“Ante Only” No-Limit Hold’em Debuts to Enthusiastic Applause at Caesars Palace

Las Vegas, NV (January 24, 20112) – The first question everyone will ask is:  What’s “Ante-Only No-Limit Hold’em?”

The game is relatively easy to both understand and play.  Instead of two players always posting orbits of forced bets (the small blind and big blind) – instead, all players are required to post an ante on every single hand.  Then, prior to the flop, the first player to the left of the button is required to bet what usually amounts to the smallest denomination chip in play.  Action then flows around the table and players may fold, call, or raise.  Thereafter, the game proceeds as usual, with the usual rounds of betting after the flop, turn, and river.

If the game sounds interesting – it is.

If the game sounds different – it is.

If the game sounds fun – it is.

If the game sounds confusing – it isn’t.

What’s markedly different about the Ante-Only concept is the action is much faster than a conventional No-Limit Hold’em tournament.  There’s not much sitting around waiting to outlast the field in what can sometime amount to a mind-numbing exercise in boredom.  This is not a game for rocks.

Maybe the strategic differences are more psychological than practical.  Perhaps the constant reminder of being forced to pull from your stack each and every hand triggers a reflex to go after those chips at every opportunity.  Certainly, with more pre-flop action and a universal financial interest shared equally by all players since everyone has something in the middle of the table on every hand, there’s a lot more action during the game.

Ante-Only No-Limit Hold’em debuted for the first time ever on the WSOP Circuit today at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.  The tournament received widely favorable reviews from players, most of whom had never played the game before.  Just about everyone said the game was much crazier than the usual run-of-the-mill No-Limit Hold’em contests which tend to dominate the tournament poker circuit to the point of shutting out just about every other form of poker.

The illusion of more betting action was indeed validated by the rapid pace of early eliminations.  Slightly more than 200 players entered the tournament.  Just three hours later, half the field had vanished.  Ten hours into play, the final table was reached.  That pace would be unthinkable in a regular No-Limit tournament, given the generous starting chips, player-friendly structures, and nature of many players to remain patient.

As one might expect, there was a wide gambit of opinions from players.  Many thought the game was much more interesting to play than usual.  Others said the game actually requires more skills, since there tend to be more confrontations.  Hence, more decisions are required which tends to favor the better players. 

But nothing in poker is ever simple or unanimous.  There were a few detractors.

“This f---ing game sucks!” barked one anonymous player, as he stormed out of the poker room just moments after being eliminated.

While the name of the disgruntled player remains unknown, it’s probably safe to predict he won’t be playing the game again anytime soon.  And that’s a sad thing, because this game should have a future in a global cartel where standard No-Limit Hold’em has a stranglehold on just about everyone.

As might be expected, one player who would like to see the game return and perhaps become more popular was the tournament winner, Jeff Dobrin.

The player better known to his friends as “Dobie” won his first gold ring.  He was ecstatic following the victory.  Dobrin collected a payout, totaling $15,357 in prize money.

Dobrin is a 40-year-old poker pro.  Before playing full time, Dobrin was a high school debate coach.  He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dobrin now lives in Portland, OR.  His poker resume includes a win in at the Wildhorse Casino, in Pendleton, OR.  He also won an event two years ago at the Binion’s “Mini-Series of Poker,” usually held during the time of the WSOP.  Dobrin has two previous cashes in WSOP Circuit event, once in Atlantic City and another at Lake Tahoe.

At least for now, Dobrin can rightfully lay claim to being the Ante Only No-Limit World Champion.  He will forever be known as its first major live tournament champion.

The runner up was poker pro and writer Bryan Micon, known for his unpredictable musings on everything related to the game.  Micon, resident contributor at the unconventional and uncensored website DONKDOWN, added to a growing list of poker accomplishments with what amounted to his highest WSOP-related tournament finish.  Micon was also enthusiastic about the new Hold’em variant and hopes the game might develop a following.

No doubt, Dobrin, Micon, and many players who played this exciting inaugural tournament hope the novelty gains popularity in the future.


The World Series of Poker Circuit continued today at Caesars Palace Las Vegas.

Event #5 was a two-day $300 (+50) Ante-Up No-Limit Hold’em tournament, which attracted 203 entrants – pretty impressive for a first-time event held early in the week.

