Lady Luck sides with the ladies

LIHU’E — Cyndi Desamparado is going to Las Vegas.

Desamparado was the only lady in the field of seven finalists at the Big Save Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament.

Competition among the seven starting tables with seven players on each table was keen from the start, as players from all parts of the island converged on a tent in the parking lot of the Lihu’e Big Save to compete for the final prize of a trip for two to Las Vegas with $500 in spending money.

Many came with their lucky shirts, caps, and best poker faces, as host Eric Sakazaki and the “Wala’au” cameras added the flavor of a Vegas poker tournament, while Charles Kawakami and a host of Big Save employees meandered through the sea of tables to watch the ongoing action.

One of the new features of this year’s event was the drawing of seven names to fill a wild-card table.

Winners of the drawing had to be in the audience at the drawing, held just before the start of the tournament, and in an announcement made on tournament day, this year’s winner would automatically be granted a seat at next year’s wild-card table.

Cheryl Oyama, the winner of last year’s inaugural event, was among members of the crowd witnessing the competitors jockey through the hands.

Last year, Oyama was the sole woman among six men in the finals, before taking the prize on the final hand.

Similarly, Desamparado repeated the feat, holding until the final card before her victory was signaled by a raise of her arms and the sullen faces of the two remaining men, Kevin Gonzales and Buddy Higashi.

Earlier, Clifford Texeira dropped out in hopes of advancing his collection of chips to the remaining two men, but the gesture was for naught, as Desamparado got the winning hand as dealer Wes Park flipped the final card onto the table.

The seven semi-finalists included Desamparado, Higashi, Gonzales, Texeira, Alan Balocan, Philip Kamakea, and Keli’i Kaimina’au’ao.

The event was sponsored by officials with the Coca Cola Company, who had samples of their new Vault drink on hand, and Red Bull, along with Big Save, Inc.


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