The WPT500 debut at the Gardens Casino drew a huge crowd of 3,266 entries to the $565 main event, which grew the prize pool to $1.63M, easily surpassing the $1M guarantee.
Peter Hengsakul began the final table with the lead, but it was first-time World Poker Tour player Dong Le defeating Owen Crowe in heads-up play to capture the title.
Le, a real-estate broker for 20 years from Boston, entered the final table third in chips, but quickly asserted himself as the table captain.
Le’s aggression was paramount and it was the key factor in what allowed him to come out on top.This was the biggest score of his career ($224,500). Rounding out the final nine were Crowe ($130K), Hengsakul ($100K), Richard Tae Kim ($81K), Ilya Shpiner ($65K), Deepinder Singh ($49K), Mike Eskandari ($36K), Alex Fayneshteyn ($28K) and Greg Roberts ($21K).
PALA CASINO: Peter Nguyen of San Marcos won the River Card tournament May 14 for $4,513 and John Cover of La Quinta won $2,659 for second.
On the final hand, Nguyen was dealt pocket threes and Cover had A-2. Ngyuyen’s set of 3s topped Cover’s pair of aces when both went all-in on the flop. Cover got no help on the turn or river and Nguyen prevailed.
The event had 124 players vying for the $17,960 prize pool and 13 finalists cashed. Rounding out the top 10 were Craig Fouts of Carlsbad ($1,773), Tom Jones of Escondido ($1,289), Linn Holland of Escondido ($1,168), Matthew Goddard of Carlsbad ($968), Gary Karner of Laguna Woods ($846), Tim Anders of Las Vegas ($688), Bradford Lawn of San Diego ($604) and Steven Potashnick of San Diego ($483).
WSOP NEWS: Several SoCal players had some early success. Taylor Paur of San Diego took 10th in Event 3 ($3K shootout) for $14,675. It was Paur’s 34th career cash at the WSOP and he has one bracelet from 2013. His career WSOP earnings are $1.23M.
Taking down eighth in the same event, also from San Diego, was Mark McMillin, earning his biggest career cash ($24,410).
Event 4 also saw two SoCal players in the top 10.Gary Vick of Northridge earned his first cash with a fifth-place spot for $53,171. Alex Ferrari scored his fifth WSOP payday, coming in third for $103,471, his largest career payout.
BICYCLE HOTEL AND CASINO: The WPT Legends of Poker runs Aug. 22-29 and has $5M in guarantees.
ELK VALLEY: The fourth annual Deck Championship, which sports a $10K guarantee, will be July 8 at 4 p.m. at the Elk Valley Casino in Crescent City, Calif.
The $160 tournament gets you 5K chips and a $10 optional dealer add-on will get you 2,500 more.
The winner of the event will earn a silver bracelet worth $500 and re-entry is allowed until Level 4.
For more information, see the ad in the current issue or go to the poker room’s website at elkvalleycasino.com.
STONES GAMBLING HALL: The Citrus Heights poker room has a unique promotion called Million Dollar Limit Hold’em, which runs until Aug. 12 (See the ad at right). Players earn tickets by playing limit and making full house or better. Nine players will be drawn to play in a one-table limit tournament Aug. 12.
Players who finish fifth-ninth can win $2K while the top four players draw five mystery envelopes, which contain 10s, jacks, queens, kings and aces in all four suits.
They will be paid based upon their draw where anything below a straight pays $3K, a straight pays $5K, a full house pays $10K, quads pay $25K and a royal flush pays $1M. This event will be on Stones Live at Twitch.com.
LIVERMORE CASINO: A couple of special tournaments run this month and are known for great turnouts.
On the third Saturday of the month is a $175 re-entry event where $2K is guaranteed for first.
On the last night of the month, Livermore hosts a $120 bounty tournament with $1K guaranteed to first.
Other promotions include a mega jackpot, which can pay $100K, Aces Cracked, Royal Flush Bonus and $100 high hands.
NAPA VALLEY CASINO: If you’re in wine country, this American Canyon poker room is the spot to go for big promotions.
It has numerous jackpots, including a $50K Monster Bad Beat, where players must have quad eights or better beaten.
Napa Valley Casino also has a $3K Easy Bad Beat Jackpot in hold’em, where the minimum hand is aces full of 10s or better beaten by quads.
The final jackpot is a $3K Omaha/8 bad beat, where quad 10s is the qualifier.
OAKS CARD CLUB: In Emeryville, a variety of tournaments run throughout the week. Monday’s tournament is a $150 bounty event at 6:15 p.m. with $20 bounties.
