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Poker News: December 25th, 2009

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HEADLINE: Priest tests his poker luck in Million Dollar Challenge

It was a challenge that had an entire Horry County parish on the edge of their pews, hoping one of their own could bring home a large chunk of change from a Los Angeles poker competition to help rebuild their dilapidated church.

Father Andrew Trapp, or more widely known as the "Poker Playing Priest," knew what he had on the line when signing up for the Million Dollar Challenge. If he played his cards right, he could score $1 million for the St. Michael Catholic Church in Garden City

That money would go straight to his parish that is in the midst of a major fundraising challenge to help rebuild their place of worship. So far, members have raised $3.5 million towards the construction of a new church that will be at par with safety codes, can withstand hurricane-force winds and hold more than 900 people.

"We're only about $1.5 million short of what we think we need to start building," said Trapp. "If I win a million, that means that we're going to be able to start almost right away building the new church."

One YouTube video and a Top 10 challenge later, Trapp found himself on a plane to Los Angeles - not once, but twice - to play the best in the poker world for a chance to turn his church's future around. It's a skill Trapp says he mastered while in seminary.

Trapp's first trip to Hollywood was a success, after landing $100,000 in the first round of the Million Dollar Challenge. In December, he was hoping for the same luck.

"I pulled out my rosary, kind of joking around, but I was like 'I need some divine intervention,'" Trapp recalled after finding himself playing in the challenge's final hand of poker.

That divine intervention, however, had just one roadblock: poker pro Danny Negreneau

"I wanted to start off being a little bit cautious, being a little bit aggressive as well," he said.

Trapp's first hand of cards looked good as he made his bet, held tight and came out of the round victorious. His cautious, yet aggressive strategy helped him hold on a bit longer and stack up a pile of chips early in the game.

"I was mentally just trying to think, 'Good poker strategy. Play smart. Try to look at the other players. See what they're doing,'" he said.

But as they say: When all else fails, do what you know.

"I was definitely praying a lot," the priest recalled. "I needed that 5 or 10 to come out."

His prayers, however, were left half answered. Trapp lost in the final round of the Million Dollar Challenge, but still walked away from the televised competition with at least $100,000.

Retired New York Police detective Mike Kosowski won the $1 million top prize.

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Article downloaded from the World Wide Web on December 25th, 2009

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