Emerald poker series returns to North Florida


Ante Up Magazine Southern Poker

It’s October and time for the return of the Emerald Coast Poker Championship to Ebro Greyhound Park just north of Panama City Beach.  

The seven-event series, which has guarantees tied to each tourney, kicks off Oct. 16 with Omaha/8 ($5K guarantee, $120 buy-in). The rest of the schedule is as follows: Event 2, Oct. 17 turbo ($7.5K, $120); Event 3, Oct. 18 NLHE ($15K, $120); Event 4, Oct. 19 bounty ($10K, $230); Event 5, Oct. 20 deepstack ($15K, $550), and Event 6, Oct. 21 seniors ($7.5K, $360). 

The $300 main event features a $90K guarantee and five starting flights Oct. 22-26. Day 1 qualifiers return Oct. 27 for the title. All winners also receive a championship bracelet.

BESTBET JACKSONVILLE: The WPT is in town this month, culminating in the $1M guarantee main event with Day 1A and 1B flights Oct. 11-12. 

This tournament features a $5K buy-in and concludes Oct. 15 with a final table live-streamed at 4 p.m.

Tournaments run daily during this series, including $570 tourney that sports a $200K guarantee Oct. 3-6. 

In August, William Cook and Dylan Rudolfer chopped the 1010XL for $5,175 each. 

The Summer Warm-Up Series finished in late August with Ryan Dunn of Tallahassee taking down $68K and the main-event title. He outlasted 595 entries that paid 61 spots from a $297,500 prize pool. Carlos Pereira of Jacksonville was runner-up.

In Event 1, a $100K guarantee, Lewis Hook of Statesboro, Ga., playing in his first tournament, was leader when he and second-place finisher James Leonard of Jacksonville made chopped the prize pool for $34,500 each.

Other winners in this series included Stephen Withlow, David Wade, Jason Shinbaum, Wayne Fralix, James Slattery, Ryan Mallow, Joanne Liu and Colby Huffman.

ORANGE CITY RACING AND CARD CLUB: The Monday and Tuesday night GAPT tourney winners in August include Ryan Mortensen, Lawrence Stanfield, Damian Szurgot, Mack McLaughlin, Hector Rios, Roger Stewart, Brian Celso and Allen Knighton. These tourneys cost $100-$125 and average about 50 entries per event.

DAYTONA BEACH RACING AND CARD CLUB: The Heartland Poker Tour returns with a seven-event series Oct. 17-28. The $1,100 main event has three starting flights and will finish in a televised final table. Other tournaments include a monster stack, deepstack, seniors and six-max. 

In other events, Alan Phillips won the Premier and Michael Harrington captured the $25K GAPT. Brian Harris and Kathrine Farley were also GAPT event winners.

PENSACOLA GREYHOUND TRACK: The monthly $20K will have three starting flights Oct. 24-26. Day 2 will wrap up Oct. 27. This tournament costs $180 with $60 satellites. Each Wednesday is a $120 event with a $2.5K guarantee and each Friday and Saturday is a $2K for $60.

CREEK GRETNA: The August $10K finished in a three-way chop with Brooks Jampole, Jerome Turvin and Chris Marsh. Each took home $2,588.

The October big tourney has a new wrinkle for Gretna. It’s hosting three Day 1 seatings Oct. 18 and 19 (two flights) with Oct. 20 the final day. This tournament features a $15K guarantee with $60 satellites available each week.

Central Florida

The Seminole Hard Rock poker room in Tampa, Fla., hosts its Pinktober series for breast-cancer awareness, beginning Oct. 9, offering $500K-plus in guarantees. The series kicks off with a $360 tourney with a $150K guarantee. Flights will be Oct. 9-12 at 11 a.m. There’s $250 women’s event with a $10K guarantee Oct. 13 at 1.

The $1,100 main event, with a $300K guarantee, has flights Oct. 17-19 at 11 a.m. There will be satellites starting at $100, running Oct. 9-19.

The $160 Big Stack Special ended Sept. 1 with Peter Walsworth of Lakewood Ranch, Fla., pocketing $24,608 and the title after defeating nearly 1,200 players. The prize pool was $147K and Nick Carter of Zephyrhills, Fla., was runner-up for $20K.

TAMPA BAY DOWNS: The Silks Poker in Tampa, Fla., has a couple of $10K guarantees for $150 on Oct. 12 and Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m. As for daily events, the Sunday superstack is $55 at 1 p.m. and a Cheap Stack is $20 at 7. Tuesdays and Thursdays are $1K guarantees for $45 at 1, Wednesdays and Fridays are $55 at 1 and 7, and Saturday is $90 at 1 and $70 at 7.

