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MN Online Profile: “JohnnyGstaks”

“JohnnyGstaks,” a 27-year-old from St. Paul, MN, according to PocketFives.com, has been tearing it up online over the last six months, specifically on Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet.

Since last September, “JohnnyGstaks” has 15 cashes of at least $5,000, including victories in the Ultimate Bet $75k guaranteed ($19,875), the Full Tilt Turbo Fiddy ($10,384), the Absolute Poker Sniper $40k guaranteed ($10,000), the Full Tilt Super Turbo Knockout $32k guaranteed ($9,832), the Absolute $20k guaranteed TWICE ($6,988 and $5,200), and the Absolute $15k guaranteed ($5,127).

Whew.

“JohnnyGstaks” is currently ranked fourth in the PocketFives.com Minnesota Online Rankings, behind Mike “babyshark33″ Kachan, Lance “kingpin023″ Harris, and Cody “Thugmoneymkr” Slaughbaugh.

MSPT Northern Lights info

Coming off a ridiculously successful Minnesota State Poker Tour event at Running Aces earlier this month, we’re pumped about the upcoming MSPT Walker event at Northern Lights Casino, June 9-13.

You can view a full schedule of events by clicking here, as well as contact information for surrounding hotels (ask for MSPT reduced rates).

The schedule lists six $250 qualifier events, beginning on Wednesday, June 9, and the two-day $1,100 Main Event will begin at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 12.

We actually held our Minnesota Poker Magazine Launch Party at Northern Lights last May during a Heartland Poker Tour event, so don’t be surprised if we bust out the beer pong tables again.

Just sayin’.

April Magazine Feature: Q&A with FTOPs winner Lance Harris

In honor of Lance “kingping023″ Harris nearly winning his second FTOPs event of 2010, check out the Q&A he did with fellow poker player Nate Avenson after his February FTOPs win — for $330,000.

From the April issue of Minnesota Poker Magazine
“King Pin” - by Nate Avenson

February 15, 2010 was a sweet day for Fargo native Lance Harris, who currently hails from Apple Valley. In the wee hours of the morning, claiming victory over 1,540 competitors, Lance was the winner of FTOPS Event #12, adding a cool $331,315 to his net worth. I sat down with Lance to discuss his poker career, the big win, and what the future holds.

Nate Avenson: Let’s talk a little about your life before you found poker. What kind of work did you do?

Lance “kingpin023” Harris: I worked drywall for a number of years, before realizing it was time to go back to school. Once I was back to school, my younger brother was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer. He fought it hard but passed away right before his 16th birthday. As you might imagine, this made school very difficult for me, and once again I dropped out and was forced to find another job.

NA: So, how did you find poker?

LH: Well, I used to play a lot of pool in the Fargo area, and through that, I met Rob Anderson, who was the site manager for Prairie Public Broadcasting’s Charitable Gaming. He hired me to deal blackjack, which was actually a fairly lucrative gig at the time. He was a long-time, avid poker player and sparked my curiosity in the game. I got my feet wet by reading Super System, and dabbling in the online games. I remember making a few $50 or $100 deposits on Party Poker, and splashing around in the low stakes games. I switched to Doyle’s Room where I had some early success in MTTs and decided to read more books and really just go full out trying to master the game.

NA: So, at what point did you decide to go pro?

LH: It was about 3 or 4 years ago. After dealing blackjack for a couple years I was offered, and accepted, the site manager position. The pay was good, but it was a very time consuming and stressful job. Eventually, I started making about as much money playing poker as I was at my job, but in far less hours. So I stepped down as manager to see what I could do playing poker full time. I kept dealing blackjack two nights a week, just in case things went bad and I needed something to fall back on. Within about six months poker was going great and I quit dealing blackjack altogether, which was a great feeling.

NA: What is a normal day/week like for you as a professional card player? How many games, and at what stakes do you play?

