Poker gets hold on campus

By Lauren Reilly
September 16, 2004

Cecelia Francisco

Recently, students on campus have become absorbed in the game of poker, more so than ever before. Nightly sessions of multiple tables filled with stern game faces can be found in the apartments and throughout the houses.

“We play for fun,” Casey Marshall, a junior history and political science major, said. Marshall, like many other students, has grown to be a regular participant at the latest craze on campus. “After the 2003 World Series of Poker we played once or twice a week, but now it’s just ridiculous. We play at least four games a week,” Marshall said.

The popularity of this seemingly ubiquitous campus activity could be attributed to the ESPN World Series of Poker, a program that has tripled its coverage since this past July. Since it’s debut in 1970, the World Series of Poker has grown immensely in participants as well as competitions. In 1987, the event attracted 2,141 participants that grew to 7,595 by 2002 in addition to proportionally increasing the prize money to $19,599,230, nearly 12 million dollars more than that of the $7,769,000 pot in 1992. Also, this year, the tournament offers 33 competitions that feature a variety of games including the traditional Texas hold’em and seven-card stud.

“We started playing when the World Series of Poker became very popular,” Jeff Foley, a junior business and administration major, said about he and his roommate, Chris Sabatino, a junior history and political science major, whom, on average, play three to four nights a week. To Foley and Sabatino, the game is a way to unwind and socialize. “It’s a good time to hang out with your friends and talk about stuff,” Sabatino said. Dave Spina, a junior English and communications major, also finds that poker “It’s kind of the secondary thing to do. If you’re not drinking, you’re playing,” Dave Spina, a junior English and communications major, said.

One of the earliest written references to poker dates back to 1834 in which Jonathan H. Green, author of “An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling,” indicates that poker originated in New Orleans approximately four years earlier.

The actual derivation of the game is uncertain and often debated by historians. A common theory states that poker descends from the 17th Century Persian game of As Nas, a five-player game that requires a special deck of 25 cards consisting of five suits. This may have been taught to French settlers by Persian sailors, ultimately influencing the French game of Poque, a game of betting and bluffing. Poque, along with the German game of Pochen and the English game of Bragg are considered the major influences in modern day poker.

Tom Schneiders, a senior marketing major, is deemed founder and organizer of the more populated games. A familiar face to the tables as well, Schneider admits hasn’t always played poker; however, he finds himself habitually partaking in some friendly competitions. “A lot of people play. I started playing about a year ago and I kind of just got into it,” Schneider said.

Not all students, such as Ian McDonald, a junior criminal justice major, are thrilled with the sport. “I’m not interested in it. I don’t like watching it and I don’t really like the guys who play,” McDonald said.

Nonetheless poker will continue to spread over campus and around the world.

Posted to the web by Cecelia Francisco

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Lauren Reilly

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