Great Lakes Open hits Toledo on May 17


Ante Up Magazine Midwest Poker

The Great Lakes Poker Open series runs May 17-28 at Hollywood Casino in Toledo, Ohio.

The $240 main event has a $75K guarantee. With 22 tournaments, there’s something for everyone, including dealer’s choice, all-in or fold and bounties. There’s also an $85 Mini Open that has a $30K guarantee.

Ante Up Call the Floor columnist Elliott Schecter is the director of poker at this property as the series promises to be well-run.

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JACK CASINO CINCINNATI: The Jack Poker Open series ran March 1-11. The $1K main event had a $500K guarantee that drew 456 entries for a small overlay.

In the end, Matthew Graham of Huntington, W. Va., took first place for $94,385, besting local runner-up Daniel Statman ($74K) and Daryl Roberts of Indianapolis ($46,996).

Despite an impressive turnout of players from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and other states, local Cincinnati players did well, including some victories.

Jordan Hoffman conquered the $500 event and was rewarded with $23,345. David Novosel (Cincinnati) won the $350 kickoff event ($250K guarantee) for $46,830.

Another local Cincinnatian, Daniel Hummer, won the $200 senior event for $7,494 and Robert Reed (Cincinnati) capped off the series by winning $4,856 in the $200 event.

In other JPO action, the $200 turbo ended in a four-way chop as Cameron Clark (Muncie, Ind.), Ba Ibrahima (Cincinnati), Matthew Hurst (McCordsville, Ind.) and Mark Byrne each took home $5,302. Stephen Charnock of Union, Ohio, took down the $250 black-chip bounty title for $4,377. 

The only non-hold’em event, $300 PLO with a $50K guarantee, went to Douglas Holland (Lawrenceburg, Ind.), for $11,780. 

JACK CASINO CLEVELAND: The $750 Jack Poker Classic is May 17-21 with a $200K guarantee. Three Day 1 flights run consecutively beginning May 17, with Day 2 May 20 and the final table May 21.

Western Pennsylvania 

MEADOWS RACETRACK AND CASINO: Michael O’Neill won the $1,100 Heartland Poker Tour main event, beating 420-plus entries to earn $93K from the $409,340 prize pool in late March. 

“It was tough. It was a good battle, hard fought,” O’Neill said. “It’s going to make my five-hour drive a little easier.”

The Royal Oak, Mich., man started the day as the chipleader, though at one point he had the smallest stack at the table. O’Neill has racked up nearly $300,000 in earnings on the felt, including three past HPT cashes.
Runner-up Frank Guerra more than doubled his previous largest poker score, pocketing $57,629. He said he’ll use the money to pay off his children’s college tuition.


The $1,100 MSPT main event at FireKeepers Casino in Battle Creek, Mich., is May 17-20 and has a $300K guarantee. Qualifiers run throughout May for as little as $65.

The last time the MSPT was here, Chris Meyers beat 1,067 players to win $190K-plus. That tournament was the largest in Michigan history.

MGM DETROIT: The poker room hosts two weekly bounty tournaments: a $220 event Saturdays at 2 p.m., and a $120 event Sundays at 2. Until June 29, there will be $50 splash pots every half-hour, Monday-Friday. Call for details.

MOTOR CITY: Thursdays at 7 p.m. is a $100 tournament and Sundays at 1 is a $150 event. Both events have a $5K guarantee, 20-minute levels and are limited to the first 100 players. Registration begins 90 minutes before the tournament. Motor City’s bad-beat jackpot was $690K at press time.  


MESKWAKI CASINO: Nathan Trenkamp won the MSPT’s $300K guarantee main event March 25 when he beat nearly 415 entrants and took home $88,018. This was a nice return for the $250 satellite entry that started his journey. 

On the final hand, Trenkamp raised preflop with A-J and Reg Powell raised all-in with A-8. Powell failed to improve and settled for runner-up and $54,416. 

GRAND FALLS CASINO: The MSPT runs the first weekend of May with a $350 regional event that has a $50K guarantee.

HORSESHOE COUNCIL BLUFFS: David Davenport claimed the WSOPC $1,675 main event on April 7 to win and his first ring and $97,754. He defeated Jeff Tebben in the final hand when he slow-played trip nines and Tebben took the bait and moved all-in with ace-high. But Tebben took home a $60,401 as consolation.

RIVERSIDE CASINO: After renovations, the poker room is opening in time for its 11th annual Riverside Poker Challenge, which runs May 18-20. This will have a $300 buy-in and there will be $60 satellites on Sundays before.

DIAMOND JO CASINO: The bad beat was $182K at press time.

PRAIRIE MEADOWS: A $200 WSOP satellite runs May 20. Also, the bad-beat jackpot was $138K at press time. 


