From weekly dorm games to online tournaments and trips to Mohegan Sun and Vegas, students are gambling their way through their academic pursuits.

The name of the game is Texas Hold’em, made popular by national coverage of various tournaments, events and new celebrity-style games. In Texas Hold’em, each player at a table is given two cards face down, called “hole cards”, which only they see. Each player bets based on these cards and three community cards that are “flopped” face up.

After another round of betting, another card is revealed followed by another to make a total of five community cards.

The ultimate goal of the game is to get the best five-card hand using any of these five community cards.

Winning hands are determined like any poker game: a pair is the lowest hand, followed by two pair and then three of a kind. From there is a straight, five cards in succession such as Ace-2-3-4-5, or 10 – Jack – Queen – King – Ace.

Beating a straight is a flush, five cards of the same suit. The next-best hand would be a full house, a combination of a pair and three of a kind.

From here, the next hands are generally all but unbeatable, although they are highly unlikely. These hands include includes four of a kind, followed by a straight flush, and the grand-daddy of all hands, the royal flush, which is 10 – Jack – Queen – King – Ace all of the same suit.

Anyone who turns on the television instantly becomes immersed in poker fever. Bravo sponsors Celebrity Poker Showdown, where celebrities play Hold’em against each other for charity. Also, ESPN covers the World Series of Poker, the biggest and highest paid event world-wide.

Most players at Fairfield play poker in their dorms for anywhere from five to ten dollars a game.

Some students however, have a bit more gamble in them.

“At home I play games with buy-ins up to $230.00. The winner could win up to $4,000 in a given night,” explains Chris Greco ’06. “At Fairfield it’s hard to get more than a ten dollar game.”

Poker is said to take minutes to learn, but a life-time to master. Here are a few tips to bring your game to the next level:

-Weakness means strength/strength means weakness: Often when a player seems overly confident or overly weak, they have the opposite hand than they appear to have.

-Play Blackjack hands: If your two down cards, or hole cards, would be a decent Blackjack hand (21), you have a more likely chance to win.

-Study players not just your cards: Players will frequently show gestures and certain body language which is indicative of their hand. For example, if a player sits back in his seat, he usually has a strong hand. Consider this before playing your cards.

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