Lyons wins Arizona state title at Talking Stick

September 29, 2016, Chris Cronin, Mary Bradley, Dick Stein, Robert Kelly  

With a prize pool that topped the $1.5 million mark, the 12th annual Arizona State Poker Championship was an enormous success, especially for Pat Lyons. The Northern Californian navigated his way through more than 1,500 entrants at Talking Stick Resort’s Arena Poker Room to capture $241,700, a $25K watch and the beautiful trophy.

This event, which ran Aug. 12-16, has grown into one of the premier, must-attend tournaments in the Southwest, packed with some of the best local, regional and national players.

“The Arena is active with poker tournaments for all styles of play year-round, but the annual Arizona State Poker Championship is one-of-a-kind,” director of poker Tom Young said.

Tom Schneider, four-time World Series of Poker champion, hosted the final table on Aug. 16 with his entertaining style. After a 4.5-hour final table, Lyons eliminated high-stakes cash-game player John Seaman, who pocketed a cool $181,200 for second. The final table rounded out as follows: John Jensen ($128,350), Ed Pickens ($94,375), Adam Leyba ($86,825), Terrance Eischens ($71,725), Linglin Zeng ($56,625), Balram Bhandari ($41,525), Kevin Steele ($26,425) and John Dibella ($18,875).

Up next, the Fall Classic runs Oct. 14-16 with three tourneys scheduled. Players who buy in to all three days are eligible for a free two-night stay Oct. 14-15 (50-room limit).

Also, Nov. 19 is the 14th annual Thanksgiving Charity Tournament, which has a $12,500 guarantee for a $50 buy-in. The 11th annual Arizona State Ladies Championship was still running at press time so look for results in an upcoming issue.

HARRAH’S AK-CHIN: The poker room will splash all tables with $50 for a touchdown and $25 for a field goal from the Thursday night NFL game, three games on Sundays and the Monday night game for a designated team.
An additional $25 per score will be splashed for the Cardinals. NCAA football splash pots will be Saturday mornings with $20 for each touchdown and field goal for a designated team, or both teams if there are two or more tables going. Pac 12 teams pay $25.

CASINO DEL SOL RESORT: The WPT DeepStacks event was still running at press time so look for results in a future issue.

GILA RIVER WILD HORSE PASS: The poker room is paying out more money than ever before via NFL and NCAA Splash Pots; $50 for field goals, $100 for touchdowns and $200 for safeties. The number of tables splashed is based on how many live games are running at the time. More games going means more tables splashed. Also, Aces Cracked wins a rack Sundays at 10 a.m. until Fridays at 6 p.m., except in games that are being splashed.

Texas

KICKAPOO LUCKY EAGLE CASINO: The new poker room is enjoying some fine tournaments, including the $130 Sunday Showdown in the early afternoon, the $35 Super Tuesday in the evening and Thursday evening’s $50 event.

New Mexico

This month, the Inn of the Mountain Gods Casino and Resort in Mescalero, N.M., continues to offer weekly tournaments that include Sunday afternoon ($75, $5 dealer bonus), Friday morning Food ‘n’ Fun on Fifth Street, and One-Twenty every Friday (last Friday of the month is PLO), $120, with the Losers Lounge event on Saturday mornings for those who didn’t cash the night before (no additional buy-in).

Poker Squares are running again, giving away $21K until Jan. 27. Every week, the poker room will draw for $1K on Thursdays. This is the same as last year’s promotion, plus the added Kings Cracked and Aces Cracked.

BUFFALO THUNDER RESORT AND CASINO: On Nov. 12, there will be a $225 buy-in, $10K guarantee deepstack. Advanced paid registration begins Oct. 1 and the event will be limited to 60 players, who will be eligible for special room rates. Some alternates and late entries may be allowed, so be sure to call the poker room for all of the details. Special tournaments include the $30 Columbus Day event Oct. 10, with unlimited $20 rebuys for the first hour and a $25 add-on. Don’t miss the 94 Rock bounty tournament Oct. 22 with $94 bounties on Phil Mahoney and five others. And finally, it’s the Last Saturday of the Month deepstack Oct. 29 for $150.

ISLETA CASINO: Friday evenings see events such as crazy pineapple and tag-team, all with rebuys, add-ons and a $200 cherry added on top. Call for details.

Colorado

BLACK HAWK: Ameristar’s Big Bad Beat Jackpot was at $200K with both resets at nearly $175K. High hands are back and pay $500 every other hour 24-7. For high-roller limit players, a $50-$100 game isspreadevery weekend. … The Lodge poker room closed. … TheGolden Gatescompleted the 16th CPC series in late August. Griffin Malatino was tournament points leader. The $100K kickoff event had 491 entrants and went to Anson Roberts for $24,893. Martin Maltas took down the employees tournament. Phil Elser won the seniors for $6K and Christopher Barrett won the Omaha/8 event for $3K. Erik Macias took the six-max ($6,095) and Mary Hendricks was first in the ladies event ($1,320). The main event saw 248players and Jason Su and Colin York chopped for $43,197 each. Finally, the $2,500 Super High Roller also chopped as Danny Gonzales and Krzyszlof Stybaniewicz each pocketed $23,580.

