Play with the Creator of Omaha Poker at Club One

Cg7U6sQUUAATQ45

Being married to a professional poker player has its perks. Most of our vacation destinations and entertainment decisions involve poker. Our summer vacation is spent making multiple trips to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker and throughout the year, when my husband asks where I want to go for a weekend getaway, as long as there are great poker games and a spa nearby, I am happy.

So when my husband told me he was invited as a special guest to a casino in Fresno, California, that I had never played in, I was eager to pack our bags.

On Saturday, May 7, Club One, the largest cardroom in California’s Central Valley will be hosting its 2nd Annual Central Valley Omaha Championships at 12:15 p.m. The $150 buy-in tournament features a $20,000 guaranteed prize pool.

Su Kim, Club One Casino’s casino manager stated, “Club One has a long-standing commitment to the Omaha community and wanted to provide Omaha players with a major event to test their skills against their peers.  We’re offering the largest committed prize pool in California, a custom winner’s bracelet and onsite broadcast of our featured and final table.”

I can’t wait to play especially now that I have been playing the weekly Big O Omaha tournament on Saturdays at Hollywood Park Casino trying to hone my tournament skills.

I remember playing my first hand of Omaha poker at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, California, years before I had ever heard of Robert Turner. It was the most frightening poker experience of my life.

Not only did I have to figure out how to handle four cards, I had trouble reading the board and determining what my hand was. Instead of embarrassing myself by showing a hand I wasn’t sure even qualified as a low, I would just fold.

Marrying the Godfather of Omaha

image

I left that session vowing never to play Omaha again. Then I met and later married Robert Turner, the godfather of Omaha. I was taught how to play Omaha by the best poker player I had ever met–according to Robert.

He had one simple rule, and I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing it with the world; he simply said, “Omaha is a game of the nuts.”

Every time I sit down at the table, Robert’s advice is always in my mind.

Visit http://www.clubonecasino.com for more details.

Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer and social media consultant specializing in poker. She writes a column called the “Poker Scene” for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker.

Advertisements

Gardena: Poker Capital of the World

facebook_1461345592678 (1)Robert Turner as part of Larry Flynt’s  Original Hustler Casino Management Team

The Normandie Casino has been rumored to be an acquisition of the Hustler Casino by Larry Flynt. If this happens, the Gardena poker legacy will be gone, and all that will be left is one corporation controlling the remaining two.

Poker was started in Gardena in 1936 by legendary card club owners Ernie Primm and Russ Miller, the patriarch of the Miller family who owns the Normandie Casino.

The six clubs of poker that made up the Gardena landscape are now just a memory, and if Larry Flynt takes over the Normandie Casino, the last of the original six, a poker era will varnish forever.

As I reflect back, it has occurred to me that I managed four of the six casinos in Gardena, a small city ten miles outside Downtown Los Angeles. When poker boomed in California with the legalization of Hold’em around 1986, many characters came out to play in Gardena, including myself.

A Storied History: The Horseshoe Club

Horseshoe Club Gardena

Some were very famous for their play while others were notorious for having a shady past like Shoeshine Nick. Legendary poker author Mike Caro was also part of Gardena history.

Caro recalls of that time, “Old Gardena was a poker garden where money grew, but there was also treachery, and you had to avoid the cheating. You dealt your own cards, which was fine, but so did they, and there was always danger.”

Caro continues, “The producer — weak players who provided you profit — came, and many went broke or disappeared. But along came new producers, so you survived. It was five-card draw, high or low, and the draw could determine your fate for now. But there was always tomorrow. So, we won.”

“Gardena called itself the Poker Capital of the World. And it really was,” Caro concludes.

I agree with him. When I was General Manager of the Horseshoe Club in 1986, I had many problems to solve including rampant cheating, which I solved with stationary dealers. Before that, each player took turns dealing, which led to mechanics and teams plying their trade at the expense of the producers.

Some of the problems I had to deal with at the Horseshoe not only had to do with the players but also involved the owners. One day I discovered a security guard in the count room area taking chips out of the drop boxes.

After an investigation, it was determined that one of the owners had given him the key. That particular owner was the general partner of the casino; I knew my days were numbered there. The casino was sold, and my contract was bought out. It was closed for remodeling, and it never reopened.

