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Southern Poker Championship in Biloxi Rolls On

WPT Main Event Starts Jan. 14

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Russ SalzerThe Southern Poker Championship at Biloxi’s Beau Rivage Casino is a week into its run of its 15-event schedule that cumulates with the four-day World Poker Tour $10,000 championship on Jan 14.

So far, seven events have been completed, and playing fields have been good. The series started off in a big way when 1,005 players showed up to play in a $340 no-limit hold’em event. It was a Saturday event.

The winner was a Georgia’s Ronnie George, who took home $65,109 for outlasting the large field. It was his first major cash. All but one player in the top nine hailed from the Southern United States, showing how locally saturated the tourney field was.

Event No. 2 was last Sunday’s $550 no-limit hold’em event, which attracted 566 players. Dan Clemente of Mississippi won $65,468 for outlasting the field. All final-table participants were from the South.

Event No. 3 was a $550 no-limit hold’em tourney that brought in 409 players on a Monday. Mark Wilds of Biloxi won $50,859. Wilds has been cashing in poker tournaments since 2000 and has $743,358 in lifetime winnings. All of the final-table players were from the South.

Event No. 4 was a $1,070 no-limit hold’em tournament that attracted 216 entrants and was won by Michael Benvenuti of California, who won $63,898. Everyone except the winner hailed from the South, as well.

Bill Bostick won event  No. 5, which was a $550 seven-card stud tournament that attracted 85 entrants. Bostick, of Minnesota, won $12,366. Randy Holland, a tournament iron man who plays in an incredible amount of events each year, finished in sixth.

Event No. 6 was won by “Detroit” Al Green, who happens to be from Florida. The limit hold’em event brought in 180 players, and Green won $28,808. Despite his nickname, Green says he never been close to being in Detroit.

“When I was growing up, I had this special haircut,” Green said. “It was called a ‘Detroit.’  So, that’s what they all called me.  I’ve never even been to Detroit. I’ve never even flown over Detroit.”

Wednesday’s event No. 7 was a $550 stud eight-or-better tourney that attracted a respectable 111 entrants. It was won by Russell “the Muscle” Salzer ($16,151) of New York. Salzer has been cashing in tournaments successfully since 1993 and he is inching toward the $1 million mark in lifetime winnings. He now has $926,937.

The tournament series continues all next week and contains two championship events: a $5,000 pot-limit Omaha event, which starts Sunday, and the $10,000 WPT event.