Daryl Jace of Saugus, Mass., defeated nearly 550 players to pick up the $142K first prize at the Florida State Poker Championship Main Event at the Isle Poker Room in Pompano Beach, Fla., on July 31.
Jace took the lead halfway through the final table after picking off a bluff by chipleader Josias Santos, then steamrolled the rest of the table to enter heads-up play against Sam Mayer-Backer with a 7-to-1 advantage. After chop discussions were fruitless, Mayer-Backer battled back to even before succumbing in a vicious cooler, as his pocket 10s ran into Jace’s pocket aces.
Mayer-Backer picked up just under $100K for second, while Santos collected $64K. Coral Springs native Abbey Daniels, who burst on the poker scene in 2011 at the WPT Seminole Showdown in her second major tournament, finished fourth, while Tony Ruberto took fifth and Danny Shiff was sixth after leading for much of the event.
HARD ROCK HOLLYWOOD: The fifth annual Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open kicked off in early August with a huge opening event as 3,173 players ponied up $570 for a shot at the $1M guarantee. As the event rolled into Day 2, the pool surpassed $1.5M, and the big winner was Nipun Java, a native of Calcutta who lives in Los Angeles.
Java, who won two titles at the World Series this summer ($1K Tag Team, $1K online), became the first Indian-born player to capture a WSOP bracelet. The popularity of poker is surging in India and Java’s big summer, which continued in South Florida, confirmed his belief that his success can only help get more players from his country excited about playing the game.
“I think poker is suited to our psyche,” he said, “a lot of hard-working people with good math backgrounds, so the relationship with poker is growing.”
With close to half of the chips in play, Java collected $230K-plus after agreeing to a four-way chop with Alfredo Guevara, Josh Robins and Ana Clara Freitas.
Event 2, a $300 event, also ended in a chop between Nigel Murray, Jeff Fogel and Hector Pacheco with Murray taking home $18K-plus and the trophy.
The focus on this event, however, was the courageous effort by Fogel, who’s suffering from the advanced stages of ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Fogel, who has lost the use of his arms and legs and is assisted by friends to move his cards and chips, won $12,432 after nearly nine hours of play. The girls basketball coach and inspirational speaker was featured in the 2015 documentary Who Is Lou Gehrig? and awed many with his 158th-place finish in the 2015 Colossus event in Las Vegas, the largest tournament in WSOP history with
AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES: The Heartland Poker Tour, which has awarded $7M-plus in the St. Louis market, returns Sept. 20-Oct. 2. The opening event is a $350 Monster Stack with a $100K guarantee. This series will feature two senior events and the $1,650 main event will have three starting flights: 1A on Sept. 28, 1B on Sept. 29 and 1C on Sept. 30.
“Ameristar St. Charles is a beautiful property. Our events in the St. Louis market always draw a great crowd and we’re looking forward to putting on another successful event,” HPT marketing manager Korey Stewart said.
LUMIERE PLACE: The Wild Bill High Hand pays $100 whenever someone wins a pot with aces full of eights or better, or an extra $1K whenever the bad-beat jackpot is $100K-plus (it was at $52K when this issue went to press). You need win the hand to collect the bonus.
The WPT DeepStacks series returns Sept. 1-10 to the Seminole Casino in Immokalee, Fla., and offers a $200K guarantee for its $1,100 main event. That tourney, one of five primary events in the series, begins Sept. 8 and matches the largest guarantee in Southwest Florida history.
“The Southwest region of Florida is overflowing with passionate poker players and there’s a lot of untapped talent that WPT DeepStacks is looking forward to showcasing on its global stage,” WPT DeepStacks Executive Director Chris Torina said.
TAMPA BAY DOWNS: The Silks Poker Room is hosting a $50K guarantee Sept. 14-17 for $330. There will be five Day 1s and 20K stacks. See the ad on Page 7 of our September issue for more info. The Summer Series was still running at press time, look for results next issue.
HARD ROCK TAMPA: Tommy Bates has left as director of poker. No new director was named at press time.
