Downstream Casino Resort - Quapaw, OK Recap
Quapaw, OK – In an area rich with outlaw history, two young men battled for a bounty that Baby Face Nelson would have envied. With over eighty grand up for grabs, barely-legal poker pros Colin Leighton, 21, and James Darnaby, 23, took no prisoners Sunday night in Quapaw, Oklahoma. Much like Bonnie & Clyde’s aggressive spree through the four-state area, Leighton and Darnaby dueled it out in the spotlight. The local young guns were the latest poker players to go heads up on The Heartland Poker Tour, a nationally-syndicated TV show filming at Downstream Casino Resort.
“They are the future of poker,” said HPT Commentator Fred Bevill. Both men play professionally, making frequent visits to the poker room at Downstream. Just old enough to order a drink at the bar, Leighton says it is often his opponents at the table who want to see his I.D. “I have a baby face,” said the part-time student.
It was his poker face that earned Leighton $40,690 in second place Sunday night. Distracted by his college football team’s big game, he nearly missed his opportunity to play in the poker tournament over the weekend. After the University of Arkansas lost, Leighton turned his disappoint into aggression on the felt.
In some of the best action seen on The Heartland Poker Tour, Leighton experienced wild swings of ups and downs. At one point, he said goodbye to the other players, assuming his nine-ten wouldn’t hold up against another player’s queens. As he began to walk off the set, the dealer turned a nine, then a ten. In disbelief, Leighton returned to his seat doubling his stack.
Like the outlaws pursuing riches generations ago, Leighton and Darnaby ruthlessly eliminated their opposition one by one. With top pair and a queen kicker, Darnaby eventually became the last man standing when Leighton went all in with an open-ended straight draw. The Grove, Oklahoma pro player added $81,380 to his bankroll.
Darnaby took down Kansas cattle rancher Greg Peck, 54, when he flopped a straight against Peck’s top pair with a queen kicker. The sixth-place finisher learned the game in a barn from his father, who was also a rancher. “My dad advised me to never play poker because I wasn’t very good,” Peck said, adding that a lot has changed about his poker play since the days in the barn. “I wish my dad was alive today to come see this place,” he said. A far cry from a barn, Peck says Downstream Casino Resort is his home casino because “it’s first class.”
Like his famous namesake, “Greg Peck is first class,” said HPT President Todd Anderson. Heartland producers were impressed with Peck’s commitment to donate a quarter of his prize to a local homeless shelter and the Red Cross, treating his wife of 31 years to the remainder. Earning $13,563, Peck’s success in the tournament will make an impact on the region, which aligns with the mission of The Heartland Poker Tour.
When the HPT stopped at Downstream earlier this year, executives announced an ongoing charitable partnership with Disabled American Veterans. The production company currently donates one percent of every prize pool to the cause and will host its first celebrity charity tournament in Vegas to benefit the DAV this January. “Our generous players inspired us to follow suit and make a difference,” Anderson said.
At each stop on the tour, producers of Heartland Poker Tour invite local residents to compete for a chance to play on TV and win a substantial cash prize. Of the 292 poker enthusiasts who played the Main Event at Downstream, five of the final six to make it to the televised set were from the four-state area: Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas.
Third-place finisher Gil George, 63, and his wife, Kim, traveled from Texas for the tournament. The $24,414 prize money was worth the trip for the commercial real estate agent, especially considering his wife recently lost her job. Max Bock, 30, of Ft. Smith, Arkansas, agrees, “It’s an easy way to make a living.” The preschool-teacher-turned-poker-pro made it look easy Sunday night, earning $18,989 in fourth place.
Another ambitious player, 33-year-old Huey Long of Springfield, Missouri, said, “I want to win at everything,” With a lifelong love of competition, Long joked that he turned to poker when he “got too fat and old for sports.” Finishing fifth, the $16,276 he won on national TV now outshines his college basketball glory. “Besides the life-changing money, it’s also the chance to play on TV that entices people to come out and play,” said Executive Producer Greg Lang. The widely-distributed Heartland Poker Tour is available in over 100 million US homes, throughout Europe, and the Caribbean, airing locally on KFJX Fox 14 Saturday nights at 11:30 PM.