Larry Negron wins Ante Up Poker Tour at Tampa Bay Downs Main Event


Ante Up Magazine - March 2019

It’s not quite a Chris Moneymaker story, but Larry Negron sure knows how to make money much like the poker legend did.

Negron entered a $25 satellite at Silks Poker Room at Tampa Bay Downs and rode it all the way to a $14,070 payday as the champion of the Ante Up Poker Tour Main Event at the Tampa poker room.

And while this was the biggest score of his poker career, it’s not the first time he’s turned pennies into pounds.

“I won about $10,000 in a $360 buy-in tournament a few years back,” Negron said. “I won two satellite tickets for that one and sold one for $300, so I got in that one for $60, too.”

In one more loose thread to Moneymaker’s Cinderella story, Negron, a 60-year-old retiree, didn’t take up poker until 10 years ago.

“I got interested in poker by watching it on TV,” he said. “I wanted to learn, so my son sat me down at the kitchen table and taught me how to play. He was making money at it but it was too much stress so he quit. I played on Full Tilt and did pretty well there until they shut it down. I used to love those $12 tournaments.”

Now, he’s an Ante Up Poker Tour champion after the final three players agreed to an ICM deal in the wee hours of the morning after two previous chop discussions fizzled.

When play was six-handed, it was short-stack Troy Bercot who nixed an ICM deal, saying he’d only accept an even chop. After Bercot was eliminated, the remaining five immediately talked deal again. Four of the five were on board with an ICM deal with short stack Donald “Doc” Brown willing to give the other four $400 each out of his share for the seat in the Ante Up World Championship that goes to the winner. Four agreed, but chipleader Landon Brown was the lone holdout, wanting a larger share.

Play continued with two more players, including Brown, being shown the rail and after a lengthy three-way battle, Brown decided he was ready to make a deal, pitching the others an ICM chop with $500 to each of them from his share for the World Championship seat. It was a deal that cost Brown about $2,000 and the title had he accepted the first deal, though he is California-bound now for a chance at bigger riches in the $500,000 guaranteed event at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in July.

“I was willing to chop it the first time,” he said with a smile, earning $3,500 more in the second deal.

Negron said he would have been happy to buy straight into the $250 buy-in event that attracted 443 entries over five flights, but played a $25 step satellite first, advancing to the $85 Step 2 satellite and onto the Main Event.

“It cost me a total of $65 to get in, so it was very good investment,” Negron said, accounting for add-ons. “I wanted to play this one. For the price, it had a $60,000 guaranteed prize pool. Not too many better tournaments than that around.”

Early on in his starting flight, Negron, who now regularly plays cash games and tournament at Tampa Bay Downs, was finding his way.

“I was up and down for a while. It seemed as every time I gained some chips I lost some. But eventually, a King-Jack got me a flush and doubled me up and then I got quad 4s and got paid off on that, too,” said Negron, who chose King-Jack for his victory photo. “That’s what really changed everything.”

He entered Day 2 17th in chips with 195,000, and said his strategy was simply to play well and not make any mistakes.

“For a while there, any hand I got I was hitting. And I was catching cards,” he said.

It was a strategy, and fortuitous luck, that worked well for Negron. When the final table started, he had more than 3 million in chips, more than double the second biggest stack held by Bill Melms, who was the third player involved in the tournament-ending deal.

“I wanted to play a little tight, but if I had the had a hand, to push it and use the chips to my advantage,” Negron said of his final table strategy.

The Feb. 4-10 series was the first Ante Up Poker Tour series in Florida in more than four years and was just 10 minutes from Ante Up headquarters. It started with a guarantee-crushing 176 entries in Event #1 and featured four other events, including seniors and bounty events.

Tampa Bay Downs is one of Florida’s premier thoroughbred racing tracks, with live racing running December to May, a luxurious 23-table poker room, great dining options and a golf facility. The poker room runs cash games and tournaments daily.

The Ante Up Poker Tour next moves to Gila River Hotels & Casinos – Vee Quiva near Phoenix for the Ante Up Spring Poker Classic, a 10-event series that ends with a $360 buy-in multi-flight Main Event with a $75,000 guarantee.

