Popular poker game comes to Joplin bar

Patrons participate in a game of Texas Hold ´Em during a tournament at the Sports Page bar in Joplin on March 17.

Patrons participate in a game of Texas Hold ´Em during a tournament at the Sports Page bar in Joplin on March 17.

Auriel Brown

In a room filled with loud conversations, smoking and bottomless cups, several contestants came out for the final Texas Hold’em tournament of the week at the Kitchen Pass Restaurant located at 1212 Main Street on March 11.

The Kitchen Pass is one of many establishments around the area hosting poker tournaments. Throughout the week, several poker games take place every night.

As players lose all of their chips, they are moved to other tables until there is one game remaining.

On March 18, which marks the final day of the tournament, the top eight players from each tournament are invited to come back to what is called the Tournament of Champions in order to play for the sought after prize, a trip to Las Vegas.

The trip is sponsored by Anheuser-Busch and The Poker Pub.

April Jones and Zack Stafford, poker fans and owners of the Kitchen Pass, bought the franchise in January.

Both Jones and Stafford said the addition of poker tournaments has greatly increased business.

Students at Southern have joined the company of others with the recent fascination of the game.

Josh Sharp, junior physical education major, said the growing popularity of the game can be credited to television exposure and furthermore it is something new to the area.

“I think the four state area hasn’t had a lot of poker,” Sharp said. “This is real big for Joplin.”

Not so fortunate to win the ultimate trip, Sharp said he has had two victories during the tournaments, walking away with a poker set and a chip holder.

Others, such as Lance Payne, senior CIS major, said he loves the competition of poker games and gives a piece of advice to poker players.

“You got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them,” he said.

Perhaps the luckiest of all of the tournament players at the Kitchen Pass was 46-year-old Terry Eichelberger, winner of the Las Vegas trip.

As a first time Texas Hold’em player, Eichelberger called the trip a, “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

However, Eichelberger said winning is not about luck, but said it all has to do with gathering cards and knowing when to bluff.

“It’s a fickle game; the cards can get you,” Eichelberger said.

His tips for new players wanting to try their hand at poker are to maintain a good poker face and to know what their odds are on certain draws.

Aside from the game itself, Jones said the tournaments are a good way to socialize without having to go to clubs.

Stafford said it also brings people together who normally may not interact with one another.

“You have your serious hard-core poker players, then you have those who like to drink and joke around,” Stafford said.

Not excluding the opposite sex, Jones said the tournaments offer “women friendly” prizes like salon and spa packages.

The Texas Hold’em tournaments are weekly events and anyone interested in information about future tournaments can call 483-3557 or visit www.ThePokerPub.com for a complete listing.