Mantas Stikelis wins Ante Up Spring Poker Classic Main Event

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Mantas Stikelis came a long way to get this first major title. Just more than 5,846 miles. Or 9,408 kilometers, as he would say.

The native of Lithuania was in town visiting his uncle, saw the Ante Up Spring Poker Classic was going on at Gila River Hotels & Casinos Vee Quiva in Laveen, Ariz., and decided to play. And after a dominant final-table performance, he won $18,189, a seat in the Ante Up World Championship and the cover of Ante Up Magazine.

“I feel like a winner! It was a smooth ride today, but the first day was very tiring,” Stikelis said. “I bubbled Day 1A, so I jumped into Day 1B and got a stack, so I was happy. It gave a a day off, so I went to the Phoenix Suns game and spent some time with my uncle.

“He’s been here 20 years,” Stilkelis said. “He’s from Lithuania as well and my cousin is here, too. I had been playing poker online in Mexico, grinding. So I just came here because it was near. It was an opportunity, so why not take it?”

He made the most of that opportunity.

After a breakneck pace for Day 2 that saw more than half the field eliminated in the first 2.5 hours, Stikelis came to the final table as the chipleader with 1,700,00. He put those chips to good use, setting the pace early by raising a large number of hands pre-flop and getting very little resistance.

“I think I understood ICM way better than they do, so I knew all the spots where I should raise or fold,” he said of his opponents.

He knocked out Daniel Breeze, and then not much longer, felted Johnny Large and Greg O’Donahne on the same hand with pocket queens against two pocket pairs. After former NBA champion Earl Barron eliminated Michael Kahn and Andrew Conway on the same hand, Stikelis struck again two hands later, sending Greg Brewer to the rail. Shortly after, he eliminated last year’s Ante Up Spring Poker Classic champion, Alex Flores, in fourth place.

After Jesus Sicaeros eliminated Barron in third, the two were heads-up with above even stacks that could have led to a marathon match. But it ended quickly. The two traded several pots, and Stikelis got a feel for his opponent and made the necessary adjustments.

“He was calling my raises light, so I started raising bigger,” he said, slowing expanding his chip lead.

The finale started when an ace came on the flop. On the turn, Stikelis bet 400,000, and Sicaeros quickly raised to 900,000. Stikelis said he could tell his opponent wanted to get it all in there, but Stikelis wanted to see the river. Sicaeros shoved blind before that card made it to the felt, and Stikelis quickly called, tabling ace-queen to eliminate Sicaeros holding ace-10.

“There were some cards where I might not have called on the river,” Stikelis said. “When it was a blank, I just snapped call.”

But it was a title that Stikelis almost didn’t get to savor. Earlier in the day, he lost half his stack on a big bluff that he wasn’t expecting.

“My friends told me, ‘you can expect something strange from Americans’ And they were right,” he said, referring the hand that crippled him. “After that, I went to meditate, chill out, and everything went smooth after that and I got a lot a good cards. That makes it easy.”

Stikelis started playing online when he was 18. He began playing live in Lithuanian casinos when he turned 21 and has racked up 10 cashes recorded on The Hendo Mob, almost all in his native country.

“I prefer live. No doubt. When you are playing poker, you need to see the people and interact with the players. Online, it’s only the numbers. And there are shady things going on,” he said. “I’m 26, I have no education, so it’s the only way I can make some money.”

And he uses that money to help him see the world.

“I like to travel. And wherever I go, I play poker,” he said. “I’m going to stay one more week here and maybe play some cash games, and then I’m going to head to San Diego for a couple of weeks. I’ve heard there is good poker there, too.. And then I’ll meet up with some friends in Las Vegas before heading home. I really enjoy spending time in Lithuania in the summer. I don’t play a lot of poker then. I’m living seaside now, and I love that city.”

The Main Event drew 319 entries over four flights, generating a prize pool of $95,700, easily surpassing the $75,000 guarantee. PokerNews.Com provided live reporting of the Main Event.

The series, which expanded from last year’s single event, kicked off with last year’s Main Event champion Alex Flores winning the $230 no-limit holdem first event. Eight other tournaments followed in a variety of disciplines, including HORSE, triple stud and Omaha/8, while Rebecca Wooten won the well-attended Women’s Championship. Perhaps the most unique event was a team tournament, that divided partners on different tables, with half of the prize pool reserved for individual performance, won by Trevor Donaldson, while the other half of the prize pool went to the teams with the lowest scores based on each player’s performance. The father-son due of Tim and Jon Quinn squeaked out a one-point win for the team title, fueled by Tim Quinn’s final-table appearance.