LH: Well, weeks vary. During big online events, like the FTOPS, I might play 80+ hours a week, playing from noon until 3am for several days in a row. I typically play 10-12 tables at a time. I’ll play re-buys up to $50 and freeze-outs up to $300, and occasionally take shots at some of the bigger games. I have a lot of respect for the hardcore grinders out there, putting in sick amounts of volume. I can put a lot of volume in, but I also like to enjoy life and take some time off. I think it helps me keep an even keel. I work hard for the money, and I think it’s important for me to take time off now and again to enjoy my success.

NA: Speaking of success, what was your biggest score before this event?

LH: I took 6th in the Poker Stars Sunday Warm-up back in September for about $28k. That was my biggest online win at the time. My biggest live win was a 3rd place finish in an HPT event for about $18k. I also had a deep run in the $530 2-day WCOOP event. Basically, I’ve sniffed a lot of big scores, but always came up short.

NA: Yeah, this game can be brutal at times. If I recall correctly, you recently suffered a fairly significant downswing on Full Tilt. Tell me a little about that.

LH: Yeah, I had kind of a strange year in ’09. It started out great. I made somewhere around $26k in two days. Then immediately went on a $20k downswing. I kept grinding all year, got it all back and was having a great year. Then, all of the sudden, I couldn’t win a hand on Full Tilt. I bricked tournament after tournament. I lost like $30k in MTTs and $10k in SNGs on Full Tilt over the course of 3-4 months. It was mind boggling, just an absurd downswing, but I tried to keep my head up. I kept telling myself that things will turn around, it was just variance. But towards the end of the year I was really getting discouraged. Things were going fine on Poker Stars, but couldn’t get anything going on Full Tilt. At the end of the year I looked back on my results at Full Tilt and I had made around $5k over about 1000 tourneys. It was very discouraging to say the least. I decided to give up on Full Tilt and mostly play on Poker Stars. But then Full Tilt ran a weeklong promotion of double guarantees in all their MTTs and I just couldn’t resist. So I decided to give them one last shot. After bubbling numerous final tables and making a ton of deep runs. I end up shipping the $30 re-buy for $12k, and chopping a $100 freeze-out on Poker Stars for $11.5k. The deep runs really boosted my confidence and put some motivation back in my MTT game. It’s funny because, before that week, I remember thinking about the prospects of finding a “real” job. I told myself that when my bankroll hits X, I’m going to have to start looking for a job. I’d still have plenty of money to play with, and I could rebuild my roll playing part time. I knew that if I didn’t do that, I risked the chance of going completely busto, and that would mean working full-time, and no poker. Not a pretty picture.

NA: So you had boosted your confidence significantly right before the event, is that what made you decide to play?

LH: I usually try to play the $1k’s during the FTOPS because they put such a big guarantee on them. So, I decided to try to satellite in. I had $300-$400 invested by the time I won my seat. If I hadn’t won a seat, I’m not sure I would have even played. It’s strange how significant outcomes sometimes hinge on minute details. Once I had won the seat, I set up a somewhat lighter schedule for the day than normal to be able to give this tournament extra attention. Where I would normally be playing 10-12 tables, I opted to play just 6-9.

NA: Did you recognize any of the players at your table early on?

LH: Yeah. Two to my left was Thayer Rasmussen’s brother Geoffras. I’ve played him before and he definitely plays good. On his left was Julian Verse, another very solid player. We started with 6k in chips and I had one significant hand early on that got me to 10k. I opened with KK on the button and the SB called. He proceeded to check/call all three streets with QT on a KQ766 board. After that, I didn’t get much going. I floated around with about 20 BBs for most of the event. I’d blind down to 15 BBs or so, get it in, win a flip, and float some more. I made some folds near the bubble that I normally would never make. One example is a hand where the HJ opened; I was in the CO with 15 BBs and looked down at KQ. Normally this is a snap shove, but with only $300-$400 invested and only 3 players left before a min-cash worth $1900, I opted to fold. Both of the blinds went all-in showing QQ and AK, which would have left me virtually drawing dead. I kept coasting along, nursing my short stack until there were 60 players left. I won a few big pots and accumulated a top 10 stack. When only two tables remained, I was sitting at the one with all the well-known players, while the other table was mostly nameless. Fortunately, when a player busted on the other table, I got moved and was able to come into the final table 6/9. I was very card dead and handcuffed with my stack size at the final table and just kept hanging around until we ended up 3 handed.

