The 2017 Station Poker Classic marked the 21st annual running of this venerable spring poker series. Over the course of four days, the poker action was hot, with the four events generating a total prize pool that blew past the half-million-dollar mark.
The series, hosted by Casino Regina in the beautiful old Regina train station, is traditionally four one-day events culminating in a Saturday $1,100 Main Event.
The action kicked off at noon, Wednesday March 22, with the $500 No-Limit Hold'em. With 188 entries, the players were playing for a share of $84,600 and the action was fierce all day. Thomas Taylor was the eventual winner, taking down the event in Level 20. Taylor was a bit of a surprise entry in the tournament, and even admitted at one point that he only decided to come early on Wednesday morning.
It turned out to be a $22,567 decision for him as he quietly chipped up and held on throughout the day. The win was Taylor's 10th recorded win, and he has over $600,000 in lifetime earnings. This win was only his latest in a string of recent success on the real and virtual felt, including a WPT final table, 11 WSOP cashes, and more than $200,000 in WCOOP cash. Cody B. was the runner-up to Taylor, booking a $14,357 payday, while Troy Nisbet took the bronze spot for just under $10,000.
Event #2 on Thursday bumped the buy-in up to $700 and recorded 169 entries with a total prize pool of $106,470. Event #1 was a relatively short affair, finishing not very long after 1 a.m. With a somewhat smaller player pool, it seemed Event #2 was set to be a short day as well. When the final table arrived only 10 hours after the first hands were dealt, an early night for players and staff seemed a sure bet.
Nearly seven hours later, after a grueling heads-up battle that shattered the three-hour mark, Dominick French finally emerged the winner over local favourite and perennial deep runner in Casino Regina events, Danny Lamb. Lamb already has one Casino Regina ring from the 2012 Harvest Poker Classic and, since then, he's had seven cashes with five final tables at the Station or Harvest Classic.
While Lamb was clearly on the hunt for his second ring, French, from Victoria, B.C., stood in his way. With over $200,000 in lifetime live earnings, French was looking for his second recorded win in the early hours of Friday morning. Shortly before 5 a.m., he finally overcame the local hero to take down the title. The two players made a deal early in heads-up play to each pocket $22,500 in cold cash, and leave $1,813 and the ring on the table for the eventual winner, French.
The $900 Bounty event that runs on Friday of the Station Classic is always a raucous affair. In addition to the usual prize pool payouts, $100 from each buy-in is reserved as a bounty, awarded to the player who scores a knockout. The prize pool in play for Event #3 was $136,080 and, unlike Event #2, the final table in Friday's bounty was fairly quick. Players made a deal when play was three-handed with the eventual winner, Chris Bowers, securing $26,000, while his opponents, Pak Chan and John Hashem, each grabbed $24,456.
The win was Bowers second Casino Regina ring after winning last year's inaugural Diamond Poker Classic Main Event. It was his third career win, adding to a career earnings total approaching $150,000, and Bowers is a regular visitor to Casino Regina series final tables.
The marque event of the series is always the $1,100 Main Event on the final day, and this year didn't disappoint. With the largest turn out of the week, the Main Event drew 212 total entries for a prize pool of $212,000. The larger field meant for a long day, rivaling Event #2 in length, but by the end of the evening, the final table contained some familiar faces.
Danny Lamb, proved he was a true poker marathoner, making it to the Main Event final table after his epic heads-up battle earlier in the week with Dominick French that went well into the following morning. But even with a "Rack of Lambs" on his rail, he was only able to manage 10th place for a payday of $4,519. Leor Wasserman is a regular runner at the Casino Regina series, and he was running pure in the middle parts of this event, amassing a huge stack at various times. In the end, he had to settle for fifth place, and a score of $12,280 for his second-largest live cash.
One of most compelling stories of the Main Event almost came from Glen Adams. Forced to miss the first three events of this series at his "home turf, poker-wise," Adams made the last minute decision Friday evening to drive in from Lethbridge, Alberta to defend his title from the 2012 Station Classic Main Event. He arrived late but wasted no time building his stack and turning it into a shot at his second ring. He came up just a bit short, however, finally going down in third place for $23,788, adding to more than $150,000 in career earnings.
The real story of the night belonged to Mike Schmidt and Joey Basaraba. Both fixtures at the Casino Regina series over the years, Mike Schmidt's second-place finish was only his third recorded cash. Both he and Basaraba ($33,420 career earnings before the Main Event) locked up their biggest lifetime scores in a heads-up deal that saw them both pocket $45,326 and more than double their lifetime earnings. In an unusual end to the tournament, after the deal they agreed to play best three out of five hands for the ring. Basaraba ran the table, taking the first three hands, and the Main Event ring.
When all was said and done, the series awarded $529,150 spread over 78 players who cashed in the various events, without counting the $18,900 in bounties from Event #3. The Show Lounge at Casino Regina is once again quiet of the riffle of poker chips, giving way to it's main function as a concert and events venue. But the sound of poker chips will fill the room once again in June, when the Diamond Poker Classic takes over from June 6 through 10.