The UCCS poker club hopes to give students the skills to play in a variety of environments, including their recent annual trip to the Choctaw Casino poker tournament in Durant, Oklahoma.
While they encourage anyone and everyone to join, the club focuses on understanding and mastering the complexities of the game. Poker is often seen as a friendly game between friends and family, but poker club members like VP Joe Tran see it as highly strategic and thoughtful.
“The biggest thing about poker club is that there’s this stigma, that it’s just gambling, but it’s actually a lot of mental capacity and strategy involved in poker,” Tran said. “We go over all of that, we call it game theory optimal (GTO), so we’re not just learning what poker is, but what the strategy is behind it, the math behind it.”
Not only is the club teaching students how to play a thoughtful hand, but also providing practice and experience for poker as a potential career choice, or simply helping players feel comfortable on a casino floor.
“We hope that from [your time in the club], you take those advance plays, so if you’re ever in a casino, or if you have a plan to make this a career, then you’ll know that this is what I’m supposed to do, this is how I’m supposed to play and that I can be profitable in this area,” Tran said.
“The club taught me that there’s actually more to it than just playing your hand.”
The club spends every Wednesday harnessing those various skills in order to play Poker in the real world, which sometimes means attending and playing a few dozen hands in a multi-day tournament 10 hours away.
“The main point is to take what we’ve learned, go into a casino in a tournament and take first place,” Tran said.
According to Tran and other members of the club, the Choctaw Casino tournament involves different entries and games that are suited for individual skillsets and accommodating for 18-year-old players who wish to get in on the action. For more experienced players like Tran, there are options such as the $500 buy-in “gargantuan ring event,” in which he placed 22nd place out of 1,600 entrants, winning $3,800.
For newer but enthusiastic players like freshman Natalie Krueger, that means placing 17th in the nightly event and winning $195. While it was her first time in a casino and new to the club, Krueger first found her passion for the game during her GPS class.
“It was a lot of fun, and I played for 12 hours each day. It was my first time ever being in a casino,” Krueger said.
As one of the only university-centered poker clubs in the state, UCCS’ poker club encourages anyone to join regardless of their skillset. The UCCS poker club meets in Breckinridge room 5106 every Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Joe Tran, VP of the Poker Club.