Oklahoma event dishes out $3 million prize pool

Big stacks are good

Usually when a poker tournament is being advertised as having more than $1 million guaranteed in the prize pool, it's a safe bet the tournament is part of one of the major poker tours around the world. However, the Winstar World Casino in Oklahoma recently hosted a tournament with a $3 million guaranteed prize pool.

The River Poker Championship took place Sunday, Aug. 23, with Jim Carroll of Richardson, Texas, taking home the $700,000 first-place prize.

He topped a field of 1,450 entrants, who were all looking for a piece of the $3 million prize. Only 144 would claim some of the prize pool, and Carroll got his large chunk, plus a $20,000 bracelet for his win.

"I knew I could win it!" Carroll said. "The staff was great, the tournament was well run and it all gave me a good feeling."

It wasn't an easy win for the Texan. The tournament came down to a battle between him and professional player Young Cho. They entered into heads-up play nearly even in the chip count, but Carroll eventually worked his way into the lead and then hit top pair to catch Cho in an all-in bluff.

"He's a better player than me, so I knew I had to change it up," Carroll said of Cho. "I felt good about that hand."

The final-table results for the event were as follows:




Prize Money


Jim Carroll

Richardson, Texas

$ 700,000


Young Cho

Enid, OK

$ 365,000


Bob Poole

Rudy, AR

$ 213,000


James Smith

Dallas, TX

$ 150,000


Frankie Evans

Mesquite, TX

$ 120,000


Thomas Tu

Dallas, TX

$ 105,000


Sean Carlisle

El Paso, TX

$ 90,000


Brian Burney

Branson, MO

$ 75,000


Nathan Halbert

Winfield, KS

$ 67,500


Sara Chan


$ 60,000

Along with the $2,100 buy-in main event, The River Poker Championship included a series of satellites and mega satellites that will be televised in Oklahoma and the Dallas/Fort Worth areas on ABC affiliates.

The poker tournaments also attracted several professional poker players along with Young Cho. T.J. Cloutier, Kido Pham, Tex Barch and Bruce Van Horn all showed up to play. Greg Raymer and Annie Duke were also on hand as commentators.

"This is the largest guaranteed tournament in the state of Oklahoma," said Jay Wiles, Winstar World Casino poker room manager. "We want the best for the players and will continue to provide them with the best we can offer."

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