Grand Falls
Kimo Sabe
Running Aces
Golden Gates Casino
Grand Casino, Mille Lacs
Tropicana Evansville

Wait… is that J-10?

Welcome, poker fans! Thanks for checking out the first of what I hope to be many blogs on my day-to-day poker dealings and “lessons,” for lack of a better term. I spend most of my poker career playing 8-16 and 15-30 limit hold’em, and in turn, will discuss mainly scenarios in these games.

That said, I found myself in a 15-30 game just the other day. The table was typical of a 15-30 game, in that, players were extremely aggressive, but studious and intelligent. In addition, however, this particular game was especially loose. A raise would get called in three to four spots on a regular basis.

My strategy was simple: sit tight, play a small number of hands, but play these hands aggressively. This sounds simple enough, as a winning poker strategy is defined as being both tight and aggressive. But as we know, winning poker hinges on card cooperation as much as it does solid strategy.

I had played for perhaps an hour with little drama, when this hand comes up. I pick up 6-6 under-the-gun. Small to medium pocket pairs in this position are as difficult to play as anything, and a case can be made for folding, calling, and raising. Because I wanted to take control of the hand, and because I had been playing so few hands to begin with, establishing a tight image, I decide to raise. The action folds to the button, a kid who has recently joined the game, and has yet to give any indication of his playing style. He three-bets me. The blinds fold, and I call.

The flop comes 2-9-A, rainbow. Once again, a legitimate case can be made for a number of plays, including check-calling, check-folding, and check-raising. I decide, however, to once again take the lead in the hand, and bet. This play gives me a number of options, depending on how my opponent reacts, perhaps limiting the dead money I would have spewed into the pot by calling. The determining factor when deciding to bet this flop, however, was simply its texture: a board with no draws and a single Ace. If I bet into a player who has three-bet me pre-flop, it absolutely looks as if I have a hand like A-10, A-J or A-Q. He will almost certainly raise me if he holds an Ace, allowing me to decide on whether or not to fold cheaply; OR, he may call, and fold to a turn bet with a hand like J-J, Q-Q or K-K. Therefore, to execute this play, you must be willing to bet the turn.

So, I bet. And he calls. At this point, I do figure him for a large picture pair, and hope to take him off of it with a big bet on the turn. The turn is a 4, completing the fourth suit, so as to disregard any possible flush draws, and I once again bet. He thinks for a moment, and calls again. At this point, I am somewhat confused, but have more or less resigned to the idea that he has the better hand. I am not betting the river without improvement.

The river brings a 10. I check. He checks behind me. I roll over my 6-6, and say, “Well, you must have this beat.” He flips his cards: J-10 of diamonds!! Scroll backwards in this post to remind yourself of the flop. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Yes. 2-9-A. Oh, and of course the 4 on the turn. I stand up at the table, studying the board, wondering if it’s possible I’ve missed something. I’m afraid not. The man called the flop with Jack high, no over cards, and no draw. He once again called the turn, a big bet, with just as poor a hand. And then, lo and behold, thank you poker gods, you reward the man with a 10 on the river.

Dear poker gods,

Thanks for nothing.

Signed, Jacob Westlin

The session ended here. I needed to leave. Better luck next time!

Chad Ogle Wins Running Aces Deep Stack


Chad Ogle, winner of the 2005 Fall Poker Classic Main Event, added another big win to his resume on Sunday night, besting a field of 73 in the $1,000 buy-in Running Aces First Anniversary Deep Stack Tournament for a first place prize of just over $20,000.

Ogle came into the final table as one of the chip leaders, and he wasted no time mixing it up and leaning on the shorter stacks. He used his leverage to knock out six of the final eight players.

With the victory, Ogle, who also won the 2008 Trent Tucker charity tournament at Running Aces, owns a resume that clearly stands among the best in the state. And with the Twin Cities Poker Open, Midwest Poker Classic and Fall Poker Classic on the horizon, Ogle certainly comes in as a favorite to do some serious damage.

Click here to view the event photo gallery.

Full Results:

1Chad OgleMedina$20,135
2Wayne MartinsonRamsey$13,665
3Al GiardinaShakopee$10,070
4Ron SpainPlymouth$7,910
5Richard DavidsonLino Lakes$5,755
6Jeff KramerWhite Bear Lake$4,315
7Bill KnightShakopee$3,595
8Derek McMasterRichfield$2,875
9Scott NaisbittMinneapolis$2,155
10Bruce VangVadnais Heights$1,435

About Bryan Mileski

Bryan Mileski is the President and Publisher of Minnesota Poker Magazine and the Founder and President of the Mid-States Poker Tour.

Mileski has an established track record as a live and online tournament player, with cashes in World Series of Poker Circuit events, Caesers Mega Stack events, three Heartland Poker Tour final tables, a Mid-States Poker Tour final table, and more.

Email Bryan:

About Phil Mackey

Phil Mackey is the editor and publisher of Minnesota Poker Magazine, as well as the co-founder of the Minnesota State Poker Tour. Most people know him as a sports radio personality at 1500 ESPN Twin Cities from the “Reusse & Mackey Show.”

