Poker picks up among students - Saturday 12th of March 2005

Check, bet, call, raise and fold. Each term alone can carry a variety of meanings, but as a combination, they make poker, a game that is growing in popularity with many college students today.

Students play with various different groups, with friends, with acquaintances and with people they???ve never met. They play at friends??? houses, apartments, in the dorms and online.

Jordan Morgan, economics junior, plays games around Norman and online. He said the popularity of the game seems to have grown in recent years based on the growth of online poker sites and poker on television.

???It???s just made people look at the game a lot more and play a lot more,??? Morgan said.

According to BravoTV.com, the station???s new poker show, ???Celebrity Poker Showdown,??? is one of the popularizing programs that features five celebrities each week playing Texas Hold ???Em to win money for their charity of choice. Both the Travel Channel and ESPN have been recently televising poker tournaments.

Morgan said partypoker.com is one of the most popular poker sites. Partypoker.com was started in 2001 and hosts both free play and play for money, according to the Web site.

Morgan said he began playing with students around Norman when he met someone from the Web site who played in the local area.

???For a while I was playing games at apartments,??? Morgan said.

Morgan said he does most of his gaming online now, but said he met various people while playing around town.

Around town games vary in size, Morgan said, with bets ranging from a $5 buy-in to $100. He said the most popular game is Texas Hold ???Em.

Chase Nottingham, international and area studies junior, said he plays poker games around Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa. He said he has been playing for over four years now, and has been getting into playing games with higher buy-ins.

???I just pretty much have a group of buddies around OU that just sit around and play,??? Nottingham said.

Brian Hansen, international business sophomore, said he plays most of his poker online, but he used to play poker with guys in his fraternity house last year.

Hansen recently won a scholarship and a free trip to Cancun by being the south-central winner of a poker tournament on WorldPX.com. He said someone from the Web site advertised the tournament at his fraternity house and from there he decided to check out the Web site and play.

???They had a school-wide tournament, and then a regional,??? Hansen said.

After winning for OU and the south-central region, Hansen went to Cancun for the final tournament and finished in fourth place.

???I want to do it for a living,??? Hansen said. ???Winning a lot of money online and then traveling to some of the bigger live tournaments.???

Hansen said he thinks there are a lot of people around campus who play. He said the thrill and hopeful economic gain of gambling could be a reason why so many people are into it.

Morgan said the main reason he plays is that he just enjoys playing games in general, and poker is one that earns money.

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