annual World Series of DC charity series Jan. 29-Feb. 4 and the main event begins Feb. 12. For details, go to allinenterprises.org.
SENECA NIAGARA CASINO & HOTEL: Daniel Wagner edged Cameron Bartolotta to win the $1K main event of Fall Poker Classic, which drew 300 players for a $264,810 prize pool. For the win, the first of his career, Wagner pocketed $64,882. A resident of West Seneca, he has 25 cashes on the circuit.
Bartolotta, from nearby Hamilton, Ontario, earned $40,781. Veerab Zakarian finished third ($29,394).
Mark Allott was fourth ($21,714) and Nicholas Potwora was fifth ($16,153).
Amin Akhlaghi outlasted 600-plus players to win Event 1 for $34,164. The prize pool for the $300 event was $151,805. Maurice Sessum was second ($21,101) and Scotland’s Alan Findlay was third ($13,829).
Jeffery Hobrecker, a local from Niagara Falls, pocketed $9,655 for fourth, while Lee Sylvester earned $7,211 for fifth.
Leonid Kaplin took down Event 5 ($4,103) edging John Stempien ($2,569). The prize pool was $15,200.
Jeffrey Salhab earned $6,847 for Event 6 ($300 PLO).
TURNING STONE RESORT CASINO: The Winter Poker Meltdown runs Jan. 5-8. The highlight of the series is the $250 main event, which has a $50K guarantee. The $225 deepstack turbo, including a $50 bounty, is Jan. 8 at 1 p.m.
DEL LAGO RESORT & CASINO: The grand opening of this Finger Lakes property is 10 a.m. on Feb. 1, and there is a 10-table poker room.
TIOGA DOWNS: The property opened its casino Dec. 2. The gaming floor features 33 table games, and the former Winner’s Circle Lounge has been renovated to serve as a 10-table poker room. Plans are being made to host tournaments this year.
Meet Renata Colache
How long have you been playing poker? Roughly six years.
Do you travel often for poker? Last year was actually the first year that I played in the WSOP in Vegas. I was very fortunate to be able to play the main event. Though I couldn’t make a deep run, it was an amazing experience nonetheless. Other than Vegas, once a year; I don’t really travel to play poker at this time.
You’ve made quite a stir on the East Coast this past year. What kind of player would you describe yourself as? In all honesty, I view myself as a recreational player. A hobby that sometimes pays off.
Do you have any interest in becoming a pro? When I first starting playing poker, I would sit there and fantasize about becoming a pro poker player. Since then, I realized it takes a ton of discipline and a special kind of person to play professionally. You really need to immerse yourself into the game as well as the ability to desensitize yourself. There is still so much that I would need to work on, if I were to seriously consider going professional. I just don’t have the time to dedicate to the game right now, but who knows what the future may hold.
Any future plans? I am starting to take up a new hobby, boxing.
Are you going to crush that, too? That’s the plan! Hopefully, I don’t show up at the table with a shiner. — Jo-Kim