The South Florida poker scene is familiar with the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood staging successful events. However, other Seminole properties are proving they belong in the lineup.
The Seminole Coconut Creek poker room hit a home run in February by drawing 827 entries to its $1,675 World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event, which Kammar Andries won. For Andries, a 40-year-old amateur who works full-time as a physical therapist in the Orlando suburb of Ocoee, the third time in this series was the charm, though he almost lost the chance to play.
He had taken off a week from his practice to “take a legit shot” at a ring. He made the final table twice, finishing fourth in Events 3 and 7, and felt ready to play the main over the weekend.
However, a rough outing at a late-night PLO cash game before the big event drained a good portion of his earlier tournament winnings.
Angry, tired and frustrated, Andries decided to skip the main and head home. He stopped for a nap at a rest stop and with a fresh look back at his week, changed his mind and returned to Coconut Creek.
“I woke up and it was like 7 a.m. and I just turned around and came right back,” he said. A $242K first prize confirms he made the right decision.
Andries was 41st in chips after Day 1, but made a move up in the standings on Day 2 and headed into the final day in fifth place out of the 15 players. Brian Altman of Longmeadow, Mass., was chipleader after Day 2 and controlled the action at the final table until Andries shoved preflop with pocket kings. Altman called with pocket queens and flopped a set, only to see a king hit the turn. Altman, the former WPT Lucky Hearts Open champion in 2015, exited six hands later vs. Mike Linster, another WPT champion (2013, bestbet Jacksonville).
Despite going up against several well-known stars and being away from the game for eight months, Andries wasn’t intimidated: “I really felt like I belonged.” he noted. He made quick work of his 2-to-1 lead against Linster and took down the ring and a seat at the WSOPC’s season-ending Global Casino Championship.
Most players were happy with the new venue. Tampa Bay-area player A.J. Kelsall, who has played in past WSOPC events, said, “The Seminoles run great, professional tournaments and the numbers show a much bigger turnout, which is great for the players.”
HARD ROCK HOLLYWOOD: For the second time in 2018, the World Poker Tour returns to Hollywood for a major series with the eighth edition of the WPT Seminole Showdown (April 5-19). The final table of the $3,500 main event is April 18 and will be broadcast this year, showcasing the Hard Rock’s new Hard Rock Event Center, which will host most of the big tourneys. The $3M guarantee championship event features two opening sessions (April 13 and 14, 11 a.m.).
The $570 kickoff event has a $1M guarantee with six opening sessions April 5-7. The WPT DeepStacks Tour will be a part of the action with a $1,100 event April 9-10 with a $250K guarantee, and a $25K high roller will attract some of the game’s most popular players April 15.
The bestbet Jacksonville Winter Open’s 11-event series capped in late January with Stephen Strout of St. Augustine taking down the main event champ. Strout outlasted a field of 359 en route to earning $73,556 from the $359K prize pool, which beat the $200K guarantee and paid 45 spots.
The next series here is a 13-event affair April 20-30, including a $1,100 main event with a $200K guarantee. Other events include a $100K guarantee, an Omaha/8 tourney and a WSOP main-event travel package tournament that guarantees five seats.
In other tourney news, Romaine Lewis won the February $10K deepstack for $5,071. Lewis of New Jersey persevered over 60-plus players, who generated a $16,960 prize pool.
EBRO GREYHOUND PARK: April in northwest Florida means it’s time for the annual Emerald Coast Spring Classic, which has seven events April 18-24, including Omaha/8, a bounty event, a $550 deepstack, seniors and a main event that has four Day 1s (April 25-27). All events carry a guarantee, including the $75K main event, and championship bracelets are awarded to each winner.
The main’s final table will be live-streamed at goebro.com, where you can find more info on the series.
CREEK GRETNA: The monthly $10K finished in a chop between Romaine Lewis and Scott Holand. Lewis is making a name for himself in North Florida as he won tournaments in two venues in February.
The next $10K will be April 21 and satellite tournaments are available all month.
PENSACOLA GREYHOUND TRACK: The next $20K guarantee will have Day 1 seatings April 24-28 with Day 2 April 29. Satellites run throughout the month.
The February $20K finished with a chop of $8K between Clinton Yates and Ned Griffis. That field paid 25 places.
DAYTONA BEACH RACING AND CARD CLUB: The GAPT tournament in February had a field of 273 players and created a prize pool of $79,170. George Shipley won $6,763 and a $500 GAPT seat after a 10-way chop.
ORANGE CITY RACING AND CARD CLUB: The poker room closest to Orlando has high-hand bonuses, tournaments Monday and Tuesday evenings as well as the first Thursday of the month. The bad-beat jackpot was $100K-plus at press time.
BESTBET ORANGE PARK: Roy Vazquez Jr. of Jacksonville won the February deepstack for $9,329. The event drew 261 players for a prize pool of $41K-plus.
TGT POKER & RACEBOOK: With new management comes new promotions and energy at the poker room, and some of these promotions are quite unique.
Climb the Ladder means you get paid for making aces full, kings full and quads. Each one of these hands is placed on a ladder rung and when they are hit, they are removed. The top of the ladder is $1,500 so you can make some serious cash daily.
On Fridays and Saturdays, a $4K prize pool is shared by those who make these hands, and amounts vary: aces full of face cards; quads; straight flush and royal. The harder the hand is to make, the more of a share you’ll earn. This promo runs 10 a.m.-2 a.m. and you don’t need to win the pot to win a share.
The Sunday Challenge tournament, which is the last Sunday of the month, will include food for players.
