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Online Poker News Archives - November 13, 2005

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November 13, 2005

500 To Vie For Spot In ESPN Poker Tournament

An expected 500 people will gather at La Villa Real Special Events Center at 7 p.m. today to play Texas Hold ’em Poker for charity, the winner earning a $10,000 spot on the World Series of Poker.

To get into the game, players made a $100 donation to Rio Grande Valley Safe Kids, a program dedicated to preventing accidental childhood injury, such as in automobile accidents.

"The reason people want to come out is it’s something that can be fun, and it goes to a good cause," said Frank Santiago, RGV Safe Kids director of development.

Participants won’t be playing for money, so the event is legal under Texas law, which generally forbids gambling for cash. The evening’s winner will receive a seat at the World Series of Poker, to be broadcast on ESPN from Las Vegas in July. The "buy-in" for the series is $10,000. The prize will also include airfare and hotel accommodations.

Tonight’s game could become part of a South Texas tour.

"If it goes well … then we’re thinking of going and doing it in Laredo and Corpus," Santiago said. "We’ll definitely do another one in McAllen."

That game will likely be in March, and if the other two take place it would also be some time next year. Players would vie for other spots on the World Series of Poker in July.

Friday’s tournament plays into a growing trend in the Valley as poker, specifically Texas Hold ‘em, becomes increasingly popular. That is driven by poker games featured on ESPN, the Travel Channel, Bravo and E!.

"A lot of people are playing at home," Santiago said. "There’s a real cross-section of ages and demographics."

Natives and Winter Texans, mid-lifers and college students, men and woman, are expected at tonight’s game. Players must be 21 or older, the same as World Series of Poker rules.

Safe Kids isn’t the only organization in the Valley to tap into poker’s popularity.

The annual fundraiser for the Junior League of Harlingen, a philanthropic organization, is a Texas Hold ‘em tournament Saturday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. for prizes that include a trip to San Antonio. Poker, for entertainment only, was part of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s casino-themed annual banquet at La Villa Real Saturday. And the Pharr Fire Department had a Texas Hold ‘em fundraiser in September.

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