Despite an open invitation to the season-ending World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions, Matt Waxman was unsure he wanted to travel to Las Vegas to play. The Parkland, Fla., pro, still shaken by the news of the mass shooting at his alma mater, Stoneman Douglas High School, was lacking confidence.
“I was thinking about not playing because it’s a big buy-in and I wasn’t too confident in my game,” he said. “But I jumped in there after feeling pretty good lately.”
It turned out to be a great decision, as Waxman overtook Darren Elias at the final table to capture the title and earn $463K-plus. Elias had won his unprecedented fourth WPT title just days earlier at the Bobby Baldwin Classic and with a huge lead and just two players standing in his way, the New Jersey star appeared to be continuing his massive heater.
However, Waxman grabbed the lead despite running his pocket jacks into the pocket queens of Elias as the South Floridian picked up a jack-high straight on the turn. He held off Matas Cimbolas of Lithuania to get his name on the WPT Champions Cup for the second time.
The final table was recorded for television at the Esports Arena Las Vegas at the Luxor, a new venue widely hailed by the players.
HARD ROCK HOLLYWOOD: Chris Bolek of Boca Raton and T.K. Miles of Tallahassee chopped the $1,675 May Deepstack Poker Series Main Event for $84,544 each. Steve Duncker of New York was third for $50K-plus, surpassing his career earnings heading into the event. As a relatively inexperienced player on this level, many might have expected Duncker to make a few mistakes.
He did make a critical blunder, but it wasn’t on the felt. When leaving the tournament area for a break around 6 p.m., Duncker misread the clock and sat down to eat, thinking it was a long dinner break. When play resumed 10 minutes later, Duncker was nowhere to be found and was blinded off a substantial amount, losing nearly half his stack along with the lead. After tourney officials reached him, the momentum he had developed was long gone.
Bolek earned the trophy and title because of his 75K chip advantage. He was thrilled to earn the cash before heading to a long summer in the desert.
“When I made the final table, I wanted to get third or better so that I wouldn’t have to worry about money heading into the summer. Now, I’m already feeling like a winner.”
ISLE CASINO: The Pompano Beach property’s premier series, the Florida State Poker Championship, returns July 5-31. It starts with a $175 event that has eight opening sessions from July 5-8 and carries a $150K guarantee. The $1,500 main event has three opening sessions at noon July 27-29 and will carry a $500K guarantee. Daryl Jace of Saugus, Mass., is defending champion and past champs include Harrison Gimbel, Mike Matusow and Sam Panzica.
SEMINOLE COCONUT CREEK: After last season’s successful foray into big-time poker, Coconut Creek will host both of Florida’s WSOPC stops this season. The first will run Sept. 13-24 and the second is Feb. 7-18.
Charles Johnson of Atlanta bested runner-up Michael Palmer, Tommy Wood Jr. and Shawn Bowen to win the May $50K at bestbet Jacksonville. The four players agreed on a chop and then played for the title. The tournament’s 717 players created a prize pool of almost $115K and paid 80 places.
The property, through many satellites, sent 25 players to the WSOP main event. Each player received, in addition to the $10K seat, $2K and lodging at the Rio.
On July 28, a one-day, $30K guarantee begins at 11 a.m. for $360. There will be $90 satellites July 25-27.
At the cash tables, bestbet’s Christmas in July runs July 12-23. High hands get paid at specified times and incrementally increase each day. July 12 will have payouts of $1,200, July 13 is $1,300, etc., through July 23 when payouts will be $2,300.
EBRO GREYHOUND PARK: The Panhandle poker room hosts three notable tournaments this month. July 8 is a $10K deepstack for $300; another $10K is July 13 for $120. July 25-29 is a megastack. This $300 event has four Day 1 flights.
Justin Miner won the May $10K, outlasting a field of 165 players. He took home $4,232 from the $15,675 prize pool.
Ebro continues its high hands and bad-beat jackpots daily this month.
BESTBET ORANGE PARK: The Orange Park facility $30K guarantee for $200 with four starting flights July 6-7 at noon and 7 p.m. Day 2 will be July 8 at noon.
Randy Clark and Denavol Wilson chopped the May $30K for $8,250 each. The prize pool reached $40,960 and paid 30 spots.
The cash tables have Mystery Monday promos and every Thursday there are $300 high hands every 30 minutes from noon to midnight.
ORANGE CITY RACING AND CARD CLUB: Orlando’s closest cardroom hosts tournaments each Monday and Tuesday evening and the cash tables have bad-beat jackpots and high hands.
CREEK GRETNA: The $10K guarantee will be July 21 at 1 p.m. for $270. A $2K will run July 7 and a $5K on July 27. Satellites into the $10K are played multiple times each week.
See creekentertainment.com f or dates and times.
The May $10K drew 48 entries and ended in a six-way chop. Ricky Cloud, Carlyle Kirbo, Doug Nobles, Youssef Soliman, Matthew Pendleton and Neil Autrey each took home a little more than $1,500.