CLOSING NOTICE: Scrapping plans to build a new poker room, Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells has opted to close its 12-table operation May 12.

IN MEMORIUM: Sun Prairie’s Charles “Wallace” Havens died March 2 at 81. Havens, who learned to play poker in the Air Force, made a deep run in the 2015 WSOP’s $1K super seniors, finishing third out of 1,533 players for $106,678.

Also, Richard “Rick” Syverud died of cancer at 49. He was a popular player on the local circuit. His biggest career score came in 2016 when he finished 19th in the Goliath Phamous Poker Series Event 61 for $6,906.

ON A HEATER: Madison’s Eddie Blumenthal, who in February won the WSOPC Potawatomi Casino Championship, finished second out of 646 entries in the Chicago Poker Classic Main Event for $185,366. He is sixth on Wisconsin’s all-time money list with more than $1.2M.


Matthew Shepsky won the Chicago Poker Classic Main Event at the Horseshoe Hammond in Indiana for $195K-plus, giving the Skokie, Ill., native $1M-plus in career earnings. 

WSOP bracelet-winner Aaron Steury made the final table. Local notables that cashed were Edward Ochana, Darrell Ronconi, Mike Puccio and Ralph Massey.

Yoon Kim won the $360 opener for almost $50K. Nick Jivkov won the mega deepstack eight-max for almost $19K. Poker author James McManus won the $200 event for $11K.

Chicago native Nick Pupillo led the Global Poker index POY ace at press time. His first cash came at the 2013 Chicago Poker Classic and has accumulated $1.5M-plus since. 

BELTERRA: Aaron Johnson came out on top of 394 entries, winning the HPT main event. The Minnesota pro collected $86K-plus from the nearly $380K prize pool.

“This is the biggest win of my career. I haven’t had a signature win,” said Johnson, who started playing almost a decade ago “Taking down a big event with a tough field is great.”

From the start of the day, it seemed nothing would get in the way of Johnson’s quest for the win. He started the day second in chips and seemed to have his way with the table in every key pot he entered. Johnson eliminated four of his eight opponents.

Seo Seungbeom from Columbus, Ohio, won the $300 Monster Stack, earning almost $11K from the nearly $100K prize pool, generated by 377 entries.

Dale Robinson won the $200 seniors tourney in a 10-way chop for $2K and Martin Poole won the $150 event for $2K.


RUNNING ACES CASINO: Brian Soja of New Brighton took home $23,355 to win the Pot O’ Gold tournament in Columbus. This was Soja’s third largest cash bringing for a lifetime total of $161,953. Soja faced Rodney Colson of Excelsior heads-up. Colson earned his second-best career cash of $20,186 for his second-place finish. The $280 tournament is one of the Running Aces signature series and had six Day 1 flights.  Players could play multiple flights and if a player made it through with multiple stacks, the shortest stacks were bought for $1,200 each. There were 745 entries and a prize pool of $152,234 after the short-stack payouts.

CANTERBURY PARK: John Alexander of Minneapolis won the $350 main event of the Minnesota State Poker Championship in Shakopee. Alexander, a local tournament regular, took home $18,230 after besting a final table that included formidable local players such as Shane Nelson, Jason Seitz and Rajaee Wazwaz.  
The tournament drew 248 entries for a $74,400 prize pool. The series had three other events. Josh Oien and Adam Arola split $7,398 of the $29,600 prize pool after winning the $250 Tag Team event. Eric Eelkema of Brooklyn Park took home $9,660 after besting 172 entries in the $250 six-max and Joseph Beasy of Little Canada won $7,238 after surviving the 116-player field in the $250 seniors event.

Meet Jon Driver

Hailing from Wisconsin, 48-year-old Jon Driver wears many hats. He’s been a small-engine mechanic, forklift driver, landscaper and a volunteer firefighter for more than a decade. The father of four and grandfather to five also is a poker player.

When and how did you learn to play poker? I started to play poker in 2003 after watching the WSOP on TV. I started playing on (online) on a dial-up Internet connection. About 10 years later, my boss told me about a big local bar tournament so I gave it a try. I took second, then first the next week and I was hooked.

What’s one of your favorite poker memories? Meeting and playing with a local pro Mark “P0kerH0” Kroon, who told me I have a great table presence and play a good game. I’ve learned all of my knowledge by watching others at the tables. Another proud thing is getting the nickname Legend at a home game and having it stick. The name came because someone told me I was a legend in my own mind.

What are some of your poker goals? My goals are to never quit learning the game and to meet as many people as I can. I think the poker community in Wisconsin has some of the kindest and most honest people I’ve ever met. — Chad Holloway

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