O'Dwyer Claims First-Ever Epic Pro/Am Title
By Michael Craig, with Jen Mastrud, for HPT
Las Vegas, NV (August 8, 2011) - Succeeding over a televised final table presented on national TV by Heartland Poker Tour, Steve O'Dwyer, a 29-year old professional poker, won the first Epic Poker Pro/Am at the Palms Casino Resort today. Of 190 starters on Friday and Saturday, the final six players (in addition to the 9th, 8th, and 7th place finishers on Sunday night) already won $20,000 seats into Epic's Main Event Tuesday. At the nationally-televised final table, the six remaining players played for cash and the honor of winning the inaugural Epic Poker Pro/Am.
O'Dwyer, the chip leader entering the final table, is ranked 129th in the Global Poker Index and earned over $1 million in tournament poker. His career highlight, before this week, was winning the $5,000 No-Limit Hold 'Em event at the Bellagio Cup just last month, worth nearly $260,000.
The diversity of personalities and backgrounds of the final table players showed the quality of the field and of poker talent in general. Andy Bloch, an Epic Poker member with $4.5 million in career earnings, sat opposite Clifford Waite, a retired truck driver who previously cashed four times on HPT, made an HPT final table, and won his way into the Pro/Am by a satellite at the Palms.
"I'm representing Heartland today," said Waite, one of HPT's loyal players to make an attempt at the inaugural event. "I'm excited about the merger of Epic Poker and HPT."
Waite, 51, from Grand Junction, Colorado, entered a $180 satellite at the Palms and defeated Epic Poker pro J.J. Liu heads-up to win his entry to the Pro/Am, then played and won cash in another satellite. "I'm freerolling," said Waite, who went on to finish 4th place. He earned $5,160 in addition to the $20,000 Main Event seat. He went out with jack-nine, putting in all his chips after the flop of queen-jack-nine made him two pair. Unfortunately, O'Dwyer had queen-nine for a higher two pair.
In fact, forty Palms satellite entrants outplayed 68 Epic Poker League members in the Pro/Am. George Long, who finished in 8th place, won his way into the Pro/Am in a $180 satellite, and will join Waite at the Epic Main Event. Bloch, in contrast, is the only Epic Poker League member to win his Main Event seat or make the final table.
Runner-up Brandon Meyers, 28, a professional poker player from Minneapolis, Minnesota now living in Nevada, earned $11,900 in addition to his $20,000 Main Event seat. Meyers, who has over $2 million in live and online tournament poker earnings, is enjoying his best year as a poker professional. At the 2011 World Series of Poker, he finished fourth in the $2,500 Mixed Hold'Em event. Twelve days later, he finished fourth again, this time in the $10,000 Bellagio Cup Main Event. The pair of final-table finishes earned Meyers over $240,000.
Bloch finished in third place, winning a $20,000 Main Event seat and earning an additional $7,540. One of the world's most recognizable poker players, Bloch received a pair of engineering degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a law degree from Harvard. He became a member of the infamous MIT Blackjack Team and was its Las Vegas manager. He has earned $4.5 million in live poker tournaments and devoted his name, time, and money to numerous good causes.
The players at the final table represented the deep well of professional poker talent. Salt Lake City, Utah pro Jeremiah DeGreef, describes himself as "an unemployed internet poker player now looking for a job." The 29-year-old added, "I'm looking for something that pays a lot of money and allows me to sit at home in my underwear." In fifth place, he adds another $3,570 plus a $20,000 Main Event buy in to the nearly $400,000 in live tournaments since 2009.
Sixth-place finisher Micah Raskin lives on Long Island and splits his time between his direct marketing & software company and poker. He has earned nearly $1 million in his poker career, including over $320,000 for winning a tournament at the Borgata in Atlantic City and $117,000 for finishing fourth in the World Series of Poker Circuit Regional Championship at Harrah's Atlantic City last December. Raskin recognized that, as the short stack at the final table, "I'll have to pick my spots and look for the first double up." He comes from a family of talented musical artists and sings in a rock-and-roll cover band, Backseat Betty. For his 43rd birthday today, he received a $20,000 Main Event seat plus $2,780.
As Epic Poker's prestigious Main Event kicks off Tuesday, HPT crew and gear will head to Turning Stone Casino Resort in Verona, New York for the culmination of the Empire State Hold 'Em Championships. HPT viewers can expect the two one-hour episodes produced at Palms Casino Resort to air in late September. For station information, please visit HPTpoker.com.
About Federated Sports + Gaming (FS+G)
FS+G is a leading poker entertainment company that serves players and fans through nationally-televised events, interactive digital programming, and social media gaming.
The company is breaking new ground in poker with the its launch of the Epic Poker League – an exclusive tournament series designed to serve more than 200 of the world's top live tournament players, as determined by a set of objective, analytically rigorous qualifying criteria. In its first year, the Epic Poker League is staging four $20,000 rake-free Main Events for its members and awarding to its champion a $1,000,000 cash prize, along with The Brunson Cup Championship Trophy.
Through its ownership of Heartland Poker Tour, FS+G also serves poker players and fans across the United States. Built on a grass-root strategy of "Real People, Unreal Money, "HPT provides poker enthusiasts across the country with a televised tournament experience that prides itself on affordable buy-ins. HPT has hosted more than 81,500 entrants, awarded more than $28.6 million in prize money, produced more than 170 hours of television content, and staged nearly 90 events since 2005.
FS+G has offices in Los Angeles, Fargo ND, and Washington D.C. For tournament schedules and information please visit www.federatedinc.com
www.epicpoker.com and HPTpoker.com