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Texahoma Poker Family Reunion

DFW poker players don’t have a home casino to call their own. We have a conglomeration of underground rooms, home games, and border casinos that we patch together to play the game we love. We will see friends here and acquaintances there, but with spots coming and going all the time it’s hard to keep up with everyone. So when the WSOPC at Choctaw casino comes along (1 1/2 hrs north of DFW) La and I put it on the schedule as our annual poker family reunion.

With no Ice storms this year attendance was excellent for the WSOPC


This trip felt like one long party. Between the Texahoma players (the two markets merge in these border casinos) and the circuit grinders, there was a final table to sweat almost every night. Unfortunately La and I were on the rail this trip, but with so many friends to catch up with and final tables to cheer for we still had a great time.

One of the biggest rails of the prelims belonged to local and circuit favorite Huy Nguyen (@savepluto9)

Photo by Eric Harkins of Image Masters Photography

The man who made the most appearances on the stage this series was Choctaw Casino Champ Raja Kattamuri. Raj had an amazing run this WSOPC finishing 1st, 2nd,1st, and 6th in ring events on a limited schedule. Even more incredible Raj made two of his four final tables at the same time! That’s right, he was live-multi-FINAL-tabling the HU event (1st) and the PLO event (6th)!!! Raj’s opponent in the HU final , Dustin Schoonover, showed a lot of class by agreeing to move the start time up so Raj could play during the PLO dinner break.

Raj ships his first ring!

Photo by Eric Harkins of Image Masters Photography

To those who know him Raj’s results aren’t much of a surprise, he has been crushing local cash games since the days of limit poker. A full time job as an engineer restricts his time on the tournament trail, but he has made poker a very profitable hobby. Raj is one of the good guys, it was a privilege to rail his final tables and have a winner dinner with him after.

Don’t you have a job to get back to Raj?
(Note: Raj also had a large rail, but had no time to take pics as he was still playing the PLO ft!)

Photo by Eric Harkins of Image Masters Photography

After Raj busted from the PLO event another local grinder took the chance to grab some home town bragging rights. Chris “The Chairman” Smith used his patient style to wear down his opponents and ship his first ring. Chris is usually a DFW cash game player, but a prudent investment from his father in his WSOPC action put him in play and made the Smith family a nice chunk of change.

Chris “The Chairman” Smith ships the PLO event!

Photo by Eric Harkins of Image Masters Photography

In a week that had already been full of final table sweats Huyzer Nguyen (@savepluto9) had been patiently waiting for his shot. The champion of the 2011 WSOPC Choctaw main event missed his first title defense opportunity as he was sill in the turbo ring event day two. I use the term turbo lightly as the event’s second day ended up running through the end of main event flight 1A. Huy made the most of it though, grabbing his 3rd WSOPC ring and a new Choctaw title to defend. Huy had a great 2011 and is on course for big things in the coming years.

Huy Nguyen (@savepluto9) #Nguyening #GotEm #BeLikeHuy

Photo by Eric Harkins of Image Masters Photography

Congrats also go out to our friend Dan Lowery on another amazing main event run. Dan finished second in the Lake Tahoe main and made another strong showing with a 2nd at the Choctaw main. Dan is one of the rare ones that is lucky in both love and cards, his wonderful wife Krista takes care of all of us on the road.

Dan Lowery doing work!

Picture from Pokernews Live updates

Gotta give a quick shout out to all the ND grinders that made final tables this year as well. Congrats to Andrew Nguyen, Ki Park, and Bryce Miller on their stage appearances. Hope there are many more fts to rail this year.

We had a great time with all our friends and family from DFW, OK, the circuit, and the PTC crew. Thanks for all the good times, great sweats, and winner dinners. It was good to roll with our road dog from last year’s circuit, Andrew “Andy” Nguyen (@winnersnguyen). Got to play a session with the always entertaining Cliff Fisher (@brdpoker). Also got to rail for and with Isaac Do, another grinder I’ve been playing with for years. As I start this list I realize it would be way too long to finish here. It was wonderful to see all our friends and family and we can’t wait to do it again next year.

Texahoma Casino Woes

Unfortunately our experiences with the hotel and casino haven’t improved at all. Front desk help is as undertrained as ever. It took hours to get comps from the host honored at the front desk, again. Pit bosses were often rude and unwilling or unable to provide basic information.

This casino can’t even issue a food comp without a long drawn out ordeal. The first pit boss I asked spoke to me like I was trash when he saw I was the lowest level players card. He sent me to the players club and said they could help me. I walked to the players club and they were unable to help me because my points were from the poker room. Why does it matter where I earn my points, shouldn’t the players club help all players? Finally I went to the poker room and got a comp from the receptionist, 20 minutes longer and 2 annoying conversations later than ever needed to happen for such a simple thing.

These experiences are the reason this casino is dead the rest of the year. These border casinos know they are the closest available gambling option to the DFW market so they don’t feel the need to up their service. In the case of Winstar this is valid. They sit in such a central location that they don’t have to make major concessions. Choctaw though, on the eastern edge of the DFW market, needs to up their game if they want to compete. It’s a disappointment that such a nice facility sits underutilized, but I guess as long as they hit their slot quotas the substandard service will continue.