Maybe Jerry Wong will be the one: South Florida has had a handful of players reach the final table of the World Series of Poker main event, but none have won.
Wong, of Coconut Creek, sits in eighth place when the final nine players sit down Sunday. The WSOP began on July 9 with 6,737 players, and winnowed the field down to the final nine by July 18. ESPN has been showing the action that brought us to this point. Now the tournament resumes live at 8:30 p.m. Sunday on ESPN, plays down to four for Monday’s show and the final two vie on Tuesday.
Wong, who had been an online pro in Canada, has been a South Florida player since September 2012, frequenting local rooms here and befriending such local players as Mukul Pahuja and his brother Vinny. He says there’s a group of poker regulars who have a weekly pickup basketball game, including Matt Waxman and Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tournament Director Tony Burns.
Wong has been preparing for the final table by talking over hands with his friends, and taking advice from pros Jason Mercier and Jake Schindler, who both paid part of Wong’s $10,000 main event entry fee, in return for a share of his winnings.
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“I feel like I will be one of the better-prepared players going in,” Wong said. The winner gets $8 million. Everyone at the final table receives at least $1 million.
Wong, 34, has won $1,317,539 in live poker tournaments, including a $725,000 prize for coming in third place in the 2013 PCA in the Bahamas.
Past South Floridians to make the final table are David “Chino” Rheem, Kevin Schaffel, Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi and Bodih “Bob” Bounahra. None have even reached the final three.
WSOP Circuit Series
For those who catch WSOP fever from watching the main event, there will be related events at the Palm Beach Kennel Club Nov. 10-21.
Called the WSOP Circuit Series, the kennel club stop is marketed as “12 Rings in 12 Days.” It begins with a $365 tournament Nov. 10. The main event, which costs $1,675 to enter, starts Nov. 19.
The Main Event winner will receive a berth into the WSOP Circuit Global Casino Championship. The “Casino Champion,” defined as the player who accumulates the most points throughout the schedule, also earns a seat into the championship.
It’s the sixth consecutive year the circuit has stopped at the kennel club, which also hosted WSOPC events in February this year. In 2011, the kennel club became the first non-casino venue to host a WSOPC stop.
▪ Casino Miami offers “Hallo-Cash,” hourly free play drawings from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, with an upgrade to $1,000 cash at 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Then comes the big monthly giveaway, a Chevy Silverado, on Sunday. Hourly free play drawings lead up from 3-11 p.m., then the truck giveaway is at midnight.
▪ Mardi Gras Casino marks Halloween with a costume contest at 6 p.m. Saturday on The Veranda. The prize is $500 cash each for scariest, funniest, most original and casino theme. Participants must sign up at the player’s club by noon Saturday.
▪ Hialeah Park completes a $201,000 guaranteed poker tournament that players have could enter for $155 throughout the month. Final first-day times are 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The final day is Sunday.
▪ Gulfstream Park gives away a BMW X1 between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. Sunday to wrap up its October promotion. Players who earn at least 100 slot points are placed into the drawing.
▪ Seminole Classic’s “His & Hers Harley Giveaway” climaxes from 6-10 p.m. Friday. One patron wins two Harley Davidson Dyna Street Bobs and 23 other players will win a share of more than $10,000 cash.
▪ Calder Casino completes an October food drive. Those who donate at least $5 in canned or dry goods receive $5 in free slot play. (One per person.) If the donations are close to the $5 minimum, please bring a receipt to the player’s club.
▪ The Casino @ Dania Beach has the Dania Poker Cup at 6 p.m. Friday and will continue the event each Friday in October. The $150 buy-in event carries a $10,000 guarantee, with $5K and a trophy going to the winner.
▪ The Isle Casino’s big October promotion concludes with Dodge Challenger SXT drawings (one orange, one black) at 11 p.m. Saturday and 9 p.m. Sunday. To become a finalist, names are drawn every 15 minutes from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. The finalists also receive $250 in free play.
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