Students put on their best poker faces Sunday and tried to call, raise and bluff their way to victory in Zeta Phi Rho’s first annual charity poker tournament.
More than 100 amateur card sharks paid $15 each to play in the tournament, which began at noon in Corwin Pavilion and lasted until about 6 p.m. All the proceeds from the tournament will go to the Rewarding Our Youth and Future Leaders (R.O.Y.A.L.) scholarship fund. The fund was created by Zeta Phi Rho alumnus Romeo Garcia, and awards a scholarship every year to a child that grew up in Isla Vista.
Mani Navab, a sophomore law and society major and one of the event’s organizers, said the turnout at the event exceeded everyone’s expectations.
“About 80 people signed up ahead of time; then we had about 40 people sign up at the door,” Navab said. “We would have had more, but we just didn’t have enough dealers.”
Zeta Phi Rho alumnus Joe Tangsurat, who was helping with the tournament, said the event was so successful that the fraternity will most likely hold it again next year.
“I’m pretty sure that with this success we will keep doing this annually,” he said.
Tangsurat said players were offered an option called “re-buy,” which let those that were knocked out of the tournament early pay $10 and get a new set of chips – and a second chance. He said the total amount raised from the entry and re-buy fees came close to $2,000.
Christian Vuong, a sophomore film studies and communications major and the Zeta Phi Rho co-philanthropy chair for the tournament – which featured a popular version of poker called no limit Texas hold ’em – said most of the materials for the event were donated by sponsors. PokerRoom.com provided chips and decks of cards for players to use, and prizes for the winners, which included an Apple iPod, a 20” flat screen TV, a DVD player, a poker table and sets of poker chips. The World Poker Tour, ConJelCo and Banner City USA also contributed to the event.
Eugene Yoon, a senior East Asian studies and biology major, won the tournament after a tense final round that drew cheers and applause from the audience.
“I didn’t think I was going to win – I lost out in the first round, but I re-bought in and hey, I won,” Yoon said. “I had a great time, and it was good socializing with everyone.”