BY RUSS SCOTT
JANUARY 22, 2008
TUNICA DOWNTURN NOT FULLY REFLECTED BY MAIN-EVENT NUMBERS
TUNICA, MISS. — The temptation is to cite declining numbers for the coinciding main events of dueling championship poker tournaments here and declare Tunica competition has taken a downturn.
Those numbers, though, don’t tell the whole story.
Yes, the main events of the overlapping World Series of Poker Circuit Event at the Grand Casino and the World Poker Open at the nearby Gold Strike Casino have seen decreasing numbers in recent years.
This year followed the pattern, with 180 entrants at the WSOP’s $7,700 three-day event which ended Monday, compared with 377 in 2007 and 327 in 2006. At the $10,000 WPO, the Day 1 field was split between Sunday and Monday and was expected to hit about 250 total. Just three years ago, the WPO attracted 512 entrants.
For nearly three weeks leading up to the main events, however, the smaller buy-in events drew well, attracting strong numbers of local and regional players who can’t quite afford the cost of the championship tourney.
Through the first 17 days of action, entries totaled approximately 5,500 at each venue, with several events drawing 400 to 700 players. Turnouts that large produce attractive prize pools for players who can handle $500 or $1,000 buy-ins but not $7,500 or $10,000.
In addition, at the WPO there were nightly $200 and $100 tournaments which drew triple-digit entries and gave almost every player a chance to compete for a significant prize.
Big-name players — and there are quite a few of them here at the Gold Strike — always gear up for the big buy-in tournaments. Many of them spend the preceding days engaged in high-stakes cash games which run nearly non-stop at major tournaments like these.
But amateurs with limited bankrolls seem to have just as much excitement playing in smaller tournaments and cash games — and sometimes just watching from the rail as the elite players do their thing.
As long as a variety of games and buy-in levels exist, the total number of players should remain strong even with Tunica’s competing events.
* Emphasizing the attraction of Tunica poker was Steve Lipscomb, CEO and founder of WPT Enterprises, Inc., which will televise the WPO later this year.
This venue is “rich in tradition, history and legendary final table action, which is why we continue to see top players — local and global — return each year to battle it out for the title.”
Meanwhile, Ken Lambert, Gold Strike’s director of poker, said, “This tournament brings the best in the game of poker from the television to the table and seats them next to everyday ordinary people.”
The casino has hosted the WPT for nine years.
* Action in the regular poker room at the Gold Strike was juiced over the weekend by a bad-beat hold’em jackpot that was pushing $340,000 on Saturday night.
That’s huge for a poker jackpot, although it’s not easy to hit. You have to LOSE with four tens or better to get half the prize pool. The player who beats you with better quads or a straight flush gets 25 percent of the kitty, and every seated hold’em player in the room gets a share of what’s left.
Not a bad deal for those playing in a little $3-$6 limit game where your “investment” usually is not more than $100. And, of course, you might also win a few bucks while you’re waiting for the jackpot hand!
* The media event at the Gold Strike drew 65 players, including Ol’ LuckyDog, who was fresh off his second-place finish in the media tourney two weeks ago at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure near Nassau on Paradise Island.
Alas, the cards didn’t cooperate. My best hand in the two hours I lasted was pocket fives (they held up after I pushed all-in short-stacked). Nothing much else materialized, however, and I busted out 24th when my suited A-8 was topped by a player’s pocket jacks.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org 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 2008 RUSS SCOTT
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