Poker players upset over Talking Stick Resort closure due to monsoon damage

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- The damage left from last week's storms is still having an impact across the Valley, and poker players are fired up about the State Poker Championship being canceled, after Talking Stick Resort closed down its facility.

They were getting pretty fast and furious," said one woman. "There was this big hurricane, wind, lightning, rain, everything."

The strong winds and rain pummeling the Talking Stick Resort last week caused the resort to be shut down, and at least five events to be canceled, including the tournament. The State Championship is apparently a big deal in the poker world. It was supposed to be a five-day event with about a thousand players from all over the world, and a $1.5 million prize pool on the line.

The storm has set off a totally different kind of firestorm online. One Twitter use questioned the resort's preparation and emergency plan. Meanwhile, on Facebook, one user said, "Unbelievable. What a poor decision made by management."

"Why didn't they move the tournament to another casino that they own?" asked David Coffelt, via a video interview from his home in Texas. "There were so many things that happened that could have been done."

Coffelt says he drove more than six hours to play at the big championship tournament.

"Travel expense, money back, voucher expenses, food expenses, and so forth," said Coffelt.

Coffelt says he was told he will get a refund for his ticket, but not his other expenses, so he would have rather just played the game.

"It's just really disappointing as a player that there's no 'Plan B' in effect as to make sure these instances don't happen," said Coffelt.

Meanwhile, Talking Stick spokesperson Ramon Martinez said the resort has never dealt with anything like this before, and are doing the best they can.

"First time, just a few days in a row, ground gets saturated, and came in off the mountains," said Ramon Martinez.

Martinez says they evacuated more than 600 hotel guests, and will be closed until Sunday because of all the flood damage and the power outage.

On Talking Stick's website, it says players who signed up to play on Saturday and Sunday can get a full refund for their tickets. Meanwhile, officials also said that out of state players can mail them their registration receipt for their refunds.

Talking Stick Resort
Attn: Heidi Harris/Poker Room
8900 E. Chaparral Rd, Suite 1010
Scottsdale, AZ 85250