Wildhorse Resort and Casino’s Poker Roundup in Pendleton, Oregon, has
fast become the premier tournament in the Pacific Northwest. It
obviously does not match the world-famous Pendleton Roundup rodeo
that is held in Pendleton every September, where tens of thousands of
people come to see an old-time rodeo and do some big-time partying.
Nevertheless, the Poker Roundup is also beginning to have a substantial
impact on the local economy. This became clear, at least in my mind, by
the time this year’s Fall Poker Roundup had concluded.
We all can attest to the explosive growth of poker, and what happened
at the Wildhorse this November was just another reminder of it. There
was a total of 3,306 entrants in the eight tournaments. This, of course,
translated to several thousand players and their spouses or girlfriends
or boyfriends, and many dealers and workers being in Pendleton.
The prize money for the tournament reached a total of $792,700. It is
obvious that this tournament has come of age. In fact, the Umatilla Tribe,
which operates the casino, is contemplating a $1 million-guaranteed
tournament next year. That, my friends, is a big-time tournament.
And, as we are taught to say in journalism, “Wait — there’s more.” Next
year, the Spring Roundup, which will be held from March 23 to April 2,
and the Fall Roundup in early November, will be televised. Tournament
Director Roland Waters informed me that the Wildhorse Casino has
signed a contract with Edge TV. Card Player is acting as a consultant to
Edge TV. I’m not sure what the format will be, but we all know what
happens when the television cameras come in. Simply put, a whole lot of
players show up. Everyone wants to get his or her “one-of-a-kind” face
Speaking of one-of-a-kind faces, one such face reared up as an up-and-
coming new addition to the poker world. His name is Aaron Jensen, and
he put on an exceptional performance at the Wildhorse tournament in
November. Take a good look at his picture, because I predict you will be
seeing his face quite a bit in the future.
Aaron, in my brief meeting with him, reminds me a lot of Huck Seed. He
seems to fit the mold of a young, aggressive, very bright young man.
The Wildhorse November tournament had a total of eight events, four of
which were no-limit hold’em tournaments. Aaron won one tournament,
and finished second and sixth in two others. He ran away with the best
all-around player award, even though he played only five of the eight
Let me tell you a little bit about Aaron. He is single, 23 years old, and
lives in Seattle, Washington. He graduated from Cal Poly at San Luis
Obispo in 2003. He has a degree in computer science and presently
works for Microsoft as a software engineer.
Aaron began playing poker just a year and a half ago. He plays mostly
on the Internet, usually in tournaments. He also plays in some of the
tournaments held in the casinos around the Seattle area. As you might
guess, his favorite game is no-limit hold’em, although for side action he
plays a lot of limit hold’em. He credits his quick success to reading all of
the poker books available. He claims that reading the various books
helped him to get several viewpoints and different perspectives about
poker. The one book that he says helped him the most was Bob Ciaffone’
s book on pot-limit hold’em.
As I said earlier, I predict good things for this young man. I might add
that as I talked to him and subsequently interviewed him for this column,
he was a very polite and gracious person, and I think the poker world
will embrace him as his star rises in the tournament world.
And here’s a word to the wise: Be on the lookout for this new poker
player at next year’s World Series of Poker. During my brief
conversations with Aaron, he confided to me that he has set his sights
on one of those shiny gold bracelets that are awarded to World Series
event winners. If his performance at the Wildhorse is any indication of
things to come, he may very well win one.
For what it's worth …
New Stallion at the Wildhorse
By Vince Burgio