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'Texas Hold 'em' big deal at Patrick

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Cigar smoke doesn't fill the air and no one will lose their paycheck on a bad "flop," but there's no mistaking - the Tides has "Texas Hold 'em."

Frank Martinez, The Tides operations manager, partnered with the owner of Finaltabletour.com to bring professional Texas Hold 'em dealers and equipment to the club to give players a Texas Hold 'em experience without the gambling.

"We had a professional company come in because we wanted to do it right," said Johnny Rivera, The Tides manager.

Finaltabletour.com is a local company, which sponsors several tournaments in the area, and gives players opportunities for a seat in the World Poker Tour.

Games at The Tides won't give players opportunities for the big tournament, but players still win prizes such as professional poker chip sets at each game. Wins are also recorded; giving the person with the most wins by Dec. 15 the big prize - a DeWalt work site radio.

Mr. Martinez says the turnout for the games has steadily increased since The Tides began hosting in October, and as participation grows, prizes will also.

"We are just starting, but there are tons of ways to enhance the game," said Mr. Rivera. "We do have plans to increase the competition."

Mr. Rivera said he is looking into plans for posting a visible leader board along with increasing the number and types of prizes
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"More importantly; it's absolutely free," said Mr. Martinez.

Tides members play free and are entitled to a free buffet on Friday nights, beginning at 5 p.m. Non members can play, but must pay $10 to enter The Tides on Friday nights, when the games are played. There is no fee for non-members to play.

Ralph Lotspeich, 45th Civil Engineer Squadron, played his first Texas Hold 'em game at The Tides Friday and said he plans to attend as many games as they host. "I really enjoyed it. The drinks are reasonably priced and there's a free buffet - you can't beat it," he said.

Currently, The Tides hosts the games on the first and third Friday of every month with two games per night. Mr. Rivera said he would like to host games every Friday as participation grows. Texas Hold 'em has been very popular for years and we're finally getting on the bandwagon," he said. "I think this is going to get a lot bigger."

The next game will be Nov. 17.