Poker in the Western Prairie, PART 4

by Ashley Adams

I have been reporting on poker in North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. I complete this four part series by describing my poker trip through South Dakota and back to Minneapolis where it began just a short six days earlier. I left the poker mecca of Wyoming for the legendary Deadwood, South Dakota—home to famed poker player and lawman Wild Bill Hickok. I had read a lot about the place—most recently in Jim McManus’ poker tome Cowboy’s Full. I wanted to experience the place for myself.

 Along the way to Deadwood I stopped at the iconic Mt. Rushmore. I walked across the base of the immense structure, watching in awe as the glistening white rock sculptures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and then Abraham Lincoln emerged. Here was our great American heritage, writ large. I enjoyed soaking it all in. A few hours later and I was in Deadwood – a largely recreated town out of the great American history of the old west. It is a modern town as well, to be sure, filled with casinos, restaurants, jewelry stores, and souvenir shops. Included in the mix, spanning the years in a way, are poker rooms that give tribute to the great American game while providing a form of modern recreation.

 There are four active poker rooms in Deadwood: The Deadwood Lodge, Cadillac Jacks, Saloon #10, and the Silverado. I played at least briefly in three of them (the Lodge didn’t get a game while I was in town on a Tuesday.

 The Deadwood Lodge, 100 Pine Crest Lane (877) 393-5634, is the most luxurious of the establishments in Deadwood. It is by far the newest, most spacious, and beautiful. It has a fine dining establishment and an excellent sports bar (with a delicious whiskey steak that I sampled). The poker room is said to be the busiest in town on Wednesday nights when they have a poker tournament in which the house matches the buy-ins of all the players – making for an enormous prize pool for a very short buy-in. My one disappointment of the trip was not being around for it.

 Cadillac Jacks, 360 Main Street (866) 332-3966, runs daily tournaments and cash games. I played in a $12 tournament with unlimited $5 re-buys during the first hour. When they say “unlimited” they mean it. A player may buy as many rebuys as he wishes at any time during the first hour regardless of his starting stack. One player was alleged to have added on to his starting stack of 2,000 in tournament chips by immediately buying 100 rebuys at $5 a piece for and additional 50,000 in starting chips.

 The Silverado, 709 Main Street (605) 578-3670, is a four-table room in a modern casino that runs low limit hold’em and Omaha 8 games. I played in a $3 - $6 dealer’s choice game that was quite sedate. The house provides a nice little buffet for players. I enjoyed the mini-tacos and vegetables, and stayed away from the miniature ham sandwiches.

 The highlight of the trip to Deadwood for me was visiting and playing in Saloon #10, 657 Main Street (800) 952-9398, – the recreated site of the famous shooting of Wild Bill Hickok. It gave name to the Deadman’s Hand of Aces and Eights (with the nine of diamonds according to this version of the legend). The hand is displayed. There is also a thrice-daily recreation of the event—with audience members playing the role of Bill’s fellow poker players on the fateful day. I was lucky enough to be selected for one of those roles—denying Bill the seat he wanted and goading him into sitting down for his final hand. It was great fun. And I managed a winning session in a 7-card stud hi low game they were spreading.

 All in all, the trip was enormous fun—made especially so by the luxurious comfort of a room at the Deadwood Lodge, fun poker, and a walk through the great poker history of Deadwood. I’m eager to go back. But next time I’ll make sure to make it on a Wednesday night when the action at the Deadwood Lodge is said to be outstanding.

 Ashley Adams is the author of Winning No Limit Hold’em and Winning 7-Card Stud. He hosts the radio show House of Cards, broadcast in markets throughout the US and on the Internet at http://www.houseofcardsradio. com. Contact Ashley at asha34@aol.com.

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