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Talking Stick Resort names 2019 Arizona State Poker champion

16 August 2019

(PRESS RELEASE) -- A new poker champion was crowned at Talking Stick Resort on Tuesday, 13 August during the 15th annual Arizona State Poker Championship. A showdown full of twists and surprise plays, which amassed a large boisterous crowd, ensued for nearly six hours until just one man was left standing. After many folds and rivers, Arizona native Albert Calderon was named the 2019 Arizona State Poker Champion, securing the victory with a winning hand of king-high.

“It feels unreal to win especially because I’m kind of delirious,” said Calderon. I haven’t had much sleep, so it still feels dreamy. Three days of poker was not the only reason for his sleep deprivation, a few days before his win Calderon and his wife welcomed a new baby. He hoped his win of more than $200,000 would make up for his absence.

The number of participants during the five-day tournament which kicked off on Friday, 9 August broke an Arizona State Poker Championship’s record with 1,800 seats sold. By day two of the tournament, alternates were no longer accepted, and The ARENA Poker Room, which is the Valley’s largest poker room, had reached full capacity.

“Out of all the games and tournaments we host, the Arizona State Poker Championship is easily the most exciting,” said Tom Young, director of poker at The ARENA Poker Room at Talking Stick Resort. “The tournament was special this year, not only did it break records, but we had more regulars make it to the final table than ever before. It was so fun for our staff to be able to root for some players they interact with every day.”

The semi-finals of the tournament began on 12 August, with 235 contenders vying for the final 10 spots in the competition. The final table commenced the following day, with four Arizona locals, Calderon, Huy “Turtle” Nguyen, Randy Tucker, and Brett McCallum. After five hours, Calderon and Nguyen were the final two players left to battle it out until Calderon was deemed champion with the winning hand.

The Arizona State Poker Championship was not the first time that Calderon had played in Talking Stick Resort’s ARENA Poker Room. A regular to the room, he counts it as one of his favorite places to play, “I like to play at Talking Stick Resort because they have the best games, the most action,” he said. There are other casinos that have poker, but there’s just way more energy here.”

In addition to bragging rights, 32-year-old Calderon won $237,000, a trophy and a Rolex. Second place and third place winners, Nguyen and Tucker, were also rewarded for their performance, receiving trophies and payouts of $183,420 and $133,200 respectively. While the final table of 10 players received the highest payout amounts in the tournament’s history, the last 180 players were paid out.

The following are the top 10 players in the Arizona State Poker Championship:

1. Albert Calderon $237,000
2. Huy “Turtle” Nguyen $183,420
3. Randy Tucker $133,200
4. Brett McCallum $97,380
5. Jeffery Nicholes $69,480
6. Michael Hubbs $57,420
7. Franco Bownacci $43,740
8. Eli Loewenthal $32,940
9. Brandon Conrad $23,400
10. Michael Weber $18,900

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