Card Craze hits campus

Eric Griffin competes in a Texas Hold´em poker tournament earlier this semester in the Billingsley Student Center

Eric Griffin competes in a Texas Hold´em poker tournament earlier this semester in the Billingsley Student Center

Walking sticks, cowboys and pocket rockets are making their way onto Missouri Southern’s campus in the form of pocket-pair hands in Texas Hold’em.

The Hold’em craze has taken many college campuses by storm, including Missouri Southern.

“It’s really popular right now,” said Eric Norris, student intramural sports coordinator.

Earlier this semester there was an intramural Texas Hold’em tournament in the Lions Den. Norris said the intramural sports program coordinators are shifting the program so there aren’t only the main sports, but more widespread activities to get more people involved.

As for the game itself, there are many different aspects. Players have to know when to cut, fold, bluff and bet. How the card sharks handle these situations can turn the table on the poker game.

“It doesn’t matter how big your stack is,” Norris said. “It’s how you use it.”

Besides knowing which hands are good to bet on, bluffing and bullying are always an option for players.

During some games there is much focus on the cards. However, in others, more eyes are on the opponents’ poker faces than the cards.

The ability to read poker faces is valuable in the art of the game. It determines whether someone who catches good hands only gets a small pot, or if a person with a bad hand bluffs well enough to make the person with the real winning hand fold.

“It’s hard [to read bluffs] especially when they change styles of play,” said Daniel Bowman, sophomore undecided major.

If one has a lot of chips, one can spare more chips on bluffing. In that case, one could raise the pot before the flop (when the first three cards are turned out) or raise the stakes to uncomfortable level.

“I can understand why people do that [chip bullying],” Bowman said. “But, I don’t like it because I’m a conservative player and it makes me fold normally.”

The Residence Hall Association hosted a Texas Hold’em tournament earlier this year in the dining hall. This is the second time it has hosted a tournament.

Bowman won the first time tournament they hosted after learning how to play Hold’em a month earlier on-line.

The tournament was the first time he played “live” instead of on-line.

Bowman said he got tired of playing after six hours of Hold’em. He won with a 2-3 off-suit hand and a queen, three, king on the flop.

“It was a stupid play but it was part of beginner’s luck,” he said. “I was so tired I didn’t care.”

When it gets down to the final table and heads-up poker, Bowman said reading faces and actions are crucial.

However, there are some advantages of playing with only a few people.

“It’s a lot easier because you play more hands and really it goes faster too,” he said.

Bowman still plays about once or twice a week as does Josh Doak, resident director of Blaine Hall.

Doak started playing the game this year, but he knows people who have played for more than a year.

One of Doak’s sayings at the table is, “If you’ve got it flaunt it.”

He said, however, if he has a strategy, it’s from the Kenny Rogers’ song “The Gambler” — “you gotta know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em.”

However, he notices that playing for money can be dangerous and said if one can’t handle his or her money, that person should play for fun.

Bowman agrees that playing for money is risky. After playing online since the beginning of the year, he decided to give up all his online tournaments two months ago.

“It can be very addicting,” he said. “I wouldn’t recommend getting started playing for money. There are a lot of casual players out there like me, and they get started into playing for money and most of them end up losing money. Playing for fun is a different story, but not for money.”