By Wendeen H. Eolis
The World Series of Poker did itself proud, deciding to host a full on celebration of the elected inductees in the 2013 class of the WSOP’s Poker Hall of Fame. Tears of pride and joy trickled down the faces of poker professionals Tom McEvoy and Scotty Nguyen as each accepted the highest honors conferred by a grateful poker world at a dinner in their honor, last night.
A Cool Wine Cellar
The WSOP executive team chose the sophisticated wine cellar at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino for the cocktail reception. Impressive wines were uncorked. The drinks flowed freely and the hors d’oeuvres were elegant. An hour later the doors to an inner sanctum were opened for the sit-down dinner and organized celebration of two good men.
Filet mignon was served, but the sizzle in the steak was the poignant and gracious words that were spoken in the course of the induction ceremony.
WSOP Executive Director Moves the Needle
By Joseph Smith Sr.
Marc McLaughlin began playing professional poker six years ago and has collected more than $670,000 from live tournament play. He can now add at least $733,224 to that total after making the November Nine. Returning to the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in November will place him in seat 6 behind the 3rd largest stack of chips among the nine players at T26,525,000.
Like many of the young poker professionals, Marc McLaughlin begin playing the game a short 7 years ago and quickly realized that he could generally beat his friends and was the top earner in the nickel –dime games in his garage. He assumed that if the cards break even and he could usually win then he should translate that ability to bigger stakes in cash games and tournaments. His play history says that was a great assumption.
By Joseph Smith Sr.
Jay Farber is the November Nine “Mystery Man.” He does not consider himself to be a professional poker player and claims the game is only a hobby. Farber believes his style of play got him deep into this year’s big poker event and very well may carry him to a win in November. His above average chip stack makes Farber a favorite to become one of the WSOP’s latest multimillionaires.
By Joseph Smith Sr.
Michiel Brummelhuis already had one WSOP Main Event record when he became the first Dutch player to earn a final table seat at poker’s biggest event. The 28-year-old Amsterdam, Holland native brings a decade of professional poker experience to the November Nine. He is number 7 on the poker chip list with T11,275,000 in tournament chips. Brummelhuis is also listed among the top 15 all-time Dutch poker tournament players.
Brummelhuis almost didn’t come for the 2013 WSOP and decided at the last minute to play in the Main Event. He and his girlfriend are expecting their first child at the end of summer so his schedule was already full. Lucky for him and the people of Holland he decided to attend this year’s big poker show and is now considered a contender to take home the world championship of poker’s diamond and gold bracelet. Another well-known Dutchman, Marcel Luske, bubbled the 2004 WSOP Main Event final table. Come November, 100- 200 of Brummelhuis’ fellow countrymen and fans will be in Las Vegas for the final showdown.
By Joseph Smith Sr.
JC Tran is the odds-on favorite to win it all and take home his third WSOP bracelet plus $8,359,531 in cash. He brings all the right weapons to the final table to win the card war come November. He has already won 2 WSOP bracelets, he has the most chips at 38 million and that’s 8.3 million more than the 2nd stack and his game is honed to perfection.
After a careful analysis of Tran’s chances to become the 2013 WSOP best poker player in the world there’s not much that’s apparent that could go wrong and derail this poker express train. But then… we remember final tables and favorites from past years. In 2006 poker pro Allen Cunningham ran into Jamie Gold and finished 4th; or how about the world’s greatest poker player, Phil Ivey, unable to overcome card luck and finished 7th in 2009 and then Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi forced out in 5th place in 2010.
Tran was born 36 years ago in Vietnam and moved to America with his family when he was two years old. He grew up in California, earned a business degree from California State University at Sacramento while developing his poker skills at Capitol Casino in Sacramento playing $9 - $18 limit Texas hold’em. JC Tran brings a long list of attributes to this year’s November Nine and tops the charts in every category. He began his professional poker career in earnest in 2004 when he left behind the limit games in Sacramento and began playing in the majors. Success seemed to come easy to the young player after he began to regularly cash in tournaments including a 5th place in the 2004 World Poker Finals and then the TV bubble in the 2004 LA Poker Classic.
