Amid tragedy, a shining light in Oklahoma

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Downstream Casino, just four miles west of Joplin, Mo., held its annual Four States Poker Championship from May 27- June 6, and in the wake of a natural disaster raised more than $7,500 for the Joplin Relief Fund. The series included 15 events incorporating no-limit and limit hold’em, razz, triple-draw, stud and Omaha among others and the average buy-in was only $100. Two men were the stars of the show: main-event winner and young poker pro Drew Boyett from Denver took first in the no-limit main event championship and Densil Mills of Nixsa, Mo., won all-around best player.

The 23-year-old Drew Boyett shuffled through 200 players in the $340 main event to claim first place worth $14,321. When asked about his success he was quick to share.

“I’ve been playing for four years professionally,” Boyett said, holding his trophy. “I came believing I was a favorite to win and I did!”

Though the tournament wrapped up after midnight, Boyett was headed to the car for a long drive to the World Series of Poker.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” he said. “I plan on playing in the WSOP for two weeks.”

Mills, a concrete worker, has been playing for 22 years and his experience shined brightly in the series. Mills had two first-place wins in stud and razz, a third-place finish in limit hold’em and a cash in the main event, scoring him more than $6,000.

“I started playing stud with my older brother and his group when I was a kid,” Mills said. “I’ve been playing ever since.”

Mills was so enthusiastic about his game that he forced his wife, Lori, to play with him in the couples event even though she had never played before. “The funny thing is that she doubled us up just before I took us out of the tournament without cashing.”

Though the tornado devastated so much of Joplin (and Downstream relies heavily on the Joplin population), poker players came from more than five states to play in this annual series. Poker room manager Elliott Schecter implemented a charitable donation for a chip add-on in each event to support the Joplin Relief Fund and there was a 65 percent increase in players from last year’s main event. Rare tournaments such as deuce-to-seven triple-draw inspired a triple-draw cash game that ran for three days. Similarly, the Omaha/8 split also trickled over to the cash games, keeping the room filled and buzzing with action and variety throughout the whole series.

When asked about the local devastation and its effect on the series, Schecter said: “The tornado made it very difficult on us. We had six dealers who lost their homes and also some regulars. There were not many places to stay because so many victims, volunteers and relief agencies have occupied the hotel rooms, including Downstream’s. We were lucky we did not lose anyone and were ecstatic to see so many participate.”

It was easy for poker staff to believe the tornado would hamper the player turnout and they did not expect to beat last year’s numbers like they did.

“It is such a pleasure that so many players were eager to play,” Schecter said, “not only because we offer the best variety of games with the most reasonable buy-ins in the region, but because they could help those in need.”

Boyett and Mills agreed it was a terrific series. Boyett made sure to point out the mixed events were a great touch.

“It’s nice to see a casino in the region that will put on such a variety of mixed tournaments with buy-ins that are quite affordable.”

Mills was happy to play games he remembered playing as a youth. “These games are hard to find, but it’s nice to know I have a place to enjoy them again. This is a room that really cares about its players.”
Downstream’s next event is the $180 Ladies Poker Event on July 16 at 11 a.m. on National Women’s Poker Day. The event will include prizes provided by Pokey Charms. A Jack and Jill tournament will run the following day for $120.

After that, keep your schedule clear for Downstream’s HPT event from September 15-25. For more information call 918-919-6000 and ask for the poker room.

—Crystalynn Harris is the Ante Up Ambassador for the Oklahoma-Kansas area. You can email her at crystalynn@anteupmagazine.com.
Densil Mills was named best all-around player.

