Issue 253
July 18 - July 24, 2005
Volume 5
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News

Argosy breaks ground for luxury hotel

Casino plans compete in Cloverdale

Tribal casino success spawns hotel growth

Stanley Leisure takes 100m gamble on revamping casinos

Magna won't seek Pa. horse racing license

Show Time Damian Marley performs at Palms Casino Resort.

Column Horoscope for the week starting July 17, 2005 By Michael O'Connor.

Check out our entertainment highlights & upcoming tournaments

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Surviving WPT Boot Camp

By Mike Opton, Editor Casino City

The idea of a boot camp didn't appeal to me. The prospect of grunting and sweating while being yelled at by a drill sergeant was low on my to-do list. But when they threw in the word poker, my ears perked up. Poker was part of my life a long time ago, playing with my high school friends every weekend, drinking beer and just having a good time. It hadn't escaped my attention, being an editor of gaming publications, that poker had taken the country by storm. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I got a call to see if I wanted to mosey on down to Foxwoods for a weekend-long WPT Poker Boot Camp.

This was my first time at Foxwoods, too. My family oohed and aahed when we came upon this Emerald City in a sea of trees. The soaring hotel towers with their green colored glass features made quite an impression. As we burrowed floor after floor into the self-park garage, we got a sense of how popular the casino was.

After being checked in by a friendly and efficient staff, we went up to our room. The rooms in the Grand Pequot tower are excellent with beautiful furniture and a great view of the surrounding trees. It's a much different experience than Las Vegas, where you need to close your room curtains to get a good night's sleep.

The next morning I went down to the Convention Center where the Boot Camp was being held. I signed in and received a schedule for the next two days and a bag filled with great stuff for poker players (poker simulator software, a book by Mike Sexton, a DVD about the WPT Ladies Tour, cards, etc.) I also got breakfast, something you need when you're going to be thinking about poker, non-stop, for the next 8 hours.

The WPT Poker Boot Camp is the brainchild of Ron Rubens and Steve Berman, two guys from Florida who previously put on information technology boot camps. The way Ron tells it, last year he and Steve were sitting together at board meeting of their local synagogue, half dozing, when Ron wrote "poker boot camp?" on a piece of paper. It didn't take long before hearts were pumping and phone calls were made. One of them was a feeler call to Lyle Berman, the Chairman of the Board for the World Poker Tour. Lyle knows a thing or two about poker, being one of the world's top poker players and having been inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2002. It wasn't long before Lyle called back with good news. He suggested to Rubens and Berman that the World Poker Tour create the Boot Camp and sign on Mike Sexton, a top professional and the commentator for the WPT's television show on the Travel Channel.

Things got rolling in the summer of 2004, and by November a licensing agreement was in place. Poker history was made Jan. 26-27 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, with the premiere edition of the WPT Boot Camp. Mike Sexton and Alex Outhred were the instructors for the first event, which was a huge success.

As a novice, I didn't know what to expect from my Boot Camp experience. The Boot Camp is limited to 50 players, so I knew I wasn't going to get lost in the crowd, but I was curious as to what the level of knowledge you needed to keep up. Our instructors for the camp were Clonie Gowen, winner of the WPT's "Ladies Night" tournament and Rick Fuller, a full-time pro who came in 7th at the Reno Hilton World Poker Challenge.

Clonie started out by giving us some background about herself. Let me just say, that if you're going to sit in a boot camp for two days, you can't do much better than to be in the presence of someone as attractive and intelligent Clonie Gowen. Clonie, short for Cyclona (the name was chosen after a particularly strong storm in Oklahoma impressed her father shortly before her birth) knows her stuff. She started playing blackjack and poker as a teenager with her boyfriend's family and lit out for Las Vegas after high school to try her luck as a blackjack pro. Not finding blackjack that stimulating, she found herself at a poker table with a group of grizzled vets. "I bought in for $40 in a seven-card stud game with a 10-cent ante. I lost my money and was devastated - but I was hooked," she told us. From that point forward, it was love.