DAYTONA BEACH RACING AND CARD CLUB: To celebrate its 70-year anniversary, DBRCC is hosting a $70K guarantee with 12 starting flights. The event begins July 14 and finishes July 22. The tournament features 20K chips with Day 1 blinds
30 minutes and Day 2 blinds 40 minutes.
PENSACOLA GREYHOUND TRACK: The May $20K title and $3,400 went to Stephen House. This facility at the west end of the Panhandle runs multiple tournaments each week, plus Omaha/8 each month. The cash-table incentives include full-house promos on selected dates.
TAMPA BAY DOWNS: The Silks Poker Room in Tampa hosts its Summer Series, with $200K-plus in guarantees, July 12-22. The $175 opening event has for Day 1s between July 13-14 and sports a $50K guarantee. The $400 main event will have five Day 1s (July 19-21) and has a $125K guarantee.
Other events include a senior event on July 17 ($160, 1 p.m.), a charity event, which includes dinner ($125, July 17, 6 p.m.) and satellites.
For more info, go to tampabaydowns.com.
DERBY LANE: The St. Petersburg poker room is offering a new promotion for July. If you play more than 60 hours, you’ll receive $500.
HARD ROCK TAMPA: The recent $100K guarantee Little Slick saw 1,500-plus players come out for the $37,500 top prize. However, an eight-way chop changed that, as the winner was Harmeet Chawla, taking home $21,163 and the trophy. The other seven players in the chop were Bradley Kane ($18,109), Felix Duane ($17,830), William Myers ($16,598), Michael Bettie ($16,181), Celso Vieira ($14,005) and Quentin Jones ($10,395).
MELBOURNE GREYHOUND PARK: The Club 52 Poker Room hosts a $10K guarantee July 7 at noon for $130. There’s also a pot-limit Omaha/8 tourney July 27 at 11 a.m. for $70. See the ad on Page 47 for more information on promotions.
WSOP UPDATE: In Event 1 ($565 casino employees), Thomas Booker of Oldsmar finished sixth for $9,432.
In Event 2 ($10K bounty) bracelet-winner and ex-November Niner John Racener of Tampa placed 17th for $14,300.
In Event 3 ($3K shootout) several Central Florida players cashed. Jeffery Trudeau of Winter Garden (a little outside Central Florida but he’s a regular in many of the bay area’s rooms and tournaments) cashed in 10th place for $18,526. Also, Andrew Kelsall of Tampa was 44th for $6,302. You may remember him from last year’s early run at player of the year. He finished 21st.
In Event 4 ($1,500 Omaha/8), Frank Muir of New Port Richey placed 36th for $5,605. Racener cashed 86th for $2,595. Spener Buzbeee of Riverview was 105th for $2,317 and Dennis Napel of Naples was 131st for $2,252.
CRUISE TO MEXICO: Ante Up Poker Cruises sails from Tampa aboard the Brilliance of the Seas on Oct. 29 to Key West and Cozumel. Ante Up Poker Cruises transforms the conference centers aboard regularly scheduled Royal Caribbean sailings into a professionally staffed and equipped poker room, complete with cash games, tournaments and an open-bar cocktail party.
For more info or to book, visit AnteUpCruises.com.
On May 23, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a law allowing land-based casino expansion for the state’s 15 riverboat casinos. The only land-based non-Indian casino is Harrah’s in New Orleans, which is why that property can comfortably run large-scale poker tournaments.
With this new law, those casinos will be able to expand and offer a much more diverse and extensive poker experience. It will take some time, but look for these properties to grow in the not-too-distant future.
COUSHATTA CASINO: The Summer Classic’s $550 main event runs until July 1. Look for results in a future issue. Also, the bad-beat jackpot was at $100K at press time. Other promos include mini-bad beat ($2,500), splash pots, high hands, Aces Cracked, Kings Cracked and Sets Cracked. Rules and details are posted in poker room.
GOLDEN NUGGET LAKE CHARLES: The bad-beat jackpot was $137K at press time.
L’AUBERGE CASINO BATON ROUGE: The bad-beat jackpot (quad fives) was $150K at press time. Also, splash pots will be $50 noon-8 at selected tables. High hands pay $100 an hour
11 a.m.-8 p.m.
BOOMTOWN CASINO NEW ORLEANS: Promotions include $25 splash pots and Faces Cracked for $25. Call for details.
HARRAH’S CASINO NEW ORLEANS: The 2017-18 World Series of Poker Circuit season finished on a strong note with milestone victories. Valentin Vornicu stole the spotlight early with a win in the opening event. He won the $365 NLHE re-entry event after besting a 1,340-entry field to earn $64,205 and his record-setting 11th WSOPC ring, breaking a tie with Florida’s Maurice Hawkins.
The San Diego-based pro didn’t let up, however. He won the next event he entered. About 30 hours after winning his 11th ring, he took down his 12th in the first $365 single-day event. He picked up another $24,084 for defeating 349 entries.
Hawkins cut the lead in half, however, winning his 11th ring in the $2,200 high roller (Event 10), defeating 128 entries for $71,680.