When he’s not covering the Twins/Vikings beat or obsessing over baseball sabermetrics, PMac is a die-hard poker player/enthusiast.

To learn more about Phil, visit

Email Phil:

June, 2009 Issue

– Alec Anderson wins Canterbury’s Minnesota State Poker Championship

– Running Aces Hitting Full Stride

– The Doyle Brunson Beer Pong Invitational

Malkovich wins $48,000 for HPT Walker title

Photo by Craig Dirkes

Photo by Craig Dirkes

The Heartland Poker Tour rolled into Northern Lights Casino in Walker, MN this past weekend, and Steve Malkovich of Duluth outlasted 174 main event competitors for top prize of nearly $50,000.

Click here to view a complete photo gallery.

Recap courtesy of

Nice Guy Finishes First in Minnesota

Walker, MN – After twelve failed attempts at other stops on the Heartland Poker Tour, Steve Malkovich pushed snooze twice on his alarm clock Sunday morning, reconsidering his plans to enter the latest HPT event at Northern Lights Casino in Walker, Minnesota. The 35-year-old construction laborer eventually made it out of bed and went on to dominate the final table in the quickest victory in HPT history.

Holding an untouchable monster chip stack, Malkovich of Duluth, Minnesota, described his game as “polite aggressive.” The father of two learned it pays to be nice. It paid $48,002 to be exact. Malkovich wasn’t done being Mr. Nice when the cameras stopped rolling. He immediately donated a portion of his prize to HPT’s charity partner, Disabled American Veterans.

There was plenty of “Minnesota Nice” at Northern Lights Casino Sunday night. HPT President Todd Anderson said the Minnesota stops on the tour are a great opportunity for new players who are otherwise intimidated to play live tournaments. “From the players to the dealers, there is definitely a kindness about the people we encounter in Minnesota,” Anderson says. “It makes for a great tournament for all of our players and a rewarding job for our crew.”

Rob Premo, VP of Table Games for Northern Lights Casino, wouldn’t have it any other way. “Our top priority is to make sure every player enjoys the event, whether they cash or not.”

Second-place finisher Durwin Matuska was a new player just two years ago. The retired auto worker still describes himself as a “learning player.” He went all in with two pairs, defeated by a third six in the flop for Malkovich. Playing in a casino for the first time just a year ago, the Crosby, Minnesota man won $24,001 Sunday night.

Matuska must be a quick learner. He knocked out long-time card player Michael Lewis when both men had pairs of kings and nines. A ten high for Matuska meant ten grand less for Lewis. The financial consultant from Wisconsin will invest his $14,401 third-place pay out.
Lewis, who calls poker “a fun diversion”, outlasted Nate Avenson, who calls poker a job. The professional player from Park Rapids, Minnesota earned an $11,201 paycheck when Malkovich came up with a wheel against his ace-ten.

Malkovich’s path of destruction began when he knocked out chip leader Mark Wadekamper, an account manager from Lonsdale, Minnesota with trip six. Holding ace-six, Wadekamper went all in when another six appeared in the flop. Playing since the age of eight, the 48-year-old won a bit more than the nickels and dimes he played for as a kid; he pocketed $9,600 in fifth place.

Also gaining experience with ten-cent games as a high schooler, 23-year-old Paul Katchmark graduated to an $8,000 payout in sixth place. The banker from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota was all in with jack-queen when a five appeared in the river, giving Matuska a nine-high straight. Sunday’s tournament was Katchmark’s first attempt at a Heartland Poker Tour event. Making the final table right out of the gate, Katchmark’s aspirations to become pro look promising.

Champion Malkovich proves persistence pays off in poker. He has a dozen Heartland Poker Tour attempts under his belt, including the very first HPT event in 2005 at the same casino where he finally went all the way. Asked how Sunday’s experience at Northern Lights Casino differed from his attempt four years ago, Malkovich said, “It’s a lot more fun when you win.”

Full results:

1Steve Malkovich$48,002
2Durwin Matuska$24,001
3Michael Lewis$14,401
4Nathan Avenson$11,201
5Mark Wadekamper$9,600
6Paul Katchmark$8,000
7Kimberly Katori$5,600
8Chuck Guetti$4,800
9Mark Dunbar$4,000
10Jasen McGough$3,200
11Roger Johnson$2,720
12Mike Hepola$2,400
13Matthew Christen$2,080
14Patrick Lorang$1,760
15Kim Giehler$1,600
16Lance Harris$1,360
17Chris Keller$1,360
18Larry Laudon$1,360
19Chris Pierce$1,360
20Brian Johnson$1,360
21Kevin Bollen$1,088
22John Blizil$1,088
23Ray Deegan$1,088
24Tyler Brackey$1,088
25Mohammed Al-Naseer$1,088
26Thomas Stambaugh$880
27Don Foster$880
28Paul Schroeder$880
29Bobby Brown$880
30Carl Rothausen III$880

The HPT returns to Minnesota from September 13-20 at Grand Casino Mille Lacs in Onamia.

MNPokerMag 2009 - 2017 MNPokerMag Admin