NA: What was it like to find yourself playing 3 handed with gboro780, the #1 ranked player in the world?

LH: I was definitely the least experienced player playing for that kind of money, they knew it, and I knew it. Chopping wasn’t an option for them, so we were going to play it out. I had already locked up a $155k payday, which I was more than happy with after being so short for the whole final table. At this point gboro780 was in 2nd and I was 3rd in chips. I knew I would need to loosen up and play back at him. I was fortunate enough to win two flips against him, QT>44 and 55>A8s to knock him out. I had played with grindtherail for much of the tourney and knew he was going to be a tough heads up opponent. Heads up he was opening 100% of his buttons and 3-betting me over 50% of the time. There was a critical hand where I opened with 99 on the button and he 3-bet me. I 4-bet, and I remember thinking that I would not be surprised if he 5-bet me. At this point the match was very much one of meta-game, with each of us trying hard to level the other. He ends up 5-betting and I 6-bet all-in. He snap called and showed TT. Again, luckily, I flopped a 9, giving me 7.5M chips to his 1.6M. Less than 20 hands later we get it in once again. I am holding A2 to his 77. The flop comes 2XX. The turn is another 2, leaving him drawing to one of two 7’s. The river bricks, and I just shipped an FTOPS event.

NA: What was going through your head after the final pot was shipped to you?

LH: I could hear my roommate freaking out in the living room and I just sat back in my chair for like 1 or 2 minutes, not really showing a ton of emotion. It had been a long tourney, and a long day. It was 6am at that point and I was kind of in shock. I went out into the living room and my roommate tackled me. We poured a couple of drinks to celebrate and I called my mom and some other close friends to share the good news. It took a while for it all to sink in, days really.

NA: So where do you go from here? What stakes do you plan to play? I found it a little humorous that 2 days after you won a third of a million dollars you and I were playing in the same $15 event online.

LH: Haha, yeah, that’s a fun little Super Turbo Knockout Pot Limit Omaha tourney. I obviously don’t usually play events so small, but that one only takes 2 hours and you can win $1600 or so, so it has a good hourly return. I don’t plan to move up in stakes at all. I make good money at the levels I play. I know where my edges are for the most part. I tried to satellite into the $2500 FTOPS, but after a few tries I stopped. Even though I could afford to buy in directly, I’d rather play games where I have a significant edge and risk much less of my bankroll.

NA: Do you have any big plans for the rest of the money?

LH: I set aside a big chunk of it for taxes. I also paid off my car loan. Other than that, I’ll use some of it as a down payment on a house in Vegas. I’m heading there in April to meet with Realtors. I moved to the cities from Fargo and I like it here for the most part, but I’m ready to go someplace warm. Vegas is the obvious choice.

NA: So, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

LH: What? Did this just turn into a really cliché job interview or something? No, joking aside, I obviously hope to still be playing cards, but it’s hard to say where the game will be in five years. The online game has an uncertain future for sure. I guess that’s part of the motivation to move to Vegas. No matter what happens to the online scene, there will always be cards in Vegas.
The author of this article, Nate Avenson, is a professional poker player and friend of Lance Harris’ who attends Bemidji State University. Nate blogs at MNPokerMag.com. Read more about him at NateAvenson.com.

PHOTOS: Kevin Marcotte wins Canterbury 10th Anniversary Tourney

As part of its grand re-opening this month, Canterbury Park held a $550 buy-in Anniversary Tournament, drawing a 90-man field that included some of the state’s top players.

The final three featured an odd trio — Kevin Marcotte, along with Sara and Danny Allgood. Marcotte prevailed, taking home the $15,750 first place prize.

Sara Allgood recently took third place in a Venetian Deep Stack event in Las Vegas.

Canterbury Park 10-Year Anniversary Tournament
$500+50 buy-in, 90 entrants
PlayerPrize
1Kevin Marcotte$15,750
2Sara Allgood$9,000
3Danny Allgood$5,625
4Brian Gabrielle$4,500
5John Olson$3,375
63-Putts$2,475
7Dmitri Soudakov$1,800
8William Weber$1,350
9John Alexander$1,125

Lance “kingpin023″ Harris finishes 6th in FTOPs #5

Lance “kingpin023″ Harris, from Apple Valley, MN, finished sixth-place in Saturday night’s FTOPs event #5 — a $100 rebuy tournament with a field of 1,936 fighting for a chunk of a $600,000 prize pool.

