AZ State Poker Championship runs Aug. 12-16

July 28, 2016, Chris Cronin, Mary Bradley, Robert Kelly, Dick Stein  

The Arena Poker Room at Talking Stick Resort hosts its 12th annual Arizona State Poker Championship from Aug. 12-16. This event will have three starting flights: Friday-Sunday, Aug. 12-14 at 9 a.m. The semifinals will be Aug. 15 at 9 a.m., and the final 10 will play down to a winner Aug. 16. The buy-in is $1,100 and players begin with 16K chips. Re-entry is allowed and the prize pool would be $1.1 million based on 1,100 entries.

The 11th annual Arizona State Ladies Poker Championship runs Sept. 17-18. The buy-in is $300 and players start with 12K chips. For an extra $20, players receive 5K more chips.

WSOP RECAP: Many Arizonans venture across the Nevada border to partake in one or more of the summer tournament series happening in Las Vegas throughout June and July.

Some of the Arizona player highlights include Mitchell Towner, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Arizona, taking down one of the largest fields of the summer, when he bested a field of 6,927 players to capture the World Series of Poker bracelet in the Monster Stack.

The 29-year-old Towner said, “I really don’t play poker. I’ve only ever played two events that are worth more than like $100.” Towner is considered a total novice, which makes the feat even more amazing. Along with the bracelet, he won $1.12 million.

On the other end of the spectrum, Chris Vitch, a well-established pro, captured a bracelet in the $2,500 mixed triple-draw lowball event.

Vitch plays mostly high-stakes mixed games and specializes in triple-draw lowball.

Along with his bracelet and $136,854, he also placed third in a $1,500 HORSE event, 10th in the $10K deuce-to-seven triple-draw tourney and had two other cashes at press time, bringing his total winnings to $265,496.

And Dan Hirleman had nine cashes, which was close to the most cashes among all players at the WSOP this summer.

CASINO DEL SOL RESORT: The WPT DeepStacks series runs Sept. 16-25. Guests can prequalify for Event 1 and the main event. The $1,100 main event is a $150K guarantee from Sept. 23-25.
Two seats will be awarded every Thursday night in the 7 p.m. $5K guarantee. Four seats will be awarded every Sunday at 11 a.m. to the $270 Event 1 that has a $30K guarantee.

Texas

KICKAPOO LUCKY EAGLE CASINO: There are plenty of tourneys during the week, including $35 on Tuesday nights and $50 Thursdays. But the big event is the $130 Sunday Showdown. Call for details.

Kansas/Missouri

HOLLYWOOD CASINO KANSAS SPEEDWAY: The room’s bad-beat jackpot neared $150K at press time. Also, look for $100 high hands and $15K freeroll promotions. To qualify for the freeroll, players need to put in 50 hours of play in qualifying hold’em cash games or place in the top 10 in the monthly tournament leaderboard. Graveyard shift cash-game players can earn 1.5 hours for each hour played.

AMERISTAR KANSAS CITY: The HPT returns Nov. 11-21.

New Mexico

AUPT AT SANDIA: The most unique Ante Up Poker Tour event in history is under way at Sandia Resort and Casino as Jacob Brenden won Event 1 on July 9. Event 2 was running at press time, but there are more events coming up this month and the $600 main event running Sept. 3-5. Event 3 is Aug. 6 at noon ($165) and Event 4 is Aug. 20 at noon ($165).

The top two players in these $165 events win cash and earn seats into the main. The main-event winner gets on the cover of Ante Up, a fistful of cash, a personalized AUPT champion’s jacket and a seat in the main event of the 2017 Ante Up World Championship at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in California. All who cash in these events earn Ante Up Poker Tour Player of the Year points and custom tournament card protectors. The top 20 will receive other custom gifts. For more information, call the poker room or visit anteupmagazine.com/sandia.

Sandia’s regular August tournament schedule begins with a $50 event on Sundays at noon and a $45 event that night. Monday is $55 and Tuesday and Thursday are bounty tourneys for $75 with $25 bounties.

High hands continue with a new board each week. The first Omaha and hold’em royal flush and steel wheel earn $150; Omaha and hold’em straight flush $100; hold’em quads $50 (but quad deuces worth $100). Through Aug. 28, $100 Night Owl Hot Seat Drawings run after midnight Friday-Sunday, Also, players earn 3X points in the Poker Cash Back this month.

ROUTE 66 CASINO: The Player of the Year promo means if you finish in the top five of any tournament you earn points. The player with the most points gets a giant payout. The weekly lineup features a variety of daily events, some featuring bounties, mystery bounties, splash pots, pineapple and high-hand rewards. Call the poker room for more details.

ISLETA CASINO: The new tourney schedule is packed with daily events from $15-$30. But Fridays stand out at 7 p.m., mixing it up with crazy pineapple, NLHE and Tag Team hold’em, all with $200 thrown into the pot.
SANTA ANA STAR CASINO: Standard hold’em games run daily, but each Friday and Sunday there are Omaha games, all with hourly bonus promotions and daily progressives. Call for details.

