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Johnny Chan Poker Classic

The Canadian Poker Tour broke new ground again by televising its largest event of 2012, the Johnny Chan Poker Classic. Hosted by River Rock Casino & Resort and presented by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, the 5 events ran from May 6th - 13th, including the $2,500 no limit hold'em main event, which was televised.

On hand for the entire week was the Grand Master of Ceremonies and poker legend, Johnny Chan. He may not be much for words, but when he does speak it is genuine and poker players are apt to sit up and listen. Whether he was holding court in the tournament area, mingling at the VIP party hosted in his honour, or wishing luck to the final 10 on the TV table, promoting this event under his name certainly caught people's attention. Amid the television, radio, and other media interviews he gave, some in English, some not, Johnny and friends added another level of prestige to what have already become premier tournament events at River Rock. With jammed cash games, full hotel amenities and close to the airport, River Rock is a worthwhile destination for any poker players who travel this country.

Orient Express Makes Stops all Week

Holding events beginning May 6th and running all the way to the televised final table on the 13th, the Johnny Chan Poker Classic (JCPC) utilized a variety of disciplines, some with more success than others, but each one featured great play and widespread participation from across Canada and the United States.

$500 N/L Hold'em; 550 players; $275,000 prize pool

The kick-off event for the week began Sunday sold out and another 50 players were accommodated by packing in an extra body to every table. Most appreciative of the extra boost to the prize pool was Kalen Carslaw, the lone money finisher from Quebec. Collecting $71,500 for 1st place, he was followed by David Quyen Tien from Victoria, BC who won $44,000 and the ex-Tournament Director from Sarnia, ON, Colin Hughes, taking down $27,500 for 3rd.

The honorary titleholder of the event, Johnny Chan, didn't make it far into the tournament but there was no shortage of players who felt they got their money worth by having a chance to play with the 10-time WSOP bracelet winner.

$1,000 N/L Hold'em Short-Handed; 300 players; $300,000 prize pool

The beauty of having a major event over the course of a week is the ability to have "specialty" events that interest and challenge players. Having a short-handed event was a huge success, not only because it sold out at 300 players, but because it helped diversify the tournament.

For this event, the winner was one of the many American players who travelled to participate in the JCPC. Many of the group of Americans that arrived were players who had met on internet poker forums. Using the River Rock as a common meeting ground, there was some serious representation from south of the border. Jeffrey Garza from Norfolk, Massachusetts was the winner of this event, happy to claim $84,000 tax-free Canadian dollars.

Like Mike Hwang told me, "River Rock always runs a great tournament and they keep improving on their tournaments. I like playing in Canada and the big difference is not getting taxed!" That helps explain why more Americans are travelling across the border to discover CPT events and experience how tournaments in BC continue to improve.

Other US residents in the money standings were Clayton Mozden, from Stonewall Massachusetts finishing in 8th, Steve Billirakis from Genoa, Illinois finishing 14th, Eric Eisner from Mercer Island, Washington in 15th, David Peters from Toledo, Ohio in 20th, Miller Place, Jason Somerville from New York in 21st, Chris Bush from Bellingham, Washington in 25th and finally, Phillip Liou from Champagne, Illinois in 27th. Steve was a repeat finisher from the 2005 BC Poker Championships, where he burrowed out from underneath his hood and cap enough to finish in 3rd place and capture $102,000.

Notable finishes in the tournament were Rudy Luk finishing in 2nd place, adding to his impressive list of Canadian Poker Tour final tables and money finishes. Local boy and resident pro, Greg "FBT" Mueller, cashed in 23rd and Troy Medalla from Niagara, who seems to cash in every CPT tournament he plays in, struck again in 26th.