The enthusiasm Clonie and Rick had for the game was evident from the moment they started their instruction. This wasn't a by-the-numbers presentation. It was filled with rapid-fire information and anecdotes that kept me engaged from the get-go. The basics were taken care of in the first fifteen minutes. If you plan on attending, the one thing you should have learned by now is the order of winning hands. Other than that, everything is covered. Buttons and blinds, raise, call, check, opening hands by position, technical aspects such as real and implied pot odds, tournament strategy, table image, and tells. Clonie also gave the women at the camp some insights into how to play against men, and the men some idea of the traps a woman might lay for them.

During both days, we had labs after instruction sections. Labs gave us a chance to try out what we learned in real poker action with feedback from the pros on how we did. The group was split into two tables, with some students playing and others observing. Identical hands, many from actual poker action from the WPT tour, were dealt and we were on our own as to what to do. Once we played our hands out, we watched actual WPT footage of the poker pros playing out the exact same situation. This was not only a great tool for learning and discussion, but quite entertaining too. It was during the labs that I got a sense of how complicated a game poker can be. Even with the same hands, the tables had different bets and outcomes. Clonie and Rick critiqued the play, and we could see what was missed and what was right on.

The two days of instruction went by quickly for me, and I absorbed a lot of useful information about poker strategies and techniques. At the end of the second day it was time to put my knowledge to the test in a No Limit Texas Hold'em tournament for all of the students. The final table was going to be on the casino floor to give us the feel of an audience, if we made it that far. Even with all I learned in the two days, it was a rookie mistake that knocked me out pretty early. I'll just say that if your opponent is betting all-in on a hand early on, he's usually going to have a great hand. Trust me on that.

The kicker of the weekend was that the winner of the Boot Camp's tournament was a poker newbie. Not only that, he was a reporter and part of the press coverage, working for the New Haven Register. Pat Ferrucci, who wrote a great article about his experience, took all the lessons he learned to heart and played brilliantly for over seven hours. Since he was a reporter, he didn't qualify to keep the top prize, an entry to a Foxwoods satellite tournament, but he was a hero to us who are re-learning this great game.

If you're looking to improve your game and learn from some of the best pros in the poker world, I'd highly recommend the WPT Poker Boot Camp. The next event at Foxwoods in August is sold-out, but it looks like there's still space available in the October event. A complete list of upcoming events can be found on their website,

Casino plans compete in Cloverdale
As reported by
The Press Democrat

CLOVERDALE, California - Cloverdale's twin casino proposals grew from divisions among the Pomo Indians, whose ancestors were the area's earliest inhabitants.

The 400-member tribe began pursuing plans about five years ago for a Las Vegas-style gaming facility on 12 acres owned by heirs of John Santana, a Pomo elder and former postmaster who died in 2000.

The land was in federal trust, a regulatory prerequisite, and City Council members expressed openness to entering into an agreement with the tribe for sewer and water.

The last hurdle was a gaming compact with then-Gov. Gray Davis, who had granted a pact with a Geyserville tribe that built River Rock Casino about 10 miles away.

But the Cloverdale plans broke down in an argument among tribal members over how much money the tribe should pay the Santanas for use of the land, both sides said.

"It's difficult when you are negotiating with a member of your family," tribal spokesman Steven Glazer said. "It forced the tribe to look for alternatives."

Matt Lemley, Santana's grandson, said his family initially sought a lease but the Cloverdale Pomos wanted to buy. The family named their price, and the tribe balked. Lemley wouldn't disclose the figure.

The family then entered into a partnership with a Hopland tribe that owns a casino and casino developers from Humboldt County. In April, the group presented plans to build a $70 million, 1,700-slot gaming hall on land fronting Highway 101.

The Pomo tribe is planning its own casino on 13 acres it has purchased from golf resort developer Tyris Corp. The land price wasn't revealed, but Glazer said it was $15 million less than what the Santanas were asking.

Now, both groups are seeking government approval.

Hopland Pomo leaders are requesting that the Bureau of Indian affairs transfer the Santana land trust to their project.

The Cloverdale Pomos want their newly acquired land to be put in federal trust and to get a gaming compact from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As in the case of their rivals, the key to winning the governor's approval will be to show the casino is supported by local residents and the city.

Council members, who have not made a decision, say they are studying the legal implications of each casino proposal.

An opposition group of about 75 local residents has assembled a petition with more than 2,000 signatures calling on the council to oppose any casino project, organizer Steve Nurse said.

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