The Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) is currently in Blackhawk, Colorado at the Golden Gates Casino — which PokerNews is covering — and next weekend the tour will return to Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells in South Central Wisconsin.
The preliminary weekly satellites are experiencing record numbers at Ho-Chunk, with the $65 super satellites averaging over 100 entries, meaning 20-plus players are winning seats into the $250 qualifiers. Furthermore, the Main Event will mark the first time a new structure, designed by Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler will be used.
Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells happens to be my local casino (I literally live 15 minutes away), so I thought it might be fun to fill my fellow poker players in on things to do away from the felt. Don’t get me wrong, I hope you’re too busy playing poker to do anything else, but in the case you find yourself with some free time – be it a result of either arriving early, surviving Day 1a, or elimination – I recommend you check out the following attractions.
Touchdown Tavern in Nearby Reedsburg
This local watering hole is about a 20-minute drive from Ho-Chunk straight down Highway 33. As the name suggests, it’s a Green Bay Packers themed bar, though it’s much more than that. In fact, it’s such an eclectic place that it really has no classification. If I had to describe it I’d say it’s a bar/restaurant/flea market hybrid.
The bar has a fine selection of beers on tap and is renowned for offering Captain and Cokes for a mere $2 (try finding those prices in Las Vegas). As far as the restaurant is concerned, Touchdown Tavern has an expansive menu of bar food including deep-friend cheese curds, a variety of burgers (including the “Reeds-burger”), and what they claim is the state’s hottest chili. They also have a daily special and soup of the week.
Finally, I say its part flea market because the owner has a tradition of selling and raffling off a vast array of items. For example, I’ve seen them raffle off artwork, bottles of booze, a bucket, and antiques. There’s really no telling what you’ll see when you walk in.
As far as poker is concerned, every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. the tavern hosts a $20 buy-in (100% paid back) no-limit hold’em tournament. Everyone is welcome, and on Wednesday, March 19, they’ll actually be giving away a $250 MSPT qualifier seat to the winner. It’s the cheapest possible way to satellite into the $1,100 Main Event, and all are welcome.
For more information, check out Touchdown Tavern on Facebook.
Indoor Water & Amusement Parks
“It was the ingenious idea of some local resort owners to put a roof over a waterpark attraction and, voila, the phenomenon that is the indoor waterpark became synonymous with Wisconsin Dells,” says wisdells.com. “There are over 20 indoor waterparks in Wisconsin Dells and water playgrounds to choose from, with accommodations to suit every fancy. The indoor waterparks in Wisconsin Dells are open 12 months a year, so no excuses when it comes to finding a convenient time to visit."
I grew up around these waterparks, so their splendor wore off long ago. However, I understand they’re a big hit with tourists and their families. That’s what makes Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells such a great tournament stop – just drop off the wife and kids at the waterparks and they’ll keep themselves busy all night while you play poker.
Wisconsin Dells is also home to numerous outdoor waterparks, such as America’s largest – Noah’s Ark. Unfortunately there’s still snow on the ground, so if you want to get your feet wet you’ll have to check out an indoor waterpark. Kalahari, Great Wolf, and Wilderness seem to be the best, but I give the nod to Kalahari as they also have an indoor amusement park and it’s connected to an AMC Theater (which you can read about below).
Located in downtown Wisconsin Dells (about a 15-minute drive), the Showboat Saloon is one of the most popular bars in the city. What’s more, if you arrive a day early you can take advantage of "Thursday Bacon Night," which is simply all-you-can-eat deep-friend bacon. It’s absolutely delicious. Toss in affordable drinks, live music, and a good location (it’s within walking distance of several other bars in case you want to take a stroll), and Showboat is a perfect option for those looking to enjoy the nightlife.
AMC Desert Star Cinema
If you’re not feeling too energetic, there’s a movie theater a few miles up the road from Ho-Chunk. The AMC Theater offers 15 screens showcasing the latest Hollywood releases. You can find out what’s playing by clicking here.
Country Music Superstars Big & Rich
The MSPT is always a big affair, but next weekend it won’t be the biggest show in town. That distinction belongs to the dynamic country duo Big & Rich, who will be playing the venue on Saturday, March 22 at 7 p.m. That overlaps with Day 1b play, but it’s a prime entertainment opportunity for the Day 1a survivors.
Big & Rich, also known as Big Kenny and John Rich, are country music superstars responsible for such hits as Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy), Wild West Show, Kick My Ass, Big Time, Lost in This Moment, and 8th of November.
John Rich was also featured on Season 4 of Celebrity Apprentice, which he ultimately won after defeating Marlee Matlin in the finals.
Even if you don’t go to the show, be sure to keep an eye out for them on the casino floor.
If you’ll be at the MSPT Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells and are looking for other things to do, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @ChadAHolloway.
*Lead photo courtesy of wisconsindellsimo.com.