Racing News


by Mike Henry

The last few days have rushed past in an action-packed blur for members of the Bay Area Poker Club and tournament players in The Silks Poker Room at Tampa Bay Downs.

Friday’s SanPar Leukemia & Lymphoma Charity Poker Tournament attracted 120 players who raised more than $20,000 for the Suncoast Chapter of the organization.

On Tuesday, the sixth annual Bay Area Poker Club season concluded, with first-year member Jesse Malin capturing the championship. A total of 18 players advanced to the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas and two qualified for the Players Poker Championship (PPC) Aruba World Championship.

“We had another extremely successful season,” said Danny Lobato, Ambassador of The Silks Poker Room and President of the Bay Area Poker Club. “It’s all about putting good people together to enjoy a ‘home game’ on Tuesday nights, and over the past few years a lot of us have become good friends.”

Camaraderie and excitement filled the room Friday night, with the Texas Hold ’em action spilling over into Saturday morning before a nine-way chop was declared. Robert Smedley was the tournament champion.

“It was a whopping success, and we’re excited to make a sizable contribution to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,” said Lobato, who organized the fund-raising event. “We raffled off a flat-screen TV, a fishing trip, rounds of golf, restaurant certificates and gift baskets, and we had some ‘Splash the Pot’ hands where players could win additional prizes.

“A lot of people told me it was the most fun tournament they’ve played in.”

The fun, as well as a bit of suspense, carried into Tuesday night, before determining those who advance to the WSOP and PPC Aruba events. With 28 of the club’s original 39 members still active among its 66-player membership, the competition seems to get more spirited every year.

“Getting to the World Series of Poker, with a chance to win life-altering money, is something every serious player has on their bucket list,” Lobato said. “But the club is also about getting together to have fun and meet different people.”

Club champion Malin is among four players from the club to earn a $10,000 buy-in and $2,000 toward expenses for the WSOP, to be held May 31-July 14 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. The others are James Palmeri; Mike Veronesi; and Stanley Eleff.

The next three finishers in the final standings earned a $5,000 buy-in and $1,000 in expenses. That group consists of Ann Gove; Ian Feller; and Kathy Stackpoole.

The eighth and ninth-place finishers, Ron Taylor and John Ott, will be heading to the PPC Aruba World Championship from Nov. 2-8 at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino. Both earned          $5,000 packages.

The PPC will hold its annual North America Championship here at The Silks Poker Room from July 14-24, featuring a $100,000 Guaranteed Prize Pool Main Event.

The 10th through 20th Bay Area Poker Club finishers also won packages to compete in the WSOP. Ed Vanlandingham won a $3,000 buy-in and $1,000 in expenses for finishing 10th.

Receiving a $1,500 buy-in and $1,000 in expenses were Jake Hollingsworth; Brian Roakes; Danny Lobato; Stanley Tavanese; Ralph Franco; Frank Muir; Dan Ruback; Steve Gersten; and Mike Muller. Mike Monaco won a $1,000 buy-in and $1,000 in expenses.

The 2016-2017 Bay Area Poker Club season begins Aug. 2. For details, contact Lobato at or (813) 295-3977.