In early February, the World Series of Poker Circuit visited Wisconsin for the first time, stopping at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in downtown Milwaukee. The stop kicked off by setting a state attendance record with 1,272 entrants in Event 1, a $365 re-entry, which Ty Veras won for $67,726.
The $1,675 main event saw 32-year-old Alex Aqel best a field of 677 entrants to capture the $208,184 first-place prize and a seat into the Global Casino Championship. Aqel’s win came four months after he topped a field of 595 entries to win the Mid-States Poker Tour at Potawatomi for $138,385.
“Playing for that amount of money is a lot easier because I just recently had a big score myself,” he said. “It was more that I just wanted to win a WSOPC main event. That was huge for me.”
Other winners included: Yousef Anbar (Event 2, $580 NLHE, 235 entries, $29,371); Winston Ackeran (Event 3, $365 NLHE, 324 entries, $22,842); Leon Gao (Event 4: $365 NLHE, 179 entries, $14,500); Josh Reichard (Event 5, $365 PLO, 227 entries, $17,021); Travis Lauson (Event 6, $365 NLHE six-max, 247 entries, $19,639); Eric Guth (Event 7, $365 Monster Stack, 532 entries, $34,310); Nadya Magnus (Event 8, $2,200 high roller, 119 entries, $71,398); Kalpesh Shah (Event 11, $580 NLHE, 170 entries, $22,950), and Scott Quimby (Event 12, $365 NLHE, 246 entries, $18,083).
Byron Ziebell won the Potawatomi Casino Championship after cashing four times and reaching two final tables, including a win in Event 10 ($365 NLHE) for $19,547. Ziebell needed at least a ninth-place finish in the final event, which is what he got. He was awarded a seat in the GCC for the feat.
The WSOPC is slated to return here in 2018.
TROPICANA EVANSVILLE: Jason Gwinn outlasted a record field to win the MSPT regional for $35K. The 511 entries made it the largest tournament the property has hosted and more than tripled the advertised $50K guarantee.
Gwinn, a 47-year-old mailman playing in just his second MSPT event, overcame a more than 10-to-1 chip disadvantage during heads-up play with Tammy Wargel.
“The tournament was great; everybody was real nice.” said Gwinn, whose poker playing is limited to stops within driving distance and his annual two-week trip to Las Vegas during the WSOP.
The MSPT returns to the Tropicana on Aug. 12 for the $250K guarantee Indiana State Poker Championship.
MAJESTIC STAR: High-hand promotions run Wednesdays noon-midnight with $100 paid on even hours and $100 splashed pots on odd hours.
In other news, Antonio Modacure won the monthly $10K guarantee for $4K.
WINDY CITY POKER CHAMPIONSHIP: Sandra McGuire won WCPC’s first women’s tournament, earning $850 after outlasting
17 players. In 2008, McGuire played in the WCPC’s largest Illinois televised tournament. She plays cash and tournaments at Grand Victoria.
Also, Robert Ingram won the league points championship and David Schultz won the league championship tournament.
RUNNING ACES CASINO: Luke Bohnen of Blaine, Minn., earned $86,440 after winning the MSPT event in February. Bohnen came to the final table with a lead he never relinquished despite facing some tough competition. Local pro Joseph Barnard finished fourth. Nicole Nelson, a former dealer at Running Aces and Canterbury Park, took third. Local powerhouse Rajaee Wazwaz battled Bohnen heads-up, but the tournament ended when Wazwaz’s straight draw missed against Bohnen’s pocket nines.
Bohnen recently returned to poker after a three-year hiatus.
“Poker was all I was doing for a whole year, but Dad said I had to get a real job,” Bohnen said of his time away from the game. “I sort of faded from poker. Last Christmas, I decided to start playing again and had a lot of luck right out of the gate. This is my biggest win by far, but it’s still back to work tomorrow. It’s going to be a really fun day though.”
The $1,100 event drew 358 entries to generate a $345,760 prize pool.
JACK CASINO CINCINNATI: The Jack Poker Open series ran Feb. 20-27. The $1K main event drew an impressive 666 entries for a $600K prize pool. Rudy Cadenas of Columbus, Ohio, took first place for $114,678, besting Jared Palmer ($70,932) of Seaman, Ohio and Gregory Yeager ($52,024) of Clinton County, Ohio.
In other JPO action, the $300 seniors event ended in a four-way chop. Steven Lutz (Nicholasville, Ky.), Edward Shade (Hurricane, W.Va.), Jack Lewis (Austin, Ind.) and Dennis Pery (Williamstown, Ky.) each took home $8,569. Another $300 event saw Robert Reed of Cincinnati finish first for $11,842. Another local Cincinnatian, Ray Attiyah, took down the $300 PLO event for $12,725. Ronald Surenkamp of Port Richey, Fla., won the $200 turbo for $4,017. In the final event, a $300 bounty tournament, Dan Liu of Florence, Ky., won the title and $5,922.
THE MEADOWS: From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month, $300 is awarded every hour for the high hand as $4,500 total will be paid. Make a royal flush and win a progressive jackpot. The amount is posted in the room.
HOLLYWOOD CASINO TOLEDO: High hands are paid every 30 minutes on Thursdays (4-midnight), Fridays (4 p.m.-2 a.m.), Saturdays (noon-2 a.m.) and Sundays (noon-10 p.m.).
HORSESHOE COUNCIL BLUFFS: The $555 RunGood main event wrapped up Feb. 26 with a three-way chop between Mark Fink, “Farmer” Phil Mader and Gregory Jennings. They each pocketed just shy of $22K.
In the $180 deepstack, Joshua Sandoval won $8,268 and James Devaney took the $135 Pro Knockout event for $4,373.
During the final few days of March and the first nine days of April, the WSOPC will bring 13 ring events to the Horseshoe. On April 29, there will be a WSOP satellite with $100 entry for a seat to this summer’s $10K WSOP main event in Las Vegas.
PRAIRIE MEADOWS: The property will host a $200 satellite April 23 for a WSOP main-event package to include a $10K entry plus $2K for expenses.
DIAMOND JO WORTH: The bad-beat jackpot was nearly $250K at press time. Diamond Jo also is running a 30-for-30 promotion until April 18, giving players a chance to win prizes valued at $500. Check with the poker room for more details.
GRAND FALLS CASINO: There will be $50K guarantee MSPT regional for $350 during the first week of May. Satellites begin April 29.
Meet Bob Popper
In 2005, Bob Popper was poker’s first Midwest correspondent, writing his column Popper’s Floppers for Top Pair, which had given Chicagoland its first in-depth view of local poker rooms and players.
Has Chicagoland poker changed? Poker in the Chicagoland area certainly has changed from its high point in the mid 2000s to what it is today. Many of the casinos thatdidn’t have poker rooms, opened them up during the height of the hold’em popularity rush. … The popularity of poker is still at a good level and most of the casinos have kept their poker rooms.
What was your most memorable experience? Being at my first World Series of Poker was certainly a highlight. I also participated in a WPT Boot Camp training session and played in their tournament where I could learn a lot about poker. I guess I can’t pick out one memorable moment. I can say meeting many pro players over the years has been very memorable. They present one image while playing in a tournament or on a televised event yet can be different in everyday life. I learned so many of them, especially the old-timers, have a heart of gold and contribute part of their earnings to charity. — Joe Giertuga