OXFORD DOWNS: Most daily tournaments run at 12:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. and buy-ins are in the $25-$125 range. Some notable events include Monday’s $30 Shirley’s seniors at 11:15 a.m. and $65 no-limit Omaha at 6:15, Wednesday’s $90 crazy pineapple with $25 bounties at 7, Friday’s $125 event with $25 bounties at 7:15, and Saturday’s $100 tourney at 12:15.

NAPLES-FT. MYERS GREYHOUND TRACK: Mark Wilkes beat 425 players to win the Summer Series Main Event for $15,380. The $260 tourney more than tripled its $30K guarantee with a prize pool of $97,750. Day 2 had 102 players returning, with 48 getting paid, and William Rodriguez was runner-up for $10,305.

MELBOURNE GREYHOUND TRACK: Club 52 has plenty of events to choose from in October, including $5K guarantees for $60 on Oct. 4, 11 and 18 at 7 p.m.

Other events: Oct. 5 is a $10K guarantee for $130 at noon; Oct. 25 hosts a $70 PLO $5K guarantee at 7 p.m. and there will be $60 satellites for the November $100K guarantee on Oct. 12, 19, 26 at noon.

TGT POKER: The $125 Sunday Challenge sports a $5K guarantee Oct. 27 at 1 p.m. and includes a free buffet. On Tuesday and Thursday at 7 p.m., look for a $50 megastack with a $1.5K guarantee with one $125 bounty. Sunday’s $60 bounty event has a $1K guarantee at 2.

Daily cash games include $1-$2 NLHE ($40-$200 min-max), $1-$3 ($100-$400), $2-$5 ($200-$1K) and a $5-$10 ($500-no max) that normally runs Thursday and Friday. Ask about mixed games and limit hold’em.

SARASOTA KENNEL CLUB: The One-Eyed Jacks Poker Room is gearing up for its Fall Classic in November by offering $60 satellites for its $520 main event. These satellites will be Oct. 13, 20 and 27 at 5 p.m., Oct. 21 and 28 at 1 and Oct. 10, 17, 24 and 31 at 6:30.


HOLLYWOOD CASINO: There were 480 entries in the $1,650 Heartland Poker Tour main event at St. Louis in August, creating a prize pool just shy of $700K. 

Mike Shin of Milwaukee was the last player standing, taking home the title and $160,632.

The Wisconsin pro started off the year by taking first in the Mid-States Poker Tour $1,100 main event for $68.5K, finished ninth in the HPT Lawrenceburg main in March for another $10K and then took third in the $1,600 MSPT event at the Venetian’s DeepStack Championship Poker Series in Vegas for $334K. 

This was his 26th cash in 2019 ($650K-plus) and takes his lifetime earnings past the $1.5M mark.

Shin was responsible for busting a short-stacked Joshua Turner, who shoved A-Q into Shin’s pocket jacks and failed to improve. Turner took home $26,190 for sixth and followed that up with a fourth a week later in the $10K Global Casino Championship at Harrah’s Cherokee for $85K.

John Richards cashed in 18th for $6,495, then headed to South Florida for two more cashes at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open. 

Richards finished sixth in the $1,100 six-max for $10,560 and 29th in the $2,650 Event 21 for another $5,600.

AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES: The World Series of Poker Circuit hadn’t concluded at press time so look for results in a future issue.

South Florida

The seventh annual Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in Hollywood, Fla., attracted huge fields as the 13-day festival awarded 27 trophies and 30 players cashed for $100K-plus. HRH regular Raminder Singh got the series going by defeating 3,228 entrants in the opener, a $600 deepstack, to earn $200K and push his career tournament earnings past $1M.

Russian player Georgii Belianin earned a measure of redemption from his disqualification this summer at the WSOP main event by winning two $400 events (PLO/8 and Big O) while visiting friends in South Florida.  

Jason Mercier, who has played sparingly since the birth of his first child nearly two years ago, showed no signs of rust at the SHRPO by winning the $50K super high roller in dominating fashion, carrying a 5-to-1 lead into the final table and coasting to victory for $715K. Other big names who won trophies included Jonathan Little ($2,200 eight-max), Sam Panzica ($1,100 eight-max), Cliff Josephy ($2,650 PLO) and A.J. Gambino ($1,700 purple chip).

That left the Big 4, with its four final tables live-streamed simultaneously on Aug. 13. Little-known Irish pro Keith Brennan earned his biggest lifetime payday by taking down the $1,100 event by closing out the action with a dramatic final hand against Canger Elcin. Brennan flopped top pair, trailing Elcin’s middle set, but runner-runner aces gave him a bigger full house and the title.

Shaun Deeb won the $25K high roller, redeeming his second-place finish in 2018 to Jake Schindler in the same event. Three-handed play lasted a while before Deeb eliminated Oliver Busquet in third, then disposed of Albert Daher to take the crown.  

The $5,250 main event saw Sean Winter play cautiously with a huge lead before taking home the title and nearly $700K after nine hours of final-table action. The property easily surpassed the $3M guarantee in this event by drawing 809 entries and nearly reached $4M.