“It went fabulous. I really can’t be more ecstatic about how everything turned out,” said Zach Lansing, Vee Quiva’s poker room manager. “All the team did an amazing job. There is definitely things we learned and will improve on for next time, but all in all, Gila River is really becoming a force to be looked at in Arizona. We have built this up from nothing, and it is really turning into something amazing. We’re looking forward to the future and want to build on what we’ve grown into so far.”

Located at the foot of beautiful South Mountain, Vee Quiva is one of three casinos in the Gila River Hotels & Casinos enterprise, which is owned and operated by the Gila River Indian Community. The AAA Four Diamond resort features a 14-table poker room, 24 table games, more than 985 slot machines and a 492-seat bingo hall. The resort offers 90 luxurious hotel rooms, outdoor pool with poolside suites, event center, four bars and lounges and four restaurants, with George Lopez’s Chingon Kitchen opening soon.

Gila River will host an Ante Up Poker Tour series at its flagship casino, Wild Horse Pass, Nov. 11-16.

ANTE UP SPRING POKER CLASSIC
Gila River Hotels & Casinos Vee Quiva – Laveen, Ariz.
MAIN EVENT
Buy-in: $360
Entries: 319
Prize pool: $95,700
1. Mantas Stikelis, $18,189
2. Jesus Sicaeros, $13,159
3. Earl Barron, $8,852
4. Alex Flores, $7,178
5. Greg Brewer, $5,742
6. Michael Kahn, $4,785
7. Andrew Conway, $3,828
8. Gregory O’Donahne, $2,871
9. Johnny Large, $2,105
10. Daniel Breeze, $1,914
11. Mikal Smith, $1,483
12. Joe Villhauer, $1,483
13. Christopher Petersen, $1,196
14. Brian Perzinski, $1,196
15. Joe Galope, $1,196
16. Gary Deurodorf, $1,053
17. Gregory Nelson, $1,053
18. Fernando Sedillio, $1,053
19. Bradley Nessar, $909
20. Justin Gochoco, $909
21. Gregory Scott, $909
22. Eric O’Connell, $813
23. Jonah Coe, $813
24. Cody Cowser, $813
25. Richard Clayton, $718
26. Jonathan Mendoza, $718
27. Gabriel Felipe, $718
28. Cameron McGovern, $622
29. Heng Chao, $622
30. Mario Brown, $622
31. Robert Copeland, $574
32. Sherisse Korfel, $574
33. Matthew Trun, $574
34. Christopher Andreyka, $574
35. Johnny Sanoubane, $574
36. Jonathan Shaw, $574
37. Brady Perry, $526
38. Haddad Moussa, $526
39. Steven Howard, $526
40. Frank Armas, $526
41. Alan Boelter, $526
42. Michael Hubbs, $526
43. Jeffrey Musiello, $526
44. Donald Fajardo, $526
45. James Propes, $526

ANTE UP SPRING POKER CLASSIC
Gila River Hotels & Casinos Vee Quiva – Laveen, Ariz.
EVENT #1 – No-Limit Hold’em Kickoff
Buy-in: 230
Entries: 85
Prize pool: $17,00
1 Alex Flores Scottsdale, AZ $3,013
2 Lawerence Bierman Gilbert, AZ $3,013
3 Tom Uwanawich Phoenix, AZ $3,013
4 Jeff Goss Litchfield Park, AZ $3,012
5 Kenneth Sumner Litchfield Park, AZ $1,318
6 Dennis Mcabee Phoenix, AZ $1,071
7 Mario Brown Sun Prairie, WI $893
8 Chris Gonzales Peoria, AZ $706
9 Johnny Sanourane Las Vegas, NV $536
10 Thaddeus Hightower Glendale, AZ $425

ANTE UP SPRING POKER CLASSIC
Gila River Hotels & Casinos Vee Quiva – Laveen, Ariz.
EVENT #2 – Women’s Championship
Buy-in: $160
Entries: 45
Prize pool: $5,850
1 Rebecca Wooten Mesa, AZ $1,755
2 Marsha Wolak $1,754
3 Paula Hofmeister Scottsdale, AZ $1,053
4 Susan Folz Glendale, AZ $761
5 Marci Hinojos Laveen, AZ $527

