By Barbara Engler
With plans to hold similar events at cardrooms of all sizes around the world, the World Heavyweight Poker Championship (WHPC) awarded its first belt at Rogelio’s Poker Room of Isleton on Dec. 11.
After more than seven hours of play the title of 2011 WHPC Rogelio’s of Isleton Mini Flyweight Champion went to local resident Nathan Gardiner, who received a beautiful championship belt buckle and $2,686 in prize money. Gardiner was virtually speechless after the tournament, saying only, “This is the only place I play, so I’m real excited to win.”
Twenty-nine players came from as far away as Santa Rosa and Fresno to take a shot at the belt, but the local player’s weren’t about to give up their city’s title easily. The Cardroom’s editor, Randall Rapp, made the trip and acquitted himself nicely, coming in eighth place—just short of the money. “The tournament was extremely well run and the Garcia family made excellent hosts,” he said. “I hope this is the first of many WHPC events to come to cardrooms throughout Northern California.”
Second place in the tournament went to Rick Saetern of Sacramento who received $1,481, third went to Jeff Sinanian of Rio Vista ($1,042), and fourth was Bill Marsden of Santa Rosa ($816). Fifth and sixth respectively went to Phong Nguyen and Kirill Tarasenko, both of Sacramento, who each received $250.
When it was over and he could finally take a deep breath, tournament director Ning Garcia said, “We had a good turnout and we got all our local guys satellited in, so it’s a true tournament of champions. The only people who didn’t satellite in were the out-of-towners who came just for the event and bought in for the $250. It was kind of cool seeing a local guy win. He’s a great poker player and we’re definitely proud of him.”
The WHPC is the brainchild of Palo Alto resident Jerry Reed, a longtime poker player and entrepreneur. “I’ve put together an opportunity for every poker room in the world to be connected on the terms and conditions that they want for their players and that works best for them,” he said. “But it also gives all their players the feeling that they can be connected to something that’s going to be humongous if they so desire.”
Titles for different cities in different “weight” divisions are only one part of the long-term plan Reed has for the WHPC. Eventually he wants to have players from all over the world winning satellites that will eventually lead to the $100,000 buy-in Heavyweight Championship. “Congratulations to Rogelio’s and the winners and a special thanks to the many Title Belt Tournament contenders who made this first of its kind event a huge success,” he added.
Reed developed and designed the WHPC events with all gaming tournament poker rooms in mind, regardless of size or number of tables. It was created for competitive tournament poker players regardless of their bankroll size, preferred buy-in amount, or level of play. For information on the WHPC visit www.happylucky days.com or call Jerry Reed at 650-327-4810.