By Dennis Fujimoto - The Garden Island
LIHU'E - erupted in jubilation when she discovered that she had won the Texas Hold 'Em Poker Tournament finals held Saturday at the Lihu'e Big Save.
In a Kaua'i style version of the popular celebrity poker games on cable TV, 35 finalists from around the island converged for the finals that were played out on seven tables under a tent set up in the parking lot outside the grocery store.
Five hands later, a winner from each of the tables would advance to the final table where they played seven hands for the grand prize - $500 cash, a trip for two to Las Vegas, and one of the poker sets on sale at Big Save Markets.
It came down to just a two-chip difference as Oyama, who entered the final round down in chips, emerged as the winner over Clyde Hironaka.
"My hand is still shaking," an elated Oyama said. "Just wish me luck, and it came."
"There was nothing I could do," a disappointed Hironaka said.
"I had the worst hand on the table, and I couldn't do anything."
Hironaka, with supporters clearly visible outside the special tent set up outside the Lihu'e Big Save, was in the lead with a pile of chips going into the seventh hand.
He had also maintained control of the table going into the final round.
Dickie Chang, host of Wala'au, said Hironaka didn't have to do anything on that seventh hand, and he would have won just by the numbers.
But, that was not to be as Oyama played out her hand, winning the round with a pair of kings, and 10's.
That victory earned her the pot which, by that time, had grown considerable due to the fact that it was the last round, the remaining bidders opting to put forth everything they had left.
The contest was sponsored by Coca Cola, Red Bull and Big Save, with all seven finalists receiving one of the special 500-piece poker sets they played their finals on.
Oyama, who considers her-self a beginner, said: "This tournament was really good. We ought to do it, again. Every year."
For members of the audience, it was the closest thing to the Las Vegas experience without having to leave Lihu'e as they crowded the tent and watched the hands being played out.
"The only thing missing," one spectator said, "was the girls serving the cocktails."
But, that was remedied by Steve Bauman, the island manager of Coca Cola dispensing samples of their Full Throttle energy drink as well as a soon-to-be-released Dasani water with lemon. Eric Sakizaki, complete with a straw cowboy hat, handled the play-by-play action during the finals with Roger Sasaki of Roger Rents providing the appropriate background music as the hands were played out.
Big Save officials and personnel served as dealers.