Talking Stick poker room's Toy Drive is Dec. 16

November 30, 2017, Chris Cronin, Donovan Livingston, Dick Stein, Robert Kelly  

Talking Stick Resort’s Arena Poker Room has several results to report from October. The Big Stack title went to Ian Clark, netting him $10,640. Eric Saikin, Heng Hong and Randy Schatz each won $5,136, while James Pausch and Norman Behrens took home $4,636.

The Fall Poker Classic had three events over one weekend. The Friday event saw an 11-way chop worth $3,372 each. Fi.nalists were Jonathan Renstrom, Ahmad Sahak, Tyler Hancock, Joseph Testa, Ryan Schulze, Richard Lane, Martin Shea, Robert DeFabrizio, Luis Contreras, Ronald Morenz and Laurence Fulop.

John Vouras and Philip Seplow split top honors in the Saturday event, each receiving $11,185, with Guy Cannon, Troy Sprungl and Kiley Scott taking home $9K each. The weekend wrapped with a five-way chop on Sunday, with Craig Gacom, Mary Williams, Mark Babekov, Jason Lane and Jeff Puskar earning $4,033 each.

The End of the Month tourney saw Mark McGaffin and Keith Yocum take home $4,700 each.

Dec. 16 is the room’s 15th annual Holiday Toy Drive. Buy-in is one unwrapped toy ($10 value or more) and a $35 ser- vice fee. This event will have a $12,500 prize pool, paying 40 spots. Jan. 12-14 is a Staycation Weekend. Players who sign up for all three days will be eligible for a free two-night stay at the resort Jan. 12-14.

Other promos include Wacky Wednesdays on Dec. 6 and 20 from noon until midnight, when $250 high hands will be awarded every 15 minutes for hold’em and $150 high hands every hour for Omaha.

HON-DAH CASINO RESORT: Marcel Beaudoin is the newest Tournament of Champions winner. In promotions, High Hand Trio will pay the top three hands of the night on Fridays and Saturdays, $100 each and $50 for high hands every weekday. The room also pays bonus cash for quads or better.

GILA RIVER WILD HORSE PASS HOTEL & CASINO: The Super High Hand promotion runs Dec. 9 and 23. And save the date for Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino’s Ante Up Poker Tour event com- ing in March over St. Patrick’s Day weekend. This will be one of the biggest tournaments in Arizona.

HARRAH’S AK-CHIN: Weekly tournaments run Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 12:30. Dec. 9 at 5:30 p.m. is a Christmas toy drive.

One unwrapped toy valued at $10 or more is the buy-in. There’s an optional $10 dealer add-on and for a second new unwrapped toy valued at $10 or more you’ll receive more

Oklahoma/Kansas/Missouri

The Oklahoma State Championship of Poker, which ended in early October at the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa, saw the first three events result in chops. Gary Hammond won Event 4 (seniors) for $2,103.

But the big story was when Tyler Young overcame nearly 600 entries to win the $100K main event, earning $25,157. Clarence Eldridge was second ($15,567) and Brandon Skala finished third ($11,379).

Looking ahead, the World Series of Poker Circuit returns March 15-26.

GRAND CASINO: This 13-table enclosed poker room is on the second floor. It has a drink station and offers soft-serve ice cream. Numerous promotions include bad-beat jackpots for hold’em (quads) and Omaha (quad 10s).

Other promos include high hands, royals, and Aces and Kings Cracked. Also running is Monday Night Football squares. Rake is 10 percent to $4 with $1 jackpot drop. Comps are $1 per hour (100 points) and there are double points hours Mondays and Tuesdays.

Tableside food service is offered. Games that typically run include $1-$3 NLHE with $500 max buy-in, $3-$6 limit and, on a few nights, a group of regulars get a $4-$8 mixed game that may include Big O, razz, stud, stud/8, Omaha and Oma-ha/8.

Dec. 9 at noon is a $220 tournament with 30-minute lev.els and limited seating. Poker-player hotel rates are available. Weekdays the rate is $59 while weekends are $79.

AMERISTAR CASINO KANSAS CITY: The Heartland Poker Tour concluded Oct. 16 with William McCracken capturing the $1,650 main event for $91,123.

The veterinarian outlasted a field of 279 entries for his first HPT title.

“I’m just happy. It’s been a long time,” he said “I’ve had several friends who have won.” The Bolivar, Mo., resident had nine previous cashes on his HPT resume, dating to 2009, but never finished better than eighth. It’s the largest victory of his career.

