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Best of Rudi Schiffer

Gaming Guru

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Heard It On The River

3 February 2006


Tunica proved it could handle dueling big events at the same time and in January it became the "poker capitol of the world" when the WORLD SERIES OF POKER was held at GRAND CASINO RESORT and the WORLD POKER OPEN took place at GOLD STRIKE. The events had a huge impact on the County drawing some 12,853 registered players who competed for a total of over $14 million in prize money. The caliber of the tournaments drew the best players in the world and two of those stars rose to the top on the final tables with brash DANIEL NEGREANU adding $755,525 to his bank account after taking the WSOP Circuit Texas Hold 'em crown and wily SCOTTY NGUYEN flying back to Las Vegas with $969,421 won at the WPO earlier.

DARRELL PILANT, Vice President of Operations at Grand, praised the WSOP tournament staff for making the event successful and told us that another WSOP Circuit tournament was in the works for late August or early September but details had to be finalized. Dates for next year's tournament were announced for Jan. 4-27. Negreanu won the first hand dealt to him in the Grand Event Center and closed out winning the final hand. It turned around his fortunes because last year he lost more than the won. Only 31, Negreanu had won WSOP bracelets in 1998,2003 and 2005. ESPN taped the final session for showing later this year. Local favorite Robert Schulz of Southaven, MS was the only area player on the final table and his "exciting four days" paid off $68,685.

While likeable SCOTTY NGUYEN took home the $969,421 first place money in the WORLD POKER OPEN just concluded at GOLDSTRIKE, some area players made a fine showing in the event which is supposed to be televised by the WORLD POKER TOUR on the TRAVEL CHANNEL sometime in May. They included JOHNNY DONALDSON of Monticello, AR who came in 7th and won $62,298, GARRY GIBBS of Hot Springs tied for 10th and won $34,610, and DALE MORROW of Horn Lake who finished 23rd and won $18,878. But the name that caught me in this $10,000 buy-in Texas Hold 'em no limit championship was our ALLY PRESCOTT of Memphis who finished 15th and won $31,464. I knew Ally for his sports management abilities and for his fine refereeing of NCAA basketball games but Ally, the high stakes poker player? Way to go! KEN LAMBERT, JR, director of poker operations labeled the WPO a "tremendous success" and with 6,083 players entered in the various events trying to win total prize money of $7,422,204, it would appear tournament was just that. He expects an even bigger WPO next year and announced it would be held Jan. 4-26.

Following SHERATON'S successful first big money blackjack tournament for $125,000 this past weekend, sister property GRAND takes over this coming weekend (Feb. 3-5) with the largest tournament in the region. Prize money is $160,000 based on the number of participants with $60,000 first place money for only a $500 buy-in.

HOLLYWOOD HAPPENINGS include a $5,000 KWIK CASH blackjack tournament on Feb. 4 but you need to be rated on table games or slot play action for a single day to qualify. But if you do, first place pays $2,500. On Tuesday Feb. 28 Hollywood is hosting "FAT TUESDAY." Drawings will take place for free slot play and there will also be a New Orleans-style band beginning at 4 p.m. with a themed buffet, a comp Hurricane drink and glass, prizes and party favors and a just a good ol' time. And CARRIE FOLKS has taken on a new name, adding STRANG to her famous name and the former Miss Tennessee will be singing at the SAFARI LOUNGE on the weekend of Feb. 17. Seems to me that Strang name is familiar?

He's baaack… talented GLEN BUXTON who made a name when he was heading up marketing at HORSESHOE casino several years ago and has been a marketing consultant, is back in the casino business as director of marketing at FITZGERALDS. He has some bold plans for the property but isn't revealing them just yet. Meanwhile his owner, DON BARDEN, continues to make news with his gaming empire. The DETROIT BUSINESS NEWS reports that Barden, the only African-American heading up a casino company, predicted two years ago that his company would generate $1 billion in annual revenue in five years. He is on track and it is estimated that revenue in 2005 will be about $500 million. With the purchase of a second casino in Gary, IN, expansion plans at each of his five casinos and a bid to build a 5,000 slot machine casino in Pittsburgh, he has a solid chance of reaching his goal.

