The triangle that runs from the Dallas/Fort Worth area to Tulsa to Oklahoma City is recognized for its concentration of strong players. Andy “Doc” Philachack of Garland, Texas, is the most recent member of that throng to stand out. In January, he overcame a record field of 1,565 to capture the $1,675 World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event at Choctaw Casino in Durant, Okla., pulling in more than $393K.
“When I play cash games, I play every hand,” he said. “But there’s a time to be a nit, and there’s a time to go. The thing about poker tournaments is you just have to keep yourself alive. I was short-stacked all day until we got down to one table. Then I went on a rush.”
He gave a great deal of credit to the strength of the players in the area, noting Keith Lehr and Kido Pham among them. He also mentioned his work ethic, noting he constantly reads, bounces questions off of strong players for feedback and keeps his bankroll separate from what he earns from his chiropractic business.
When asked what he plans to do with his earnings, Philachack just smiled and pointed to his fiancée, who had been with him on the rail all day. “We’ve been engaged for a year and a half,” he said, “so I guess we’re going to have a big wedding now. Her wedding list just got a lot longer.” See his profile down below.
Among the other winners was John Holley, who earned a big payout in the $365 re-entry event that saw 4,249 entries. Holley pocketed nearly $204K.
HARD ROCK CASINO TULSA: The annual Oklahoma State Championships runs March 3-13, concluding with a three-flight, two-day $675 main event. The series schedule has $250 buy-in championship events in pot-limit Omaha, Omaha/8, Jack and Jill, seniors, six-max and others.
HARRAH’S NORTH KANSAS CITY: March is the last month 50 players (25 from cash games, 25 from tourneys) can qualify into a $10K freeroll on March 26. The room’s bad-beat jackpot was nearly $150K at press time. The room offers several tournaments throughout the week. New this year is a $120 Saturday Super Stack with 20-minute levels with re-entries through the first break.
KANSAS STAR CASINO: This eight-table room is the center of action in the south-central Kansas, northern Oklahoma area. The game of choice continues to be $1-$3 NLHE and a $1-$2-$5 PLO-PLO/8 runs from time to time. A new promotion is to play 10 hours and receive a Kansas Star stadium blanket.
HOLLYWOOD CASINO KANSAS SPEEDWAY: Qualification into the Hollywood Poker Open freeroll is at its halfway point, ending April 30 with 110 players qualifying. Call for details to see how you can qualify.
AMERISTAR KANSAS CITY: While the tournament schedule was not available at press time, the Heartland Poker Tour returns to Ameristar Kansas City on April 8-18. April 2 is a $15K freeroll, guaranteeing $5K for first. Players can qualify through March 28 by being in the top 25 limit players in rated play, top 25 no-limit players in rated play, top 25 in tournament player points or by being one of 25 wild-card entries. The wild-card drawing is April 2, an hour before tournament time. The room continues to offer a $15 food voucher for four hours of live play. Other promotions include Aces Cracked. Throughout the week, featured games include Omaha kill and half-kill games as well as hold’em kill games.
CHEROKEE CASINO WEST SILOAM SPRINGS: The eight-table room wrapped up its recent Ozark Poker Championships on Feb. 28. It’s part of the room’s effort to offer a quarterly series. The room also offers Friday night mystery bounty and daily quads.
INN OF THE MOUNTAIN GODS: No one should miss the $330 Road to the Main Event on March 26-27 at the Inn of the Mountain Gods in New Mexico. It pays $16K for first, $8K for second and $5,500 for third. This event repeats April 23-24 and May 21-22.
The One Twenty Tournament every Friday evening costs $120 and includes the Losers Lounge event on Saturday mornings, with no additional buy-in, for those who didn’t cash on Friday night. The $75 Sunday afternoon event is still popular.
BUFFALO THUNDER RESORT AND CASINO: Popular cash games begin with $20-$40 limit every Wednesday morning, $1-$2 pot-limit Omaha half-and-half Wednesday afternoons, $4-$8 Omaha on Thursday afternoons, $1-$2 PLO/8 Friday afternoons and $3-$6 Omaha on Saturday afternoons.
There is a $10K guarantee March 12 for $225 and 15K chips. Advanced paid registration is required and the event is limited to 60 paid entrants, who are eligible for special room rates. See the ad in the March issue for more information.
Other special events include the KOB-FM bounty tournament March 19 ($93 entry with $93 bounties on D.J. Kiki Garcia and five others) and the Last Saturday of the Month deepstack on March 26 ($150, 15K chips).
SANDIA CASINO AND RESORT: All players earn three times points Sundays and Mondays from March 6-28. There also is March Madness high-hand bonuses throughout the month: The first hold’em straight flush each week receives $100, first royal and steel wheel receive $150 and first quads ($50). Both hold cards must play to qualify. The first Omaha royal and first steel wheel receive $150 and the first straight flush wins $100.
Wacky Wednesdays feature a$55 Ladies Night tournament March 2, a $55 Omaha event March 9, a$55 Pineapple tournament March 16 and a freeroll March 23 with $5K guaranteed. See if you qualify for these events.
