Friday, August 6, 2010

First Poker Tournament in PA Well Received

Pennsylvania's first legal poker tournament took place today at the Meadows Casino and Racetrack in Washington PA. I arrived at 9:30, just to avoid any potential rush of tournament players and was relieved to see that there were just a few signups.

Tension was a little thick as the poker room management(Peter Lau and Donna Lapia, readied the tables along with help from the well-expereinced poker dealers on staff. In addition, several 'suits' were hanging around (puportedly PGCB and Upper level Meadows management) ready to oversee what would historically be the first legal poker tournament in Pennsylvania.

I registered and took a late breakfast and coffee break in anticipation of playing in this tourney. When I returned to the Poker room at 10:28 am I was surprised to see 5 tables filling up for the tournament. What a great turnout! Especially since the tournament was not announced or advertised.

After a brief settling, the tourney got underway.

The Basics:

The buy-in is $40 with a $5 dealer add on bonus, initial chips: $4,000, add-on $1,000.
The structure was player friendly considering the amount of chips as the blind levels were 18 minutes long with starting blinds at $50 and $100.

The tables were hand dealt (the final table used the shufflemaster), however the hands per hour were above average.

42 players registered to the tourney with a payout scale going to the top 5:

1st $567.00
2nd $315.00
3rd $189.00
4th $113.00
5th $ 76.00

The Play

Most of the play at my table was soft with just a little aggression in the early blinds, I ended the first break (at level 5) with a little more than 10K in chips and the field had narrowed to 34.

Although I had played hundreds of low stakes tourneys at Wheeling Island the last few years, this first PA Poker tourney lacked the uber-aggression and complacency commonly seen at the latter. The dealers and staff were very attentive to the level-ups. Although there was problems with the tournament clock in the beginning, (frozen at one point), it was quickly reset, while play continued without missing a beat.

Dealer pushes were done quickly and extra effort was made to ensure the tournament moved along. Going into level 7 (600 and 1200, 200 ante), we were down to 18 players, I sat close to the average with 12K in chips. The final table convened during the 9th Level (1000 and 2000, 300 ante) with 10 players remaining.

The Final table was moved to a poker table with an automatic shuffler and play resumed quickly as seats were assigned. During the break the 100 chips were raced off, and play continued. We had made a deal for the bubble boy, which encouraged two shortstacks to move in and shortly thereafter we were down to the final 5.

With 3 minutes remaining in Level 10 (1500 and 3000, 500 ante), the bubble broke and 5 players remained to capture the title of the winner of the first poker tournament in PA. I lasted until 4th place (Level 11) moving all in on the button with 33 against the BB who showed A6os, flopping a 6 to end my run to be the first winner. Shortly thereafter player 3 went down and heads up play commenced at level 12 (3,000 and 6,000, ante 1000).

Lasting less than 10 minutes, the two players got it all in when the button limped and the BB shoved all in, getting a quick call from his opponent. The tabled hands were (Button) AA, (BB) 4 6os. The flop came down 3 4 4, enough of a sweat for the AA as a turn came down blank and the river Ace giving the champion aces full.

The tourney ended around 2:45pm, with congratulatory handshakes for both players as Peter Lau escorted the entrants to the cage.

Personally, this is one of the better tourneys I have played in recent years as the relaxing and serene atmosphere along with the cordial nature of the poker room and players made it an enjoyable experience overall.

Now that we have that first cash out of the way, let's get onto the big tourneys!
Starting next week, the Meadows will announce their full schedule and it will be posted on the Pennsylavania Poker Players blog at

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