Winter Classic is Feb. 8 at Talking Stick in Arizona


Ante Up Magazine Southwest Poker

The ninth annual $400 Winter Poker Classic at Talking Stick’s Arena Poker Room in Scottsdale, Ariz., will run Feb. 8-10. The format has Day 1s Saturday and Sunday with a Monday finish. In 2019, the tournament drew 576 entries and a top prize of $32,251.

Feb. 22 is a $200 tournament with $10K added to the prize pool.

In other tourney news, Oleg Simanovsky won the 17th annual Christmas Toy Drive Tournament in December, beating 400-plus players. Robert Fishman won the $345 Big Stack on Dec. 7 for $8,372 from the $78,765 prize pool, besting the field of nearly 270 entries. Ian Clark from Tucson won the $240 bounty event that had 281 entries Dec. 21 for $5,500. The December End of Month event went to Jonathan Hoffer for $8,319, beating a field of 480.

Every Wednesday is Wacky Wild Wednesday (noon-midnight), where every 15 minutes in hold’em the high hand receives $250. Also, every hour in Omaha, the high hand receives $150.

GILA RIVER VEE QUIVA: February starts super-satellites for March’s big $1K buy-in event that sports a $100K guarantee just outside Phoenix. Buy-ins for the satellites are $65 and run Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m.

HARRAH’S AK-CHIN CASINO: Jerald Cooke Jr. won $2,530 and the $250 Arizona Heads-Up Championship in late December. The event drew 23 entrants on Day 1 and 12 players advanced to Day 2. The final four players made the money.

FT. MCDOWELL CASINO: Look for several promotions this month here, including splash pots and hot seats during selected TV sporting events, a bad-beat jackpot, cracked hands and more.


GOLDEN GATES POKER ROOM: The Mid-States Poker Tour ran Jan. 15-19 in Black Hawk but results were unavailable at press time. Check back for a recap. The Heartland Poker Tour runs Feb. 5-17 with a $1,650 main event. The series ends with a Presidents Day tournament Feb. 17.

AMERISTAR: Play four hours in one day at this 22-table poker room in Black Hawk and get a special poker rate in the hotel.

MIDNIGHT ROSE: The Midnight Rose in scenic Cripple Creek, Colorado offers a variety of weekend options. Join the League in Cripple Creek for $125 on Friday nights. On Saturdays, the Rapid Fire Rebuy is a 20K deepstack with $20 rebuys until the first break. Sunday’s Meganormous tournament gives players 50K chips for $120 (late entry and re-entry allowed).

Play 5.5 hours of cash games Wednesday or Thursday and stay that night free (based on availability). Frozen bad-beat runoffs are scheduled monthly.


The 13th annual Reindeer Games at Cherokee Casino West Siloam Springs concluded Dec. 13 as Terry Presley (Huntsville, Ark.) bested the 151-player main-event field. 

The event had a prize pool of $42K and Presley’s portion was $10,148. This eight-table poker room is open 24 hours, hosts daily tournaments and has a quads-or-better progressive jackpot. 

AMERISTAR: Players earn $1 an hour comps and a $15 food voucher for four consecutive hours of play in this 13-table room. Promotions include a variety of mini-bad-beats, earning the loser a minimum of $250.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO KANSAS SPEEDWAY: There’s a high-hand rollover every day in this 12-table room, which is open 24 hours and features a variety of games, including a $25-$50 mixed game Tuesdays at 1.

CHOCTAW CASINO DURANT: The World Series of Poker Circuit kicked ran Jan. 2-13 with 13-ring events in the lineup. Results were not complete at press time so look for a recap soon.

DOWNSTREAM CASINO: The 14-table room features limit and NLHE, stud, Omaha and mixed games. Weekly tournaments and sit-n-go events run often in this 24-hour room. 

GRAND CASINO SHAWNEE: The Grand Championship will run in March. 

HARD ROCK TULSA: The WSOPC will visit March 26-April 6. Elite Poker Rewards continues through September. 

The room has 14 tables and spreads a variety of NLHE games and $1-$2 and $5-$5 pot-limit Omaha Wednesdays at 4. A $10K tournament runs the first Sunday of each month for $160 at noon.

HARRAH’S NORTH KANSAS CITY: This 13-table enclosed room features NLHE, $2-$5 rock and $1-$2 PLO on select days. 

KANSAS STAR CASINO: This 10-table room features NLHE and Omaha games with a progressive bad-beat jackpot. 

RIVER SPIRIT: Daily events run at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. with a senior event Wednesdays at 5. Promotions include high hands and freerolls. 

RIVERWIND: There are $50 high hands on Mondays, $100 splash pots 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: The Presidents Day Series returns Feb. 11-17 with seven events, including a multi-flight $500 main event.