By Barbara Rogers
Poker Room Manager at Harrah’s Philadelphia, Mr. Bruce Dixon, has plenty of staying power. Poker Player first profiled Bruce Dixon in 2008, while he acted as the Director Of Poker Operations at Mohegan Sun Casino & Hotel in Connecticut. These days, Harrah’s Philly is fortunate to have this gentleman in charge of their poker operations. The winding road from Bruce’s birthplace, Atlantic City, has taken him from the Taj Mahal to the Tropicana, from the Borgata to Ct, and now Philadelphia at Harrah’s. This casino, Harrah’s, now reaps the full benefit of Dixon’s diverse experiences. A fitting match, Harrah’s Philadelphia continues to enjoy their market share of players and a strong sense of ensured game integrity, 2 goals that have served Bruce well. Combined with training the staff on proper customer interactions and motivating them to their full potential, it’s easy to see he’s developed the right formula for success.
by Joseph Smith Sr.
WSOP Main Event player in the number eight spot on the chip list is Mark Newhouse whom will be occupying seat 3 of the final table at the upcoming November Nine showdown. Mark Newhouse is a poker professional from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The 28-year-old currently lives in Los Angeles where he splits his playing time between California and Las Vegas casinos.
Newhouse came onto the poker scene when he entered and won the 2006 WPT $9,700 buy-in Borgata Poker Open Championship Event.
The resultant winner’s share of $1,519,200 provided the inspiration and funding for his move across the country to Los Angeles and into residence at the Commerce Casino Hotel.
He told an interviewer that following the big win and coast-to-coast move he went into a ‘lose his mind’ and ‘set fire to most of the money’ phase. During the intervening years since the meltdown Newhouse has learned the disciplines required to live life in the fast lane of big stakes professional poker. He no longer succumbs to the temptations and mistakes that can and will destroy a promising career in professional poker.
by Joseph Smith Sr.
Amir Lehavot has the distinction of being the oldest player at this year’s WSOP Main Event final table at the “old age” of 38 years. Lehavot was born near Tel Aviv, Israel, but now calls Weston, Florida home and he has dual citizenship with Israel and the U.S. He added to his WSOP history book entries when he became the first Israeli to make a WSOP Main Event final table.
After receiving his B.S in electrical engineering from the University of Texas, Lehavot worked within his discipline in San Francisco until he began playing poker in 2004. He quickly discovered his natural ability to successfully play the game. He then became the manager of the online poker training site, pokerwit.com. His first major cash came at the 2009 WSOP Main Event when he finished 226th to collect $32,226.
Lehavot achieved every poker player’s dream when he entered the 2009 WSOP Pot Limit Hold’Em world championship event and won a WSOP bracelet. He also collected $573,456 after outlasting a blue ribbon field of poker pros. His journey to that win took him past the likes of Nenad Medic, Mike “The Mouth” Matusow, and Robert Mizrachi.
by Joseph Smith Sr.
David Benefield will forever remember earning poker’s most coveted short stack seat at the WSOP Main Event final table. He fills the ninth spot on the chip leader board with T6,375,000, last among the November Nine. Hailing from Arlington, Texas, the 27-year-old poker pro learned the game when he was 16 years old. He dropped out of college and has been playing poker online and live for the past 9 years after his natural affinity for the game provided early success.
He has racked up more than $6 million in winnings, including online poker, where he currently plays as ‘Raptor’. Benefield’s WSOP career record reveals 12 cashes, 3 final tables, 0 bracelets, and $455,713 in cash. Even though he announced in 2009 he would be stepping away from poker to return to college and complete class work for his degree, his play record is quite impressive.
by Barbara Rogers
The 52-table poker room is soon to be alive at Maryland Live! Casino in Hanover, Maryland. This has been a long anticipated poker room opening, and will take place at High Noon on August 28th. Mike Smith, Director Of Poker Operations, will instruct the dealers to let the cards fly. Mike has already scheduled the Aruba Satellite Tournament Series, (PPC) from September 2-29th. Hosting the Players Poker Championship is an excellent way to show players the progressive direction Mike has already taken.
Check out www.ppcaruba.com or www.marylandlivecasino.com for more details. Maryland Live! Casino has dedicated 14,800 square feet to a state of the art poker room. This is a 500 million gaming and entertainment destination located about halfway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. at 7002 Arundel Mills Cir. #777 in Hanover, Maryland. Telephone 443-842-7000.
Mike Smith, the man in charge, took some time to answer my questions:
Barbara Rogers: “Mike, what was the deciding factor in your decision to make the Maryland move, taking advantage of this great opportunity Maryland Live! Casino has afforded you?”