Tampa Bay Downs – Tampa, Fla.
Buy-in: $250
Entries: 443
Prize pool: $89,773
1 Larry Negron $14,070
2 Bill Melms $13,958
3 Landon Brown $12,990
4 Joao Figueiredo $6,601
5 Donald Brown $4,978
6 Troy Bercot $3,810
7 Anthony Dianaty $2,959
8 Donnie Kidman $2,331
9 Hyndi Khomutetsky $1,862
10 Neil Lawson $1,507
11 Alexander Grassia $1,507
12 Peter Wang $1,507
13 Fred Paradis $1,237
14 Anthony Astarita $1,237
15 Jon Godwin $1,237
16 Mike Taylor $1,029
17 Benjamin Brown $1,029
18 Nikki Dugan $1,029
19 Matt Adibi $867
20 Barb Cardin $867
21 Dustin Bradley $867
22 Michael Minyard $740
23 Andra Zachow $740
24 Edie Jo Norman $740
25 Jen Haselton $640
26 Matt Quirk $640
27 Michael Beattie $640
28 Alex Ivan $560
29 Jordan Williams $560
30 Jeff Sutliff $560
31 Craig Johnston $497
32 Leif Oskarsson $497
33 Efim Kanner $497
34 Curtis King $446
35 Jin Chen $446
36 Barry Bovee $446
37 Reggie Bautista $405
38 Marv Karlins $405
39 Antuan Bunkley $405
40 Bob Greene $405
41 Frank Gagliano $405
42 Brad Kane $405
43 Cheri Beatty $405
44 Glenn Zimmerman $405
45 Melissa Morvay $405

Tampa Bay Downs – Tampa, Fla.
EVENT #5 – No-Limit Hold’em Knockout
Buy-in: $230
Entries: 72
Prize pool: $13,824
1 $2,299 Vinny Griffo
2 $1,954 Jose Colon
3 $1,926 Shawn Barnett
4 $1,854 Marcese Hatten
5 $734 Brett Paine
6 $574 Zee Kurdi
7 $473 Kerry Hartman
8 $408 John Golota

Tampa Bay Downs – Tampa, Fla.
EVENT #4 – No-Limit Hold’em
Buy-in: $130
Entries: 41
Prize pool: $5,000
1 $1,000 Michael Petty
2 $800 Edie Norman
3 $800 Pete Vega
4 $800 Leonard Wolk
5 $800 Terry Smith
6 $800 Douglas Easton

Tampa Bay Downs – Tampa, Fla.
EVENT #3 – No-Limit Hold’em Monster Stack
Entries: 47
Buy-in: $130
Prize pool: $5,000
1 $1,220 Bonnie Savajian
2 $1,220 Debra Jorgensen
3 $1,220 Sherri Wiseman
4 $525 Alan Wiseman
5 $385 Ray Lambert
6 $295 Chris Gatis
7 $130 Joao Figueiredo

Tampa Bay Downs – Tampa, Fla.
EVENT #2 – No-Limit Hold’em Seniors
Buy-in: $130
Entries: 55
Prize pool: $5,335
1 $1,208 Fred Montisanti
2 $1,107 Larry Warshaw
3 $1,107 John Otwell
4 $1,107 Ron Taylor
5 $391 Charlie Sauter
6 $295 Karen Hayes
7 $120 James Gibson

Tampa Bay Downs – Tampa, Fla.
EVENT #1 – No-Limit Hold’em
Buy-in: $160
Entries: 176
Prize pool: $21,472
1. $3,750 Steve Rauchut
2. $3,750 Casey Wiggins
3. $2,500 Mark Wiser
4. $2,400 Ken Lanphar
5. $2,000 Zec Kurdi
6. $1,900 Nicolas Bustanant
7. $826 Primo Costa
8. $648 Monir Maher
9. $517 Sanjib Acharya
10. $418 Juan Salgado
11. $418 Susan Berman
12. $418 Cheri Beatty
13. $344 K.C. Knoch
14. $344 Vinny Griffo
15. $344 Pete Vega
16. $288 Sean Turow
17. $288 Sharris Richards
18. $288 Bob Kelly

Scott Long

Scott Long