(Distributed May 29, 2007)
BIG TOURNAMENTS OFFER MORE THAN JUST PLAYING POKER
TULSA, Okla. — The sights and sounds of big-time poker tournaments probably are addicting. They’re definitely invigorating.
Sure, there’s the poker playing going on all around you. On my first-ever visit last week to Tulsa for the Scotty Nguyen Poker Challenge III, I certainly saw plenty of that, with several events drawing about 400 players, two tournaments scheduled per day, plus nearly non-stop cash games and satellites.
And, of course, all of that foreplay led to the three-day $5,000 main event set to conclude Tuesday (May 29) with pros and amateurs mixing it up in pursuit of an estimated $200,000-plus payday for the winner. The champ also gets a gold-and-diamond bracelet designed by the Cherokee Casino’s tournament host himself. Nguyen knows something about bracelets, having won four of them in World Series of Poker competition.
Like other tournaments, though, the SNPCIII offered much more:
* It was a chance to see old friends, such as elite tournament director Jimmy Sommerfeld, whose unmistakable elevated voice adds color, excitement and energy to any event. No director in the business gets from Point A to Point B faster than Sommerfeld when the action is hot and something needs to be decided.
I must say, however, that his creation of round-for-round play (instead of hand-for-hand) when determining who gets into the money cost me a few bucks in the $120 no-limit hold’em event on May 21. I finished 33rd out of 396 players, but because the payouts were reconfigured for six bottom-level money finishers, my winnings went down by $24!
* Then there were new friends to meet, such as Gary Lindell, 52, and Ray Umland, 68, of Appleton, Wisc., who follow LuckyDog Poker in The Post-Crescent there. They drove more than 900 miles to get in on the action here.
These guys have normal jobs — Lindell’s an instructor at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton and Umland works part-time buying and selling paper products — but they love poker and regularly travel to Wisconsin card rooms in Milwaukee, Green Bay and Keshena to play. Interestingly, although they live about five blocks apart, they first met and became friends at a poker room 60 miles from home.
“Ray’s more of a gambler than me,” said Lindell, smiling. “I’m an old-fashioned player who learned the game at age 15 playing with my dad, uncles and cousins at regular home games.”
* For amateur players such as Charles Moore of Whitehead, Texas, near Dallas, there was a moment in the spotlight. Moore had a blast May 20 in the Tulsa Sports Charities Heisman Bounty tournament, which features a $50 bounty on the heads of sports celebrities knocked out by another player. One of the celebs was Billy Sims, who won the Heisman in 1978 as a junior running back for the University of Oklahoma.
Moore captured the $120 no-limit hold’em bounty event for $8,468, then showed his poker versatility by finishing second two nights later in the seven-card stud tournament for another $2,336. I never caught up with Moore, but he told pokerlistings.com, “It’s a real thrill not only to win this (Heisman) event, but to do it with so many well-known athletes in it. It was something I’ll treasure forever.”
* Finally, the Challenge offered hundreds of amateur players (and a poker columnist!) a chance to mingle with some of the best in the game at a Friday night reception. The crowd also applauded the Cherokee Casino staff which organized the tournaments and the party.
My two favorite moments at the party were teasing accomplished poker instructor Jan Fisher about conducting a seminar for the gals just prior to the ladies no-limit hold’em event and then blitzing the 195-player field to win the title, followed by watching “First Lady of Poker” Linda Johnson and top female pro Clonie Gowen of Dallas tear up the dance floor when the music started.
For the rest of THAT story, and to find out what Clonie was wearing, check out www.luckydogpoker.com!
E-mail your poker questions and comments to email@example.com for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com or www.luckydogpoker.com.
COPYRIGHT 2007 RUSS SCOTT
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