WSOP's not the only action as poker fever strikes

May 5, 2009 5:10 PM
The Inside Straight by Joe Awada |

The excitement is building for the 2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP), which kicks off in three weeks. Besides actually pre-registering, poker players should be honing their skills in cash games or even smaller tournaments in their local poker rooms.

In Las Vegas, many of the casinos’ poker rooms are offering incentives and satellite tournaments for seats in the WSOP. One of them is the Excalibur, which now features all PokerPro electronic poker tables.

In addition to raffling off a $10,000 seat in the WSOP’s main event, the Excalibur is holding a $60 satellite tournament on Wednesday, May 6, for a seat in the WSOP’s $1,500 Omaha Hi-Low event.

 The $10,000 championship event seat will be raffled on Sunday, May 24. Check out the details and how you can qualify at the Excalibur poker room.

Obviously, we’ll have plenty of coverage of the World Series over the ensuing weeks. Like last year, I’ve asked several of my professional poker playing friends to contribute their thoughts and experiences, and hopefully I’ll be able to add some success stories of my own!

While the World Series is probably on everybody’s radar screen, it’s not the only poker event on the map. Last weekend, the California State Poker Championship kicked off at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles.

The 24-event tournament (up from 18 last year) runs through May 22 and was moved from the fall months, serving as a great warm-up to the World Series in Las Vegas.

Buy-ins start at $220 and top out at $5,100 for the championship event, which will feature a guaranteed $1 million prize pool on May 22.

Besides No Limit Hold’em, the tournament features a couple of H.O.R.S.E. events, Limit Hold’em, Omaha 8 or better, Seven Card Stud, Stud 8 or better and a Double Elimination Heads-Up event.

For players on a limited bankroll or newcomers who want to get their tournament feet wet on a smaller scale, Binion’s Gambling Hall in downtown Las Vegas will host its third annual Binion’s Poker Classic beginning May 25.

The tournament will feature 45 different events, culminating with the $1,000 main event, July 7-8. Some of the events have buy-ins for as little as $100, with most in the $150 to $300 range.

In addition to the wallet-friendly entry fees, the Binion’s Classic features a wide range of poker events. New to the lineup this year is Crazy Pineapple, the quirky game from Northern Nevada that we discussed in this column last week.

Crazy Pineapple, kind of a cross between Hold’en and Omaha Hi-Low, will be contested on June 29 and features a $150 buy-in.

Other specialty events include two H.O.R.S.E. events, a Ladies event (June 4), Omaha 8 or better, Seven Card Stud, Stud 8 or better and 6-handed No Limit Hold’em.

There’s a great tradition of poker at Binion’s, the birthplace of the World Series of Poker. With the wide variety of games and affordable buy-ins, players of all levels should enjoy the historic atmosphere and ambiance of Binion’s poker room.

"The players appreciate Binion’s highly qualified staff and the very reasonable buy-ins, especially when it helps build their bankroll for World Series of Poker events," said Brad Thomte, Binion’s tournament director. "The schedule at Binion’s is about two days ahead of the Rio, so players get a great value and a little practice at the same time."

Indeed, Binion’s offers a taste of what poker was like in its formative years. Last October, the casino opened its new Hall of Fame Poker Room, which features a Gallery of Champions and upgraded facilities, such as plasma televisions and other modern amenities.

Regular players earn $2 in comps per hour of play, tableside food service and other creature comforts. In addition to daily poker tournaments, the poker room also features 10 tables for live play, a monthly $50,000 free-roll tournament and several signature events throughout the year.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Joe Awada

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