If you go
What: 10-Week Texas Hold ’em Tournament
Where: Warrior Zone, 17th and D Street, JBLM Lewis North
When: Wednesdays. Register at 6 p.m.; play begins at 6:30 p.m.
Cost: Registration is $7 per player at each tournament. Winner of each week advances to finals April 7, along with top 30 ranking players. Ages 18 and older only. For more information, call 253-477-5756.
Wednesdays are usually a day out of his Puyallup home for Loyd Stedge, a retired Army master sergeant.
Stedge came to Joint Base Lewis-McChord Jan. 31 to compete in the second round of a 10-Week Texas Hold ’em tournament series at the Warrior Zone on Lewis North. He sees the same people every week he plays tournaments with service members, spouses and veterans in a setting much different than a casino.
“You go to a casino, it’s going to cost you quite a bit more money,” Stedge said. “You don’t know everybody. It’s a more serious game.”
The Texas Hold ’em tournament on JBLM is marketed as more of a friendly environment for beginners to learn the game and for experienced players to have some low-stress fun. The only cost is a $7 registration fee for each week — which all of the money goes into a pot.
Each week’s tournament awards the top player a $50 gift card. At the series’ finale scheduled for April 4, the top eight players will receive a gift card prize — which depends on the turnout.
“So when we have a good season, we can go from ($600 to $800 in gift cards) or whatever,” said Bill Strock, a recreational programmer for JBLM Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. “The worst we’ve ever done was $400 for first place.”
Last summer, another 10-week series averaged only 26 players. The current series’ first tournament Jan. 24 had 32 players. The Jan. 31 tournament saw 42 players.
“The more the merrier; the bigger the pot,” Strock said.
The winner of each week’s tournament will advance to the April 7 finals, along with the top 30 ranking players who earn points through the series. While players are looking to earn the top prize, there isn’t a lot of pressure among the field.
In fact, Marlin Tollison, a retired Army sergeant first class, said him and other veterans welcome new Texas Hold ’em players to the table.
“If they don’t know how, we’ll teach them,” Tollison said. “We don’t try to take their money. A new person has no problem here because all of us at one time were new.”
DeAnna Afalava, an Army spouse, was new to the Warrior Zone’s Texas Hold ’em tournaments, first playing Jan. 24. She admitted that she was a few minutes late, but other players like Tollison rallied for her to be able to play in the first tournament — winning the series’ first round.
Afalava said she encourages all military spouses and others in the JBLM community to give it a try.
“I think every base should have Texas Hold ’em,” Afalava said. “It gathers people around and you get to learn the game. You get to have companionship and make friends.”