Turning Stone Resort & Casino-Verona, NY Recap

New York Man Takes HPT Championship in One Hand

Verona, NY- Michael Liscio’s family thought he was wasting his time making frequent visits to Turning Stone Casino Resort in Verona, New York to play poker.  Wasting no time Sunday night, the 41-year-old sales manager from Little Falls, New York became the latest champion on the nationally-televised Heartland Poker Tour in record time. 

The taping of the six-seat final table lasted just one hour, with only one hand of poker played heads up.  Liscio called with nine-three off-suit when Paul Segouin raised with pocket sixes.  When the flop showed nine-seven-seven, both players started betting.  With a three on the turn, Segouin went all in and Liscio won $72,181 in first place.   

Liscio’s family won’t waste any time celebrating.  “My sons already went to the sporting goods store to pick out what we’re going to buy,” Liscio joked before play even began at the final table, “and I already called in sick to work.”

In contrast to Liscio’s quick victory, Segouin described his path to second place as a rollercoaster. The fish trader from LaFargeville, New York, used winnings from a cash game to buy a $120 HPT satellite seat.  Grinding his way to the Main Event, he grew his stack to a half million chips but found himself down to 130,000 with just ten players left.  By the time the final six moved to the TV set, Segouin recovered his stack and was the chip leader with nearly a million chips.   The wild ride netted the fisherman $43,177.

Success stories like Segouin’s make the poker tour a hit, says HPT President Todd Anderson.  “We founded the tour with the motto, ‘Real People, Unreal Money’,” Anderson said, “A player really can invest just $120 and win over forty grand on national TV.”  

“Playing the HPT was absolutely the best investment I’ve ever made in my life,” said accountant Carl Gangarosa, who also entered the tournament through an inexpensive satellite.  “My only regret is not lasting longer at the final table.”  The Rochester, New York father of two was the first to go when he moved all in with ace-queen against ace-ten.  A ten on the flop left him in sixth place with $10,691.

Fred Kulikowski walked away with $27,567 and no regrets.  The banker from Pittsford, New York was card dead all day but managed to hang on until Segouin knocked him out in third place.  For fourth-place finisher Dan Dunsmoor, the best prize wasn’t even the $19,409 he won.  “I got to knock out four or five young kids throughout the tournament” said the 58-year-old onion grower from Oswego, New York, “That’s what made my day.”

Turning Stone Casino Resort is home base for many next-generation poker players, who can play in New York at age eighteen.  When the HPT last stopped at Turning Stone in 2007, Adam Junglen, Tyler Reimer, and Jason Somerville all found themselves playing on TV.  The young up-and-coming players went on to make names for themselves, and healthy bank accounts, in the poker industry.

Conversely, all six players at Sunday’s final table were over forty.  Fifth-place finisher David Fetters won $14,003 on the eve of his 50th birthday, just a month before he retires from his job as a plant operator in Ashtabula, Ohio.  “Every one of us at the final table are old-school players,” he said, “We chased all the young kids out.”

Twenty-year-old player, Cherish Andrews, is a regular at Turning Stone, although she lives more than five hours away in Pennsylvania.  While at the five-star resort for the week, Andrews played six tournaments and won $5,000 in cash games.  Knocked out on the first day of the Main Event, Andrews won another HPT competition Sunday landing her national TV exposure.   To commemorate the five-year anniversary of Heartland Poker Tour, producers partnered with the poker news site, Wicked Chops Poker, on an open-casting call for an on-air hostess.  After weeks of internet voting and on-site competition, Andrews beat out women from throughout the US for the opportunity to present the cash to the champion on the HPT set.  “She’s good on camera, but she also happens to be great at poker,” said HPT commentator Fred Bevill, “Someday she will be the one winning the cash, rather than the hostess presenting it.”