Big events, bigger wins at Talking Stick in Arizona


Ante Up Magazine Southwest Poker

Talking Stick Resort’s Arena Poker Room in Scottsdale, Ariz., continues to lead the way with numerous large buy-in events.

The $345 Big Stack on April 7 drew 181 entrants, and one of those was Hesam Alagha, who emerged victorious for a cool $9,308.

The rest of the final table and prize money looked like this: Jamael Williams, $5K; Joseph Cook, $4,300; Dylan Hortin, $4,200; Jerry Stecher, $3,897; Guido Frioli, $3,897; Jill Fabian, $3,897; John Deeb, $3,897; Ed Coyne, $3,897 and Moussa Haddad, $3,897.

The bounty tournament on April 4 ended in a six-way chop with John Hauser, Timothy Miksonsky, Aaron Valencia, Quezon Raguindin, Matthew Diethelm and Jack Talbot taking home $2,543 each.

There were a whopping 476 entries for the $160 end-of-the-month event for April. Linda Lesterson won the champion’s crown to walk away with $6,492. The other top-five finishers included Jarret McMillan, $6,100; John Han, $5,300; Justin King, $5K and Steven Johnson, $3,823.

The April 20 Getaway Classic had three events, which cost $200, almost had 500 entries (496) as Talking Stick added $20K to the prize pool to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The final 10 players chopped for $7,201 each.

Congrats to Jesus Ortega, Sergio Segura, Craig Gacom, Charles Russo, Jeremiah Dibble, Thad Lane, Fred Chavez, Kevin Van Kolen, Courtney Guinn and Shawn Sandt.

The $300 Saturday event (April 21) had an impressive 310 players for a nearly $85K prize pool. A deal among the final three players netted Randy Toogood, Michael Corson and Alan Krockey $13,399 each. Tirza Sanders took fourth for $6,340 and Christopher Schinker rounded out the top five for $5,072.

The final tourney of the weekend was a $300 buy-in with $100 bounties. David Cameron took top honors ($7,222). Schinker had another nice finish and earned $6,222 for second. Elijah Ruffin and Surya Ramjali each scored $5,222 and the fifth-place finisher Alex Abariotes earned $2,604.

Circle Aug. 10-14 on your calendars for the 14th annual Arizona State Poker Championship. It’s the state’s largest event and it’s just around the corner.

HON-DAH CASINO RESORT: Congratulations to Jock Phillips, who won the most recent Tournament of Champions.

On June 11, Hon-Dah hosts a satellite to the Arizona State Poker Championship, which will be at Talking Stick Resort.

On June 29, the annual Tag Team Tournament costs $120 as one player from each team plays hold’em, and the other plays Omaha/8.

GILA RIVER WILD HORSE PASS: Tournaments run Sundays at 3:30 p.m. with a $50 buy-in, Mondays and Thursdays at noon for $40, Tuesdays at 7:30 for $90 and Wednesdays at 7:30 for $50.

June 23 is the Super Bonus High Hand (11 a.m.-10 p.m.), awarding the top-five high hands each half-hour with $100.

New Mexico

The $235 annual Lucky Dog Deepstack at Sandia Resort and Casino ran March 18 and had 153 entries as Luc Huynh and Eric Alvarado, both from Albuquerque, chopped for $7,265 each. Huynh, a.k.a. Walking Daniel, was elated to take down the tournament despite considering himself more of an Omaha player.  

“It’s great to win some Texas Hold’em money for us Omaha players,” Huynh said after the victory.

BUFFALO THUNDER RESORT: The next $330 tournament will be June 9 at 1 p.m. The last one drew 64 players for a nearly $20K prize pool and the winner pocketed $6,144.

ISLETA CASINO: The Spring Poker Classic, which had $3K added to the prize pool, ran April 6-8, attracting 50 players. Randy Powers won the title and $6,258 from the nearly $18K prize pool.  

The $160 July Classic will be July 27-28 at 2 p.m. as $1,500 will be added to the prize pool. Players also have an opportunity to win a seat by playing in the weekly Saturday night
$50 tournament. 

INN OF THE MOUNTAIN GODS: The Test Your Might hold’em tourney is June 17. See the ad at the left for more information.

ROUTE 66 CASINO: Daily $28 tournaments with a $5 add-on run at noon, 3 and 7. The events on Monday, Wednesday and Friday pay bounties. There’s also a tournament bad-beat jackpot for all events.  

The player-of-the-year promotion focuses on performance in tourneys throughout the year at Route 66. The room dedicates about $5K to the top qualifiers and hosts a freeroll for the top 50 players. And don’t forget about Aces Cracked, which pays $50 for same-color pocket aces losing and $25 for mixed aces.


HARRAH’S NORTH KANSAS CITY: The RunGood Poker Series ran May 1-6. The $130 event drew 232 entries and resulted in five-way chop for $3,395 apiece as Bridgette Adkins won. Results of remaining events weren’t available at press time and will be reported in the next issue.

DOWNSTREAM CASINO: The RunGood Poker Series ran April 10-15 and Grant Hinkle captured the $560 main event for $28,360. Winners of other events were Frederick Roll (RG bounty); Donald Pfeifer (deepstack); Askia Ingram (pot-limit Omaha) and Chris Baumhoer (bounty).