New Mexico

BUFFALO THUNDER RESORT: There’s a $30 Big Game tournament Feb. 2 at 1 p.m. Also, Presidents Day (Feb. 17, 2 p.m.) is a $30 event, giving you 3,500 chips and allowing unlimited $20 rebuys for the first hour. 

The 107.5 Outlaw Bounty tournament is Feb. 22 at 7 with Kid Corona. The $107 buy-in gets you 7,500 chips with $107 bounties on Corona and possibly five other players.

The $150 Last Saturday of the Month deepstack is Feb. 29 at 1. Players receive 15K chips and 20-minute levels.

The room also offers daily tournaments (most at 6:30 p.m.) during the week and players can earn 1K in bonus chips by playing live before the tournament.

INN OF THE MOUNTAIN GODS: The $30K Road to the Main Event is Feb. 15-16 at 11 a.m. See the ad at right for information.

ISLETA CASINO: The poker room has daily tournaments for $10-$50 that start at 2 or 7 p.m. There’s a $1K tournament Feb. 29 at 5 p.m. for $100 (15K chips, 20-minute levels). 

It’s called a $1K tourney because the room adds $1K to the prize pool. Players can win a seat via $50 satellite Feb. 1, 8, 15 or 22. Call for more information.

SANDIA CASINO: You can earn cash after reaching 25 hours of play ($1 per hour). Also, there will be high hands paid this month.

The poker room also has tournaments throughout the week and they all start at 7. 

Monday is the $45 Sprint for 4,500 chips; Tuesday is $65 (6,500 chips); Wednesday is Dash for Cash ($35, 3,500 chips); Thursday is the $75 bounty (7,500 chips, $25 bounties); Friday is More Bang For Your Buck ($100, 10K chips) and Sunday’s event is at noon ($50, 5K chips). 

The first Saturday of each month is women’s event for $60 (6K chips). Call for details to all of these tourneys.

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 tournament bad-beat jackpot for all events.

Ask about the player-of-the-year promotion and its freeroll. Don’t forget about Aces Cracked, which pays $50 for same-color pocket aces losing and $25 for mixed aces.


AUSTIN POKER PALACE: The weekly tournament offerings include a $60 re-entry with a $1.5K guarantee. Players start with 15K chips and an extra 5K on-time bonus with cards in the air at 7 p.m. every Monday. 

Thursday offers an $80 freezeout as players start with 30K chips with 5K being an on-time bonus.

SHUFFLE 512: If you’re just starting tournament play, the Monday night freeroll in Austin is the way to go. After club access fees are satisfied, the $2K guarantee is free. 

Players start with 10K chips but can double that with on-time and $5 dealer-appreciation bonuses. Rebuys and add-ons are available as cards fly at 7:30.

ROUNDERS POKER ROOM: At the Spring property, cash-game offerings are $1-$3 and $5-$5 NLHE, $1-$3 PLO and $1-$3 ROE. A Happy Hour promotion of $6 hourly (regularly $10) runs 2-6:30 p.m. On Thursdays, women play “free.”

ROYAL CARD HOUSE: In San Antonio, you can find $1-$2 and
$2-$5 NLHE, $1-$2 and $2-$5 PLO. 

EXPANSION: The Roosevelt Club recently moved to the Sherwood Commons Center off Arden Road in the heart of San Angelo. The Lodge also recently opened a second location in Lake Creek Village in Austin.

Meet Cory “Gray” Smith

Cory “Gray” Smith is a well-known face on the circuit. He has several victories, two World Series of Poker Circuit rings and live earnings of $450K-plus. Standing 6-foot-3 and sporting locks to his shoulders, he’s an intimidating presence at first glance. But the second he opens his mouth, you quickly learn what a fun-loving, robust character he is. Often sporting T-shirts with witty sayings, he’s generous with his smile and poker advice.

Do you love coaching as much as playing? Well, I don’t consider myself an official coach per se, but I do love to give solicited advice and run hand histories with players I respect. 

You’re quite the family man; how do you maintain balance? I have an amazing wife. We talked about poker in premarital counseling; I needed to know she was behind me; I wanted her to know what she was getting herself into. My family is everything to me. I’m gone a lot, but if I bag in a tournament, even in the wee hours of the morning, if I’m within a few hours from home I’ll hit the road to wake up with them.

How have you had so much success in a short time? I decided to quit playing as a hobby and get serious in 2017. I think it’s because I try to stay positive; they don’t call it a grind without reason. It’s tough; you get beat up and you have to dust yourself off and stand back up. I think above all else I keep it real, try to look at my mistakes and learn from them, sometimes on the fly. To get better, it takes a lot of reflection and I’m constantly evaluating and tweaking my game.

What advice would you give a newcomer? Well, I seem to do a lot of that. I’d say keep it real, don’t get into the habit of blaming bad cards or poor play by others for your lack of success. Adjust constantly because no tournament and certainly no table will ever be the same. — Megan Moore

Chris Cosenza

Chris Cosenza