CRIPPLE CREEK: The Midnight Rose hosts the Beat the Boss series Oct. 9-23 with 22 events with an affordable price point of $110. Also included are ante-only and crazy-pineapple events and for $110. The main event will be $500 with satellites available. The final day hosts the signature event with $75 bounties on casino managers (one per table). Entry into thisfreeroll will be the top 10 tournament series points players and the 20 top live-hours players counting hours from Sept. 23-Oct. 20. Get your hotel reservations early as this series always is well-attended.

Oklahoma

The WPT DeepStacks Series makes its first visit Oct. 27-Nov. 7, featuring a $1,010 buy-in $200K guarantee main event at Downstream Casino. Other events sport buy-ins of $150-$340 and include pot-limit Omaha, turbo, deepstacks quickie, and six-max. See the event schedule on WPT DeepStacks’ website for hotel discount information.

HARRAH’S NORTH KANSAS CITY: Chris Luhning is no longer poker room manager, choosing to work outside of the casino world.

HARD ROCK CASINO: A field of 241 competed in a recent $180 buy-in, $25K guarantee that saw 11 people chop as Wagoner, Okla.’s Frank Stephens earned the title.

WINSTAR WORLD CASINO: The River Series wrapped up Sept. 6 as November Niner Gordon Vayo won the $2,500 title and $587K, defeating more than 1K entries at the Thackerville property. The main event had a $2.5M prize pool as the final table was full of popular pros, including Layne Flack (fourth, $225K), Grant Hinkel (fifth, $207K) and David Rheem (seventh, $54K).

CHOCTAW CASINO: The Durant property will see Poker Night in America return Oct. 20-Nov. 7. The marquee event is the $1,080 buy-in $1M guarantee. A variety of NLHE and PLO events are on the schedule as is a $350 Congress (a.k.a. Big O) event.

CHEROKEE CASINO WEST SILOAM SPRINGS: The annual Blast to the Past series concluded in August as Matthew Ellis of Bentonville, Ark., won the $350 buy-in, $50K guarantee main event to earn $12,158. Ellis also won the $135 bounty event. Other series winners were Chuck Chadwick, Gregory Moore, Donna Stewart and Mark Allard. Next up for the room is its Fall Deepstack Series on Oct. 21-23. It features a $125 buy-in $25K guarantee. Promotions include football splash pots on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays ($50 for FGs, $100 for TDs and $150 for safeties).

KANSAS STAR CASINO: The top 40 July-September point-earners in the room’s quarterly promotion will play Oct. 15 in its $10K freeroll. This quarter, players can qualify for the January freeroll by earning points for tournament entries and for their finishes.

RIVER SPIRIT CASINO: The room is featuring nine-handed $10-$20 Big O game with a kill Thursdays and Saturdays at 5 p.m. Call-ins are accepted starting at noon. Promotions include $25 splash pots for any limit hold’em game and royal flushes earn a percentage of the main bad-beat jackpot.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO KANSAS SPEEDWAY: The 13-table room continues to run a $15K monthly freeroll. First place is guaranteed $5K and a minimum of 10 places will be paid. To qualify, 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. Cash-game players can earn 1.5 hours for each hour played 2.a.m.-10 a.m. each day. Tournament players earn points for entries and bonus points for cashing.

AMERISTAR KANSAS CITY: The Heartland Poker Tour runs on Nov. 10-21. Use code HPTAKC for discounted hotel rates, $89 Sunday-Thursday, $169 Friday and Saturday. The room ran a $10K quarterly freeroll that ended Oct. 1. Contact the poker room for next quarter’s information.

Meet Charles Lynch

It had been about 50 years since Charles Lynch played poker on penny-ante nights in flight school in his 20s. There didn’t seem to be any games in southwest New Mexico after his stint in the service. Well, until he vacationed in Ruidoso, that is. He played for the first time in the poker room at Inn of the Mountain Gods and played terribly. Then he tried a cash game and didn’t do well there, either. But it lit a fire and he was determined to master the game. He retired as an environmentalist and moved to the Ruidoso area to become a good poker player.

He worked to develop an unpredictable style of play and now considers himself the least-predictable player in the room, and he thinks his reputation works for him.

His biggest tournament win was in a $1,100 Championship at the Inn. He chopped $22K and he said he prefers tournaments to cash games, but remarked that some players have difficulty modifying their method of play to fit the format.

Lynch gets his kicks from playing cards, but at age 72, he knows he needs more exercise and has taken up golf. He spends mornings on the driving range, middays in the poker roomand his evenings are used for practicing chipping, putting and pitching. He sees himself steadily improving as a golfer, but just like poker, he knows he’ll never master the game. — Mary Bradley