Two great cities; twice the great poker

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By Scott Long

Fewer than 300 miles across Interstate 70 separate two fantastic poker markets in the Show Me State. Players will find six poker rooms between the two cities (with one more coming in 2012). Here’s what you’ll find when you get to play some cards, drink a Budweiser and lick your fingers after some tasty ribs.

ST. LOUIS

Harrah’s St. Louis | (314) 770-8100
harrahsstlouis.com | @harrahsstlpoker

For proof of how big Harrah’s St. Louis likes to play, look no further than its annual World Series of Poker Circuit event and October’s debut of a $25-$50 no-limit hold’em game.

“We offer the largest variety of games, have more daily tournaments and bring big tournaments and big cash games to St. Louis,” director of poker operations Denise Taykowski said. “Where else can you play in this market for a chance to win a $10,000 seat into the biggest tournament, the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas?”

For sure, the World Series brand plays a big role at Harrah’s St. Louis, as it does at all Caesars Entertainment properties. The room will host is annual WSOPC stop April 12-23 next year, but its next big event, the Gateway Poker Classic, runs this month.

Harrah’s is not publicity shy about promoting its big cash games, either, with a media blitz to announce October’s $15,000 buy-in no-limit cash game spearheaded by Dennis Phillips, St. Louis’ most recognizable poker star, and Paul Harris, who co-hosts the Final Table Show on KFNS with Phillips live every Tuesday afternoon inside the poker room.

The 21-table room hosts a variety of other cash games, regularly including $3-$6 limit, $20-$40 limit, $1-$2 no-limit, $1-$2-$5 no-limit, $1-$2-$5 pot-limit Omaha and $3-$6 Omaha/8. The room is starting a $5-$10 no-limit game, and has been known to spread H.O.R.S.E.

Players earn 75 cents an hour on their Total Rewards club, giving them benefits at every Caesars Entertainment property in the world.

“We will continue to raise the bar, listening to our guests to provide them with the best poker experience in St. Louis,” said Taykowski, who opened the room 14 years ago as a dual-rate supervisor and returned to running it six years ago after a stint in marketing promotions and events at the casino.

Ameristar St. Charles | (636) 949-7777
ameristar.com/St_Charles.aspx | @ameristarsc

Ameristar St. Charles offers a well-appointed, 19-table room within a massive overall casino a short drive from Lambert International Airport.

A $1-$2 NLHE game with a buy-in of $60-$300 is most popular, while $3-$6 limit and Omaha/8 also are offered.
Players can watch the big game on numerous flatscreen LCD TVs and enjoy food service from a variety of outlets while they try to hit one of the 21 mini-high-hand jackpots or the bad-beat jackpot.

The room touts its signature service, including a fair and well-run game with experienced, friendly dealers who treat their guests like family.

Lumiere Place | (314) 881-7745
lumiereplace.com | @lumiereplace

Tourists or those in St. Louis on business without a car will be pleased to find a luxurious poker experience within easy walking distance of the Gateway Arch, The Landing, Edward Jones Dome and many other downtown St. Louis attractions.

The 13-table room at Lumiere Place regularly spreads $3-$6 limit, $1-$3, $2-$5 and $5-$10 NLHE and a $1-$2 PLO game with a $5 bring-in. Players earn points on the mychoice Players Club, redeemable for comps, dining, hotel rooms, show tickets, free play and merchandise at the resort.

“The Lumiere Place poker room gives away high hands twice daily,” said Tony Russo, director of casino operations, who oversees a poker staff of 10 supervisors and 36 dealers. “In addition, we have a running bad-beat jackpot and we have one of the strongest dealing staffs in the country.”

River City Casino | (888) 578-7289
rivercity.com/ | @rivercitycasino

Lumiere Place’s new sibling to the south offers an elegant 14-table room brimming with locals, but a planned hotel and parking garage will soon make it an enticing destination for the tourist crowd as well.

New additions to the non-smoking poker room include private restrooms, personalized cocktail service, six flatscreen TVs and poker bank availability. The room also has been enclosed to reduce noise and increase privacy.

