Yesterday marked the end of the third annual Cornell Poker Tournament hosted by the Cornell Poker Club (CPC). Participants gathered at several different locations across campus to play tournament style no-limit Texas Hold 'em. The event, open to all Cornell affiliates, drew over 260 players.
The tournament started Saturday and ended late Sunday, when Kevin Kim grad was declared the winner. Cash involvement was banned because it would be considered gambling, but generous prizes were donated to compensate. Prizes ranged from a Sony Home Theater System to poker chips and professional poker players' autographs.
When the games started Saturday morning, players gathered in a pre-determined location on campus. Because the group was too large for one room, each of six locations became sites for competition between approximately 40 players. Locations included the Straight and Appel Commons.
Play continued all day Saturday until there remained only five people at each of the six locations; these 30 began play in the final room Sunday afternoon at the Straight.
"The main goal here was to bring a major event to campus for everyone to have fun at," said Ian White, grad and founder of the CPC. "That's my mandate - to do something different that's new and fun, which at the same time is playing into the recent poker phenomenon that has been so popular."
Poker has become more popular recently, as evidenced by the increased turnout in the tournament's participants. When the CPC held the first tournament in 2003 they attracted only 40 participants. Last year's tourney got only 50 players, but the turnout this year surged, bringing in more than five times the number it has had in the past.
"More people have been getting into poker in the last few years because the game has become popular through the televising of the World Series of Poker on ESPN," said Dennis Adams '07, a weekend competitor. "It's all over today whereas three years ago poker got minimal to zero coverage. It's a hot trend right now."
Participants jumped at the opportunity to play in person at a large-scale tournament as opposed to an online or a ten-person Friday night game.
"The tournament was coordinated and put together very well," said Ben Thypin '07, who made the final cut to play on Sunday. "Playing in person against so many people was a fun challenge -- psychological factors come into play that can really help you advance." Part of the tournament's success can be credited to the large amount of big name sponsors it attracted -- the largest being Royal Vegas Poker, which also sponsors the National College Poker Championships.
White, along with a few CPC members, had to do all of the contacting, and was able to get enough donations to award prizes to the top 200 finishers.
"It was a lot more work than I thought, hundreds of hours, but my team and I worked really hard and this tournament has been a success," White said.
While the turnout was larger than it has previously been, White had been hoping for over 300 participants. However, White commented that he was optimistic for the future: "We were actually prepared for around 300 people to play, but this has worked out fine and we are looking forward to future projects as well," White said.
The participants seemed to feel the same way.
"The event was cool. It was very well organized and something I hope is done every year," Adams said.