Springfield’s Travis Hiteshew went heads-up for the title with McCracken for nearly an hour before getting it all-in on a flop of 6-2-2. McCracken, who was covered, held 7-6 for top pair and Hiteshew had A-K. The sixes held and the tournament was virtually over. McCracken took the remaining chips on the next hand to make it official. Hiteshew collected $58,238 for runner-up.

“You can never give up. As long as you’ve got chips in front of you, you’ve got a reasonable chance,” McCracken said.
When play began, notable pro Nick Jivkov held a command.ing lead over his eight opponents. At times, the Des Plaines, Ill. resident looked poised and ready to capture his first HPT title.

But he was sent to the rail in third place with $39,024. Local purchaser Christopher Juul has played in several HPT
events, but this was his best finish by far, as the Kansas City man wound up fourth for $27,535. Jay McVeigh of Shawnee, Kan., was fifth for $20,601.

Daniel Thomas, a real estate investor from Lincoln, earned $16,640 for sixth. Just before Thomas’ exit, Beau Wilshire lost to McCracken, finishing seventh place for $13,866. Wilshire played his way to the final table for just $200.

Local Joseph Maggio also qualified for just $200. The airline employee got tangled up early on in a huge hand with Jivkov. They got it all-in for the lead with Maggio holding pocket aces to Jivkov’s queens. Maggio was in good shape until the board brought a straight for Jivkov. That hand ended the day for Maggio. He took home $11,489 for eighth.

Michael Hahn of Indianapolis was the lone HPT champion at the final table, but he started the day as the short stack. He shoved on the first hand and lost, going out ninth for $9,944.

CHOCTAW CASINO DURANT: The WSOPC still was running at press time so look for results in the next issue, And don’t forget, the WSOPC returns Jan. 3-15.

CHEROKEE CASINO WEST SILOAM SPRINGS: The annual Reindeer Games series runs Dec. 8-17. The first two days are $5K guarantees for $125. Dec. 13 brings a $75 re-entry, $1K guarantee. Dec. 14 is a $135 event with $20 rebuys.

There will be three flights for the three-day $350 main event, beginning Dec. 15. If that’s too steep for you, look for $60 mega-satellites run throughout the series with two scheduled most days. Call 800-754-4111 for information about discounted hotel rooms.

DOWNSTREAM CASINO: The RunGood Poker Series runs Dec. 12-17. Call 918-919-6000 and use code RUNGOOD to get 40 percent off of your hotel room. This place has sold out its rooms in the past, so don’t wait.

The series opens with a satellite into the $560 main event and a bounty tournament. The rest of the series consists of a deepstack and partners tournament as well as additional satellites.

RIVERWIND CASINO: This 17-table room opens daily at 9 a.m. Monday through Thursday promotions include high hands, hot seats and splash pots. Games typically spread are $1-$2, $1-$3 and $2-$5 NLHE and $2-$5 pot-limit Omaha.

WINSTAR WORLD CASINO: The 46-table room routinely spreads $1-$2, $1-$3 and $2-$5 NLHE, $4-$8 limit, $1-$2 PLO.PLO/8 mix and $2-$5 PLO. Aces Cracked runs Tuesdays and Thursdays 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 8 p.m.-midnight.

KANSAS STAR CASINO: Qualification into the $10K January freeroll concludes at the end of this month. Thursday nights are football-splash-pot nights. Each table is assigned home or visitor and are splashed with amounts that differ depending on type of score.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO KANSAS SPEEDWAY: Player feedback has resulted in $1-$3 NLHE being spread as a nine-handed game. Qualification into the next quarterly $35K freeroll concludes Dec. 31. The tournament will be Jan. 13.

HARRAH’S NORTH KANSAS CITY: The room’s $10K freeroll qualification runs through Dec. 11. The bad-beat jackpot was $104K at press time.

New Mexico

ROUTE 66 CASINO: With the closing of Santa Ana Star Casino’s poker room in Bernalillo, some of the traditions and innovations it fostered are being kept alive at the Route 66 Casino in Albuquerque. The popular women’s tournaments are back, with the next one Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. Buy-in is $65 for 7,500 chips, with an optional $10 add-on for 2,500 more. The poker room is adding $300 to the prize pool for extra incentive.

There are three events every day at Route 66, mostly NLHE, but there’s a pineapple tournament each Wednesday, plus many tournaments include bounties. Join the Player of the Year pro.motion to earn cash for finishing in the top five for the year.

ISLETA CASINO RESORT: There are a lot of great new tournaments here. Mondays feature crazy pineapple for only $15 at 2 and 7 p.m. Each Wednesday brings Omaha/8 at 7 p.m. for $25. Each Friday and Saturday you can play in added-money tournaments for $100 at 7 p.m.