DERBY LANE: The St. Petersburg poker room has been making changes to continue to draw players. Besides having some of the best structured and deepest tournaments, it also recently hosted a World Series qualifier in March. This month, tables games are expanding and the west side will be the high roller and tournament area. Food service will be available, chargers are at the tables, expanded Wi-Fi and look for new food and drink specials.
TAMPA BAY DOWNS: The popular $40K guarantee St. Patrick’s Day event still was running at press time, so look for results in a future issue. In the meantime, there is a $40K guarantee, which has a $340 buy-in and 20K chips, April 20-22. See the ad on Page 27. Also, call the Silks Poker Room and ask about the new Royal Flush Progressives, which has its totals updated daily before the start of any tournament.
NAPLES-FT. MYERS GREYHOUND TRACK AND POKER: The ESPN Celebrity Tournament is April 17 ($80, 7 p.m.).
CHARITY EVENT: There will be a hold’em charity tourney as part of a casino night for veterans at Lakewood Ranch on May 10. Email email@example.com for details.
DEEP RUNS: St. Louis-based pro Neil Patel has cashed for $50K-plus in 2018, including three final tables in Las Vegas at the Venetian’s Deep Stack Extravaganza in February (two fourths and a third). He also finished 15th in the $2,200 high roller at the WSOP Circuit event at the Rio. Keith Heine, from Hillsboro, Mo., was seventh in the $1,675 main event at the WSOPC at Potawatomi in Milwaukee, taking home $28,340 to bring his lifetime earnings to $264,092. Lucas Foster of St. Louis was 15th in the same event for $11,579, his biggest career score.
AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES: The HPT returns April 12-23 with a $1,650 main event.
The World Series of Poker Circuit returns April 12-23 to Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina.
There will be a guarantee for every ring event during this series, including a $100K guarantee opener ($365 NLHE, April 12), a $500K guarantee three-day event beginning April 13 ($365 NLHE, unlimited re-entries) and a $1M guarantee main event, which runs four days (April 20). You are allowed one re-entry per flight during the main event. See wsop.com for more.
HORSESHOE TUNICA: The RunGood tournament series runs April 3-8. The RG Pro Bounty event kicks off April 3 at 7 p.m. for $135 and features special guests with bounties that award RG Apparel and cash.
The next day at noon is a $20K guarantee deepstack for $180. If the first flight doesn’t work out, Flight B follows at
7 p.m. All day Friday, satellites to the $560 main event lead up to Flight A at 7 p.m. of the $100K guarantee.
For more information, visit rungoodpokerseries.com.
BEAU RIVAGE: In Biloxi, shift manager Adam Nash is leaving to open the MGM Springfield property in Massachusetts. He has been a familiar face at Mississippi tournaments and in the live room at the Beau for many years. His professionalism, attention to detail and southern hospitality will be missed.
COUSHATTA CASINO: A lot of changes begin this month, including smaller entry fees, bonus chips for cash play before tournaments, unlimited re-entries for all tournaments, time changes and a new Uber Stack turbo tournament on Thursdays.
Also, promos are plentiful, including a mini bad-bad-beat jackpot, Kings Cracked (Mondays), high hands (Tuesdays and Thursdays), Aces Cracked (Wednesdays) and Sets Cracked (Fridays and Sundays). Call the poker room for more info.
GOLDEN NUGGET LAKE CHARLES: The bad-beat jackpot was nearly $120K at press time. Also, the top 60 players in hours played between March 31 and April 30 qualify for the May 8 freeroll at 10 a.m. where the top 10 players win $10K each.
L’AUBERGE CASINO BATON ROUGE: Seniors receive a $20 food voucher for 2.5 hours of play in a jackpot-eligible game. The room also will start spreading $20-$40 limit with a half-kill on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 p.m., $15-$30 Omaha on Sundays and Thursdays at 6 and $5-$10 NLHE on Tuesdays at 6. Players can call in to reserve seats at 4 p.m.
BOOMTOWN CASINO NEW ORLEANS: Promotions include $25 Splash Pots every 30 minutes on Mondays and Wednesdays and Faces Cracked for $25 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
HARRAH’S CASINO NEW ORLEANS: The bad-beat jackpot was $110K-plus at press time. Ask how to win $365 seats to the upcoming WSOPC.
HORSESHOE BOSSIER CITY: The bad-beat jackpot was around $115K at press time.
ISLE LAKE CHARLES: Promotions include high hands and Aces Cracked on Mondays, Aces Cracked on Tuesdays, Big Bonus on Wednesdays, high hands on Thursdays, Jacks Full Frenzy on Saturdays and Faces Cracked on Sundays.
Meet Les Davidson
A former player, Les Davidson is poker room manager at Pensacola Greyhound Track. He started at the Bicycle Casino in 1988. After stops in Las Vegas, Mississippi and Louisiana, he and his wife, Donna, settled on the Florida Gulf Coast in 2010. He believes his experience as a player and industry employee gives him an insight as to what motivates the poker player to gravitate toward a specific poker room.
What do you enjoy most about the industry? The camaraderie between the players, the staff and especially mentoring younger employees new to gaming, in other words, that team feeling of accomplishing things together.
What do you find attracts people to Pensacola poker? The family atmosphere we provide. Great food and dog races bring attention to our professionally run poker room. The poker room is separate from the racing and thus provides a true casino feel.
What do you see in the future for Pensacola poker? The popularity of Three Card Poker and Pai Gow has introduced other gamers to our room and as such, we’ve added more tables to meet the influx of other players. That growth will establish us as a go-to place.— Crash Martin