Kansas has been stirring up local players and games in its two newest casino poker rooms in Kansas City and in Mulvane (outside of Wichita,) but is the player database increasing or just spreading?
It has been long known to the poker players in the region that Wichita has a substantial home game and bar poker room scene. Amateur Poker League’s inception was in the Sunflower State and its popularity caused a chain reaction that lit the prairie on fire with poker action.
Until recently Kansas residents had few in-state casino poker options. For Wichita residents, that meant driving at least 90 minutes and out of state to find a safe and legal game to play or, playing in home games or cardrooms operating in shaded areas of law. Many players opted for the latter, considering the gas price rake was slaughtering the small stakes bankrolls.
When the Kansas Star opened, it didn’t intend to have poker until this fall in the second phase of its expansion. But because of area demand, the casino opened the five-table temporary room and immediately pulled a crowd of players that has kept the room full and the waiting list healthy.
Even local celebrity Brandon Steven, who placed 10th in the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event, has played at Kansas Star, so players may be new to the casino, but they’re not green to poker. Once the second phase completes the poker room will expand to 15-18 tables.
Hundreds of miles away, Hollywood at Kansas Speedway opened for locals thrilled to play in their state, which also cut back on travel expenses. The room is spreading $2-$4, $4-$8, $20-$40 limit games, $1-$3, $2-$5, $5-$5, $5-$10 and $10-$25 no-limit hold’em. They also play $2-$5 pot-limit Omaha and $5-$10 and $20-$40 H.O. The room is connected to the Bravo app for smart phones so players can see the action and waiting list at any time.
It has been up for debate in the local poker community whether the Hollywood room has increased poker play in the area or if it’s the same amount of players just spread out among the properties. Some players insist the overall number of tables in the Kansas City area in both states has increased slightly. Others say it’s the same players.
Hollywood at Kansas Speedway’s offer of convenience was enough to pull a crowd and it has done well. Brian Grote and dedicated staff have been doing a tremendous job filling seats and providing the action players seek.
The amount of new poker players stepping up to the felt for the first time may not be showing any spikes in the state, but it’s easy to see Missouri and Oklahoma have lost at least two cardrooms’ worth of Kansas players who prefer to save travel expenses and keep their dollars in their local economy.