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My Five Scheduled Tournaments in 2014

by Bernard Lee |  Published: Mar 19, 2014

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Bernard LeeAfter the release of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) schedule, I began plotting my remaining 2014 tournament plans not only through the summer, but also for the rest of the year. For many poker players, this forward thinking seems a bit absurd and unrealistic. However, with my kids participating in multiple activities and my wife, who is a family physician, having to plan out her schedule, I need to anticipate the future weeks that I’m away from my family.

Looking at the rest of 2014, I highlighted five tournaments that are a must for me. Of course, I will probably play other events throughout the year, but the following tournaments have been already marked down on my calendar.

RunGoodGear.com Poker Series at Downstream Casino, Quapaw, Oklahoma

Over the next few months, it will be very difficult for me to play in multiple tournaments as I coach my son’s AAU basketball team in the spring. I will try to schedule a WSOP Circuit, World Poker Tour (WPT) or Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) event when I have a free weekend. However, there is definitely one tournament I will attend before the basketball season gets underway.

From March 5-9, RunGoodGear.com will be hosting its inaugural poker series at the Downstream Casino. The schedule has multiple events, culminating with a $675 reentry main event with a $100,000 guaranteed prize pool. Additionally, I was asked to give a couple of free seminars for the participants of the tournament series. Having previously taught for WPT Boot Camp and currently with the WSOP Academy, I gladly accepted and am looking forward to discussing poker with the players. Hope to see you there!

World Series of Poker

Every poker player in the world eagerly anticipates the WSOP held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Therefore, playing in this series is a no-brainer for me. Since I cannot be away from my family for the entire summer, I typically play 12-15 events each year. My usual routine during the summer is to make about three trips out to Sin City: two preliminary trips for about ten days each, and a final visit for the main event. Typically, I plan my trips during days when there are multiple events in which I would play. Additionally, there are a few bracelets events (this year there are 65) that I do not want to miss. They include:

• Event No. 8A: Millionaire Maker No-Limit Hold’em (winner to receive $1 million): This tournament has such an incredible value for such a low buy-in amount ($1,500)
• Event No. 36: $1,500 no-limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball: I final-tabled this event two summers ago and would like to better my fourth-place finish. Although I played the $10,000 no-limit Deuce last summer, I’m glad that they brought back the lower buy-in amount, as it will draw more novice players to this exciting game.
• Event No. 65A: $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event (winner to receive $10 million): This tournament is the granddaddy of them all. Having played every one since 2005, this year will be my tenth WSOP main event. Having missed the money last year, I hope to make up for my performance of 2013 and have another deep run this summer.

Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown (SHRPO) in Hollywood, Florida:

Last year, the SHRPO guaranteed an extravagant $10 million prize pool for its August main event. Initially, many players were skeptical about this guarantee and believed this tournament would not actually happen. However, with the plethora of satellites, the signing of Matt Savage as tournament director, and the widespread marketing of the event, the 2013 SHRPO not only met the guarantee, but the 2,384 entrants shattered the goal with a prize pool of almost $12 million. The first prize of $1.7 million made all the players drool at the thought of taking home such an enormous check (which was captured last August by Blair Hinkle).

This April, the SHRPO guarantee reduced the buy-in amount to $3,500 (last summer it was $5,300), while lowering its guarantee to $5 million, which is still very impressive. Whether the guarantee this summer is $5 million or $10 million, the hefty prize pool will still attract thousands of players to Southern Florida and could make SHRPO the annual tournament that kicks off the post-WSOP hiatus.

Heartland Poker Tour in Black Hawk, Colorado:

In September of 2011, the HPT reached a million dollar prize pool for the first time in their tour’s history. Ever since, the HPT main event in Black Hawk, Colorado has exceeded this seven-figure amount every time the tour comes into town (they also usually have an event in February/March timeframe). With the sketchy weather in February or March, I usually skip that tournament, but I eagerly await the September trek up into the mountains just outside of Denver. If you have never been to this old mining town, you definitely have to visit. I love how Black Hawk combines the mining town feel with a touch of historic Wild West gambling parlors. Additionally, there are some nice golf courses in the area, especially Fossil Trace Golf Club. Located in nearby Golden, Colorado, this golf course derives its name from the actual dinosaur fossils adjacent to the golf course.

WSOP Circuit in Rincon, California

If you did not realize from the last paragraph, I am an avid golfer. However, with the golf season in New England cut short annually due to the cold weather, I usually try to plan a trip somewhere that I can play both poker and golf near the end of the year. During the last two years, I have travelled to the west coast to the WSOP Circuit (WSOPC) in Rincon, just outside of San Diego. Now, this city is well known for its golf and I take advantage of this every time I visit. Last year, I brought out my clubs and played almost every morning, often playing at Woods Valley Golf Club located minutes away from the casino. After my round of golf, I would quickly wash up and then head straight to the tournament area to compete for a WSOPC ring. Last year, I definitely got my golf fix before I returned to the cold Boston winter. ♠

Bernard Lee is a poker columnist for ESPN.com, author of “The Final Table, Volume I and II” and radio host of “The Bernard Lee Poker Show,” which can be found on RoundersRadio.com or via podcast on iTunes. Lee has over $2 million in career earnings and is also a team member of RunGoodGear.com. Follow Bernard Lee on Twitter: @BernardLeePoker or visit him at www.BernardLeePoker.com.