Play began on Monday at noon and concluded on Tuesday night.

The total prize pool came to $59,073.  The top 21 finishers were paid.  All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points – used to qualify for a seat in the season-ending championship, to be played in Las Vegas.

A full list of all players who cashed in Event #5 can be seen here.

The final table began on Tuesday at 2 pm.  Russian poker player Alexander Buyanov, from Moscow arrived with the chip lead.  But he suffered a horrific 30 minute stay, losing two monster pots before exiting in tenth place.

10th Place – Alexander Buyanov, a 29-year-old former programmer-turned poker pro, previously cashed in the Venetian’s Deep Stack series.  He also enjoyed huge success in his native Russia, where he won a televised poker event a few years ago.

9th Place – Scott Perman, a 49-year-old salesman who works in construction, came in ninth.  He previously won an event on the World Poker Tour.  Perman has an unusual residence.  He resides in St. Petersburg, FL and lives on a sailboat.

8th Place – Ferdinand Quelle, a 44-year-old city worker from Brandon, MB (Canada) hit the rail as the eighth-place finisher.  He’s had two cashes at the WSOP.  This was his first cash on the Circuit.  Quelle has quite an interesting background.  He served as a United Nations peacekeeper and was stationed in Somalia, during that nation’s crisis in 1993. 

7th Place – Conrad Monica, a casino dealer from the Palm Springs, CA area ended up in seventh place.   This marked Monica’s fifth cash and third final table appearance this season, which places him in strong position to gather enough points for the National Championship.  Monica now has nine Circuit cashes to go along with his eight WSOP cashes.  He is fast approaching the $200,000 mark in career earnings.

6th Place – Carlos Herrejon hoped to become one of the few Mexican players to enjoy success in a WSOP event.  No doubt, Mexico should be producing more serious players, but so far only a few have won gold bracelets or gold rings.  The wait will go on a bit longer for the neighbors to the south, as Herrejon took sixth place.  This was the first WSOP Circuit event ever for Herrejon, who is a medical surgeon from Monterrey.

5th Place – Jackson Kimball, a 22-year-old poker player from Clarkston, MI finished in fifth place.  He is a college student at the University of Michigan at Flint.  This was Jackson’s third time to cash on the WSOP Circuit in just the past two months.  He final tabled two events at Harrah’s Atlantic City, which means he now has three final table appearances this season.

4th Place – Dave Neal, a.k.a. “The Real Deal,” was a force but then lost two huge hands which cost him a chance to make a deeper run.  The business owner from Washington State ended up in fourth place, which was good for his best WSOP Circuit showing in three cashes.  He hopes to win a gold ring at some point and also has an ambition to play in the 2012 WSOP Main Event.  Making final tables on the WSOP Circuit is certainly a viable launching point.

3rd Place – David Delaney put up a good fight, but ultimately busted out in third place.  Three-handed play was a tough battle as the trio traded chips for nearly three hours, with Delaney taking the bullet.  He is a 48-year-old banker from Long Lake, MN.  Delaney previously took 11th place in the Tunica Grand championship a few years ago.

2nd Place – Bryan Micon, from Las Vegas, NV finished as the runner up.  He had the chip lead at various stages but was not quite able to defeat his final adversary.  Micon, a master gamesman, is a popular blogger and strategist who is well-known for his out-of the-box thinking.  Hence, this new game was well-suited to his abilities to learn a new game quickly.  Micon is fast approaching the $1 million mark in career tournament winnings.

1st Place – If Bryan Micon’s background prepared him for a deep run, then an Ivy-League education certainly gave Jeff Dobrin a solid champion’s pedigree.  The poker pro now living in Portland, OR collected $15,357 in prize money.

With his victory, Dobrin moved up alongside the four previous champions as the early leaders in this WSOP Circuit’s “Best All-Around Player” standings.  The player who accumulates the most overall points in Caesars Palace’s twelve combined gold ring tournaments receives a pre-paid entry into the $1 million 2011-2012 WSOP Circuit National Championship.  At least two players from this tournament series will qualify for the WSOP Circuit National Championship, which is classified as a WSOP gold bracelet event.  The other automatic qualifier will be the winner of Main Event championship (to be held Jan. 27-30).

