Did Gary, our self-proclaimed poker pro, strike or did he strike out in his latest poker foray? He was needing a poker fix. He hadn’t played since before Thanksgiving. The online play money tournaments are just not the same as a real money game. So, he had to find a place to play. There are a number of Indian casinos here in Arizona. He chose for us go travel to Scottsdale, a part of the Phoenix metro area. We wanted to get down to that area for a couple other reasons as well.
We went to the Talking Stick Casino Resort owned and operated by the Pima and Maricopa Indians. This is no hole-in-the-wall casino. It has a 500 room hotel and 240,000 square feet of casino space making it the size of some of the smaller Vegas properties.
The poker room was even more impressive. When you name a poker room The Arena and have a “scoreboard” hanging from the middle of it, you know it will be something big, This one had 47 poker tables. There were hundreds of players on a Tuesday morning. This has to be one of the premier poker rooms in the country
We arrived a bit early and after checking out the poker room, we walked through the casino a bit. There on the base of a slot machine Gary spotted a penny which he picked up and stuck in his pocket for good luck.
Gary entered the poker room and paid his $100 along with 79 other players. About $6,500 went into the prize pool (the house takes a nice fee of course). There was a break each hour. At the end of hour one the report was, “I lost half my stake within the first five hands and I don’t know how long I can last”. At the second break it was “I won some hands and now I have nearly an average chip stack”. At the end of the third hour it was, “my pair of Jacks held up against an Ace King and I now have an above average chip stack”. At the end of the fourth hour it was, “we are going to the final table and I am the chip leader”. By nearly the end of the fifth hour I finally had to see just what was going on, so I entered the poker room and walked toward the back where the tournament players were and Gary was standing with one other player and the dealer and as I approached, he thrust his arms into the air. He and the other player had agreed to “chop” (evenly split) the first and second place prize money. But Gary held somewhat more chips so was officially the tournament winner. He outlasted the other 79 players and won over $1,150, his biggest tournament win both in terms of tournament size and money ever.
The poker pro has become nearly insufferable, but as long as he keeps winning money playing poker he can be as insufferable as he wants