Casino Arizona to crown Queen of Poker

Deb Blair
Deb Blair, winner of the 2006 Arizona Ladies State Poker Championship.

If you build it, they will come - or to be more precise, if you host it, they will play. That's what the Casino Arizona found out last year when it started the Ladies State Poker Championship and more than 400 women showed up to play.

Now it's time for the second annual Ladies State Poker Championship and just as many, if not more, women are expected to head to the casino Saturday to vie for the "Queen of Poker" title.

"We had no idea what to expect when we started the Ladies State Poker Championship event last year," said Kent Odekirk, poker director for Casino Arizon.

"But when 400 players came and competed for the coveted prize, we knew we had a successful event on our hands. As a result, we have increased the number of players to 450 this year and expect an even stronger turnout."

The buy-in and service fee for the tournament come out to $300, and the tournament begins Saturday at 9 a.m. in the poker room at Casino Arizona.

The tournament has a guaranteed prize pool of $125,000 this year. From that the winner will take a $50,000 chunk as well as receive a necklace and trophy.

Prize money will be awarded through the top 45 finalists, with the lowest payout being $325 for 31st through 45th place.

Last year the tournament was won by Tucson, Ariz., native Deb Blair. She topped the 400 entrants to take home a $40,000 cash prize, the diamond pendant necklace and the trophy.

She said after her win last year that she was glad she got up at 6 a.m. to make the two-hour drive from her home to the Casino Arizona.

"This was my first time playing at Casino Arizona, and I had a really good experience," she said.

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