- 2009 - February - 24th -

Bounty placed on local ‘celebrities’ for charity

Joe Wilhelm Jr.

Ten area celebrities will pit their poker playing prowess against a field of about 200 other players at the first Uptown Civitan Club Celebrity Poker Challenge at The Poker Room inside the Orange Park Kennel Club tonight.

Along with the opportunity to win a $10,000 seat at the World Series of Poker next year in Las Vegas are chances to collect 10 $350 bounties by cashing out area “Celebrity Giants.” The event was created to benefit Pine Castle, a facility serving people with disabilities since 1952.

“We are expecting about 250 players and sponsors should push the crowd to about 300 people,” said Bonnie Patterson, president of the Uptown Civitan Club of Jacksonville. “It should be a pretty big party.”

Some of the “Giants” that are scheduled to attend include Sheriff John Rutherford, General Counsel Rick Mullaney, Gator Bowl Association President Rick Catlett, Jacksonville Suns President/General Manager Peter Bragan Jr., Ch. 4 Sports Director Sam Kouvaris, former Jaguars lineman Tony Boselli, CSX CEO Michael Ward and State Rep. Mike Weinstein.

Players could enter the tournament through forming 10-person tables for an entry fee of $250 each or single players could enter for $350.

Two “Giants” that aren’t strangers to the poker table are Catlett and Bragan.

“I’ve played poker regularly with friends since college,” said Catlett. “But we don’t play a lot of hold ‘em. With hold ‘em somebody has to be the dealer, so we play a lot of five-card stud and seven-card stud.”

Catlett used his previous experience playing in a celebrity tournament as what not to do when playing poker.

“That first tournament, I went all in on the first hand and ended up getting beat,” said Catlett. “That’s when I started to watch the game a little more on ESPN. But most importantly, this is for a good cause and it’s a lot of fun.”

Bragan may not spend as much time at the poker table as he used to in the early 1980s, but still considers himself to be at the semiprofessional level.

“From 1980 to 1984, I played a lot of poker,” said Bragan. “My favorite game is seven-card stud poker. You get more of a chance to read a guy and you get more chances to bluff.”

Bragan may be a fan of poker, but isn’t too fond of some of what today’s players are allowed to get away with.

“They shouldn’t let those guys wear sunglasses or hats to cover their eyes,” said Bragan. “That’s not poker. You have to be able to read the person you are playing against and you can’t do that with someone wearing sunglasses.”

While Mullaney may not have as much experience as the previously mentioned “Giants,” he is looking forward to having some fun.

“I’ve never really played poker,” said Mullaney. “I’m just going to go have a good time at an event for a really good cause.”

The chance to win isn’t confined to the card table tonight. Players can buy chances for a drawing for a trip to the Abacos Islands. The winner will have access to six seats on a plane flying out of Craig Airport, one of the event sponsors. The winner and five friends will stay on the island for three nights and four days.

Sit-and-go games will be available for people who attended the event with someone or for players who get knocked out of the tournament. A $40 fee gets players a seat at the tables.



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