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Poker News: January 10, 2008

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Copyright © The Canadian Press

HEADLINE: Calgary hosts the 2008 Canadian open poker championship in March

Knowing when to hold 'em and knowing when to fold 'em - Kenny Rogers' advice from his country classic will be put to the test March 5-9 as both poker professionals and dreamers converge on Calgary for the 2008 Canadian open poker championship.

The five-day event boasts $1.3 million in prize money, but the big draw will be the main event where the winner will walk away with $200,320 while the runner-up pockets a cool $100,000.

"This event will give players both locally and internationally a chance to be television's next poker superstar," said Kelly Kellner, president and CEO of headsUp Entertainment, which is playing host to the event.

"We're going to be televising the event not only in Canada but around the world in Australia, England, Italy and France."

Poker's rising popularity continues to draw millions of viewers and has become a staple on both prime-time and sports programming.

Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari, Andy Bloch, Huck Seed, the World Series of Poker Main Event winner in 1996 and Canadians like Greg "FTB" (Full-Blown-Tilt) Mueller and "Yukon" Brad Booth are household names to poker aficionados. All are expected to compete in Calgary.

"What we're really hoping to do is really build the market of poker in Canada because it is such an exciting country - there's some great players," Kellner said.

"There's been a lot of talk about poker over the last few years. Poker hasn't levelled off or peaked. It is growing exponentially. Events are selling out."

The strong Canadian dollar and the tax system are expected to attract a large international contingent.

"We offer a tax-free prize pool. If you were to play in a World Series of Poker event and win it, you'd be taking 35 or 40 per cent off the top," Kellner explained. "Players love coming to Canada because it's like grossing up the prize pool by 35 or 40 per cent."

Traditionally about a quarter of those participating would be considered pros. But the first 128 players who have the necessary $5,000 entry fee can walk into the main event, which uses the traditional NCAA basketball format. The top 16 finishers will all share in the prize money.

There is also a chance for poker hopefuls to earn a spot at one of the tables by winning tournaments in local casinos across the country.

If they're good enough said Kellner, anything can happen.

"The chances of playing Tiger Woods in a round of golf and beating him are pretty slim, but here if you can go up against Huck Seed or Antonio Esfandiari you can beat them and that's a great life experience," he said.

"Just like Chris Moneymaker did a couple of years ago. He ended up winning himself close to $2 million."

The Deerfoot Inn and Casino will host the tournament. It has held private poker parties in the past and an event of this calibre shouldn't be a problem, according to its general manager.

"We're incredibly excited about hosting our first televised tournament," said Mike Stoddard. "We have had private poker tournaments in the past. We see this as just taking that to the next level."

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Article downloaded from the World Wide Web on January 10th, 2007

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