But probably the most popular victory of the day went to South Florida favorite Jessica Dawley, who outlasted Faraz Jaka in a nearly five-hour match to collect $204K. The top prize was the biggest of her career and put her past the $1M mark in career earnings. 

Early in the series, the Jeff Conine charity event raised $195K for the Conine Clubhouse at the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, which benefits and houses the families of critically-ill children facing major surgery. 

Randal Fernandez won the event for the second straight year, collecting $3,250 in cash and a stay at the Hard Rock Vallarta resort in Mexico, plus a $5,250 seat into the main event. The $300 event drew 370 entries.

Up next at the Hard Rock is the WPT Rock-N-Roll Open series Nov. 20-Dec. 4.

ISLE CASINO: The 10th edition of the Isle Open runs Oct. 2-15 with a $300K guarantee main event.  Call 954-972-2000 for more details regarding the starting days of different events.


Fall poker in Mississippi is the best time to visit Tunica. The best action in town is consistently found at Horseshoe and there’s no better time to play than football season.

Every Monday, Thursday and Sunday play football squares. The game board has 100 squares up for grabs. Each axis (home and visitor) will have no numbers assigned while squares are being signed. Starting at noon on each game day, each player actively playing at least one hour with a player’s card logged in is eligible to write their name in a square. Each person may earn one square.

In the event the board doesn’t fill up, participants will receive one ticket each hour for a chance to write their name in an additional square. The supervisor will pick up the entry tickets and place them into the drawing drum before the kickoff of each game. At game time, entry tickets will be randomly drawn from the drawing drum to fill the any remaining empty squares.

Once the board is filled with signatures, the poker team will randomly draw numbers to assign to the squares. These numbers will remain on the board for two quarters and then at halftime a new set of numbers will be drawn and they will remain until the end of the game.

Each Sunday and Monday game is worth $500. At the end of each quarter, $100 will be given away to the score’s corresponding square. The final score is worth $200.

Thursday night games are worth $1K with each quarter awarding $200 and the final score paying $400.

PEARL RIVER RESORT: The Pearl River Poker Open runs Oct. 24-Nov. 3. Call the poker room for the schedule.


L’AUBERGE CASINO BATON ROUGE: The bad-beat jackpot (quads) was $150K-plus at press time. Earn $3 per hour in cash games through Nov. 1 with hours being doubled 2 a.m.-10 a.m.

HARRAH’S CASINO NEW ORLEANS: Quadrille pays the first quads hit every hour $250. Also, the bad-beat jackpot (quad fives) was $185K at press time.

BOOMTOWN CASINO NEW ORLEANS: The new bad-beat qualification is aces full of jacks.

COUSHATTA CASINO: Splash pots are every day, plus Sets Cracked and Kings Cracked and Blackout Bingo runs Fridays (3-midnight) and pays $200-$6,200.

ISLE CASINO LAKE CHARLES: Aces Cracked, Kings Cracked, Queens Cracked and Sets Cracked highlight the promotions, plus there’s a $10K guarantee on Saturdays at 3 p.m. for $230.

L’AUBERGE CASINO RESORT LAKE CHARLES: The poker room pays $500 for each rank of quads (5 a.m.-5 p.m.) and will increase $100 each day a rank isn’t hit. Other promos are pay $100 for straight flushes and $200 for royals.

GOLDEN NUGGET LAKE CHARLES: Aces Full House Mystery Cash Giveaway pays players hitting a full house a share of $4K daily as they will pull a prize from the drum $100-$1K. 

HORSESHOE CASINO BOSSIER CITY: The mini-bad-beat jackpot (aces full of 10s) pays $5K. Also, the RunGood Poker Series visits Oct. 1-6.  

Meet Steve Barnhouse

Steve “J.B.” Barnhouse is a casual poker player from Tampa, Fla. He started learning the game right before the Chris Moneymaker boom of 2003. He, like so many others, is waiting for that big win. Until then, he’ll continue to grind, keep learning and enjoy playing the game he loves.  

How long have you been playing poker and how did you get into it? I started playing in 2002, playing with friends and in home games. Like many others, it started while watching the WSOP main-event coverage on ESPN.  

As a recreational player, do you prefer tournaments or cash? I prefer tournaments. I have studied extensively and put most of my poker time into playing them. I just haven’t put the time into focusing on or playing cash games.

What is your favorite poker room? My favorite poker room is Derby Lane in St. Petersburg, Fla. It’s where I started playing live back when it was strictly limit hold’em. They usually have the best structures and most players. Lately, Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa has been making strides and it’s tempting to play in their room as well. 

Online and live? I prefer live, only because online is not regulated. If we had pre-Black Friday PokerStars available, I would either be attempting to, or already be, playing for a living full time. — Sharon Fekete 

Chris Cosenza

Chris Cosenza