Harris, who won an FTOPs event in February for more than $330,000, earned $24,600 for his effort. First place paid $123,000.

Harris is currently featured in the April issue of Minnesota Poker Magazine, where he did a Q&A with fellow Minnesota online poker player Nate Avenson.

The sixth-place cash puts Harris’ online career earnings near the $1.3 million mark.  He also ranks 2nd in the Minnesota online rankings behind Edina’s Mike “babyshark33″ Kachan, but that may change.

Around the Country: Another final table for Carlton

Just a couple tidbits to report from around the country:

- Everett Carlton, who won his first major title by taking down a WSOP Circuit event at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas last week, nearly won another Circuit event just four days later. Carlton finished fourth in another $500 buy-in event for $7,566. The event drew 195 entrants.

What a run for Everett.

- Vinh Nguyen, from Brooklyn Park, MN, finished fifth in a $350 buy-in event at the Borgata Spring Poker Open on April 10th for $4,013. Vinh has 13 career live cashes, according to PokerPages.com.

- Sara Allgood, from Bloomington, MN, took third place in a deep stack event at the Venetian in Las Vegas on April 11 for $6,659. The $500 buy-in event drew 115 players. Allgood has nine career cashes in the Fall Poker Classic.

Congrats to Liv Boeree — beer pong victim, winner of EPT event

Jon Friedberg and Liv Boeree

Just wanted to send out a ‘congrats’ to Liv Boeree, who won the EPT San Remo event earlier today for 1.25 million euros.

Bryan and I had a chance to play beer pong against Liv and her teammate Jon Friedberg in the 2009 Doyle Brunson Beer Pong Invitational. She was cool, and obviously attractive.

Bryan and I won the beer pong match, but I’d rather have an EPT title. Maybe someday.

Congrats, Liv!

Alec Anderson reaches final table of Full Tilt $1 million

Alec Anderson, from June, 2009

Alec “aabomb09″ Anderson added $14,714 to his bankroll and another headline to his resume by finishing ninth in the Full Tilt $1 million guaranteed tournament last Sunday.

Anderson, who won Canterbury’s State Poker Championship in April, 2009, has been ranked in the top 10 of PocketFives.com‘s Minnesota online rankings all year.

Full Results:

Full Tilt Poker “$1 Million Guarantee” $500+35
2,102 entrants – $1,051,000 paid out to 306 spots

ElMastermind – $176,921 (ElMastermind)
gYPSYtearss – $118,000 (gypsy tearss)
THE UTE – $95,000 (THE UTE) *3-way deal
Shoevestoof – $62,009
kda281101 – $47,295
DuckU – $33,842 (DuckU)
pbdrunks – $24,699 (pbdrunks)
john_the_main – $19,444
aabomb09 – $14,714 (aabomb09)

Canterbury thrilled about launch, upcoming events

Canterbury Park finished a massive, three-month renovation of its cardroom on April 15. The grand re-opening coincides with the launch of a $100,000 free roll event (see back cover), and also the start of horseracing season in May.

Canterbury managed to keep the card room operating on the second floor for three months, without disruption, while construction took place below. The cardroom was shut down only for 13 hours on the day of the re-opening, while staff moved tables, chairs, and other equipment downstairs.

The renovation was originally estimated at $1.2 million, but Canterbury spent plenty more in marketing, promotion, and various studies.

“We did this for the players,” said Canterbury poker director Al Giardina. “Canterbury spent a lot of additional money other than just the amount that they spent on the remodel, in hiring consulting firms to find out what our players really wanted. We went in-depth, and we had lots of suggestions from players, and many of them were instituted.

“So far, our players are absolutely delighted with what we have here.”

At first, the Canterbury brass were a bit nervous about the temporary second-floor layout, but as it turned out, players loved it. Maybe a little too much.