“The River City Casino poker room gives away $1,000 in Aces Cracked Sunday through Thursday and $500 on Friday and Saturday,” said Russo, who is director of casino operations here as well as Lumiere. “In addition, we have a running bad-beat jackpot (at $105,000 at press time) and … our commitment to outstanding guest service truly is second to none.”

The most popular limit games are $3-$6, $4-$8 with a half-kill and $8-$16. Button straddles are allowed in no-limit games. The most popular NLHE game is $1-$3, but $2-$5 and $1-$2-$5 also are offered. On Wednesdays, a $1-$3 game with unlimited straddles is spread. The room also spreads two types of Omaha: $3-$6 limit with a kill and a $1-$2-$5 pot-limit.

“Our staff of friendly dealers will happily show you the ropes and make you feel right at home,” Russo said. “It’s a place you’ll want to be with friends every night of the week.”

KANSAS CITY

Ameristar Kansas City | (816) 414-7000
ameristar.com/Kansas_City_Gami ng.aspx | @ameristarkc

Poker room manager Ken Long puts an emphasis on customer service in his 15-table room.

“The Ameristar poker team and our guest service are the difference between our poker room and others,” said Long, who has been at Ameristar for one year but in the poker industry for 18. “We have a commitment to delighting every guest we come in contact with to provide the very best experience. We have a strong, talented poker team.”

Most popular games in the room are $1-$2 NLHE and $3-$6 limit with a kill, but Omaha/8 is spread on weekends. Players enjoy tableside food and beverage service and are chasing a bad-beat jackpot that was $305,000 at press time.

“Our guests will experience a professional and organized room where we believe in providing a memorable experience for our guests,” said Long, who oversees a staff of 45.

Harrah’s North Kansas City | (816) 472-7777
harrahsnkc.com | @harrahsnkc

Harrah’s North Kansas City offers the expected Caesars Entertainment experience of WSOP satellites and Total Rewards card comps, but each year also raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for Children’s Mercy Hospital in its Big Slick charity tournament.

Daily, you’ll find $1-$2, and $2-$5 NLHE, and $3-$6 limit in the 15-table room, with $5-$10 NLHE and $2-$5 PLO several days a week. On Fridays and Saturdays, look for $20-40 limit and $10-$20 NLHE and higher.

“If you want to play a poker game we are not currently spreading, just ask and we will gladly start an interest list for you,” said Jerry Shields, a shift manager and one of the more than 50 team members ready to assist players.

ELSEWHERE

While the two big metropolises of St. Louis and Kansas City are where you’ll find the bulk of poker, a short drive will get you even more poker in Missouri and Kansas.

Lady Luck Caruthersville | (573) 333-6000
caruthersville.isleofcapricasi nos.com | @ladyluckcv

When the weekend arrives, so do the poker players at the Lady Luck, an Isle of Capri property that’s off Interstate 55 closer to Memphis than St. Louis. The eight-table room is only open noon-4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Prairie Band Casino | (785) 966-7777
pbpgaming.com | @prairieband

This five-table room 15 minutes north of Topeka, Kan., holds tournaments on Sundays and Mondays, limit poker on Tuesdays and NLHE every day, including a big game the last Saturday of every month with a $1K-$5K min-max buy-in. Signups for seats begin at 10 a.m. … on the Wednesday before!

Sac & Fox Casino | (785) 467.8000
sacandfoxcasino.com | @sacandfox

This new room in Powhattan, Kan., features daily tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $16 to $53 and a monthly $68 event. Players also earn points for the room’s Tournament of Champions.

Nilla’s | (316) 927.2775
nillasplace.com

This Wichita, Kan., sports bar offers daily tournaments with chair rentals ranging from $20-$70, and guaranteed prize pools from $200-$2,500. Rebuy and bounty events are part of the schedule.

Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway | (913) 288-9300
hollywoodcasinokansas.com

This casino on the Kansas side of Kansas City is set to open in early 2012 with a 12-table poker room.