BY RUSS SCOTT
SEPTEMBER 4, 2007
CEDAR RAPIDS TOURNAMENT ROOKIE WINS RIVERSIDE CLASSIC
Joe Schumacher, a self-proclaimed “conservative kind of guy,” couldn’t contain the excitement in his voice Sunday shortly after winning Riverside Casino’s First Anniversary Texas Hold’em Poker Classic.
“It was a great experience,” said the 39-year-old computer engineer from Cedar Rapids, who outlasted a field of 221 in his first-ever card room tournament. He’d never even played hold’em in a poker room until last December at Riverside, which opened last year south of Iowa City.
For his efforts, Schumacher won $33,816 and bragging rights over his home-game buddies. He said he couldn’t wait to get home and tell tournament stories to his father and wife, both of whom support his learning the game a few years ago and taking his poker skills to the next level.
So was it beginner’s luck on Sunday? Schumacher’s explanation was simple: “I played the right cards.”
The victory wasn’t really THAT easy. During an elimination round Saturday, his starting stack of $10,000 chips was down to just $4,700 after the first two hands. By level four he was all-in and facing an early exit. But he survived that hand and built his stack to $18,900 heading into Sunday’s championship session.
Since the overnight chip leader held $58,100, there was much work to be done against the remaining field of 118 who survived Day 1.
How did he do it?
“I learned a lot Saturday about the players, about the betting structures and…” He stopped in mid-sentence, then said with a laugh, “Hey, I don’t want to divulge all of my secrets! I’m a marked man now.”
Schumacher began the final table as chip leader with about $800,000. With three players left, he gambled with “the right cards” (J-10 of spades) by calling James Bowling’s all-in bet of $600,000. Bowling, of nearby Sabula, showed K-Q of spades, but a ten on the river gave Schumacher the pot and a 10-1 chip lead ($2 million to $200,000) heads-up against Dustin Peck of Washington, Iowa.
It was over on the third hand when Schumacher made a flush with the Q-J of spades against Peck’s suited 10-9.
So, now that he’s one-for-one in tournaments, will he play more events? Flush with victory and a hefty first-place check in his pocket, the new ex-conservative quickly said, “Why stop now?”
NOT MUCH TO FIX
Almost as happy as Schumacher were Kevin Helfgott, Riverside’s poker room manager, and his assistant, Brian Goodman.
”We’re extremely pleased with the turnout,” said Helfgott. “We exceeded our $100,000 prize pool guarantee by more than $12,000 and we hope to hold this event again next year.”
It was encouraging to hear the managers asking players how to improve the tournament for 2008. There’s not much to fix, really.
Players loved the $10,000-chip starting stacks and guaranteed prize pool. Goodman added that most of the field got into the $600 buy-in event cheaply by winning a seat in one of the many $30 or $60 qualifiers held the past two months.
Several players suggested slower increases in the blinds during the second half of the event, and I noted that a tournament clock showing player counts and time remaining in each level would enhance a tournament this big.
“We’re the third-largest poker room in Iowa (14 tables) and we try to keep our players happy,” said Helfgott. “We’ll deal any poker game people want, we feature a bad-beat jackpot and discounted hotel rooms, and we have a friendly, professional staff,” he said. First-time players also notice the poker room is clean and bright with generous space between tables.
The top 10 finishers Sunday were Joe Schumacher, Cedar Rapids, $33,816; Dustin Peck, Washington, Iowa, $22,542; James Bowling, Sabula, Iowa, $11,271; Darrell Osborn, Cedar Rapids, $9,016.50; Clint Germain, North Liberty, Iowa, $6,762.50; Joseph Babwski, Eagleville, Mo., $5,635.50; Tucker Stone, Iowa City, $4,508; David Woods, Aplington, Iowa, $3,381; Zach Via, Harrisburg, Minn., $2,535.50, and Robert Wittman, Dubuque, $1,972. The next 10 finishers each received $1,127.
NIGHT AND DAY
For Ol’ LuckyDog, Riverside’s tournament was as frustrating Sunday as it was exciting during Saturday’s elimination round.
After surviving the cut Saturday night with a $19,600 chip stack (average was $18,700), I had visions of going deep on Sunday. Lady Luck had other plans, however. I won just one pot all day and finished 57th.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com or www.luckydogpoker.com.
COPYRIGHT 2007 RUSS SCOTT
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