Wednesday is a $185 event. The weekend events are Saturday at 11 a.m. ($130) and Sunday at 1 p.m. ($235).
All of these tournaments are point qualifiers for the Player of the Year event. Oaks also has bad-beat jackpots in hold’em, stud and Omaha/8.
THUNDER VALLEY CASINO RESORT: In case you missed it, the Lincoln, Calif., property is hosting the Ante Up World Championship with $1M in guarantees July 20-Aug. 6.
VENETIAN: The next Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza runs Aug. 31-Sept. 24. Among the highlights is the $1,100 superstack event that has two starting flights beginning Sept. 15. Players start with 20K chips and play 40-minute levels. The guarantee is $200K.
Another event with a $200K guarantee is the $800 eight-max that starts Sept. 1. The starting stack is 15K and has 40-minute levels.
The $340 doublestack event, which has a $100K guarantee, offers two starting flights beginning Sept. 12. The starting stack is 25K and levels run 40 minutes.
Players with tighter bankrolls should check out the $250 event Sept. 19. With five starting flights, it has a $250K prize pool. Players start with 15K chips and play 30-minute levels to start, progressing to 40 minutes on Day 2. A similar tournament with three starting flights and a $125K guarantee starts Sept. 7.
Omaha/8 players will enjoy the $250 O/8 event Aug. 31, starting with 10K chips and play 30-minute levels. The prize pool guarantee is $7K.
The series has 42 events and guaranteed prize pools exceed $1.4M.
In other news, a deal was reached at the final table of the main event of Venetian’s May Weekend Extravaganza, resulting in Australia’s Rajkumar Ramakrishnan and Las Vegas’ Stephen Ma each taking home $20K-plus. Carl Grounds of Las Vegas left with $18K-plus, while Christopher Busch of Colorado grabbed $17K and Mark Cannon from Southern California earned $16K. This $340 doublestack had more than 620 entrants, resulting in a prize pool of $176K, easily surpassing the $100K guarantee.
SOUTH POINT HOTEL AND CASINO: July 1-31 is the qualifying period for the poker room’s $10K player-appreciation freeroll, which will be Aug. 8. The top 50 players with the most hours played will qualify with $4K being paid to the winner of the tournament. Payouts, rules and more info is available in the ad on Page 11 of our current issue.
HARRAH’S: The room hosts a Ladies Warm-up event July 6. The $240 tournament offers a $7K first-place prize package that includes a cash prize, a day of training from the WSOP School of Poker, sunglasses, headphones and a bracelet. The event runs at 10 a.m. and starts with 20K chips and 20-minute levels. A $10 add-on gets 5K more.
ARIA: Christoph Vogelsang took home the $6M first-place prize for winning the Super High Roller Bowl on June 1. Jake Schlinder came away with $3.6M as runner-up. The event was limited to 56 players, each paying $300K to compete for the $16.8M prize pool. The tournament welcomed actor-comedian Kevin Hart as the special celebrity player and he played admirably, knocking out Phil Hellmuth and Fedor Holz on consecutive days. He fell short of cashing, though.
Aria hosted a number of high rollers leading up to its Aria Classic. The two-day, $100K event in late May was settled with a three-way deal. Christian Christner of Germany won $1.4M, Steffan Sontheimer of Germany won $1.2M and Benjamin Tollerene of Texas took home $1M. The total prize pool was $5.2M and there were 54 players.
MANDALAY BAY: The revised tournament schedule offers three $65 tournaments a day, at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. Players start with 10K chips and have 15-minute levels.
The main cash game is $1-$2 NLHE with a $100-$300 min-max buy-in. Another option is a $1-$3 game with a $1K max buy-in and a mandatory button straddle. There’s also a $2-$5 game with a $200-$2.5K min-max.
Aces and Kings Cracked is one of the promos. Players who lose with pocket aces win the size of the pot ($150 max). Players losing with pocket kings win the size of the pot ($75 max). The pot must be a minimum of $20 to qualify. This promotion runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 3 p.m. and daily 6-9 p.m.
Rolling High Hands runs at specific time periods during the week and there are three specific prize pools, all starting at $100 and progressing until it is won. The minimum hand to qualify is jacks full or better.
There are high hands, too: $100 for quads, $200 for straight flushes and $400 for royals.
STRATOSPHERE: The poker room at the north end of the Strip offers two versions of its daily 7 p.m. tournament. Every night except Mondays and Wednesdays, the buy-in is $50 for 4,500 chips. There’s an optional $20 add-on for 6K chips. The levels are 20 minutes.
