The World Series of Poker has once again stolen the spotlight with the ongoing WSOP Europe, but that's no excuse for some recent poker champions from around the world not to get some love.
EPT London: Although the turnout wasn't quite what many expected, the first-place prize of 750,000 pounds was nothing to laugh at. Benny Spindler defeated Steve O'Dwyer to earn his first EPT title at his second EPT final table. Spindler emerged onto the live poker scene when he finished third at the 2009 PCA main event and has been traveling the globe to find his next big tournament score ever since.
Spindler's 2011 has featured a number of major tournament cashes, including a runner-up finish in the 25,000 euro high roller at EPT Barcelona, a victory in the 10,000 euro buy-in at EPT Tallinn, an 118th-place finish at EPT Barcelona and a 24th-place finish at WPT Paris in September. He's earned $1.7 million in 2011 and is currently ninth on the EPT's all-time money list.
"I wouldn't say I crushed this final, but I was running really well the whole tournament," said Spindler. "As for the money, I'm not planning to spend it; I'm going to save it for my future."
O'Dwyer, who finished sixth in WSOP Europe Event 4, has also been on a run of his own with a victory in July at the Bellagio Cup, a Pro/Am win on Epic and a fifth-place finish at EPT Barcelona's 10,000 euro buy-in event. He earned 465,000 pounds for second place and now has $1.2 million in tournaments earnings this year.
Other notable main event finishers include Kevin Iacofano (sixth), Humberto Brenes (32nd) and Marvin Rettenmaier (41st).
EPT London also offered a number of side events, and Philipp Gruissem defeated a final table that included Sam Trickett and Olivier Busquet to win the 20,000 pound high roller event and $703,657. This was Gruissem's second victory in two months as he also won the 10,000 euro buy-in event at EPT Barcelona.
In the 2,000 pound no-limit hold 'em event, 2010 WSOP main event champion Jonathan Duhamel came close to another title finishing sixth (won by Pratik Ghatge). German Berndt Gleissner won the 5,000 pound heads-up event that featured a 32-player bracket. Melanie Weisner was eliminated in the semifinals.
WSOP Circuit: The second stop on the World Series of Poker Circuit 2011-12 season concluded on Monday as Robert Castoire won his third WSOP Circuit ring at Horseshoe Southern Indiana. Castoire had previously won a $345 buy-in event at Choctaw and a $1,000 buy-in in Tunica, but this was the largest cash of his career at $107,023.
"I'm still shocked," he said immediately after his victory. "A half hour ago I wasn't expecting to be here. I was just looking to go out with a little bit of dignity. ... It was bloody, it was brutal, it was cruel, but I got lucky. I was the last one."
Castoire defeated a final table that included ESPN contributor Bernard Lee (eighth), 66th-place finisher in the 2011 main event Jacob Bazeley, and the all-time leader in WSOP Circuit wins (five), Mark Smith.
Despite changing the format to re-entry, there was only a slight increase in attendance from 289 to 313 this year. The WSOP Circuit quickly moved on to Horseshoe Hammond and in their first event secured more than 3,000 entries and a $1 million prize pool for a $350 buy-in.
Heartland Poker Tour: Florida continues to be one of poker's hottest destinations and the Heartland Poker Tour hoped to capitalize on the influx of players as they stopped at the Daytona Beach Kennel Club for their latest event. Longwood, Fla.'s Nick Schwarmann knocked out every opponent at the final table to claim the top prize of $167,000. The event offered a prize pool of $562,800, down significantly from the $1 million prize pool attained at the stop held just days before in Colorado.
This was Schwarmann's third live cash and his first on the Heartland Poker Tour. The HPT's next stop will take place in Oklahoma's Downstream with its main event taking place on Saturday, Oct. 22.
HPT also announced that they've added the "Season Seven's Last Call" event to the 2011 schedule. Taking place from Nov. 25 to Dec. 4 at the Peppermill Casino in Reno, Nev., the event will feature Jerry Yang, Jamie Gold and Dennis Phillips.
Small blinds: Michael Mizrachi, currently trying to win his second WSOP bracelet in the 10,000 euro buy-in mix-max event at WSOPE, is hosting the "First Annual Breeders' Cup Celebrity Invitational" at the Horseshoe in Southern Indiana on Nov. 2. The $230 buy-in charity tournament will donate a portion of the proceeds to The V Foundation. John Racener and Mike Matusow, along with NBA players Brian Cardinal (Dallas Mavericks), Jermaine Taylor (Sacramento Kings) and Carl Landry (New Orleans Hornets) are scheduled to attend. ... The Queen City Shootout took place in Charlotte, N.C., on Oct. 12 and featured 220 players buying in for $275. The three-round shootout offered a grand prize of a WSOP seat with net proceeds going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. ... The WSOP Europe main event final table will be broadcast on ESPN3 beginning Thursday, Oct. 20 at 8 a.m. ET. ... Cannes, France, has been great for WSOP Europe, but at another casino in town, a poker scandal erupted and led to the arrest of five individuals who, according to the Associated Press and Fox News, were marking cards with infrared ink. ... The 2012 National Heads-Up Poker Championships have been cancelled. ... James Bord, 2010 WSOP Europe champion, has put his money where his mouth is. As part of a promotion with betting site Matchbook.com, Bord said that if an American wins the WSOPE main event, he'll refund any losing bets up to $500. ... Seized online poker funds going to the Greenville County Sheriff's Office? Seems that way. ... Matt Glantz has replaced Nick Schulman on the Epic Poker League Standards and Conduct Committee.