Hot weather means hot action in Oklahoma

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As August brings the sultry weather, poker rooms across Oklahoma turn up the poker fire. Many state residents and poker players, however, will find a way to cool down in the comfortable poker atmosphere at three locations.

The poker heat wave begins with Firelake Grand Casino’s MDA Celebrity tournament on Aug. 13 at 10 a.m. This fourth annual event has been a fantastic success for MDA and Firelake Grand every year since its inception. Poker room manager Todd Grantz describes the annual event as “Igniting something grand.” Executive director for MDA, Andrea Pope, concludes that poker tournaments are a great way to raise money, especially when so many celebrities come to join the cause.

“We always try to take it up a notch every year with new celebrities,” she said. “Last year we brought in Playboy Playmate Jaime Edmondson, comedian Norm MacDonald and comedian Kidwok, formerly known as Chinaman, to name a few.”

Just a short jaunt east on I-40 from Oklahoma City, you’ll find this cool poker oasis and a comfortable 20-table room waiting for you on the second story. Cash games played regularly at this location include a scintillating $1-$2 and $2-$5 no-limit hold’em game, as well as $3-$6 limit hold’em. For more information visit firelakegrand.com or call 405-964-7777.

Another way to shake the heat is to Blast to the Past at Cherokee Casino in West Siloam Springs from Aug. 22-28. This annual event comes to players this year in a new poker room with a newly built casino hotel just steps away. Poker room manager Chad McReynolds brings a variety of games to this series, including no-limit hold’em, H.O.R.S.E., and Omaha/8.

“We provide the games our players love and have a great time,” he said. “We invite poker players from all over to come in, relax and enjoy the fantastic service and games we provide.”

Drawing attention this year is the Survivor NLHE event that is sure to have players sweating bullets in the coolest atmosphere around.

Cherokee offers 12 cash tables that regularly run $1-$2 NLHE, $1-$2 PLO and a scorching $10-$20 Omaha/8. Buy-ins for the tournaments are as little as $75, ranging to $540 for the main event. During the poker series the annual Blast to the Past Car and Truck Show will be blazing in the parking lot, too, so don’t miss out. Call 800-754-4111 and get signed up today or visit cherokeecasino.com to book your room.

Come late August when the heat settles in, jump on in to “The River” from Aug. 22-Sept. 5 at WinStar World Casino. The sixth annual $3 million guarantee series makes the largest poker waves in Oklahoma with prize pools that emulate a desert mirage. But last year’s first-place prize in the main event was no mirage. Khoueng Souvoravong pulled in a cool $646,690 with his $2,100 buy-in after treading through a field of 1,440 players.

“Our poker program was designed with the players at the forefront,” manager Jay Wiles said. “Our series continues to grow, drawing players from across the country and we look forward to a new and exciting series this year.”

WinStar is a staple in Midwest poker and a major stop on many professionals’ itineraries, making this a must-play series. Whether it is serious tournament action you prefer or high-action cash games, WinStar has it all. The bountiful 46-table room will keep you occupied for as long as you can stay and play with spreads as little as $1-$2 NLHE up to $10-$25 PLO. But you don’t want to wait to get in on the action here because this place fills faster than a dry mouth at an oasis. Call and book your room today at 800-622-6317 or get registered by visiting winstarworldcasino.com.

ON THE LAMB: Tulsa native Ben Lamb, 26, has rocked the World Series of Poker this year, and by virtue of his November Nine berth (he’s fifth in chips), surpassed Phil Hellmuth to take the lead in the WSOP’s Player of the Year standings. Lamb started making news in 2006 in Tulsa when he won the $1K NLHE event during the first Scotty Nguyen Poker Challenge at Cherokee Casino. He reeled in $53,671 and went on that year to place 12th in the WSOP $1,500 PLO event worth $25,572. Lamb followed that up with a second-place finish at the Orleans Open for $43,795. Two months later he took first at the United States Poker Championship in Atlantic City for $60,000.

Fast forward through a slew of wins to the 2010 WSOP where he placed fifth in the $1,500 PLO/8 event and 30th in the PLO championship, netting him more than $70,000. This year his game is blazing hot with a second-place finish in the WSOP $3,000 PLO event ($257,918) followed by win in the $10,000 PLO Championship, scoring him $814,436 and his first bracelet.

Lamb also placed in the $10K NLHE six-handed event and then had an eighth-place finish in the $50K Players Championship. His winnings go beyond $3 million and counting with one WSOP bracelet, five WSOP final tables (three in PLO) and 13 WSOP money finishes. He’s guaranteed to make at least $782K in the main event.

Lamb also has reported to have won more than $1 million playing online. While his popularity skyrockets at this year’s WSOP, he is becoming a legend in his home state where many Oklahomans are cheering on their hometown hero.

—Crystalynn Harris is the Ante Up Ambassador for the Oklahoma-Kansas area. You can email her at crystalynn@anteupmagazine.com.