St. Louis ‘Big Game’ goes on despite many setbacks

November 22, 2011, Chris  

Sometimes when a plan doesn’t come together, everything still works out fine. Poker pro Dennis Phillips and his radio show co-host Paul Harris had been promoting a big cash game for Oct. 28-29 at Harrah’s St. Louis. Phillips played in the World Series of Poker Circuit at Hammond, winning Event 8. A few hours later, he was at the hospital for an emergency appendectomy.

The St. Louis Cardinals completed the greatest comeback in baseball history to win a wild-card spot. They made the World Series and then Game 7 just happened to get pushed to the same time as the first night of the big cash game at Harrah’s.

Harris was on hand as host and working with the staff to get the players seated. Brandon Steven (10th place, 2010 WSOP main event) brought 10 players from the Wichita and Kansas City areas. Other players were from Bentonville, Ark., Chicago and St. Louis. Some locals included pro John Adams and businessman Andros Ioakimides.

Play started with two $25-$50 no-limit hold’em tables ($15K buy-in) and two $10-$20 tables ($2,500 buy-in). The staff brought in extra TVs so players could watch the Cardinals win the World Series. On Friday night, the game ran through the early morning and resumed at noon on Saturday. With the World Series over, Saturday saw a rise in player interest and deeper wait lists. Play on Saturday night ran well into the next morning.

An interesting hand came up with two players all-in on the turn and running the river twice. When the cards ran out, a pair of queens with a king kicker picked up the whole pot of more than $30K. Clearly, there was plenty of action.

The players enjoyed the level of poker and the way the games were run. There was aggressive play on the felt, but a friendly atmosphere among the players. There’s high interest in scheduling another date as the hope is to develop a regular game roughly every three months.

— Don Matusofsky is Ante Up’s Missouri Ambassador. You can email him at anteupdonm@gmail.com.