Poker returns to the Big Easy in December

Harrah's New Orleans

They are set to party in New Orleans and this time it's not Mardi Gras but the Winter Bayou Poker Challenge, which includes 15 tournaments packed into 10 days of poker action.

The tournament series will run from Dec. 1 to Dec. 10, marking the second year that Harrah's New Orleans has offered a year-end poker festival.

Last year the Winter Bayou Challenge included 10 events and was considered to be a success, but Jim Hoskins, senior vice president and general manager of Harrah's New Orleans, is convinced the 2008 edition will be even better.

"We know that today's poker player has many options about where to go and play," he said. "So, this year we decided to pack 15 tournaments into 10 straight days of non-stop action. On most days we are offering two major tournaments. This will allow players considerably more options and a greater opportunity to have a good time and hopefully win some prize money."

Despite the fact that the Winter Bayou Challenge has lost its WSOPC tag this year (each Harrah's property will host only one WSOPC event), its schedule includes a much broader range of buy-ins for players with varying bankrolls and experience.

Buy-ins will go all the way from $200 for Ladies' No-Limit Hold'em to $5,150 for the main event. East Coasters will also be pleased to know that for the first time ever there will be a Seven-Card Stud event in New Orleans.

That Ladies NLHE is a championship event, and Poker Hall of Fame member Barbara Enright will be offering up some advice in a free poker seminar Dec. 7, the day the event takes place.

Harrah's seems to have taken players' concerns seriously, as this year they will be offering more starting chips than in years past to allow for more tournament play.

"One thing that our players consistently tell us is that they want more chips to start the tournament," said Hoskins. "In some cases we have double the number of starting chips over what was done previously. This will allow players more bang for their tournament buck."

Last year in the main event Andy Philachack narrowly defeated well-known poker pro Josh Arieh to take the crown at the Winter Bayou Poker Challenge for $247,860.

Also of note was Lou Esposito coming in ninth. Esposito has been so successful in New Orleans that he has acquired the nickname "The Big Easy" from locals, and he will no doubt be in town to play at least the main event.

To see the complete schedule for the 2008 WSOPC Winter Bayou Poker Challenge click here.


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