In the late 1990s, while I was toiling away in Reno, poker players in Arizona were enjoying something new: poker for big stakes in a casino. After Fort McDowell Casino opened near the end of Shea Blvd. past Fountain Hills (half an hour from Scottsdale), players could play all types of poker and they could even play blackjack against each other with a player banking the game.
Well-financed players made plenty of money and a dealer kept things straight and took 25 or 50 cents each hand. Nice!
After seeing the success of Ft. McDowell, several other casinos opened in the Phoenix Valley and offered Bingo, slots, and poker. Talking Stick Resort now has the largest poker room in the area (54 tables) and adheres strictly to the AZ State Compact which only allows bets up to $500. That keeps the games from being no-limit, but the $10-$500 spread limit games are very good.
This past week the casino held the 2012 Arizona State Poker Championship which brought in 1200 players who paid a $1000 entry fee and fought for a $233,000 first prize. Everybody at the final table cashed for five figures. Yeah, that’s big-time poker.
Thanks for reading – Al W Moe