The recent fight at FITZ'was another success with a hard sellout and promoter BRIAN YOUNG of PRIZE FIGHT BOXING said it was the 42st consecutive sold out match for bouts held at casinos. Another "old fashioned Irish Brawl" is set for March. 11. These fights have become great entertainment not only featuring brawlers but skilled boxers on the rise. One bruiser, 260 pound ADAM RICHARDS of Murfreesboro, TN got my attention not only for his battering ram style but also for the bizarre name on his tent-like shorts, SWAMP DONKEY? The casino has also upped the money it gives away at its popular Friday night drawings, increasing the pot from $10,000 to $15,000. Just swipe your card in the card reader at the front door and you are set for the night.

It is out-of-the-box thinking right now but in the distant future there might be a monorail system connecting several cities and the Tunica Airport to the county's casinos. Don't see the need for one soon as players have little trouble now finding their way to our nine casinos what the county needs first is more growth in the way of housing, shopping and attractions of a non-gaming nature. A school and a food chain store in the northern part of Tunica County would be a nice start. We heard that there might be roofs growing soon around the Tunica National Golf Course. Took a drive around SOUTHAVEN recently looking for an address and was amazed at the building going on there. It figures that the city will be reaching a point where expansion will push to the south, Tunica way.

We've been informed that the big open dice tournament originally announced for Feb. 24-25 has been cancelled at SAM'S TOWN. But if you like poker, the casino is holding a No Limit Texas Hold 'em freeze-out tournament every Monday through Friday with a $100 buy-in and $30 entry free. On Saturdays and Sundays, the same event is held with a $150 buy-in and $35 entry fee. Call 800-456-0711 and ask for the poker room. While you are there say hello to JOE DIDONATO, the new poker room manager. Sam's Town is also holding a $100,000 open slot tournament Feb. 10-11 with a buy-in of $400 and rebuys for $100.

One of my favorite good ol' boys, MERLE HAGGARD, is doing one show at GRAND on March 25. Tickets are now on sale and won't last. Call 800-946-4946, ext. 3060 or TicketMaster. HARRAH'S CEO/PRESIDENT GARY LOVEMAN has been named by INSTITUTIONAL INVESTOR MAGAZINE as the "Best Ceo" in the gaming and lodging industry. Since he became Harrah's CEO in 2003, Loveman has won the award every year.

Down South on the Gulf Coast hope springs eternal. Seven acres east of Boomtown Casino have been leased by the GOLLOT brothers to a group hoping to build BAYVIEW RESORT & CASINO.

From the QUOTABLE GAMBLER…

"His luck went so bad, that when he caught the ace of spades it had a funeral parlor logo on it."
TEX SHEAHAN, quoted in BOBBY BALDWIN, Tales out of Tulsa (1984)
Rudi Schiffer

Rudi Schiffer is a long time columnist and contributing writer for Jackpot Magazine, the South’s leading gaming publication, and for casinocitytimes.com, the world’s leading casino industry internet news distributor. He is also owner and co-host of the 20-year-old Goodtimes Radio Show, now simulcast on Fridays from 3-6 PM Central Time from Country Classic 1180 AM, Memphis networked with KMIS 1050 AM, and 103.9 KGLU FM from Kennet, MO covering parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. His radio show is also archived at audiovegas.com. A Boston University Journalism graduate, he resides in Memphis, TN. Known as the "Voice of Tunica" for his support the gaming jurisdiction for two decades, he was also recently named to Memphis Business Quarterly Magazine’s 3rd annual “The Power Players, Who’s Who” of Memphis.He is also a contributing writer for Southern Gaming & Entertainment and Mississippi Gaming.

Rudi Schiffer Websites:

www.AudioVegas.com
Rudi Schiffer
Rudi Schiffer is a long time columnist and contributing writer for Jackpot Magazine, the South’s leading gaming publication, and for casinocitytimes.com, the world’s leading casino industry internet news distributor. He is also owner and co-host of the 20-year-old Goodtimes Radio Show, now simulcast on Fridays from 3-6 PM Central Time from Country Classic 1180 AM, Memphis networked with KMIS 1050 AM, and 103.9 KGLU FM from Kennet, MO covering parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. His radio show is also archived at audiovegas.com. A Boston University Journalism graduate, he resides in Memphis, TN. Known as the "Voice of Tunica" for his support the gaming jurisdiction for two decades, he was also recently named to Memphis Business Quarterly Magazine’s 3rd annual “The Power Players, Who’s Who” of Memphis.He is also a contributing writer for Southern Gaming & Entertainment and Mississippi Gaming.

Rudi Schiffer Websites:

www.AudioVegas.com