“Most of them liked it and were very concerned about what we were about to give them, because they felt very homey up there (on the second floor),” Giardina said. ‘This is really nice, can we stay up there?’

“But I think from the response of everybody I’ve talked to, they absolutely love it — the glitz that we’ve put out.”

The new layout allows Canterbury to have 50 tables in operation, between table games and poker. There are currently 30 poker tables on the new floor, but they are capable of using 33.

Free Poker Network Players Invade Caeser’s Palace

From FreePokerNetwork.com

Twenty-three Free Poker Network players will be invading Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas this weekend as they take a seat in our Fall Spectacular National Championship event for a chance to win more than $12,000 in tournament buy-ins, including a grand prize $5,000 buy-in to the World Series of Poker Circuit Event! Last year’s Caesar’s Circuit Event winner Justin Bonomo cashed in for $227,692 in a field of only 187, meaning that on the line could be nearly a quarter of a million dollars!

The action starts at 10 am sharp this Saturday, April 24 inside the Caesar’s Palace Poker Room with registration beginning at 9 am—all on Vegas time of course! The 23 players from across the country will all have their eyes on that $5,000 grand prize buy-in, but EVERYONE will go home a winner! That’s right, each of the remaining 22 players will receive additional buy-in to WSOP Circuit Events during the weekend. The lucky 23 players taking part in this weekend’s National Championship are:
1. Michael Goldade (ND)
2. Lance Zietz (ND)
3. Wade Kyser (ND)
4. Lois Kihne (ND)
5. David Delaplane (ND)
6. Glenn Schaefers (SD)
7. Curt Swier (SD)
8. Nicholas Wahl (MN)
9. Erasmo Ozornia (MN)
10. Julie Hovey (MN)
11. Josh Manley (MN)
12. Jerry Anderson (MN)
13. Clay Lipke (MN)
14. Derek Potter (MN)
15. Jeremy Hendricks (NE)
16. John Verhaeghe (WI)
17. Michael Jacobo (FL)
18. Andrew Downing (TX)
19. Chris Smith (CO)
20. Derek Williams (MD)
21. Bob Winegar (NJ)
22. Kris Liepke (Online Winner)
23. Josh Barnes (Online Winner)
And if you’re wondering what happened to the other two seats that were promised for a total of 25, we have them covered as well. Unfortunately, winner Bob Haas passed away shortly after he won at the North Dakota state championship and is sorely missed by his family, friends and fellow league players. John Russell, our Missouri winner, will not be able to make the national championship event this weekend, and has instead arranged another package with the league as his prize. We send Bob’s family our deepest sympthaties and wish John the best of luck with his amended grand prize buy-in.

All 23 players receive airfare allowance and a three night stay on the Las Vegas Strip as part of their Fall Spectacular Grand Prize Package, and in the mix are some big players to watch out for. Breezy Point, MN, resident Clay Lipke is first on the list with two previous grand prize packages under his belt. This weekend’s event will mark Lipke’s third grand prize package trip to nationals. To date, Lipke has won more than $16,500 in prizes playing free poker in the Minnesota Poker League, including a national championship title in the 2008 World Series of Poker Promotion. Lipke can also claim to be the first person in Minnesota Poker League history to win three state championship prize packages. With all his previous tournament experience, Clay is definitely one to beat!

And there is another amazing league first with three winners playing out of the Kandi Bowl in Willmar, MN. Julie Hovey, Josh Manley and Eddie Ozornia all from Willmar will each be looking to take it all the way and be crowned the “Willmar Winner”. This is the first time in Minnesota Poker League history that three players from the same location each captured grand prize packages.
This event also marks the second time Derek Williams (MD) has made it to one of our National Finals, and he will certianly be looking to perfect his game this weekend and take home some cold hard cash! Of course each and every one of the 23 players is a solid contender so we expect they will all play hard at this national event! They did beat out thousands of other players from around the country after all!

Best of luck to everyone playing in this weekend’s event! We hope each of you comes home with some big money! Be sure to check back here after this weekend’s action to find out how they all did!

MNPokerMag 2009 - 2014 MNPokerMag Admin