Did you every see the television program that explores the question
which are the world's greatest roller coaster rides? They make a case
for "Son of Beast" or "The Rattler" or maybe the one at Coney Island.
After the last few weeks, I'm not so sure that the poker world shouldn't
lay claim to that distinction. A few weeks ago we in the poker world
were just sailing along sorta on a gentle ascent, climbing slowly,
comfortably, then like a truly good roller coaster ride, just when you
think this is not too bad, the bottom falls out.
I don't know about anybody else but I got a little weasy. It was scary.
First Sam's Town cancelled their tournament. It was only one year old
but it seemed to me that most of the players liked the hotel and the
tournaments got great participation. The next bit of bad news we all got
was that the Carnival of Poker at Harrahs would be cancelled.
What more could happen, I asked myself. Then the answer came. The
Hall of Fame at Binions became another causality of cancellation. It
seems the folks at Binions can't quite make up their minds about this
tournament. It has been on and off for the past few years. This year
they went a little further by actually coming out with the schedule before
canceling the tournament. Of course, I had made my hotel reservations
because it appeared it was going to be a go.
About this time I thought the ride must surely be coming to and end.
NOT! Then the Orleans scandal hit. One of the poker world's top
managers, one of our "heroes", was reduced to being human. Too bad I
thought, but the Orleans would surely overcome it. It had been a very
successful tournament for years. You could always mark your calendar in
July for the Orleans Hotel. It had been one of the two or three stalwarts
in the industry. Wrong! The Orleans Open was unceremoniously
As I sat there, with fingers and toes crossed, I hoped the end of the ride
was in sight. I asked myself almost in a begging way, "Surely they
won't cancel any more of the Las Vegas tournaments." A little voice
inside me replied with just what I didn't want to hear. It said, "There's
only one tournament left in Las Vegas and that's the World Series of
Needless to say I was upset. The ride had left me wondering if all is lost
in the poker world.
Then some news hit that gave me some hope. First, it seems The Reno
Hilton has taken the January spot, previously held by the Carnival of
Poker. I cautioned myself, "Don't get too excited, check it out.
As luck would have it, a few days later, as I was walking into the Bicycle
Club to attend Linda Johnson's Roast, I ran into Ron Cramer and Mike
Gainey. Mike Gainey is the poker room manager at the Reno Hilton.
Mike, a former quarterback at Memphis State University and also a
ex-Marine pilot, is the kind of guy who you trust when he tells you
Mike explained that the Reno Hilton, when they heard of the cancellation
at Harrahs, decided to take a jump into the major poker tournament
world. They have been holding tournaments at the Reno Hilton for years
but on the "smallish" side. They felt that now they would make an all
out commitment to become one of the biggest and best stops on the
The name of the tournament is the "World Poker Challenge." It will be
held beginning Jan 9th thru Jan 26th 2001. They have announced a
comparable schedule as far as buyins, to the previous Carnival of Poker
tournament. They will be using what is becoming everybody's favorite
structure, Tex's Tears. Mike explained that the Reno Hilton has asked
some of the top players in the poker world to host each event. He went
on to say that the winners of each event will then be asked back to the
next year's tournament to host the event that he or she won. The
winners would also have their rooms compted the next year, for the
Anyone that has read my columns over the last two years knows, Reno
is one of my favorite spots. Reno simply put is a great place to play
poker. The people are very friendly and if you are there in January. you
are only an hour away from a winter wonderland, Lake Tahoe. Skiing.
Snowboarding. Snow mobiles. One-horse open sleighs. Romantic
dinners as you look out on at an evening snowfall. Nightcaps in front of
lit fireplaces. All that beautiful snow, those beautiful mountains, I can't
The next bit of encouraging news was when the two big East Coast
tournaments, The World Poker Finals at Foxwoods and the U.S. Poker
Championships at the Taj Mahal announced their schedules. In past
years many players, especially the east coast players, complained about
their overlapping schedule. The players enjoyed both tournaments and
found it hard to choose which tournament to attend. Guess what, their
choosing days are over. There are no conflicting days. This year you
can attend both of these great tournaments. Foxwoods Oct.29--Nov. 6
and The Taj Nov27--Dec15.
Lastly, the news that Hollywood Park Casino will be taking the time slot
that the Orleans had in July. This new tournament will be called the MCU
Open It will be held July 6, thru July 23.
At this early stage details are sketchy but when you consider the MCU in
MCU Open stands for Mike Caro you can bet it will be an interesting and
Please Lord, let this be the beginning of a smoother ride in the poker
world. My stomach and I can't handle many more of those sudden drops.
For what it's worth ...
What a Ride
By Vince Burgio