The 2014 Western New York Poker Challenge is one day away from kicking off. The annual series takes place just a stone’s throw away from the world famous Niagara Falls at the Seneca Niagara Casino. The best poker players in the region will be battling it out for nine days across sixteen events to come out on top.
After witnessing the play in several tournaments at Seneca, the PokerNews team decided to put together a “Players to Watch” list for the upcoming series. Let’s see how these top players end up faring.
Andy Spears is very confident at Seneca; it has been his personal playground for the past year. Last August he took down the Summer Slam Series Main Event for $23,700, and just a few months later he went wire-to-wire to win the $1,500 Fall Poker Classic Main Event for $52,410. Spears is not a one-trick pony, he has also found success outside of his home turf. In September he claimed his first World Series of Poker Circuit ring in Cincinnati, winning a $365 Turbo tournament for $10,801. He will definitely be one to watch at the WNYPC.
A big personality and infectious laugh means you’ll know as soon as Travell Thomas has walked into a poker room. He knows how to use this big persona to his advantage at the table as well. Thomas has a pair of WSOPC rings from victories at the Borgata Poker Open, Heartland Poker Tour. He even did well in last year’s WNY Poker Challenge, where he won two side events for more than $16,000 combined. He managed an eighth place finish at the Seneca Fall Poker Classic Main Event last year, and will be aiming for a higher spot this year.
Pfeifer is another player who has been travelling the tournament circuit for years but still calls the Seneca Poker room home. He’s found most of his success at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York however. Pfeifer won the East Coast Poker Championships at Turning Stone in 2006 for $56,656, his biggest score until he emerged victorious at the2010 Heartland Poker Tour Main Event at Turning Stone for $157,819. He has found success at Seneca too, winning the Seneca Niagara DeepStacks Poker Open Main Event in 2011.
Block has been on a roll ever since he won a side event at the Seneca Fall Poker Classic last November. In December, he won his first WSOP Circuit ring and also finished third in an event at Harrah’s Atlantic City, securing the title of Casino Champion which comes with a seat to the WSOPC National Championship in New Orleans. He has announced he’ll be playing in every one of the sixteen events at Seneca starting Saturday.
Rivera had a big win in last year’s WNY Poker Challenge. He made two final tables, where he officially placed second and third. Thomas ended up taking out both of these events. Rivera also won the 2012 Summer Slam Main Event at Seneca Niagara for $20,330, but most of his success on the circuit has taken place at the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza. He’s won two events there in the past three years.
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