Record 814 Players Jam Vegas' Golden Nugget In Third Annual Moose International Hold 'Em Tourney




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An overview of several players -- some jovial, some serious, some deep in concentration -- from all age groups, all areas of the continent, and of course both genders, were participating in the first day of competition in the Third Annual Moose International Texas Hold'Em Poker Tournament, being held Jan. 9-11, 2012 at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas.


LAS VEGAS, Jan. 10 - In three years, Texas Hold 'Em players in the Moose fraternity have found they liked the gaming room where their annual International tournament took place so much that they decided to fill it.




The third annual Moose International Texas Hold Em Tournament began on Monday, Jan. 9 at the Golden Nugget Casino with a record 814 players competing for some of the record $165,400 prize money on-offer this year. Everyone's eyes were on the $16,000 first prize as play got underway, but opening-day play was a long way from Wednesday evening's final table action -- from which the champion will be crowned and handed the bracelet that goes to the tournament winners.


"The thing that stands out about this is the friendliness and the camaraderie and good feelings that people have for each other," Director of Membership Shawn Baile said. "You know everybody wants to win this thing. But they're rooting for the other people at their table just as hard."


The tournament has grown from an initial turnout of 504 two years ago in January 2010; it swelled to 750 players in January 2011 and to 814 this winter. The increase in the number of players has necessitated some changes in the organization of the event. This year, opening-day play took place in two six-hour sessions. Competition on Tuesday and Wednesday is not flighted.


"You want to see it continue to grow," Baile said. "I know some people say we didn't grow as much this year as we did from Year One to Year Two. But growth is growth. Even if we were one ahead of last year, I'd still be happy. We want this to be an event that excites people. Judging by the start of this, there's no reason to think that that's not taking place right now." The players come from literally all over the Moose fraternity. Players came from 41 states in the U.S. and two Canadian provinces. Leading the way was Florida, which had 88 players at the start of the tournament. Illinois supplied 79 players with North Carolina (56), Indiana (55) and Ohio (49) rounding the Top 5.


"There are a lot of familiar faces," Baile said. "When you see the registrations coming in, you sit down and say 'on yeah, I remember this person and that person.' We've obviously found something the members enjoy doing that they want to participate in."


As in past years, a significant number of players belong to the Women of the Moose. At the start of play, there were 659 men and 155 women competing. Among the field were both previous winners, Anthony Mills, the 2010 champion and the 2011 champ, Tim Donovan.


"It's nice to see them both walking around wearing their bracelets," Baile said. "I'm glad they're proud of their accomplishments."


The abundant turnout was broken into 427 players in the morning session and a further 387 in the evening portion of competition. In the 2011 tournament, all competitors played at the same time, though some used the Golden Nugget's Poker Room while the rest were in the large meeting space.


"Last year, we had 750 people and we started everybody at the same time," Baile said. "We had a full room with tables having one more chair than would normally used. We felt this was the best and fairest way to do it this year. I think, over the years, people have become familiar with this facility."


The Golden Nugget has hosted all three Moose International Texas Hold 'Em tournaments.


"The positive comments continue to outweigh the negative comments, probably three or four to one," Baile said. "People just love this venue and it's fit us very well."


John Colville, Director of Poker Operations for the Golden Nugget said his casino has come to look forward to the Moose International event.


"It's fantastic," Colville said. "I wouldn't be surprised at all if, next year, it was at 1,000. Any annual event that we can get here that gets bigger year to year is good. We like to push annual events as much as we can. It's a good partnership between the Golden Nugget and Moose. I think it works for both sides."


Colville said the Moose Texas Hold 'Em event is one of the "top two or three poker events for the year."


"That's saying something," Colville said. "We do a lot of events. We look forward to it every year and I look forward to it growing."

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