The inaugural Nevada State Ladies Poker Championship at the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino in Reno, Nevada recently concluded and I must say it exceeded my expectations in every way. How did this event come about?
About a year ago, LIPS founder Lupe Soto, Jan Fisher, and I began discussing the need for a lavish ladies poker weekend in Nevada, similar to the annual California State Ladies Poker Championship held at Oceans Eleven every year. We wanted it to be more than just a series of ladies poker tournaments. We wanted to provide some extracurricular activities in addition to the tournaments so that the weekend would be memorable and provide an opportunity for the women to bond and get to know each other.
Mike Gainey, Director of Poker Operations for the Reno Peppermill Resort Spa Casino, had a similar idea. He wanted to host the Nevada State Ladies Poker Championship and, in doing so, show off the beautiful remodel of his hotel and casino. Voila… We had a fit! I have been a fan of Gainey’s for more than 25 years, so the chance to work with him and with the LIPS tour appealed to me.
I also was thrilled to learn that Tournament Directors Association co-founder Dave Lamb would be involved in the planning and implementation of the logistics of the weekend, guaranteeing that it would be a first-class affair.
Most of our plans were made through e-mail. In my first correspondence with Gainey and Lamb, they asked me what they needed to provide in order to make this a special event for the ladies. I held my breath and said, “Not much. We just need a wine tasting party, a venue for a seminar, a complimentary brunch, satellites, low-limit buy-in tournaments with decent structures, and great room rates.”
To say that the Peppermill and its staff met this challenge is an understatement. The room rates were $59 to $79 for the spacious, remodeled rooms in the Peppermill Tower and were the same for the lovely suites in the new Tuscany Tower. I’m a bath fanatic and so was thrilled to see that the tub was about the size of a jacuzzi and there even was a television in the bathroom.
On Friday night, prior to the first tournament, the Peppermill hosted a wine tasting party complete with fancy hors d’oeuvres and white glove service. The party was a great way to meet new friends and get reacquainted with old ones. I was honored that so many of my friends had shown up to support this event. 109 women (no men) played in the opening event.
On Saturday, Fisher and I gave an hour seminar prior to the start of the LIPS event. It actually turned out to be a question and answer session since we started by inviting the attendees to ask questions. I had written a brand new seminar, but never got to it since time ran out before we finished answering questions. At least I have my next seminar already written.
125 women showed up to play in the $125 LIPS event. That evening, the inaugural “Left, Right, Center” tournament took place with 27 entrants showing up to see what this game was about. It’s a dice game that is strictly luck-based and the rules can be learned in less than five seconds.
To my delight, the final table players decided to take their buy-ins back and donate all of the extra money in the prize pool to PokerGives.org, a nonprofit organization started by Mike Sexton, Lisa Tenner, Fisher, and me. Thank you ladies for your generosity! By the way, our website PokerGives.org has a brand new look, so I hope my readers will check it out and consider making a donation.
Sunday morning began with a complimentary brunch set up in a private area just for the ladies. The Peppermill gave each of the 100+ entrants in the championship event a hat to commemorate the special event. Congratulations to each of the tournament winners and to the Peppermill for hosting the largest ladies event in Nevada. With the tremendous word of mouth, I expect the fields to be larger next year.
Unfortunately, while we were enjoying our weekend, Mother Nature was victimizing Japan in the form of an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami. In the times that I wasn’t playing poker, I was glued to the television screen watching in horror as the tragedy was played out over and over again. The pictures of the destruction looked like they came from a horror movie.
I have a very high regard for the country of Japan and the Japanese people. In fact, one of my closest friends, Hiroshi Shimamura, lives in Tokyo. As I watched the disaster unfold, I recalled my five wonderful trips to Japan. I met so many wonderful people and immediately came to respect and admire the Japanese culture. Hiroshi was a magnificent tour guide and proudly took my friends and me sightseeing in many regions of his country. It’s heartbreaking to know that some of these regions were destroyed by the natural disaster.
While watching the news in the days that followed the earthquake and tsunami, my admiration for the strength and resilience of the Japanese people grew even larger. At one point, they showed a long line of people who had been waiting patiently for water and supplies for more than 18 hours. There was no pushing, cutting in line, rioting, or violence. Everyone was calm and peaceful. I hate to say it, but had this happened in the United States, there most likely would have been looting and other selfish acts.
In closing this blog, I encourage you to live your life to the fullest. You never know when it will be taken away from you. Let me share two of my favorite quotes with you: “Go out and work like money doesn’t matter, sing as if no one is listening, love as if you have never been hurt, and dance as if no one is watching.” Also, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Good luck Japan.