NORTHERN EDGE NAVAJO CASINO: The poker room has affordable daily tournaments, but don’t miss the $35 Tuesday event and the $25 Friday shootout.

BUFFALO THUNDER RESORT AND CASINO: On Aug. 20, the poker roomhosts the 93.3 KKOB-FM bounty tournament with D.J. Kiki Garcia. It sports a $93 buy-in with $93 bounties on Garcia and five other players. And if that doesn’t make you sweat this summer, get yourself to the $150 Last Saturday of the Month deepstack on Aug. 27.

INN OF THE MOUNTAIN GODS CASINO AND RESORT: Super qualifier $65 satellites are available to Poker Championship hopefuls on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at noon, as well as Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. The championship runs Sept. 24-27 and you can enter directly for $550.

Oklahoma

The River Poker Series at WinStar World Casino launches Aug. 1. Running through Sept. 6, the series consists of eight events and many super and mega satellites as well as single-table qualifiers. The $2,500 main event sports a $2.5M guarantee and first-place guarantee of $1M.

Players can play multiple days or re-enter the same day if space allows. The other listed events are the opening $400 re-entry, $1,100 pot-limit Omaha, $500 deepstack, $300 turbo, $1,100 six-max turbo bounty, $1,100 turbo bounty survivor and the concluding with $1,100 turbo bounty. Several of these events also have guarantees. Call the poker room for details.

CHEROKEE CASINO WEST SILOAM SPRINGS: Back again in August is the Blast to the Past series. Kicking off Aug. 12 with a three-day, three-flight $150 re-entry event with a $25K guarantee, the series offers six events. The series concludes with the same three-day, three-flight re-entry structure for its $50K guarantee main event ($350).

In between are an ante-only, bounty, rebuy and double-stack re-entry events sporting entries of $110-$135. There will be $50 mega satellites beginning Aug. 11. The casino’s most recent series saw Matthew Shelby win $6,210 first-place money in the $160 re-entry, $30K guarantee Summer Kickoff main event on June 27. He overcame a field of 243 entries.

WSOPC: The 2016-17 schedule has two stops in Oklahoma casinos. Choctaw Casino hosts Jan. 5-16 while Hard Rock Casino landed the March 16-27 stop. Speaking of Hard Rock, Gary Burrell of Moore, Okla., won the $180 buy-in, $25K guarantee Summer Weekend tournament on June 27, earning $4K.

DOWNSTREAM CASINO: Players need 40 hours of cash play to qualify for the Aug. 6, $5K freeroll. First place is $1,500.

Colorado

BLACK HAWK: Ameristar offers two bad-beat jackpots. There is $750 in the quads bad-beat pool. The mini aces full of kings bad beat starts at $25K. Qualification requirements reduce daily Monday through Thursday and typically is taken down when kings full is beaten. … At Golden Gates, manager Nathan Yanchunis said the quads-quads bad beat was at $35K and qualifications reduce twice weekly when it reaches $40K. Beside the generous $2-per-hour comps, Gates players can earn rake-back money as much as $200 per week. High-hand awards continue at $50 per hour 24/7.

SOUTHERN COLORADO: Pikes Peak Poker, an organization formed and owned by Jesse Liwanag and Marvin Coon, recruits and trains dealers and facilitates events at several venues. Wildwood Casino has formed an agreement with PPP to feature cross-marketing. Players get double comp points while playing at Wildwood and extra chips at free PPP events at PPP venues in Colorado Springs. Expansion into Denver is on the drawing board.

CRIPPLE CREEK: Midnight Rose’s Meganormous Deepstack on Fridays at 4 p.m. is drawing 50-70 players because of the 40K chips and escalating levels. … At Wildwood, points and entries from every event until Oct. 29will count toward the Halloween Poker Party. The top three in points and the top three in entries will win a seat into the Halloween tournament.

Meet Matt Lindberg

Matt Lindberg has been the poker room manager at Ameristar Casino in Black Hawk for the past three years, having worked as the casino manager for the two years before that.

He came into the gaming industry as a regional operations manager with a valet parking company that serviced casinos, then moved to slots, table games and poker.

Lindberg is a poker player, but mostly friendly games with family and friends for bragging rights. His goal is to build the Ameristar Black Hawk Poker Room into a well-known national poker destination.

He has hired some of the best team members in the market and recently spent $2M moving the room upstairs to a quieter spot, providing 22 tables with new amenities. The room often has packed weekends of no-limit hold’em, Omaha/8 and even $30-$60 limit.

“Players are coming from all over the country to play here due to the incredible action in this room,” he said. “We never take our players for granted and built the room for them.”

He has been married for 18 years and has three boys that keep him and his wife busy with sports and stocking the fridge.

Most of his free time is spent enjoying the great outdoors of the Colorado Rocky Mountains often skiing.
— Dick Stein