The first event of Sandia’s Deepstack Series begins March 12-13 with $185 buy-in. The second event ($265) is March 26-27 and the third event ($345) is April 9-10. The $600 main event will be April 23-24. There will be single-table satellites April 22 for seats to the main event.
NORTHERN EDGE NAVAJO CASINO: Players can win $50 for Aces Cracked in live play and a $100 bonus for same-color aces. Available tournaments include Tuesday night ($35) and Friday night ($25 shootout).
TALKING STICK RESORT: The Arena Poker Room in Scottsdale hosted a Staycation Series on Jan. 29-31 as Jill Cooper won the $200 buy-in and collected $5K for her victory. Andrew Huynh, Ralph Albertson, Mark Rubin, Della Jones, Vladimir Fomine, Roy Thompson and Susan Sota chopped the remaining pool.
The $300 buy-in event saw a 14-way chop with each player receiving $5,254. The winners were Delbert Pruett, Robert Niess, Thomas Schooley, Eric Hicks, Kevin Sommers, John Daniels, John Kreidler, Devin Carson, Jonathan Kim, Brenda Carson-Overembt, Brandon Conrad, Kevin Stevens, Terry Stadler and Bob Wagner.
The final event was a $300 buy-in with $50 bounties. The top three finishers were William Shelton ($13,154), Byron Pilly ($8,321) and Steven Jones ($5,719).
The fifth annual Winter Poker Classic ran Feb. 20-22, after press time, so look for results in the April issue.
TSR hosts a Getaway Classic Weekend on April 15-17. There will be three tournaments and players who enter all three will be eligible for two free nights the weekend of the tournament. There are only 50 rooms available per night, so players are encouraged to enter early.
BLUEWATER RESORT CASINO: The bad-beat jackpot hit Jan. 30 for $53,834 with the winner getting $26,917.
HARRAH’S AK-CHIN: The poker room is hosting NCAA March Craziness. The top 16 players from March 1 until the top 16 teams are decided will be assigned a team by number of hours played (most hours equals top seed).If their team wins, they move on.The Round of 16 is worth $50 (eight winners), Round of 8 wins $75 (four winners), Round of 4 wins $100 (two winners) and the final winner receives $150.
WILD HORSE PASS: The bad-beat jackpot, Rolling Cash Fever drawings, sports splash pots and several tournaments continue to be popular. The Aces Cracked promotion runs 24 hours a day except during splash-pot games. The person losing in hold’em with pocket aces receives $100 and the table gets splashed for $50.
BLACK HAWK: Ameristar poker room’s quads bad beat was $350K at press time. It’s exciting to note that with the two resets the bad-beat pool total eclipsed $1M.When this one hits, the newdescending qualifier bad beat will kick in. They may not be as much in the future but certainly will hit more often. … TheGolden Gates Poker Parlor’s high-hand award is a function of the number of cash tables running in the room: $100 per hour for one-to-four tables, $200 per hour for five-to-seven tables and $300 for eight or more tables.
The long-standing daily tournament schedule has eliminated the 3 p.m. event. The special events schedule has Mid-States in April and November, the Colorado Poker Championships in May, August and December, and the Heartland Poker Tour in September.
CRIPPLE CREEK: Wildwood Casino’s high-hand promotions are Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m. with a $50-per-hour award. The bad-beat jackpot (queens full of aces)runoff, once triggered at $5K, now starts at $4K. Also, deepstack events continue on Friday ($60) at 4 p.m., Saturday ($100) at 4 p.m. and Sunday ($80) at 2. … Midnight Rosehas a popular league series running through March. It’s $80 to enter on Fridays at 7 p.m. with the last Friday of the month being $160. Nearing the halfway point, Craig Henderson and Randy Lanosga were atop the leaderboard.
KICKAPOO LUCKY EAGLE TEXAS CASINO: Every Sunday afternoon is a $120 Showdown tourney, limited to 50 players, so sign up early. Live games during the week include $1-$2, $2-$4, $3-$6, $4-$8, $5-$10, $10-$20 and $15-$30 limit, $2-$5 and $5-$10 NLHE and $1-$6 stud. On Fridays, players can receive relaxing back massages for $1 per minute. S
Meet Andy “Doc” Philachack
The winner of January’s World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event at Choctaw Casino in Oklahoma has a rather amazing story.
He was born in Laos in 1974, but he and his family fled the country to escape tyranny when he was a boy.
“One morning, my mom came in and just told us, ‘Get up; we’re leaving.’ My dad was the president of a bank and they were arresting all the top officials the next morning.”
A guerrilla smuggled them across the river to Thailand, but not before the captain forced them to pay more for the effort, leaving them penniless.
“When we arrived at the refugee camp in Thailand, we had zero dollars,” Philachack said. “They would give us one tuna fish per day for the whole family.”
The Philachacks eventually found a sponsor to bring them to the United States, but they struggled with poverty.
“We worked hard,” he said. “I learned English, went to school, got my chiropractor’s license.” Now, he has won more than $2 million playing poker.
“We made it,” he said. “We made the American Dream come true.” — Compiled from news reports