FOUR STATES CHAMPIONSHIP
MAY 27-JUNE 6 • DOWNSTREAM CASINO • QUAPAW, OKLA.
$340 Main Event

Entries: 201 • Prize Pool: $55,838
1. Drew Boyett, $14,321
2. Kelly Counts, $8,593
3. Robert Morsen, $6,301
4. Sean Kennedy, $4,210
5. David Gotchol, $ 3,007
6. Russell Vanover, $2,578
7. Lucinda Gallager, $2,148
8. Brandon Fletcher, $1,719
9. Daniel Hughes, $1,432
June 3 • PLO
Entries: 43 • Prize Pool: $8,170
1. Rex Randolph, $2,778
2. Russell Vanover, $1,716
3. Ahmad Raghebi, $1,226
4. Lee Johnson, $980
5. Jerry Crawford, $817
6. Sherry Dierksen, $654
June 3 • NLHE w/rebuy
Entries: 97 • Prize Pool: $15,960
1. Donald Goebel, $4,389
2. Stephen Ray, $2,873
3. Kevin Elwood, $1,835
4. Quentin Crossley, $1,357
5. Brad Kieffer, $1,037
6. Jeffrey Foust, $798
7. John Danler, $638
8. Eldon Lean, $559
9. Richard Harris, $479
June 2 • Shootout
Entries: 72 • Prize Pool: $4,104
1. Pat Fernandez, $1,272
2. Sherry Dierksen, $817
3. David Hayes, $534
4. Lucinda Gallagher, $390
5. Gene Alloway, $287
6. Jerry Price, $226
7. John Blanken, $197
8. Grady Suneson, $176
9. David Wyatt, $103
June 2 • Stud
Entries: 32 • $2,884
1. Densil Mills, $904
2. Kevin Alt, $646
3. David Hutchens, $517
4. Godfrey Cheng, $336
5. James Jennings, $181
June 1 • NLHE Bounty
Players: 103 • Prize Pool: $7,339
1. David Gotchal, $2,018
2. Eric Olson, $1,321
3. Michael Lech, $844
4. Bill Johnson, $624
5. Quentin Crossley, $477
6. Nelson Demler, $367
7. David Wyatt, $294
8. Neshat Osmani, $257
9. Larry Whitworth, $220
June 1 • Limit hold’em
Entries: 89 • Prize Pool: $8,455
1. Rex Randolph, $1,149
2. Pete Nelson, $718
3. Densil Mills, $470
4. Julia Yeater, $341
5. Edward Hosford, $251
6. Mark Easley, $198
7. Jennifer Vanwickler, $172
8. Bob Blair, $154
9. David Noyes, $136
May 30 • NLHE Couples
Entries: 67 • Prize Pool: $6,365
1. Tasha Bartholic-Kevin Bartholic, $955
2. Patricia Mitchell-Kurt Young, $605
3. Deb Paniak-Lance Sayler, $414
4. Megan Henry-Leslie Hankey, $302
5. Sandy Blanchard-Richard Harris, $223
6. Garlinda Ferguson-Mike Ferguson, $175
7. Sherry Dierksen-Russell Vanover, $153
8. Debbie Inman-Chris Davis, $137
9. Lucinda Gallagher-Robert Morsch, $121
May 30 • 2-7 Triple Draw
Entries: 33 • Prize Pool: $2,665
1. Randall Murfin, $933
2. Charles Wolken, $666
3. James Jennings, $533
4. John Blanken, $346
5. Brad Yazall, $187
May 29 • Razz
Entries: 56 • $4,522
1. Densil Mills, $1,447
2. John Blanken, $904
3. Charles Standridge, $592
4. Buell Jones, $430
5. Robert Morsch, $317
6. Lenna Rowe, $249
7. Edward Slagle, $217
8. Brad Yazall, $194
9. Charles Wolken, $172
May 29 • Hold’em/Omaha
Entries: 89 • Prize Pool: $8,455
1. Kevin Suneson, $2,494
2. Jeffrey Jones, $1,606
3. Tash Bartholic, $1,057
4. Nathan Love, $719
5. Steven Hoover, $550
6. Jerry Young, $423
7. Michael Hilton, $338
8. Robert Morsch, $296
9. Jack Shelton, $254
May 27 • $10K guar. rebuy
Entries: 115 • Prize Pool: $19,152
1. Laqueta Johnson, $5,181
2. Nelson Demler, $3,256
3. Larry Prichard, $2,107
4. Michael Hibler, $1,532
5. Brad Yazall, $1,149
6. Dena Endicott, $958
7. Larry Whitworth, $766
8. Lynn Achey, $670
9. Jordan Slayton $575
May 27 • NLHE
Entries: 114 • $6,498
1. William Love, $1,758
2. Lucinda Gallagher, $1,105
3. Ray Jones, $715
4. Rebecca Daniels, $520
5. Freeman Bluebird, $390
6. Garry Carnes, $325
7. William Blair, $260
8. Taylor Martin, $227
9. James Katser, $195