Champions Poker Club in Houston to set state record with $1m guaranteed event

Jon Sofen
Published by:
Posted on 04/12/2021

A $1 million guaranteed tournament at the Champions Poker Club in Houston will set a Texas record for the largest prize pool in history. The tournament begins April 27 and runs until May 3, the day of the final table.

The buy-in for the record-setting tournament is $1,300 and players can enter multiple times among the five Day 1 starting flights. They say everything is big in Texas, and this event is going to be huge. So huge that numerous high-profile poker pros are heading down to Houston to compete, including Americas Cardroom ambassador Chris Moneymaker, who is so psyched for this historic event that he’s briefly ending his live poker retirement to compete.

PokerGO commentators Jeff Platt and Brent Hanks, host of the No Gamble, No Future poker podcast, will be on hand in Houston to commentate on the $1.5 million guaranteed Lone Star Series, which begins April 15. The Main Event, the aforementioned $1 million guaranteed tournament kicks off April 27 and will go down as the state’s biggest live poker event in history.

Texas has some murky gambling laws, and technically poker is illegal statewide. But there is a loophole that certain card rooms have figured out. You won’t find any traditional brick-and-mortar poker rooms in the Lone Star State. Instead, they have social clubs such as the Champions Poker Club.

How these clubs operate is that instead of taking a rake out of pots, which would be illegal, they charge a membership fee, and then players pay a fee for a seat at the table. The card clubs have been at odds with many lawmakers over the past few years, and some politicians still believe they’re operating illegally.

We aren’t attorneys, so we’ll leave others to determine legality with these card clubs. What we do know is, the Champions Poker Club in Houston is set to host a major event with the largest guaranteed prize pool in Texas history. And it comes during COVID-19 just months after casinos everywhere began to reopen, proving once again that live poker is back and booming, and those who claimed the pandemic would be the death of the poker industry were sadly mistaken.

Top pros coming to Texas

Moneymaker, who recently left PokerStars after 12 years to become the face of Americas Cardroom, doesn’t play much live poker these days. But he couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to compete for his share of that $1 million prize pool. The 2003 WSOP Main Event champ said in a February interview with Poker.org that he was considering opening a poker room in Texas before the pandemic. Although that idea is now on the shelf, he said he may one day make it happen down the road.

Greg Raymer, who won the Main Event the year after Moneymaker, is also attending the Lone Star Series. He’ll be joined by World Poker Tour superstar Darren Elias, Matt Berkey, and other high-profile poker pros.

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