SUN CITY CENTER – Singles and couples meet to ante up at the weekly Thursday Night Poker Club at 7 p.m. in the Atrium’s Florida Room. Forty to 50 men and women share in the fun and fellowship of being part of the community’s only coed poker club.
There are a number of poker clubs for men in Sun City Center – and at least one for women. But Joe Huckstein thought it would be fun to mix the two. In 2001 he started a coed club with five people at Kings Point, and then moved it to Sun City Center a year later. The group has since grown to 73 members, including 37 women.
Five years ago after being recently widowed, Geri Shayman, the club’s current president, decided to venture out and try to adjust to life alone.
“I walked into the room of strangers and turned to leave not wanting to intrude on any of the tables,” she said. “Someone jumped up and said, ‘We have room for you here,’ and that was the beginning of a new life for me.”
Singles who like to play poker have the opportunity for a fun night out where they can meet people and not have to exercise, dance or know how to sing.
“It’s also a great night out for a husband and wife (or significant others) to enjoy real fellowship and a good game of poker,” Shayman said, adding she tries never to miss Thursday night with her poker buddies.
Physical limitations don’t stop anyone from having a good time, and the players see it as an opportunity for good, clean fun and making friends, she said.
Players need only a basic knowledge of poker – some players bring laminated cheat sheets to remind them that of which hand trumps which. But, in the end, when cards are laid on the table, everyone figures out who has the best hand. Each hand takes about five minutes to play and with nickel, dime and quarter bets, the pots never exceed $10.
Board member Walter Snow enforces rules of respect and courtesy, which is rarely a problem – even when the women are big winners. Profanity is taboo.
The club plays a variety of 17 sanctioned poker games, including the Good, Bad & the Ugly, the Y Game, Cincinnati, Texas Hold ‘em, Five-card Draw and Seven-card Stud. At its next meeting the board will discuss having a free night of non-sanctioned games with wild cards, including games like No Peak.
The Thursday Night Poker Club is sponsored by the Community Association. A year ago Shayman requested help in replacing wooden, mismatched tops used to convert banquet tables into poker tables each week. The CA has since bought nine new vinyl top tables specifically designed for poker, and games are now played on professional tables.
Annual dues are $10, which pays for cards, beverages and three to four pizzas or pot luck dinners a year.
“It’s all about the fun,” Shayman said.
For additional information on coed poker, call her at (813) 938 3732.
Dosi Loverro is a freelance writer who can be reached at [email protected]