IN THE CHIPS
Who knew? Professional players agree: Gem City a
hot spot for gamers
By Dan Cox
DAYTON The Wright Brothers
aren't the only thing the Gem City is known for, but you might have to travel to Las Vegas to really appreciate what the Miami Valley has to offer.
"Dayton Ohio, for some reason, has produced some of the best poker players in the world," said Mike Sexton, the host of the World Poker Tour on the Bravo channel.
Sexton, who grew up in Kettering and graduated from Fairmont East in 1965, started playing poker professionally in North Carolina and later moved to Las Vegas when he felt more comfortable with his skills.
"I always figured if I went broke, I'd get another job," Sexton said. "Turns out I haven't gotten a paycheck in over 20 years."
David "Chip" Reese, who graduated from Centerville High School in 1969, is a professional poker player who has played on the World Poker Tour, and he also believes Dayton has a strong poker reputation.
"What Dayton was a hot spot for was the most skillful game in poker, seven-card stud," Reese said. More betting and decision making are involved with seven-card stud than in any other type of poker, according to Reese.
"Any game where there's more decisions to make is a more skillful game," Reese said. "If someone can master seven-card stud, then they can master any poker game."
Reese is one of the only living members of the poker hall of fame and has been voted by other professional poker players as the best all-around player on eight separate occasions.
"(Reese) is the best in the world to me," said Dale Rockwell of Reece's Las Vegas Supplies in Dayton. Rockwell played poker professionally for 10 years before settling in Dayton. He organizes charity poker tournaments around Ohio through the store.
Since poker's recent surge in popularity, rentals for poker tables and chips have risen sharply, Rockwell said. Sales of poker tables have also risen; only 15 tables were sold a year before the poker boom, but now Rockwell sells 15-20 tables a month to people eager to turn their basement into a makeshift casino.
More organizations are contacting Rockwell to hold tournaments than in the past as well.
"We've got so many charities lined up, that we're turning people away," he said. "We're that busy."
The last event Rockwell helped organize was for Springfield Catholic Schools. The tournament lasted eight days and had 3,400 participants. Rockwell said the schools made around $105,000 after expenses.
Players have different theories as to why poker has become so popular. Some believe the free online games that allow novice players to learn about different games without investing any of their own money have taught a lot of people the basics.
But all three men believe the shows on television that allow viewers to see what kind of cards each player has while the game is going has played a huge role in popularizing poker.
"You will become a better poker player by watching the World Poker Tour every week," Sexton said. "It's reality TV at it's finest."
Reese agrees with Sexton that allowing viewers to see the cards of the players has made a huge difference in the way people look at poker.
"If players are bluffing, then viewers get to see what they're going to do," he said.
Along with the greater understanding, fans of poker are learning who the celebrities are in the game, and some players are uncomfortable with their celebrity status.
Reese said in the past he wouldn't tell people about his profession because he was afraid that they would treat him unfairly.
"Now, I don't want to tell them because I feel like such a celebrity," Reese said. "Thanks to TV, it's a sport now. It's not a seedy back-room thing anymore."
Sexton agrees with Reese on how the public views poker.
"It's not considered an evil thing anymore. It's considered a sport," he said. "The public accepts poker as not being a bad thing anymore."
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Local Poker Article
I know Dayton is roughly 40 minutes north, but "local" enough. Here was an article in the Dayton Daily News today. You have to sign up for it, so I've posted the article below.