Mondays and Wednesdays offer a similar tournament at $70 with $20 bounties. The starting stack is 6K and has a $20 add-on for 6K chips.
The room offers its popular Stratstack tournament periodically on Saturdays at noon, usually twice a month. It has a $110 buy-in, 30-minute levels and a 20K stack.
All tournaments offer players free pizza during the first break.
The regular cash game running is $1-$2 NLHE, with a $50-$300 min-max. There are high hands, which pay double when flopped between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. The $50 High Hand of the Hour runs three times a day (11 a.m. to noon, 2-3 p.m. and 7-8 p.m.). Aces Cracked pays $50.
CAESARS PALACE: Jake Revelle is the new poker room manager. He moved over from Bally’s, where he was manager for several years. Before that, he managed poker rooms at Harrah’s, Flamingo and the Quad.
BALLY’S: Chris Gawlik takes over for Revelle. He had been running Planet Hollywood’s poker room for more than five years and will manage both rooms now.
LUXOR: The poker room closed in June.
— Check out Rob Solomon’s blog at robvegaspoker.blogspot.com.
SILVER LEGACY: The poker room has opened in Reno, though a grand-opening celebration will be this month with $20K giveaways, so call the room for details. Canter’s Deli also just opened next to the poker room.
PEPPERMILL CASINO RESORT: Double high hands are Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Each hour the best hand in hold’em will be worth $200 and $100 for Omaha.
NUGGET: The poker room offers a practice $12 buy-in for beginners, getting 700 in tournament chips on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 6 p.m.
ATLANTIS CASINO: Cash-game players enjoy discounted meals. Players can view the current waitlist and type of games in the poker room by visiting atlantiscasino.com.
GRAND SIERRA RESORT CASINO: The first Sunday event at 11 a.m. has a $5K guarantee for $100 and 5K chips. A $10 add-on gets you 5K more and rebuys are allowed through Level 3.
WSOP NEWS: Christopher Gallagher of Portland took sixth in Event 1, the employee tournament that kicks off the World Series of Poker at the Rio in Las Vegas each year.
MEDFORD SOCIAL CLUB: The 10-week $80 buy-in qualification tournaments completed in early May and the 10 winners re-convened May 14 for the championship with a World Series of Poker package ($10K main-event seat and $1,500 for expenses) on the line.
The winner was Bela Keenan of Ashland, Ore. He’s only been playing a couple of years so if he cashes, it will be his first Hendon Mob-recorded cash. The other nine players will be rooting for him as they each get 2 percent of the winner’s cash at the WSOP.
The series was such a success, the club repeated in in June, after Ante Up went to press, so Medford sent two players to the main event.
The Medford (Ore.) Social Club is the largest of the state’s social-gaming clubs and is south of Portland with six poker tables.
To conform to Oregon regulations, there’s no rake for cash games or house fees on tournaments and the dealers are paid solely from tips. There’s a daily $10 fee to join the club.
LEGAL: In a related matter, on May 31, the Oregon Senate tabled discussion on the House-passed bill HB 2190 that would have clarified Oregon’s rules on social gaming in a way that probably would have doomed the non-tribal for-profit poker clubs.
There probably won’t be a bill passed until next year, giving the Portland clubs and players time to clarify the issues with regulators and legislators.
WILDHORSE RESORT CASINO: The popular Summer Round-Up runs July 19-23 and will have $15K added across seven tournaments, including $5K added to the $340 main event July 22.
Meet Kelly Winterhalter
Kelly Winterhalter is a Bay Area player who cashed in four World Series of Poker events last year and is looking to make a name for herself in poker.
What’s your favorite element of poker? Intuition, that unspeakable tickle you get when you just feel something.
Whether it’s your gut, subconscious mind or a sixth-sense, it’s a powerful force. Honing intuition takes a ton of practice.
What is your biggest success in the game? Crossing the black line (becoming profitable). It has been the result of countless hours of hard work, focus,dedication and a genuine love for the game.
Long-term profitability didn’t come easy. I had to learn a lot about myself and many of those lessons were learned the hard way. Ultimately, I gained a new set of skills that allow me to do something I love for money. I get to travel and continue to learn this endlessly fascinating game.
Where do you see poker in five years? I think it’s important as an industry that we focus on creating poker content that is fast-paced and highly entertaining to watch,choosing role models that represent poker in a respectful and intellectual manner, continuing to invent creative tournament formats with huge guarantees such as the Colossus and MillionaireMaker, and being friendly to new players coming into the game so we lower the intimidation barrier, especially for women. If we can do all that, I think live poker will continue to grow.
— Garrett Roth