Hold ’em or fold ’em.
That is just one of the many phrases or lines one is likely to hear during a game of poker, mainly Texas Hold ’Em.
Texas Hold ’Em has been very popular since the late ’60s but only recently has the craze hit Nebraska in an organized, state-wide form.
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The Nebraska Poker League started in 2005, and is part of the Free
Poker Network, which has 255 leagues nationwide, with 15 in Nebraska
alone. Based out of Fargo, N.D., it took a few years for the FPN to
grab a foothold in the United States.
There are several leagues in America, due to the recent boom in online playing. However, there is no form of governing body, leaving leagues and networks to battle each other for territory, just like in the early days of Vegas when the game was first brought to the nation.
On May 3 at the Eastside Cafe and Bar in Monroe, the Nebraska Poker League held its Party at the Palms! Regional, where several local people played.
“People in Nebraska have really taken to the Nebraska Poker League,” tournament administrator Pete Bushey said. “Once the NPL started in Nebraska, it didn’t take long for it to spread out and even grow. We always have new bars and new towns that are looking to get involved.”
Bushey is right, as people from Columbus, Clarkson, Lincoln, Omaha and other cities flock all over the state to wherever the tournament is held.
The Party at the Palms! is one of many poker leagues set up through the NPL, and all of which are free to compete for avid poker players. For this league players play at local bars, including Double Ts and Bigunz in Columbus.
Players gain points depending on how many are playing. At the end of a playing cycle, which occurs every four months, if the players have accumulated enough points, they qualify for the regional tournament.
At Monroe, where this last cycle’s tournament was held, the top five finishers qualified for the championship event held at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas June 28.
The championship event will be held at the Kingpin suites, which run up to $15,000 a night, and the five players from the Nebraska Regional will play against 45 other players from across the nation.
The top 21 players from the championship event will qualify for the World Series of Poker event, which ESPN has turned into a national phenomenon since 2002.
As for the five qualifiers from Nebraska, the top two received an all-expenses paid pass to Las Vegas, while the other three will be required to pay for their way to Sin City. The same goes for the top two finishers at the championship event as at the Nebraska Regional, meaning that with the right amount of knowledge and a little bit of luck, a player could win free trips to Las Vegas twice in one year.
A total of 78 players participated in the regional in Monroe. The solid turnout shows just how popular Texas Hold ’Em has become in Nebraska.
“Poker is a big thing to a lot of people. They enjoy it for its level of risk and the great level of competition,” Bushey said.
The prizes, like trips to Las Vegas and Caribbean Cruises, don’t hurt either, but one thing is certain: Texas Hold ’Em is here in Nebraska, and it isn’t going anywhere.
Columbus area players
• Sue Bernstein, Shawn Boss, Rod Lovig, Jordan Krzycki, Jeff Merrill, Steve Swoboda, Lorinda Reynolds, Bob Drozd, Lynda Anderson, Adrian Sanchez, Dave Jensen, Renee Held, Jim Dubias, Rich Foerster, Dan Wemhoff, Jim Follette, Mike Montgomery, Larry Hansen, Sam Christenson.
Clarkson area players
• Michael Brabec, Rod Steffensmeier, Calvin Musil, Milo Tomasek, Rod Novotny, Keith Brabec.