New to the game? Isleta has you covered with beginners tournaments every Thursday at 7 p.m. with a reasonable buy-in of $15 with an optional $5 add-on. It’s a great way to experience real tournament poker in a live setting without risking too much money. Isleta will be hosting its normally scheduled tournaments during the holidays.

BUFFALO THUNDER RESORT: Tournaments run every night at 6:30 with $30-$75 buy-ins. Sundays and Thursdays offer unlimited rebuys for the first hour.

On Thursdays, they play Omaha/8. The $150 Last Saturday of the Month tournament starts at 1. The 6:30 p.m. tournament later that evening is a great consolation if you missed out earlier, and because of large numbers, there are plenty of cash games in hold’em and Omaha.

SANDIA CASINO RESORT: There are two big tournaments this month: Santa’s Deepstack is Dec. 16 at noon for $235 with an optional $10 add-on. Santa will be adding $900 to the prize pool. Players who donate a new children’s coat will receive 3K more in chips. Then the New Year’s Eve Tournament is $217 with an optional $10 add-on. The house will be adding $2,018 to the prize pool, so expect some big payouts.

The Big Dog series starts registration Feb. 6 at 8 a.m. This event will sell out, so plan ahead. Buy-in is $235, with a $10 add-on for 3K in bonus chips. The poker room will add $900 to the prize pool, so mark your calendars.

As for regular weekly tournaments, Sunday is a $50 event at noon and a $45 tourney at 5. Monday brings the Sprint Tournament for $50. At 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, you can play a bounty tournament for $75. The $60 Wacky Wednesdays events feature either stud, River Down, Big O/8, women’s, pineapple, HORSE or Omaha/8.

INN OF THE MOUNTAIN GODS: The $20K Texas Ho-Ho-Hold’em tournament is Dec. 10 at 11 a.m. Buy-in is $230 and registration is Dec. 2-10. On Fridays, look for the $120 tournament at 6 p.m., and every Sunday at 2 p.m. you can play $75.

Colorado

The Ameristar Casino in Black Hawk, Colo., saw its bad-beat jackpot hit for $711K on Oct. 25.

There were only seven players at the table, which delivered an amazing $42.5K to those not in the hand. The winning hand received $213K and the beaten hand got $283K.

This jackpot reset to $474K so it’s off to the races again for huge payouts. Status on the bad-beat jackpot can be followed on the Bravo app.

GOLDEN GATES CASINO: Look for results of the Mid-States Poker Tour event and the CPC Winter Series in a future issue. Poker room manager Nathan “Cage” Yanchunis said business has been booming.

CRIPPLE CREEK: At the Midnight Rose, the bad-beat jackpot of $90K will be run off. The unusual twist is that the runoff will be in four parts of $22.5K each on separate weekends, including Dec. 9, Jan. 13 and Feb. 10.
The mini-bad-beat jackpot was discontinued after its final runoff in early November.

Ultimate High Hand awards (amounts vary) are in play one weekend a month and the Four Flush promotion is Sunday-Wednesday.

The Friday (4 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.) deepstacks continue to draw about 50 entries each.

Meet Ed Gonzales

Few people in New Mexico are as passionate about poker and feel a sense of responsibility to grow the sport as Ed Gonzales.

He’s friendly and knowledgeable about all forms of poker and has a realness to him that is hard to find.

Where do you work and what’s your position? Sandia Resort and Casino and I’m a dual-rate floor and shift supervisor.

How did you get into poker? Initially, I was introduced to poker by my older brother. I started playing at about age 16.

What are some of your biggest poker success stories? I cashed for $20K-plus at the New Mexico State Championship at Isleta Casino in 2010. Since then, I’ve had several large cashes but no big first-place wins.

These days, I don’t play nearly as much as I used to be- cause of my three sons, who keep me pretty busy.
How did you get into the poker industry? I just fell in love with poker so it made sense to work in an industry that I love. I’m very happy where I am right now at Sandia.

What are you doing to help grow poker in New Mexico? I’m trying to get some notable tournaments going, something that can help put New Mexico on the poker map.

Nowadays, it’s hard to find a tournament with a good structure and prize pool (here), and I’m striving to fix that and make New Mexico an actual poker destination not only for locals, but for circuit players.

What are some of your non-poker hobbies? I’m a full-time father and husband now, so I coach my kid’s soccer team. I golf a couple of times a week and hang out with my wife as much as possible. — Donovon Livingston