Gippsland gets its very own poker championship

Gippslanders will be getting their poker faces ready for the inaugural Gippsland Poker Championships this Saturday at the Moe Hotel.

Tournament director Shannon Murphy said the event is expected to attract about 100 players from Bairnsdale to Wonthaggi.

“Poker has been played all over Gippsland for a long time now, but we’ve never had our own championships,” Murphy said.

“(We) thought it was about time to have one given its popularity in the area.” Two leagues currently operate in Gippsland – Murphy’s organisation, the Australian Poker League, and the 888 Poker League.

According to Murphy, poker attracts all kinds of people, young and old.

“We have people who are 18 and others who are 70,” Murphy said.

“The older people usually play other games like bingo, so it’s a chance for them to get out and do something else.”

At 40 years of age, poker player Kevin Johnson competes in Traralgon.

“I’ve been playing now for about six years and I’d played other card games before that so I found it fairly easy to pick up,” he said.

Consequently, Johnson has been to “a few state championships”, with 17th place out of 450 competitors in 2010 being his best result.

When asked about the ‘poker face’ Johnson said it was an important part of the game, but was only one part of an overall strategy.

“Over time you use different strategies for different players, like picking up on all aspects of their body language,” he said.

Johnson said poker was the type of game where anyone can win at any stage and based on that and his performances at past state championships, he would “love to win” on Saturday. The championship carries an entry fee of $110 and the prize pool is expected to be in the “tens of thousands”.

For more information on the event phone the Moe Hotel on 5127 1009.