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Poker News | World Poker News

A Short History of the Bayou Poker Challenge at Harrah’s New Orleans

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This marks the fourth year of the Bayou Poker Challenge, which is held annually each December, at Harrah’s New Orleans.  It is one of the South’s largest and most successful poker tournaments, and has awarded in excess of $8 million in prize money since its creation.

The first major poker tournament held at Harrah’s New Orleans was called the “Cajun Poker Classic,” which took place in early 2004.  The three-day tournament attracted 536 players and inspired the casino to host more poker events in the future.  Later that year, the first Bayou Poker Challenge was held, which consisted of six tournaments.  

Next, Harrah’s New Orleans became a charter member of the World Series of Poker Circuits, which officially started play in 2005.  Since then, New Orleans has hosted the final stop on the circuit each year, which takes place in mid-May just prior to the start of the WSOP at the Rio in Las Vegas.  The first two WSOP Circuit championships held at Harrah’s New Orleans were televised by ESPN and were among the most exciting tournaments broadcast at the time.  They still occasionally appear in re-runs to this day.

WSOP Circuit events in New Orleans proved to be so successful that a second tournament series was created, starting in 2007.  This became known as the “Bayou Poker Challenge” (a.k.a. the Winter Bayou Poker Challenge), which has since become a December attraction.  This tournament series is categorized as a World Series of Poker Satellite, since its Main Event winner earns an entry valued at $10,000 seat (plus expense money) into the WSOP championship, held the following year.  For instance, this year’s Bayou Poker Challenge Event Champion will win a seat into the 2010 WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas.

Bayou Poker Challenge results and statistics are not included in the historical records of WSOP Circuit events.  Furthermore, winners do not receive gold rings, which is the customary prize awarded for a victory in most WSOP Circuit events.  Nonetheless, the Bayou Poker Challenge (BPC) has proven to be a popular attraction for many poker players, who mostly come to the Crescent City from the states of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and surrounding areas.  The 2007 BPC consisted of ten events.  The 2008 BPC included nine events.  This year’s Bayou Poker Challenge offers a full schedule of 15-events, the most ever offered -- including a senior’s event for the very first time.  In addition, this year’s series from December 8-20 includes nine nightly $200 buy-in tournaments, which brings the total number of competitive events up to 22.  This does not include dozens of mega- and single-table satellites, as well as live action (cash games) held inside the 23-table poker room which operates 24 hours a day.

Coming up on Friday, December 18th Harrah’s New Orleans will be hosting the Poker and Pigskin Showdown.  A $550 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament will be held starting at 5 pm on Friday event, just prior to a big weekend of football games.  Since this will be one of the busiest weekends of the year in New Orleans, football fans are expected to fill many of the seats inside the poker arena.  On Saturday night, the (now) undefeated New Orleans Saints will play the Dallas Cowboys at the Superdome.  The following night, the New Orleans Bowl takes place between Mississippi State University and Middle Tennessee State University.

All of the poker tournament action takes place inside the Harrah’s New Orleans amphitheatre, which regularly hosts many of the most popular performers in music and entertainment.  But in December at least, the real stars at Harrah’s New Orleans are poker players.

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