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House of Cards
by Ashley Adams

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Plains Poker, Part 4

by Ashley Adams
Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3
In the last three installments of this four-part David J. Valley series I wrote about poker rooms my friend Andrei and I played in during our recent visit to Oklahoma and Kansas. In this, the last article of the series, I’ll tell you about our experiences in Kansas City, Missouri, with a quick story of a poker side trip to Texas thrown in for good measure. Kansas City is worth visiting even without the poker. It has all of the amenities of major American cities including excellent art museums, restaurants, music, architecture, and outdoor activities. The area is best known for great barbeque, fantastic steak houses, and of course the combined Jazz Museum and Negro Leagues Museum. My friend Andrei and I spend half a day touring around these famous sites and eating local cuisine. But we saved the evening and night for poker.

 Kansas City has lost some its poker action with the closing of the Argosy Casino poker room back a little more than a year ago. They are down to two public rooms: the Ameristar Casino and Harrahs, North Kansas City.

 The Ameristar poker room: 3200 North Ameristar Drive, Kansas City, MO, 816.414.7000 is on the second floor of this full service “riverboat” casino. It is a well-lighted room, completely smoke free, and done up in the décor of the gilded age. When we visited on a Wednesday evening they were spreading two tables of $1-$2 no-limit and two of $3-$6 limit hold’em. They told me that they never get a larger game but frequently have more tables going than on that Wednesday night. The room was extremely comfortable, with a reasonable $4 maximum rake, and $.75 an hour in comps for players. They also have a full schedule of tournaments. The games I sampled were quite sedate—something that a couple of regulars told me was generally the case.

 Harrah’s poker room: 1 Riverboat Drive, North Kansas City, MO, 816.472.7777 is similarly situated, on the second floor of the casino. It had more and bigger action than the Ameristar. In addition to $3-$6 limit and $1-$2 no-limit, they also spread $2-$5 and $5-$10 no-limit and fixed-limit games as high as $20-$40. The rake and comps were comparable to Ameristar. The games were definitely a bit juicier (or scarier, I suppose) with more raising, less calling, and from my perspective more money to be won. My friend Andrei preferred the Ameristar, finding it a more comfortable room. For the smoking intolerant, Harrah’s may prove unacceptable because of the cigarette smoke that wafts in from outside of this non-smoking room. But both the Ameristar and Harrah’s are fine places to play poker. I recommend them both.

 Before ending this poker adventure story, I’d also like to share a brief experience I had earlier in my poker trip, playing poker in Texas while staying at the Winstar in southern Oklahoma. I found a game over the border at the Texas Bull Night Club: 3415 East Highway 82, Gainesville, Texas, 940.612.0100. It was a free game—part of a bar league—with players earning points toward an eventual free roll with significant prizes at the end of the season. The winner of the nightly tournament received, in addition to his points, $25 in bar credit. (For you scoffers out there, in the immortal words of Jimmy the Greek, “Hey, it’s action ain’t it?”) They play every Tuesday and Sunday night. Bar leagues like this one are common throughout those parts of the US that don’t have legal public poker rooms, and for the poker obsessed like me, worth knowing about. All totaled, during this six day poker trip I managed to visit 13 poker rooms, played poker in four states, finished ahead by a few hundred dollars, met dozens of interesting people, drove about 1,500 miles, ate some great meals, and had a wonderful time. For me it is the ideal way to see our diverse nation!
Ashley Adams is the author of Winning 7-Card Stud and Winning No Limit Low Limit Hold’em. He hosts the radio show House of Cards, broadcast Mondays at 5 – 6 p.m. in Boston, MA, on 1510 AM, and on the Internet at

 Contact Ashley at

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