People tend to stereotype. It’s human nature. Over the last few weeks, when I’ve told people that I would be heading out to Durant, Oklahoma, they all pretty much universally had the same reaction. I imagine that all manner of stereotypes were passing through their minds as they gave me a funny look, took a pregnant pause, and asked “Why? What’s all the way over there?” My immediate answer, of course, was that I was going to cover the 2022 World Poker Tour Choctaw series. Some, in particular those who had more familiarity with the poker world, said “Ah, OK”, but the overwhelming majority of people still seemed somewhat confounded. Quite literally, they repeated the same reaction of “But what’s all the way over there?”
I’ve had the pleasure of spending the last few days here at the Choctaw Casino & Resort, Durant, and I truly do mean that; it has been a genuine pleasure. Experiencing this place for the first time has certainly been eye opening, and throughout my time here I’ve been collecting experiences with the knowledge that I’d be writing up this specific article at the end of my trip.
What’s all the way out here at Choctaw?
Well, I’ve been documenting that via my writing and social media posts throughout the trip, but there’s more to tell you.
As mentioned, the primary reason I’m here is for the poker action. I’ve already documented this in detail, once as an observer of the meet-up game (MUG) hosted by World Poker Tour ambassador Brad Owen, and a second time in the form of a detailed Choctaw poker room review.
Of course, the $3,800 buy-in World Poker Tour Main Event has also been ongoing throughout my time here. A total of 787 entries were recorded over the course of the two starting days, meaning a prize pool of just over $2.75 million, comfortably exceeding the advertised $2 million guarantee. Poker players who venture out here looking for action won’t be disappointed, and one fortunate, highly skilled player will end up with a payday of almost half a million dollars once this WPT tournament draws to a close (the final table will be played out at the end of this month in Las Vegas).
The remaining 13 players are now on a one-hour dinner break in the WPT Choctaw Main Event.
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) May 16, 2022
Aside from the poker, there’s also plenty else to do here on property. As a matter of fact, I’ve listed 10 such things in my previous feature article, which I published earlier today. After all, this is the fifth-largest gambling resort in the entire United States (trust me, you do plenty of walking here!) and according to multiple employees Choctaw Casino & Resort Durant enjoys a 95%+ occupancy rate pretty much year round. You only have to be 18 years old to play poker and engage in other gambling activities here in Oklahoma, so that’s certainly part of the allure, too, at least for the younger crowd residing in neighboring states and population centers.
Poker and that more detailed list aside, however, there were still a few other things in particular that jumped out at me, which make this place unique and special among other places I’ve traveled to.
Extra Smooth Connectivity
From the moment you pass through the main doors into the resort, you can instantly connect to the complimentary Wi-Fi. There are no hoops to jump through, fields in which to enter your email address, video ads to watch, or anything like that. There’s no additional, dedicated Wi-Fi from the hotel rooms either; just the same solid, strong connection anywhere and everywhere you go on property. It might seem like a small detail, but that added smoothness is a subtle, nice touch.
The Drinks Are Flowing
Something else that stands out as exceptional to me are the ubiquitous self-serve beverage stations throughout the property. Keeping hydrated is always important and casinos around the world are well known to provide free drinks to gambling patrons. But what I’ve seen here is truly next level.
Anyone and everyone can feel free to walk up to the soda fountains and coffee machines at anytime, 24/7, and fill and refill their cups to their heart’s content. Again, it might seem like a somewhat minor detail, but this feeling of largesse and abundance — so freely supplying folks who’ve made their way out here with an open hand — genuinely makes one feel extra welcome.
A Hat Tip to Hospitality
Prior to traveling out here, I consulted with some poker experts as to what I could expect upon arriving for the WPT Choctaw event. Beyond what we published in that article, those panelists, along with a couple of other folks who’d been here before, told me that one of the things I would really like about this place is how exceptionally friendly everyone is. Like out-of-their-way to be extra amicable type of friendly.
As many Stetsons, cowboy boots, and big belt buckles as I’ve seen here — and I’ve seen a LOT of ’em! — I’ve heard dozens of times as many “I appreciate you-s”. That may just be a particular expression typical to these parts of the United States, but damned if I don’t feel extra appreciated! Really!
— Robbie Strazynski (@cardplayerlife) May 15, 2022
A Destination Y’all Ought to Visit
I have found myself saying on more than one occasion that this resort wouldn’t be out of place in Las Vegas. Yet, while it may have all the trimmings and trappings of a Strip-front property, Choctaw Casino & Resort Durant is more of a destination unto itself.
Nobody ends up here by accident, and nobody is “just passing by.” This is a regional gaming hub, and from having mingled with many a visitor over my days here it’s a place where locals and pretty much anyone within a five-hour drive is quite happy and excited to venture out to.
The signs leading to this place are already ubiquitous when you land at DFW airport in neighboring Dallas, Texas, and I’ll make an educated guess that similar signs exist on highways and byways across a 200-300 mile radius from the resort.
It’s also obvious to me why this place is so popular now that I’ve had the opportunity to experience it for myself. “Why Choctaw?” is almost a silly question once you understand what it means to have a wonderful experience like I’ve had over the last few days.
Sure, it’s a bit off the beaten path, and it might take a while to get to if you’re not a resident of the immediate surrounding region of the United States, but I assure you that if you make the effort to take a trip out here you’ll leave with fond memories and having had great experiences to cherish.