Poker Legends in Gardena

Huck Seed

1996 WSOP Main Event Winner Huck Seed

 

But while I worked there, I added new games, such as seven-card stud and Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO), which was spread in California for the first time at the Horseshoe. These games attracted the best poker players in the world. Regulars in these games were Freddie Deeb, Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Chan.

Hellmuth would fly into Los Angeles, take a taxi to Gardena to play PLO and sometimes he would go broke and turn right around. The first time I met World Series of Poker Main Event winner Huck Seed was in Gardena. He was playing $15/$30 Limit Hold’em and was a consistent winner, who showed greatness even at that time.

The first World Championship of Omaha was played in Gardena at the Horseshoe. It featured a $500 buy-in, and people came from all over the country to play.

I left Gardena for nine years while I managed other clubs, such as the Regency, the Bicycle Club and Hollywood Park Casino. I returned to Gardena in 2000 to open Hustler Casino with Larry Flynt as his executive host in charge of the house players and, of course, promoting Omaha.

Eric Drache and Yosh Nakano created a huge stud game hosted by Larry Flynt himself at the Hustler with great players from all over the world. Regulars in that game included a who’s who of poker royalty—Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese, Barry Greenstein, Phil Ivey, Thor Hansen and Danny Robison.

In 2006, I was hired as the poker manager of Normandie Casino. I remember Mike Sexton roasting me for my sixtieth birthday and referring to my Horseshoe days in 1986. He said, “Robert Turner came a long way in his poker career—right across the street.”

At one time, the Horseshoe was located right across the street from the Normandie Casino. It is pretty funny that after twenty years I had come right back to where I started, the other side of the street.

Today the Normandie is facing some serious fines and legal issues, so passing the torch to Larry Flynt may be their best opportunity.

Only time will tell where Larry Flynt takes Gardena, the former poker capital of the world. He owns it all now.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and casino/billiard marketing expert. Robert is most well-known for creating the game of Omaha poker and introducing it to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995. He also helped create Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

He has spent over 30 years in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM.  He is currently working as a casino consultant.

Robert can be reached at robertturnerpoker@gmail.com for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner. Subscribe to Robert’s blog “Beyond the Numbers” to receive notifications of new posts by email.

Pioneering Women in Poker: Terry King by Patricia Chavira

Terry King

Photo of Terry King from “Poker For Women” by Mike Caro

 

My husband Robert Turner has been playing poker for over fifty years and has met many characters of the game. He directed me to his friend Madison Kopp’s post on Facebook about poker player Terry King. Robert also spoke of Terry in such high regard that it inspired me to write this article.

 

Terry King is one of the trailblazing women in poker. This is her story told in her own words.

Terry says, “I got to Vegas in 1972, right after graduation from high school. My friend played poker, and I sat behind her watching at least ten times before I got the nerve to play.”

Terry continues, “My friend Natalie and her husband really helped me learn how to play better, and in 1978 I won the WSOP Ladies’ event. I was also was one of the first women to deal the $10,000 Main Event.”

Tales of the Legends of Poker

Chip and Stu

Photos of Chip Reese and Stu Ungar Courtesy of Sextonscorner.com

 

Terry crossed paths with poker legend David “Chip” Reese, an event which changed her life forever.

Terry explains, “In 1979, Chip Reese asked me to play in the mixed doubles event. Not long after that, Chip took over the poker room at the Dunes and asked me to play for him to keep games going. Our first date was going to Lake Tahoe to play blackjack.”

“Stuey Ungar owed some rather unsavory people $70,000, and Chip couldn’t play in Vegas, so we helped him get his money back in Reno and Tahoe.”

The couple were together five years and engaged the last year, but they split amicably, and Terry eventually moved to California and went to work at the Bicycle Club. She also helped open Hollywood Park Casino and was a shift manager for 5 years.

Phyllis Yazbek, one of the most respected female executives in the casino industry says of Terry, “Many years ago Terry and my paths first crossed at the 1978 Ladies WSOP Stud tournament final table where she claimed first place and the bracelet. I was just one of the victims of her poker-playing prowess.”

Robert Turner adds, “Terry has played poker at the highest limits, managed the largest card clubs in the world and dedicated her life to poker. She’s a perfect candidate for the Poker Hall of Fame.”

With the World Series of Poker kicking off in Las Vegas in a month, what a fitting time to shine the spotlight on one of the pioneering women in poker.

Visit Madison Kopp’s blog at http://www.madisonkopp.wordpress.com.

Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer and social media consultant specializing in poker. She writes a column called the “Poker Scene” for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker.

