Two toy-drive events in Arizona in December


Ante Up Magazine Southwest Poker

Gila River Hotels and Casinos in Arizona will host toy-drive tournaments Dec. 7 (Vee Quiva) and Dec. 14 (Wild Horse Pass). There will be $3K added to the prize pools and the buy-in will be $40 plus a toy.

Players will start with 3K chips but can get more depending on the toy’s value. 

The extra chips will be offered for toys, based on the retail value and you need a receipt to verify value. Toys worth $25-$40 get 1,500 more chips, followed by $41-$55 (2,500), $56-$70 (5K) and  $71-$100 ($7,500).

There will be one optional $10 staff fee for 2K chips before play starts.

As for Vee Quiva promotions, if you make quads at the cash tables, you’ll win $50. All straight flushes earn $200 and all royals will pay $1K.

Also, at Wild Horse Pass, the Chandler room offers drawmaha and short-deck poker in the cash games. Also, make a diamond flush using two diamonds in your hand and win $100.

FT. MCDOWELL: The next quarterly freeroll will be Dec. 21. Win any daily tournament before then and you qualify. If a player has qualified, any additional tournament wins will get them  10K more in chips for each victory. The prize fund is expected to exceed $30K.

TALKING STICK: The $345 Big Stack tourney saw 199 players at the Arena Poker Room for a $58,705 prize fund. Troy Sprungl beat a tough field and won $13,649.

The $200 Friday Fall Classic had 262 players and saw Brian Minch emerged victorious from a tough final table to win $6,383.

The $300 Saturday Fall Classic had a monster 329-player field as 30 players worked hard to get to the money. After a lot of play and crazy hands, Jason Forman earned the title.

New Mexico

BUFFALO THUNDER RESORT: The KOB-FM 93.3 bounty event is Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. The buy-in is $93, of course, for 7,500 chips and $93 bounties on Kiki Garcia and possibly five others.

The $330 deepstack is Dec.. 14 at 1 p.m. Players get 20K chips and 20-minute levels, then 30 minutes with two tables left. The event is limited to 60 entrants.

The $150 Last Saturday of the Month deepstack is Dec. 28 at 1. Players get 15K chips and 20-minute levels.

The room also offers daily tournaments and players can earn 1K in bonus chips by playing live before the tournament.

ISLETA CASINO: The poker room has tournaments every day ($10-$50) that start at 2 or 7 p.m. The $1K tournament is Dec. 28 at 5. The buy-in is $100 (15K chips, 20-minute levels) and the room is adding $1K to the prize pool. Players can earn a seat by winning a $50 satellite Dec. 7, 14 or 21 at 7. There are football promotions on Sundays and Monday nights. Call for details. 

SANDIA CASINO: Daily tournaments start at 7 p.m. and include a More Bang For Your Buck $100 event (10K chips) on Friday and the first Saturday of the month is a women’s tourney for $60 (6K chips). See the Where to Play pages for more.

ROUTE 66 CASINO: Daily $28 tournaments, which have an optional $5 add-on, run at noon, 3 and 7. 

The events on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays pay bounties. 

There also is a tournament bad-beat jackpot for all events. Don’t forget about Aces Cracked, which pays $50 for same-color pocket aces losing and $25 for mixed aces.


Brian Lamkin topped a field of 275 entries at Golden Gates Poker Room in Black Hawk, Colo., to win the WPT DeepStacks Black Hawk main event for $84,777, including a $3K WPTDS championship package. 

His career tournament earnings is nearly $407K. David Blankenship was second ($57K), followed by Bruce Russell ($37K), Tracy Allgeier ($22K) and Brent Roberts ($17K). The kickoff event, which had 517 entrants, went to Joel Verbeck ($24K) in a five-way deal.

Manager John Padmore announced the Holiday Spectacular Poker Series runs Dec. 5-16, offering $60-$500 buy-ins with numerous affordable qualifiers.

Check back for results from the Denver Open, which ran Nov. 13-24 with eight trophy events, and ask about high hands ($500 Fridays and $600 Saturdays on non-event weekends). 

AMERISTAR: At press time, the primary bad-beat jackpot (quad fives) was $284K for this 22-table room in Black Hawk, and the qualifier would become quad fours if the jackpot reached $300K. Play four hours in one day and get a special rate in the hotel.

MIDNIGHT ROSE: The next Frozen Bad-Beat Runoff is Dec. 14 at noon in Cripple Creek. It begins at aces full of jacks and will reduce hourly until hit. This means there will be no tourneys that weekend. There is, however, the $125 Friday League Tournament, which starts at 4 p.m. and gives players 40K chips. The last Friday of the month costs $250 for 60K chips. See our Where to Play pages for more tournaments.


KOJACK’S POKER ROOM: The Midland club recently completed its Permian Basin Series. During the 17-day event, it awarded $350K-plus in prize money. The main event saw Michael McSherry of Albuquerque best 170 players to take home the $26K first prize. Other players who performed well included Shawn Rice of Lubbock and Clyde Hinton of Odessa. Rice won the PLO and seniors events, plus notched a second in Big O. Hinton won the high roller and finished in the top 10 in two other events.   


AMERISTAR: Players earn $1 an hour comps with a $15 food voucher for four consecutive hours of play in the 13-table room.   

HOLLYWOOD CASINO KANSAS SPEEDWAY: Open 24 hours, this 12-table room features a variety of games, including a $25-$50 mixed game on Tuesdays at 1 p.m.

CHEROKEE CASINO WEST SILOAM SPRINGS: The 13th annual Reindeer Games series runs Dec. 5-15. Call for details.

DOWNSTREAM: In late October, Greg Jennings of Overland Park, Kan., bested a RunGood Series field of 332 players to win $38K from the $166K prize pool. 

GRAND CASINO SHAWNEE: The $240 Holiday Classic is Dec. 7 at noon. Players get 15K chips. 

HARD ROCK TULSA: The 14-table room hosts a $10K tournament the first Sunday of the month for $160 at noon.   

RIVERWIND: There are $50 high hands Mondays, $100 splash pot Tuesdays (1-5 p.m.) on $2-$5 games and $100 high hands on Wednesday and Thursday during select times. There are several weekly tournaments culminating with a last Saturday of the month $330 re-entry.

WINSTAR WORLD: Feb. 11-17 is the Presidents Day Series with seven events, including a multi-flight $500 main event.

CHOCTAW CASINO DURANT: Cody Coffman of Tulsa won the opening event of the World Series of Poker Circuit, pocketing $47K from the $400 Monster Stack tourney that drew 765 players. Final results of the series weren’t available at press time so look for a report in our January issue.

Meet George Hitt

George Hitt has been with Ft. McDowell Casino for 27 years and has been tournament director for most of that time. Hitt, his wife and son live in Fountain Hills, Ariz., with dogs, cats, birds, iguanas, tortoises and, at one time, monkeys. When he plays poker, Hitt’s game of choice is Omaha/8, but he mostly appreciates players who have a good time at the table and can keep a good attitude … even after a tough beat. 

His favorite poker memory is getting a chance to talk with Phil Hellmuth. Ft. McDowell held several charity tournaments Hellmuth hosted and played. Being from Wisconsin, Hitt loved learning he and Hellmuth went to the same elementary and high school. 

As a TD, Hitt enjoys seeing the variety of strategy and styles people use during tournaments. A piece of advice he would give is to not tell another player how they should play. Work on your game and adjust your play to others’ actions. He also believes there’s a great life lesson at the table. “You may not play for a long time, so you might as well have a good time.” — Mike Ramsey

Chris Cosenza

Chris Cosenza