The 2018 Arizona State Poker Championship has been called off after a monsoon storm knocked out power and caused and significant flooding at the Talking Stick Resort.
Officials had no choice but to cancel the state’s flagship poker event, despite the fact that the first flight had already been completed.
Day 1a of the 14th annual event got underway on Friday with 553 entrants, 90 of whom survived and were set to move on to Day 2. A total of three Day 1 flights were scheduled, but they failed to launch after a storm slammed the region, knocking out power to the facility.
Last year’s $1,100 buy-in event attracted almost 1,700 entrants, generating a prize pool of neatly $1.7 million. Rellie Siga took down the top prize for $265,706 and a $30,000 Rolex watch.
It turns out he’ll be the defending champion for one more year. Officials initially suspended the tournament in the hopes that it could be resumed at a later date, but the decision was ultimately made to cancel it outright.
It wasn’t just the poker players affected by Friday’s storm. The monsoon knocked out power to some 1,600 homes in the area and forced the evacuation of about 800 people from the Talking Stick Casino.
Heavy rain led to significant flooding in the 240,000-square-foot casino, and all that water not only knocked out the main power, but also killed the facility’s main and backup generators.
“The lights were out and the power was out,” said Detective Joseph Orozco of the Salt River Police Department, according to AZ Central. “You don’t want to play with that in a building like that with so many people. We just wanted to make sure everyone is safe.”
Talking stick officials say they’re footing the bill to place the affected guests at other nearby hotels.
Prize Pool Disbursement
The reimbursement routine isn’t quite as simple for the tournament directors. With the poker championship being called off altogether, officials need to figure out what to do with the prize pool.
PokerStars faced some criticism from how it handled the cancellation of several online tournaments this past weekend. However, handling the same scenario when it comes to live events is a little more complicated, given that people come from all over the region to play.
On a post on their Facebook page, the resort announced that the 90 players who survived Day 1a will split the $553,000 prize pool based on an ICM chip count which “will be announced at a later date.”
Players set to take part on the other two flights can get a full refund by bringing their receipt to the nearby Arizona Casino. Out of town players are asked to mail in their tournament ticket, and their refund will be sent by mail.
The casino is scheduled to reopen on August 19.