When registering for spring classes. make sure to sign up for Gambling 101: Introduction to Texas Hold ’em, which will meet sporadically at various dorm rooms, frat houses and student apartments throughout Miami; no textbook is required, but prerequisites include knowledge of the game and a firm command of bluffing skills.
In Florida, all forms of gambling are illegal to minors under the age of 18, yet according to www.gamblinghelp.org, almost 70 percent of Floridians age 13-17 gamble and about 90 percent of all Floridians participate in gambling. The fascination of winning money through a game of luck and skill seems to be an almost uncontrollable urge sweeping the nation with Texas Hold ’em at the forefront.
Although Hold ’em is nothing new, recent media exposure has catapulted Hold ’em to craze status, similar to the status that yoga held a few years back. Many attribute the first World Series of Poker (1970) to helping Hold ’em become one of the most played forms of poker, but the more recent televised poker tournaments that can be found on ESPN, The Travel Channel and Bravo are blamed for Hold ’em infiltrating younger audiences.
But don’t think that Hold ’em is a sport just for the guys. Self magazine reports that the Travel Channel’s “Ladies’ night” episode of World Poker Tour was the most watched of the season.
Like yoga, Hold ’em has received celebrity endorsement that helps attract the younger audience. Bravo’s Celebrity Poker Showdown recruits celebrities to play Hold ’em for a share of a $250,000 prize that will be donated to charities of their choice. The new season airs on Oct. 31 at 10 p.m., featuring celebrities such as Chevy Chase, Shannon Elizabeth, Donny Deutsch, Neil Patrick Harris and Kathy Griffin.
It seems watching Hold ’em on TV doesn’t quite satisfy the urge and now more than ever, people are turning to Internet sites to get their kicks. The world’s largest poker room offering Hold ’em is www.partypoker.com, along with a variety of other poker games, to over 50,000 players. Beginners can start competing in play money games, but big spenders can up the antes and play for real pots; the Partypoker.com Million IV has a current prize value of $6 million.
But www.partypoker.com is just one of many Internet sites completely devoted to the game of Hold ’em. Another popular site that allows people to play against players around the world (rather than against the house) for both real and play money is www.pokerstars.com.
The University of Miami held a campus-wide intramural Hold ’em tournament on Oct. 9. Registration was $10 and a total of 80 students participated in the game. Ten finalists received bookstore and TGIF Friday’s gift certificates while the champion, Darius Jahann, received two tickets to a Miami Heat game, $100 to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and an intramural champion t-shirt.
But not all college tournaments are planned events. More likely than not, students can be found playing spontaneous games with floor mates or frat brothers on all days of the week at all hours of the day.
Bari Lieberman can be contacted at email@example.com.