ANTE UP SPRING POKER CLASSIC
Gila River Hotels & Casinos Vee Quiva – Laveen, Ariz.
EVENT #3 – HORSE Championship
Buy-in $130
Entries: 47
Prize pool: $4,700
1 John Regan Mesa, AZ $1,528
2 Ronnie Guy Phoenix, AZ $1,527
3 Frank Stenz Goodyear, AZ $752
4 Joseph Hook Mesa, AZ $517
5 Mathew Wright Phoenix, AZ $376
ANTE UP SPRING POKER CLASSIC
Gila River Hotels & Casinos Vee Quiva – Laveen, Ariz.
EVENT #4 – No-Limit Hold’em Black Chip Bounty
Buy-in: $180
Entries: 32
Prize pool: $3,840
1 Reid Redman Tucson, AZ $1,535
2 Thaddeus Hightower Glendale, AZ $1,037
3 Robert Phillips Glendale, AZ $730
4 Nga Bauman Glendale, AZ $538

ANTE UP SPRING POKER CLASSIC
Gila River Hotels & Casinos Vee Quiva – Laveen, Ariz.
EVENT #5 – Team Tournament
Buy-in: $200
Entries: 70
Total prize pool: $5,950
Individual results
1 Trevor Donaldson Phoenix, AZ $862
2 Anthony Guzak Phoenix, AZ $536
3 Stephanie Nolan Phoenix, AZ $372
4 Thaddeus Hightower Glendale, AZ $298
5 Daniel Hartzog Austin, TX $238
6 Sean Varin Vail, AZ $193
7 Richard Bass Mesa, AZ $164
8 Cody Cowser Mesa, AZ $134
9 Tim Quinn Surprise, AZ $104
10 Peter Clegg Glendale, AZ $74
Team results
1 Tim Quinn & Jon Quinn Surprise, AZ $862
2 Dan Hartzog & Cassie McCarville Austin, TX & Chandler, AZ $536
3 Mike Carrasco & Gregory Litorovich Phoenix, AZ $372
4 Trevor Donaldson & Nga Bauman Phoenix, AZ & Goodyear, AZ $298
5 Richard Bass & Katie Freeland Mesa, AZ & Chandler, AZ $238
6 Jerry Fife & Robert Goss Laveen, AZ & Litchfield Park, AZ $193
7 Stephanie Olivia & Emiliano Mendoza Mesa, AZ $164
8 Kenneth Sumner & Greg O’Donahue Litchfield Park, AZ & Phoenix, AZ $134
9 Anthony Guzack & Clint Heike Phoenix, AZ $104
10 Stephanie Nolan & Cathie Smith Phoenix, AZ & Scottsdale, AZ $74

ANTE UP SPRING POKER CLASSIC
Gila River Hotels & Casinos – Vee Quiva, Ariz.
EVENT #6 – No-Limit Hold’em Six-Max
Buy-in: $160
Entries: 44
Prize pool: $5,720
1 Alan, Boelter Glendale, AZ $2,117
2 Christopher Petersen Tempe, AZ $1,258
3 Ashley Frank Scottsdale, AZ $858
4 Charles Teller Fountain Hills, AZ $629
5 Eli McClellen Phoenix, AZ $458
6 Mario, Brown Sun Prairie, WI $400

ANTE UP SPRING POKER CLASSIC
Gila River Hotels & Casinos Vee Quiva – Laveen, Ariz.
EVENT #7 – Triple Stud
Buy-in: $125
Entries: 20
Prize pool: $2,000
1 Joseph Hook Mesa, AZ $1,000
2 Michael Feldman Glendale, AZ $600
3 Steve Massey Phoenix, AZ $400

ANTE UP SPRING POKER CLASSIC
Gila River Hotels & Casinos Vee Quiva – Laveen, Ariz.
EVENT #8 – Limit Omaha/8
Buy-in: $160
Entries: 49
Prize pool: $6,370
1 Victor Nasch Tucson, AZ $1,062
2 Kenneth Thompson Peoria, AZ $1,062
3 Wladyslaw Stopka Chandler, AZ $1,062
4 Caesar Barron Glendale, AZ $1,062
5 Eric Ebenger Phoenix, AZ $1,061
6 Cassandra McCarville Chandler, AZ $1,061

ANTE UP SPRING POKER CLASSIC
Gila River Hotels & Casinos Vee Quiva – Laveen, Ariz.
EVENT #9 – No-Limit Hold’em Big Blind Ante Rebuy
Buy-in: $150
Entries: 30
Prize pool: $5,000
1 Philip Brouzes Fountain Hills, AZ $2,000
2 Joh McDevitt Paw Paw, MI $1,350
3 Mario Brown Sun Prairie, WI $950
4 Robert Bonacci Phoenix, AZ $700

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