Jerry Monroe won the $1,675 main event for $208,184.
Other winners include Cynthia Compton (Event 2, $250 women, $4,480); Scott Roberts (Event 3, $250 seniors, $11,348); Abraham Arafat (Event 4, $580 NLHE, $27,043); Sandeep Vasudevan (Event 6, $365 PLO, $12,314); Brenan Benglisu (Event 7, $365 six-max, $$25,206); Raymond Curran (Event 8, $365 NLHE, $43,479); Terry Melacoin (Event 9, $365 NLHE, $21,929); Donald Dove (Event 12, $365 NLHE, $17,551); A. J. Allee (Event 13, $365 NLHE, $18,965); Steve Irwin (Event 14, $250 seniors, $9,557) and Michael Horchoff (Event 15, $365 NLHE, $25,414).
In promo news, the bad-beat jackpot was near $150K at press time and mini-bad-beat pays 10 percent of the main.
L’AUBERGE CASINO RESORT LAKE CHARLES: Saturday tournaments will be $150. The new $230 Sunday Super Bounty event has $100 bounties and starts at noon.
HORSESHOE BOSSIER CITY: The bad-beat jackpot was $170K at press time. Also, the mini-bad-beat jackpot pays $5K for aces full of 10s beaten.
ISLE LAKE CHARLES: Promos include Kings Cracked, Aces Cracked, Queens Cracked and Jacks Cracked. Rules are posted in poker room.
RICHARDS RUNS DEEP: Pot-limit Omaha cash games may be his bread and butter, but John Richards, a poker pro just outside of St. Louis, has enjoyed quite a nice run at the tournament tables in recent months.
He earned his third WSOPC ring in March, made two more final tables in April and came close to securing ring No. 4 at the Horseshoe Baltimore WSOPC stop in May. Richards finished fourth in the $3,250 high roller for $11K, bringing his lifetime tournament earnings to $385,749.
HOLLYWOOD CASINO ST. LOUIS: The Quads Cracked promotion doubled from $20K to $40K, which includes a table share. Only the best two hands are eligible, both players must use both hole cards and you must make quads holding a pocket pair. The Sets Cracked and Made Hands promotions award a minimum of $100.
For all tournament players, poker room manager Mike Williams and crew host at least two tournaments per day with buy-ins ranging from $60 to $550.
AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES: The Heartland Poker Tour mini-series runs until July 1, featuring a tag-team tournament, a seniors event and a $30K guarantee with a $350 buy-in, two starting flights and unlimited re-entries.
BEAU RIVAGE: The Gulf Coast Poker Championship runs Sept. 6-17. This event has large fields and slow-moving structures. The Beau format guarantees all Day 2 returning players get paid. This year features a $300K guarantee opener with four starting flights. Sept. 7-8 flights are at noon and 5 p.m. In all 7 p.m. tournaments for $125, the button draw wins a hat. In an unusual and innovative move, the Beau has added a 4 p.m.
Big O tournament Sept. 9 for $290.
On Sept. 12, play the $50K guarantee Monster event. For $350, you get 20K chips and 30-minute levels (45 minutes later in the tournament).
The $1,340 main event begins Sept. 15 and offers two starting flights with another opportunity to enter on Sunday. Room rates are available for $69 weekday and $109 weekend. These almost always sell out well in advance so make your reservation soon. There are plenty of satellite opportunities ranging in buy-in and number of seats being awarded. For more information on these and other events, visit beaurivage.com.
In years past, the IP has hosted a tournament series to run concurrently or just after the GCPC. Details weren’t released at press time but should be posted at ipbiloxi.com in the coming weeks.
PEARL RIVER RESORT: The $50K guarantee is July 12-15. The event costs $160. Call 601-663-1040 for details.
Meet Kevin Pahl
A college soccer coach from Florida, Kevin “BUYMEDINNER” Pahl has been tearing it up on GlobalPoker.com and, as a result, punched his ticket to Las Vegas for multiple World Series events.
“Global Poker has been great to me,” Pahl said. “I am really happy. Global Poker has been 100 percent fantastic.”
Pahl isn’t normally a multitable tourney player; he usually is found at the Global Poker SNG tables.
“I played around a bit at the start of the year. I played some (smaller) SNGs; these were going well so I moved up to the (bigger) ones. I worked on my game and before I knew it I was playing the (really big) SNGs and am now playing a wide range of the SNGs quite regularly.”
“As well as the games being good, the people on Global Poker are really friendly. I chat with a lot of people on the site when I play and it makes things really enjoyable, everyone seems really nice.
Someone instrumental to Pahl’s poker career is his wife, Maggie.
“My wife is my biggest supporter,” he said. “She has always been supportive of my ambitions. We met in college and I used to go and play poker every weekend in North Carolina. She was always intrigued with how I kept coming home with more money. I took her with me one weekend to see what it was all about and she loved it. She has been supporting me ever since. She helps me to stay focused and to ensure that I don’t tilt (too badly).” — Christopher Cosenza