It may be winter in Calgary, but the action was hot inside the Deerfoot Inn & Casino the past couple weeks with the 2015 Winter Super Stack. The 15-event, 12-day series covered a wide range of games and buy-ins, from $330 Deepstack Event #1 with three Day 1s, to unusual events like baccarat and blackjack tournaments.
More than $350,000 was guaranteed in prize pools, but with the buzz in the local poker community, that guarantee was smashed. The Main Event alone, with 256 entries over the three starting flights, had a total prize pool of $340,480.
Event #1 was a rollicking success, signalling the tenor of the series right from the start. With 427 entries over the three starting days, the prize pool for the $330 event blew past the $80,000 guarantee, swelling to more than $120,000. Swift Current, Saskatchewan’s Chris Bowers took the event down, cashing for $26,300, while Francois Lincourt finished second for $17,200. Vulcan, Alberta’s Ross Healy finished third, collecting $10,900.
Event #2, played while Event #1 was still underway, was the $550 Big Bounty. It ended in an all-Edmonton heads-up battle as Jonathan Sanborn beat Tony Comely for $6,000 and $4,125 each. Calgary’s Dominic Winter-Krienke was third for $2,750.
The third event of Winter Super Stack was a fun $200 pot-limit Omaha rebuy tournament with unlimited $100 rebuys and a $200 add-on. With 61 total entries, it came down to a battle of Alberta, with Edmonton’s James Cermak edging out Calgary’s Francois Lincourt heads-up. Cermak collected $13,000 for the win, while Lincourt’s second second of the series netted him $7,600.
The unique $1,100 PLO heads-up tournament was an all-Calgary affair at the end. When the 23 entries played down to the final two, it was all Calgary, with Levi Jones finishing on top for $9,500 and Robin Bergren in second for $5,950. Paul Bangma and Montreal’s Francis Lamothe rounded out the cashes in the event with $3,200 for third and fourth, which was Lamothe's second straight fourth-place finish in a PLO event after the same result in the $200 PLO Rebuy.
By the time the Mega Stack rolled around in Event #5, it was pretty clear the Winter Super Stack was a runaway success. With $40,000 guaranteed, by the time all the entries were counted the prize pool swelled to well over $60,000. Kristoffer Santos of Calgary won the $550 event, collecting $16,200, while Forestburg, Alberta’s Ryan Cairns took home $11,000 for second. Jonathan Sanborn of Edmonton was third for $8,000, and added to his win in the $550 Big Bounty, put Sanborn in excellent position in the High Point Champion race for the best player across the series.
A rarity on the live Alberta poker scene, the Winter Super Stack featured two heads-up tournaments. In addition to the heads-up PLO, Event $6 was an $1,100 heads-up no-limit hold’em tournament. 30 entries took their shot at the $28,500 prize pool, with Calgary’s Adam Harris defeating Saskatoon’s Trevor Norlander in the final match. Harris collected $12,800 to Norlander’s $7,400.
For players bored of old’em, there was plenty of Omaha action at the Winter Super Stack. Event #7 was a $220 pot-limit Omaha event that saw more than 100 runners. It was an all-Calgary affair at the top with Gord Chin coming first for $5,800, Joi Su in second for $4,000, and Raymond Trieu in third for $2,700.
Event #8 also saw over 100 players pony up $220 for a shot at a total prize pool of $19,190. Mohsen Shafizadeh won the no-limit hold’em event for $5,700 with Toronto’s Andreas Kesselring finishing secind for $3,900. Tony Comely had his second cash of the series, finishing third for $2,700.
While Day 1a of the Main Event was under way, a $330 bounty event ran with 151 total entries. Local favourite Sinan Tawfik, who also cashed in Event #1 of this series, took the event down, winning $7,300, while Joi Su had her second second of the series, winning $4,935. Edmonton’s Andy Troung finished third for $3,400.
One of the more entertaining events for participants as well as spectators was Event #11, the team event, which ran Valentine’s evening. 36 teams paid the $220 entry fee, with Melody and Brad finishing first for $3,200 over Alison and Jon, who won $1,900 for second. As much a social event as a poker tournament, the team event was raucous fun.
The final event of the series — the $330 Last Chance — saw 88 people take a final stab at tournament glory at the Winter Super Stack. It would be Sinan Tawfik who stunned the field, however, taking down his second $330 event of the the series for a score of $7,600. He defeated Alex Bylicki from Vancouver heads up, who collected $5,500.
Two of the more unusual events of the series ran on Saturday and Sunday nights, and generated a lot of buzz from the players. On Saturday, the $300 baccarat tournament was won by Wayne Mitchell for $5,000. On Sunday, John Trieu won the $100 blackjack tournament, collecting $2,322.
The Main Event capped the whole series off with a bang. With 256 total entries, the prizepool smashed the guarantee and nearly hit the guarantee for the entire series. Three starting flights fed into the final Day 2 where 61 people sat down to compete for 26 spots in the money. In the end it was Calgary’s Ryan Hodge who emerged victorious with World Series of Poker bracelet-winner Tyler Bonkowski finishing second and Steve Dahrouge finishing third.
The official payouts were $80,000 for first, $52,000 for second, and $35,000 for third, but players cut a deal five-handed which altered the official numbers significantly. You can read all about that deal in our live reporting feed here. The deal meant that Ryan Hodge was able to take down the High Point Champion honours which included a seat at the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event and a year’s lease on a 2015 Toyota Camry courtesy of South Pointe Toyota Scion.
There’s no question the 2015 Winter Super Stack was a resounding success. The Deerfoot Inn & Casino pulled out all the stops, securing the right to open a vast conference room space to accommodate the Main Event players. With the added space, it only makes the future brighter for upcoming editions of the series. Poker Room Manager Robert Bowers said, “This was the series I've been trying to build,” and kudos to him and the excellent staff of Deerfoot Inn & Casino for a superb series. See you next year for the 2016 Winter Super Stack, where the temperature may be cold, but the poker action is hot.
To browse our photo gallery from the series, head to our Flickr page.