Here are the five winners from Caesars Palace’s WSOP Circuit gold ring events, which have been completed so far:

Event #1 – Dan Di Zenzo defeated 482 players ($350 NLHE) and won $30,151
Event #2 – Aaron Klausman defeated 887 players ($350 NLHE) and won $50,329
Event #3 – Gregory Hartwick defeated 207 players ($560 NLHE) and won $26,106
Event #4 – Gary Bolden defeated 120 players ($350 PLO) and won $26,106
Event #5 – Jeff Dobrin defeated 203 players ($350 ANTE-NLHE) and won $15,357

With the first five tournaments wrapped up, there are still seven more gold ring events remaining in what is being billed as a “12 rings in 12 days” poker series.  The WSOP Circuit at Caesars Palace continues through January 30th.  This year’s schedule includes not only all the gold ring events, but multiple second-chance tournaments, single table and mega satellites, plus cash games going around the clock inside the action-packed Caesars Palace poker room



This marks the seventh consecutive year that Caesars Palace Las Vegas is hosting the widely-popular World Series of Poker Circuit, which is currently in the midst of its most successful season.  Attendance is currently running about 20 percent ahead of last year (which set a record).

Caesars Palace is already home to many of the game’s most popular and exciting poker events – including the Caesars Classic, NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship, and last year’s inaugural WSOP Circuit National Championship.  However, between the dates of January 19-30, the primary focus will be on 12 gold ring tournaments with the $1,600 buy-in Main Event coming January 27-30.

“Caesars Palace has always carried with it a special aura -- whether we’re talking about gambling, entertainment, or poker,” said Andy Rich, Director of Poker Operations for Caesars Palace.  “We’ve always been the ‘where it’s at” in Las Vegas.  Over the next 12 days, we’re rolling out the red carpet for thousands of poker players who are expected enter our events and play for a gold ring.  As the saying goes, ‘you can’t get a hit if you don’t stand up to the plate and take swing.” 

This marks the first time ever that the WSOP Circuit has come to Las Vegas so early in the season.  In previous years, WSOP Circuit events have taken place in April.  However, with so many exciting activities happening in Las Vegas early in the year, more players than ever before will have the opportunity to participate in a WSOP Circuit event, many for the first time.
To encourage more players to give the WSOP Circuit a try, Caesars Palace is offering $70 buy-in Turbo Super Satellites, with $50 re-buys each morning starting at 10 am.  These Turbo Super Satellites will be held prior to the start of gold ring events (most of which start at noon).  The dailies will guarantee at least ten seats to be given away for that day’s event.  In short, it’s a less expensive way for many players to come in early and win a seat for a gold ring event at a fraction of the cost.

In addition, daily No-Limit Hold’em tournaments (non-gold ring events) take place most days at 9 am ($70 entry fee, with 3,000 in starting chips), 7 pm ($110 entry fee, with 10,000 in starting chips) and 10 pm ($85 entry fee, with 7,500 in starting chips).  The bottom line is – no poker room in Las Vegas (or anywhere for that matter) will host more tournaments over the next 12 days.  Moreover, cash games will be running inside the poker room around the clock.
Caesars Palace boasts one of the most luxurious poker rooms in the game.  The multi-million dollar facility located adjacent to the world-famous sportsbook and Pure nightclub has a special tournament room, which is adorned with the portraits of many of poker’s most legendary players.   
This is the ninth WSOP Circuit stop of the season, following previous tournaments held in several other locations throughout the U.S.  The 2011-2012 season includes a total of 18 WSOP Circuit stops.

All tournament players become eligible to compete in the WSOP Circuit National Championship, which takes place at season’s end.  The top 100 players who qualify based on a points system will compete in a nationally-televised championship, which is expected to be played in late May.  Two guaranteed seats will be awarded at Caesars Palace and will go to the “Best All-Around Player” and the Main Event champion.

In previous year’s, some very notable names have won gold rings at Caesars Palace and added to their legacy as the best players in the game.  Previous WSOP Circuit Main Event Champions crowned at Caesars Palace include:

2006 – John Spadavecchia
2007 – Cory Carroll
2008 – Allen Cunningham
2009 – Justin Bonomo
2010 – Andrew Lichtenberger
2011 – Christopher Johnson

The complete WSOP Circuit schedule at Caesars Palace can be seen here.