WSOP SUCCESS: What a series for the Tampa Bay area. Former main-event runner-up John Racener broke through with a huge win in the $10K dealer’s choice and James Calderaro, who has a WPT title (2014 Lucky Hearts at Coconut Creek), added the coveted WSOP bracelet to his resumé and earned $1.2M.
With 205 entries putting up $25K, Calderaro came up against some of the game’s greats. The final table included several players who are regulars at major live events: Dan Smith, Ben Tollerene and Esther Taylor-Brady. But the Venice resident earned his first bracelet and promptly gave it to his son.
Also, A.J. Kessel and Marvin “Duckman” Karlins made some noise in Vegas. Kessel, a transplant from the Philadelphia area, had an incredible run with 10 cashes and three final tables. Karlins had four WSOP cashes, including 17thin the $1,500 no-limit deuce-to-seven lowball event. But he didn’t reserve all of his success for the WSOP. He finished 36thin the Ultimate Goliath Stack at Planet Hollywood and seventh in the Aria’s $400 Poker Classic, giving him cashes this summer.
EBRO GREYHOUND PARK: The late-July megastack drew 278 entries over three flights. The $69,500 prize pool exceeded the $40K guarantee as 78 players survived to Day 2 and 30 cashed. Craig Rawson was the leader after a six-way chop, each player taking home a little more than $8K.
September continues the regular Thursday night $3K guarantee and the Sunday $220 deepstack events. At the cash tables, there’s an array of high-hand bonuses all month. See the calendar at goebro.com.
PENSACOLA GREYHOUND TRACK: The $50K guarantee at the end of July reached $61,200 as Simon Philip outlasted 305 players who paid $270 to take home $13,770 and the championship.
This month is $20K guarantee tourney with three starting flights runs Sept. 28-30. Satellites are available throughout the month. Regular tournaments include a $2.5K guarantee each Wednesday and a $2K guarantee on Fridays.
The World American Sign Language Series of Poker charity visits Sept. 1-2. See pensacolagreyhoundtrack.com for details.
CREEK GRETNA: The July 15 $10K guarantee event drew 59 players to push the prize pool to $11,800. Eight players cashed with Neal Autry, Jenny Chandler and Wayne Chandler chopping the top three spots for $2,714 each.
The WPTL continues through September with other tournaments available. Check the calendar on the Gretna website.
As far as promotions, high hands are popular and the poker room regularly spreads Omaha/8.
BESTBET ORANGE PARK: The three-day, $30K guarantee, $200 tournament ended July 9, attracting 288, of which 34 cashed. The top three chopped $22,675 with Shane Koucheky of Palatka, Fla., taking the championship title. Timmy Wade finished second and Daniel Cosenza was third.
Bestbet has weekly tournaments and high-hand bonuses. Check out the calendar atbestbetjax.com.
DAYTONA BEACH RACING AND CARD CLUB: The Great American Poker Tournament Heatwave event ended its nine-day run with a Daytona Beach Poker Club record-setting $107,880 prize pool and 899 entries. Kirk Mackey took first for $6,800 and a paid entry fee into the February GAPT championship.
Daytona hosts daily tournaments and high-hand promotions. See daytonagreyhound.comfor details. Also, look for the Heartland Poker Tour to return in October.
ORANGE CITY POKER: The newest poker room in north Florida has aggressive high-hand promotions. For more info, be sure to check out orangecitypoker.com.
The poker room at Oaklawn in Hot Springs. Ark., has closed, leaving the folks of Arkansas with the options of league games, crossing a state border or playing in West Memphis at Southland Gaming and Racing.
Southland has a fun, electronic poker room upstairs near the greyhound racing. There’s substantial daily action for NLHE and low-limit pot-limit Omaha games.
The poker room offers daily tournaments ($10-$40) and a monthly freeroll ($1K prize pool) for the top cash-game players (ranked by hours played).
The property has come a long way from being the “dog track of West Memphis.” Just a few miles over the bridge from Memphis on I-40, the property has been renovated and expanded numerous times over the past decade to rival any resort in Tunica, Miss., in terms of luxury and accommodations.
The greyhound track is one of the last few in the country where you can watch live greyhound racing.
