Larry Osborn, clockwise from left, Terri Reno and Bill Grover, wait for the river card Thursday during the Texas hold 'em tournament at the Popular Bar & Cafe. More than 20 players compete four days a week as part of Reno Poker in Craig.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Larry Osborn, clockwise from left, Terri Reno and Bill Grover, wait for the river card Thursday during the Texas hold 'em tournament at the Popular Bar & Cafe. More than 20 players compete four days a week as part of Reno Poker in Craig.

Reno Poker catching on

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Rose Crow plays a hand of poker Thursday at Popular Bar & Cafe during Reno Poker.

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Players at Reno Poker place bets Thursday at Popular Bar & Cafe.

Reno Poker schedule

Each day consists of two games: 7 and 9 p.m.

Tuesday - Popular Bar & Cafe

Wednesday - Golden Cavvy Restaurant & Lounge

Thursday - Popular Bar & Cafe

Sunday - Mather's Lounge and Cafe

For more information, call Terri or Randy Reno at 824-3504

— Larry Osborn sits back in his chair, straw cowboy hat tipped slightly downward, and peaks out from the hat's shadow, checking his cards.

He throws some chips into the pot, confident he's got a hand that pays.

The flop comes.

Osborn folds.

"It's not my money, but I'm not going to play dumb," he says. "I've been playing this game long enough to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em and know when to walk away."

He's not impersonating Kenny Rogers; he's playing Texas hold 'em.

He is one of more than 20 Craig residents gathered Thursday evening at the Popular Bar & Cafe, participating in Reno Poker.

"We love poker," Terri Reno said. "Poker is big in our family. It's in our blood."

Terri and her husband, Randy, took over the event from the Griffin family three years ago and moved it from the Holiday Inn of Craig to three locations downtown.

The Reno Poker Tournament rotates between Popular Bar & Cafe, Golden Cavvy Restaurant & Lounge and Mather's Lounge and Cafe.

Two games are played each Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The first begins at 7 p.m., the second at 9 p.m.

Entry is free and open to all who are interested.

"People definitely shouldn't feel intimidated to come and play with us," Bill Grover said. "You have to start somewhere. If you sit there and watch it on television, come play with us. We won't bite."

Texas hold 'em (also hold'em,) is the most popular poker game in casinos and poker card rooms across North America and Europe.

Hold 'em's popularity surged earlier this decade because of exposure on television, on the Internet and in popular literature. During this time, hold 'em replaced 7-card stud as the most common game in U.S. casinos, nearly eclipsing the once popular game.

And now Craig has caught the hold'em buzz, as well.

Denise Baptist was trying to conceal her pleasure Thursday when the river card came up at her table.

"I love playing this game," she said as she slaps her two queens down, giving her a winning hand of queens and nines.

She leans forward, cradles the chips in the center of the table like a baby and pulls the pile toward her.

She works in an accounting department by day, but she says crunching numbers from 9 to 5 doesn't help her between 7 and 11.

"I watch (Texas hold 'em) on ESPN all the time, but I can't make it that far. It's more fun here because it's not my money."

Each participant receives $5,000 in chips to start each game.

The money isn't worth anything, but the experience and the participation points earned, certainly are.

The Renos are hosting a season-ending cash tournament Sept. 11.

To qualify, card sharps in town need to earn 50 points throughout the weekly events.

"You get extra points if you knock out one of the Renos," Grover joked. "Taking out one of the hosts is the way to go."

Rose Crow and Ken Baptist joked back and forth from opposite sides of their table.

Ken is there to get better, Crow because it's free.

"I really enjoy it," Ken said. "I always watched it on TV, and I wanted to try it. It's really relaxing even though I try to play like it's real money. I'm trying to learn. If you play like it's fake money, you'll be low-stacked (few number of chips) before you know it."

Crow simply enjoys the company.

"It's cheap, good entertainment," she said. "You can come out here and not spend a bunch of money to have a good time. Everybody respects each other. It's a great time."

The chip piles continue to fluctuate as laughter and friendly chatter ensue.

Words such as tilt, flop, river and catch-card float around the room.

"Don't worry if you don't know all the poker lingo," Randy said. "This is a good way to learn. We are all nice even if you make mistakes.

"Just don't get drunk, or we'll take all your chips."

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