June 21-23 and June 28-July 1 is the Four States Poker Championships. The schedule is made up of NLHE events ranging with buy-ins of $75-$340. Players will find deepstack, six-max and “straddleganza” events along with the top buy-in, two-day main event. Event guarantees total $77,500. The room’s Mega Bad Beat (quads) was $275K-plus at press time.

HARD ROCK CASINO: The World Series of Poker Circuit returned March 15-26. The $1,675 main event had 721 entries as Johnathan Poche earned the win and $216,307. It was his second ring.

Another big winner was Yordanos “Yoyo” Mebrahtu. She came out on top of field of 1,458 entries to win Event 2 for $75,454. Other winners were Charles Pettit (Seniors I); Nick Koliastasis (Event 3); Josef Tittjung (Event 4); Askia Ingram (Event 5, black-chip bounty); Shawn Sparks (Event 6); John Richards (Event 7, PLO); Kevin Eyster (Event 8, six-max); Marsha Adams (ladies); Rodney Spriggs (Event 10); Tommy Duncan (Seniors II); Shane Ogburn (Event 11) and Blair Hinkle (Event 12, high roller).  

AMERISTAR CASINO: The HPT returns July 20-30. Players can book rooms using the code AKCHPT. Book online or at 816-414-7000 to lock up $99 room rates Sunday-Thursday and $159 Friday and Saturday.   

RIVERSPIRIT CASINO: Aug. 9-12 will find the Senior Poker Tour making a stop here with the eight-event Sooner State Senior Championship. There will be $55 mega-satellites for the two-flight, two-day, $350 main event. Non-satellite events are $130 and will include a bounty event, juniors vs. seniors and a standard NLHE event to kick off things. Call for more info.

CHEROKEE CASINO WEST SILOAM SPRINGS: The annual Cherokee Poker Classic ran April 27-May 6. Randy Dozier won the first event for $2,778 and four people chopped the second with Caleb Lee being awarded the win. Remaining events will be reported in the next issue as the series still was running at press time.  

RIVERWIND CASINO: Promotions continue to be $50 high hands on Mondays, $2-$5 splash Tuesdays, $50 hot seat Wednesdays and $2-$5 hot seat Thursdays. Events include $40 rebuys Wednesday-Sunday and $115 deepstacks Sundays. Players need to remember tournaments are capped at the first 90 players.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO KANSAS SPEEDWAY: The quarterly $35K freeroll qualification period runs through June 30. Guaranteeing $10K for first, the next freeroll is July 14.

KANSAS STAR CASINO: The quarterly $10K freeroll qualification period runs through June 30. The tournament will be July 7 and 40 players are eligible to play through the accumulation of tournament points.

CHOCTAW CASINO: The CPPT ran April 5-23 as Brad Freeman overcame a field of nearly 1,100 to win the $1,100 main event for $170,984. Other winners included Shawn Rice (Congress); Mercedes Salmassian, (HORSE); James Copeland (triple-draw); Ammar Barakat (PLO); Matt Hine (NLHE).


BLACK HAWK: The HPT returns July 11-23 at Golden Gates. … At Ameristar, a mini bad beat and high hands are coming soon. Also, four hours of play in one day qualifies you for a rate at the hotel. 

CRIPPLE CREEK: The Colorado State Poker Championship at Midnight Rose ran April 15-29. The main event went to Robert Roybal, who won $7K. Shane Murphy was runner-up ($5.3K). This year, the series added a women’s event, which drew nearly 60 entries and chopped five ways. Don’t miss the Meganormous Deepstack offered on select Sundays with 50K chips for $120. And play four hours of live action to earn a free room Monday-Thursday. 

EL PASO COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS: The seventh annual Texas Hold’em poker tournament, which has no buy-in and is a $500 freeroll, is July 16. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. and cards are in the air at 6:30. The first 70 players registered will be seated. First place pays $300, followed by $150 and $50. All three players will also get a free subscription to Ante Up. The address is El Paso County Fairgrounds, Dance Tent, 366 10th St., Calhan, Colo. Call 719-520-6996 for more info.

Meet Jacqueline Pennington

There’s a great lady who’s almost always in a poker room somewhere in New Mexico. She’s a great ambassador of the game and plays with no mercy. Her name is Jacqueline Pennington and she hails from Albuquerque.

She has played poker for 15 years, cutting her teeth in games while in the military on deployment. She started playing tournaments about years ago.

“I like hold’em and pineapple, which is more strategic because more cards are in play,” she said.

Her playing style has evolved over the years.

“I’m learning to be more patient; players that are short-stacked will push more and that’s when you need to fold because you are reacting to them,” she said.

She prefers tournaments over cash games.

“I think you have a fairer playing field with everyone starting with the same amount of chips. Cash games can be exciting, but if you run into someone with deep pockets who are always ‘buying the pot,’ you’ll lose eventually.”

Her biggest win was at WinStar in Oklahoma, where she took 11 bounties for $100 each, as well as first place. She’s also a consistent winner at her local casino, Isleta, where she regularly cashes in the weekly Saturday tournaments.

So, what advice does she have for newbies?

“Watch the people at your table, sit back and play your blinds until you feel comfortable. Test the waters.

“Some players will call anything so you need to weed them out. Don’t go all-in until you understand the game. Most of all, have fun.”

— Donovan Livingston

Ante Up Magazine

Ante Up Magazine