Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Gator's in Rock Mount, NC offers free Hold'em Tourney

According to the Rocky Mount Telegram, Gator's Sports Pub is now offering twice a week Texas Hold'em tournaments. The winner gets $100 and risks nothing. Look for many more bars (Sports Bars in particular) to start offering these.
The full article can be found here: http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/marquee/content/marquee/stories
Here is the text:Poker fans play intensely at a local tourneyBy FRED MARION, Rocky Mount Telegram
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Twice a week, the balls are cleared off the pool tables at Gator's Sports Pub.
People pull up chairs and rest their forearms on the rails. They set their beers in the corner pockets, and they play cards.
They're lured in by the possibility of winning $100.
Gator's started hosting Texas Hold 'Em poker competitions about 10 weeks ago. To play, participants must preregister and be Gator's members, which costs $5 a year. Admission to the tournaments is free, a necessity to comply with state anti-gambling laws, said pub co-owner Linda Long.
The competitions are held at 8 p.m. Monday and Thursday at the club at 1171 Jeffreys Road in Benvenue Plaza in Rocky Mount.
There are 30 slots for competitors, and the sign-up sheets are often full days in advance. Players who sign up late are added to an alternate list, giving them dibs on a spot if someone doesn't show.
Many of the players are diehards. They've already got nicknames like the Carolina Kid and Stealth.
Tony Howell, 29, is known as the Possum because of his tendency to sleep on his cards until he gets a really good hand. As of last week, Howell had won the competitions three times — more than any other player. Does he think Texas Hold 'Em is a game of skill?
“Some people have won a couple times, so there must be something,” he said.
That something is usually patience.
“I think it's kind of tough not to get excited and start trying to play every hand,” Howell said. “If they're not good to start with, I just get rid of them.”
It's a trait he picked up playing the game online, where players who knows statistics — not how to read bluffs — usually win.
Reading other players and their bluffs can be tricky.
“There's a couple of them (at Gator's) that have dead giveaways,” Howell said. “They don't even realize it, so I'm not going to tell them.”
Howell, who usually plays with sunglasses on so others can't see his eyes, admits that he probably has giveaways, too, but he doesn't worry much about it. He's there primarily to have fun, he said.
Televised tournaments have generated interest in the game — to the point where it's almost become a pop culture phenomenon. There's the "World Poker Tour" on the Travel Channel and "Celebrity Poker Showdown" on Bravo. There are also dozens of Web sites, which let players compete online.
Part of the game's appeal is its simplicity. Players are dealt two cards, which only they can see. An additional five cards are dealt face-up in the middle of the table. Players can combine their two cards with three cards of their choice in the middle of the table. Players are able to "bet," pass or fold as new cards are dealt in the middle. Everyone starts with chips notionally worth $750, and the winner is the player who manages to capture everyone else's chips.
The amount of skill involved is debatable.
“The people who get down to the end are cautious at the beginning,” Long said. “The smart players.”
Colleen Gardner, 23, often works as a dealer for the pub.
“A lot of it's luck of the cards,” she said.
Still, Gardner said she could never join in and play with the guys.
“I can read every single player on that table,” she said, during a tournament last week.
If she's able to do that, she might know whether a player is bluffing or whether he or she genuinely has a good hand.
Some players' facial expressions change if they get a good hand, Gardner said. Their eyebrows may go up, or their hands might shake.
Noticing little things like that is the sign of a good player. If a player can do it, Gardner said, he or she doesn't need to know what's in an opponent's hand.
There's a three-day waiting period to become an official member at Gator's. Guests cannot play during that time. The club is in the Benvenue Plaza shopping center.

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