A new feature on the BBO blog will be profiling the poker options and famous players in major cities and their surrounding areas. The initial feature will be on my hometown of Chicago, Illinois and the greater Chicagoland area (with one little suggested trip up north of the Illinois border to my college home of Milwaukee).
Known for being the youngest ever bracelet winner (at just 21 years, 10 days old), Steve Billirakis took home the 2007 World Series of Poker Mixed Hold ’Em title. Billirakis followed up that performance by winning the 2008 WSOP Hammond Circuit event and has earned career winnings of close to $2 million. Chris Moore After winning a $10,000 buy-in event at the Wynn Las Vegas in 2008, Chris Moore burst onto the national scene with a strong showing at the 2009 World Poker Tour Bay 101 Shooting Stars event, finishing third to runner-up Kathy Liebert and champion Steve Brecher. Coined as Chicago Chris by WPT announcers Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten, Moore’s steady play in this high-profile television event vaulted him onto the poker landscape. Moore cemented his status as a star in the poker world with a fourth place at this year’s World Series of Poker No Limit Hold ’Em Shootout. An excellent representative for the city of Chicago, Moore currently sits in an impressive 14th place in Card Player’s Player of the Year standings and has already had a banner 2009 year. Gavin Griffin From the Chicago suburb of Darien, IL Gavin Griffin can claim to be Illinois’s most accomplished tournament player at the poker table with a WSOP bracelet, European Poker Title and World Poker Tour title to his name. Griffin’s first major win came at the World Series of Poker in 2004, taking home the pot limit hold ’em title. The biggest win in his career was at the 2007 European Poker Tour Grand Final Championship, the signature event on the EPT that came with a first place prize of $2.4 million. Taking home the 2008 WPT Borgata title competed the poker triple crown for Griffin and put in him rare air with that accomplishment. Though Griffin now resides in California, Illinois poker fans can proudly claim the Darien native as one of the most accomplished pros currently on the poker circuit. Thomas Koral Koral become known in poker circles as one of the top internet players and burst onto the live poker scene after finishing runner-up to Billirakis at the 2008 WSOP Hammond circuit event. The Skokie, IL native also had an impressing showing at this year’s World Series, making the final poker tables against tough fields in the $10,000 Omaha 8 or Better Event World Championship and the $2,500 Omaha 8 or Better/Seven Card Stud 8 or Better (events won by big names pro Daniel Alaei and Phil Ivey respectively). Kevin Saul Saul’s claim to poker fame comes from taking down the legendary Mike "Mouth" Matusow at the World Poker Tour’s Bellagio Cup III. Still spending the vast majority of his career playing online, Saul has earned $3.5 million in tournament earnings and remains a feared internet player.