 

Live at the Bike Set to Premiere on Poker Central

Poker Central

“Live at the Bike” is set to premiere on Poker Central on April 20 at 10 p.m. ET. “Live at the Bike” will be the poker network’s first live show with commentary provided by Nichoel Jurgens and Abe “Limon” Hepner.

“Poker Central is excited to add ‘Live at the Bike’ to our lineup of original programing,” said Dan Russell, SVP of Programming for Poker Central. “The live series will feature real cash games, with talented amateurs and pros facing off every week in one of the most iconic card rooms in L.A.”

“Live at the Bike” launched in 2005 as the first cash games lived streamed directly from the casino floor. The original broadcast team of “Live at the Bike” has found great success in the poker and broadcasting fields.

I spoke with David Tuchman last week, and we discussed how working on “Live at the Bike” gave him the broadcast experience that launched his career.

Born in New York, Tuchman studied theatre and journalism in college. In Los Angeles, he crossed paths with Robert Turner, who was the executive host of the Bicycle Casino at the time.

Turner remembers hiring Tuchman as a house player because of his outgoing personality and passion for poker. When Turner was putting together the broadcast team for “Live at the Bike,” Tuchman was a natural choice.

Live at the Bike Becomes First Live Stream of Cash Games

Athena

Another of Turner’s hires, Bart Hanson, had mentioned that he wanted to be a sports broadcaster, so when Turner was casting for “Live at the Bike,” Hanson immediately came to mind. To round out his team, Turner hired two other prop players, Nichoel Jurgens, an aspiring actress, and Shirley Rosario, an Omaha and mixed-game specialist.

“Live at the Bike” owes its decade-long success not only to its on-air talent but to the hardworking team behind-the-scenes: casino operations director Eveliene Dullaart and Kelley O’Hara, director of marketing.

Along with Rick Cloward, who at the time was director of poker operations, Joker Gaming was created to produce “Live at the Bike.”

After securing seed money for the broadcast from a friend of Turner’s and using the technical expertise of iStreamPlanet, “Live at the Bike” was streamed to the world, and the rest is history.

Visit https://www.pokercentral.com/find-us to see if Poker Central is available in your area.

Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer and social media consultant specializing in poker. She writes a column called the “Poker Scene” for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker.

The Story of Live at the Bike, Part 1

Live at the Bike

Like 3,000 other viewers, I watched the live stream of the World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event on Live at the Bike last week. An epic heads-up battle ensued between 2006 WSOP Main Event winner Jamie Gold, who won $12 million for that championship win, and the magician Antonio Esfandiari, who is ranked second on the all-time money list according to the Hendon Mob with over $26 million in live earnings.

The Magician Wins WSOPC at the Bike

Antonio Esfandiari

Esfandiari won first place for $226,785, but the match made for great viewing. I watched it on Twitch on my phone. Ironically, my husband Robert Turner, who helped co-create Live at the Bike, has trouble watching media on a small screen, but he was more than happy to tell me how the idea for Live at the Bike came about.

It all started when Robert got a phone call from a company that said it wanted to broadcast a billiard tournament he was producing for the Bicycle Casino around 2001. Robert asked what the cost would be, and they said it would not cost the Bicycle Casino any money, so a deal was reached.

He was pretty excited since most of the tournaments cost the Bicycle Casino around $50,000 for ESPN or Fox to produce.

On the day of the broadcast, he went outside to meet the crew at the front of the Bicycle Casino. A young man approached him asking for Robert Turner. He had a rolling metal briefcase and handed him his card.

Robert asked where his staff was, and he said, “It’s just me.” He explained how the tournament would be streamed live around the world. The young man set up a couple of cameras and then opened his laptop.

Robert asked how many people would watch it. The man said he had one subscriber.

He felt so naive at the time, but that night he came up with the idea that if he can to that with pool, then why not live stream poker?

Original Live at the Bike Broadcast Team

Bart HansonDavid TuchmanShirley Rosario

He presented the idea to the Bicycle Casino, and with three young house players installed as the broadcast team–David Tuchman, Bart Hanson and Shirley Rosario—Live at the Bike was born.

All three went on to successful careers in poker and broadcasting. In Part 2, I’ll discuss the personalities behind Live at the Bike and its future on Poker Central.

Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer and social media consultant specializing in poker. She writes a weekly column called the “Poker Scene” for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker.