North Texas Championship Series Underway in Oklahoma!

Guarantees, NLH/PLO, politics and fusterclucks @ “The River”

by , Aug 25, 2010 | 7:19 pm

One of the biggest non-major tournament series of the year is underway in Thackerville, Oklahoma, promising $3 million in guarantees. “The River” — hosted by Greg Raymer and the historically storied WinStar tribe — is 9 events spread across two weeks, Aug 23-Sep 6. They’ve got some sort of overall points leader prize for a Porsche Cayenne overlay, too, worth $70k.

2009 twitpic: @EweE420 (now @EricMizrachi)

Today’s event, Event #3, happens to be $440 NLH/PLO with $40k Guaranteed. Wonder if they’re aware that Lev Serzhenko was recently crowned the World Champion of $230 NLH/PLO with a Single $200 Rebuy.

Since the main here will be more or less the regional championship in my old stomping grounds — in fact, thinking we might-should call it the North-North Texas Championship in future posts — I find myself wanting to follow these events uniquely as a fan. I’ve got tons of friends playing and would expect to see plenty of past opponents from the Dallas underground, presumably some Batfaces, lots of ole Lodge amateurs, and, I hope, a few Team Pokerati players. Also curious to see what type of pros show up.

But semi-live coverage of the River is hard to come by. Lots of future thoughts on why that is … but in the meantime, here’s where I’ll be checking for River buzz, for starters …

2+2 Tournament Circuit thread

And because Pokerati can’t be there this year (but kinda-sorta would like to be) here are some possible news stories I see shaking out, or at least stuff worth looking into for anyone who might wanna ask some questions or snap pics with their iPhone and send an email or an @reply on Twitter:

Opening Day Shutout Fiasco

Event #1 was a $330 $50k Guarantee. Supposedly without any pre-registration available, Tent management was unprepared for the flood of players who showed up. Held in the cash-game room, and not the usual auditorium? More than 100 alternates and more than 100 shut out eventually. At least that’s what I’m hearing. Not confirmed.

Guaranteed Ass-Coverage?

Last year they came up $580k short on the $3 million guarantee. So this year WinStar is promising only $2.5 million in the main event prize pool. The other $500k has been spread out across preliminary events. That’s all. Nifty. Clever. Seems like forever ago (5 years?) WinStar was getting grief for claiming “malfunction” whenever someone hit a super-big slots jackpot.

NLH/PLO Tournament

Event #3. Beautiful. Awesome. Let’s talk at length about this game. Do you guys need cut cards?

Some Players Go Deep, Others Bust

Who’s there? Any Mizrachis? November Niners? Batfaces? What about Clonie? I’m looking for my buddy John. He’s got short hair and probably a white shirt. Can you tell me how many chips he has?

Parking Lot Robberies + License Plates

I’ve heard rumors from multiple sources over the past few months (but with zero confirmation or simple police check) of high-stakes cash game players getting jacked in the WinStar parking lot. Definitely wanna find out more on this, as it was at The River a few years ago (then the Red River Roundup) where Pokerati pioneered the concept of parking-lot coverage. Also, any funny pokery license plates? Saw this one there in ’07:


Legal (Oklahoma) Poker Coming to Texas?

The Chickasaw — WinStar’s backers, essentially, in alliance with ultraChristians — have spent millions in recent years opposing any efforts to legalize poker or expand gambling in Texas. Their alliance with ultraChristians made for formidable opponents. But will they soon be officially switching teams?

In the past couple years, the Oklahoma tribe has spent well more than $150 million buying up beleaguered race tracks and other casino-minded plots of land, er, worldwide — most recently Lone Star Park, smack-dab between Dallas and Fort Worth, and next door (by car) to both Cowboys Stadium and the Ballpark in Arlington. (Go Rangers!).

2011 Texas legislative session is right around the corner … can we expect WinStar checks to show up in the TexasPokerPAC’s paypal account? Is there a concern that a new poker room in North Texas would put WinStar’s current Tent City digs in North-North Texas out of business?

And as long as we’re going there, what about the Choctaw, the Chickasaw’s rival poker tribe down the river? Could these business enemies join forces to fight for gambling in Texas, or is that just ridiculous because you hate those guys? Is TJ Cloutier playing your events wearing their gear? He’s done well in The River main event in the past, and supposedly he’s got a deal now with Choctaw to represent at the tables in exchange for weekly buffet comps or something.

Tent City, Oklahoma

So really, what’s up with the tent? WinStar is supposedly the 3rd largest casino in the world (though that number is disputed, despite it coming from BusinessWeek) … you’ve got a hotel, restaurants, a spa, a golf course … seemingly a nice upgrade from the old Microtel for Texas’s poker refugees … yet technically you have to have your casino in a tent?

So all those walls are fake, and everything takes place under something akin to the WSOP’s poker kitchen but the size of five football fields? Is that by compact or something?

Not to be racist, but acknowledging some Okahomans who mighta had something to do with setting up Indian gambling in the area, is that based on some premise that you guys could do whatever you damn well please in your teepee? Is it the same way for the Choctaw — because their new building looks pretty fancy and made of stone — or are tent rules specific to your people?

And if it’s not WinStar, who holds the Guinness record for biggest tent in the world? Just curious …

Aren’t you guys scared of tornadoes?

6 Comments to “North Texas Championship Series Underway in Oklahoma! ”

  1. Okie56

    Thanks for putting up coverage of the big Winstar tourney action. It has been crazy up there these past few weeks. I got there saturday Aug 21st around 6pm, and every one of the 46 tables were full with satelites and cash games. I was put on the 1/2 list at number 75, and was about 56th on one of the satelites to the mega, which was taking place the next day. The next day (Sun) I arrived around noon during the mega satelite, and was #104 on the 1/2 list. The Winstar always has good action, but has been extra “juicy” as the River tourney nears. Keep up the good work, Dan. I appreciate all of your poker coverage, and check your site daily to see what’s going on in the poker world.

  2. Frankie

    If your looking for coverage of the River series look no furthur than the website above. I blasted them in my column over the “first Monday tourney fiasco.

  3. DanM

    do you have a link directly to the article, frankie? i clicked around but couldn’t find …

    btw, i used to be the poker columnist for sports page weekly … they ran some good stuff!

  4. Frankie

    Here is the link to the pdf version.

  5. DanM

    ahh, thanks for the link. the sports page, too always did struggle with that whole website thing and making it easy to send people to their pages.

    good article, tho! really is ridiculous, especially considering the drive.

  6. Frankie

    Dan, shoot me an email when you get a chance. tks..