The on-property restaurants cover a broad array of tastes and interests, but the Steakhouse Bourbon Street is an exceptional hidden gem that far too often goes unnoticed.
IP: The World Series of Poker Circuit returns Sept. 7-18 with the $1,675 main event Sept. 15.
BEAU RIVAGE: In Biloxi, Miss., the Gulf Coast Poker Championship runs Sept. 7-18. The $345 opening weekend event, called the Monster, has a $250K guarantee. Be sure to register early. On Sept. 14, there’s a deepstack $50K guarantee for $345. The $1,340 main event begins Sept. 17 with two starting flights. For more information, visit beaurivage.com.
The Fall Poker Classic at Coushatta Casino Resort starts Sept. 27 with a $220 seniors event. The $440 main event runs Sept. 30-Oct.1 with two starting flights on Sept. 30. See the ad below for more information.
In promotions, every Monday progressive quads pay $100-$500. Friday’s Straight Flush Bonus pays $200-$1K. Rules and qualifications are posted in the poker room. High hands are every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from 1-10 p.m. for $100.
GOLDEN NUGGET LAKE CHARLES: The poker room hosts its $100K freeroll Sept. 10. The top 60hourly players who qualified since July 1 can enter. Official rules will be posted in the poker room.
The bad-beat jackpot was at $131K at press time and the mini-bad-beat is 10 percent of the main. Call for details.
ANTE UP POKER CRUISE GIVEAWAYS: The L’Auberge Casinos (Baton Rouge and Lake Charles) participated in an Ante Up Poker Cruise giveaway. Congratulations to all the winners, including Clifford Hebert, Ben Roberts, Dan Prejean and John Haney. The poker cruise leaves Galveston, Texas, on Sept. 17. If you’d like to have your poker room participate in these giveaways, ask you poker room manager to contact Scott Long at 727-331-4335.
In other L’auberge Casino Resort news, the Lake Charles property’s bad-beat jackpot (quad fives) was $200K-plus at press time. There’s also a Descending Bad Beat promotion and weekly $10K drawings for cash and prizes. Players earn one entry for each hour of live play and all entries will be tracked. Winners must be present and playing to win.
BOOMTOWN CASINO NEW ORLEANS: The bad-beat jackpot was $151K-plus at press time. The room also features a new bounty tournament. Call for details.
HARRAH’S CASINO NEW ORLEANS: Aces Cracked runs at noon Monday-Wednesday-Thursday and pays $200. Flush Flopped runs noon-6 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. When the dealer flops a flush, the next pot will be splashed with $200.
High hand with rollover will run 6-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and $6,400 will be at stake during this promotion.
An overnight high hand with rollovers will run midnight until noon Sunday-Thursday with limit players playing for $125 and NLHE players vying for a $125 bonus when aces full of 10 get beat.
The bad-beat jackpot was at $131K at press time and the mini-bad-beat is 10 percent of the main jackpot.
HORSESHOE BOSSIER CITY: The bad-beat jackpot was $200K-plus at press time. The room also has a mini-bad-beat jackpot of $5K for aces full of 10s beaten. Aces Cracked pay $200 in NLHE every day 8 a.m. until noon (but Tuesdays it’s in limit). There’s also $200 splashed pots Monday-Thursday.
Meet Matt Reynolds
Matt Reynolds, a L’Auberge Baton Rouge poker room dual-rate supervisor, started his career at Harrah’s New Orleans in 2010 and floored the World Series of Poker landing in his home state. He’s passionate about his career and puts customer service above all else.
What would you say would be the draw to your poker room? It would be for sure the friendly, knowledgeable staff and its talented dealers.
What poker games do you like to play when you’re not in a suit? I like to play tournament no-limit hold’em and cash pot-limit Omaha.
What other hobbies do you have? I like to play golf, play music (a variety of instruments) and (I’m) an avid gamer.
What would say is the best draw to the L’auberge Baton Rouge poker room? I think the promotional aspect is strong here, featuring things such as a $30K freeroll and hourly cash-back incentives for regular players. — Ron Hope