Full house: New Indian casino poker tour premieres at Choctaw in Durant

More than 300 poker players compete in the Native American Casino Poker Tour in Durant, OK, at the Choctaw Casino.
BY SEAN CHAFFIN Published: December 20, 2011

Ken Lambert Jr., poker room manager at the casino, said he jumped at the chance to be the first casino in the tour series — and boost a traditionally slow month for the poker room. The low buy-ins for the event (from $100 to $300 for preliminary events) also helped attract more players looking to test their poker chops.

“The whole event has been great for us. It was interesting to be first. If you're first you get the perks — advertising, notoriety, etc.,” Lambert said. “We're looking at being a part of it again next year.”

Lambert expected between 200 and 250 players for the Main Event, but the turnout exceeded 320. Lambert said the low buy-ins definitely helped bring in players during a tough economy and holiday season. The idea worked and cardsharps and amateurs alike turned out for their chance at poker glory.

“To me it was more important to drive volume and get people in the door,” Lambert says. “Our idea was to give the average guys with a little money a chance to win some nice Christmas money.”

Most of the poker players seemed pleased with the events and turnout.

“I've enjoyed the experience. The facilities are nice and the people are always nice,” said Val Wood, of Durant, who took third in a $300 preliminary event for a $6,200 win. “The Main Event is affordable enough for most people who want to play.”

And what would he do with his winnings? Spend it on Christmas for his family, he said — no bluffing.