Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

March 21, 2006 > Skill, chance and nerve

Skill, chance and nerve

Poker is a game of people... It's not the hand I hold, it's the people that I play with. - Amarillo Slim

It has been played for generations under the guise of colorful names including Texas Hold'em, Draw, Omaha, Stud and Hi/Lo. Legendary characters of the Wild West have often been portrayed seated around a saloon table, cards in hand and a "pot" of cash at stake. The lure of Poker is the suspense created by hundreds of possible variations, partial obscurity of dealt hands, psychological battles of will and, of course, the reward for a winning hand (set of cards).

Each game has some of the same characteristics common to "vying games" in which the pot is awarded to the player or players with the best combination of cards. Opening bets are forced to create the initial stake of money. Additional rounds of betting follows, usually created by additional cards in play which may shift the strength of a player's hand. A bet must be matched by at least one other player or the deal ends and the pot awarded to the bettor. This makes "bluffing" possible and may allow a weak hand to prevail. If betting is matched throughout the game, eventually hands are compared to evaluate which card combination will triumph.

There is some debate about how the contemporary game of poker evolved. A French game, "poque" is a descendent of the German game of "pochen" and though the names resemble that of Poker, the origin of Poker or elements of the game may lie instead with a Persian game called "as nas" or a Renaissance game called "primero," French "brelan" or an English game called "brag." However it evolved, Mississippi riverboat gambling was instrumental in spreading the game in the United States of the 1800's and innovations including the 52-card deck, introduction of the concept of a "flush" (all cards of the same suite), lowball and split pots emerged.

Poker spread throughout the world as American military forces were stationed throughout Europe and Asia. A World Series of Poker began in 1970 and has gained popularity due to online versions and the introduction of a "hole-card camera" allowing an audience to view hidden cards and watch players' strategy unfold. Each player looks for "tells," unconscious movements of opposing players that reveal their perceived hand strength or weakness.

A rich vocabulary of Poker has added popular jargon to American speech. Phrases such as having an "ace in the hole" or "ace up one's sleeve" indicate a surreptitious winning element in a negotiation while phrases such as "beats me," "blue chip," "calling a bluff," "wild card," "ante up," "poker face" and "pass the buck" have spread far beyond the game of Poker.

The popularity of a poker variation called "Texas Hold'em" has catapulted the game and top players to stardom, increasing audience interest and stakes. As more people learn about the game and become interested in nuances of play, the business of poker has become increasingly prominent. For those who want to learn and participate in poker parties, games and tournaments, there are a myriad of books, websites and "experts" that tout winning strategies for sale. However, enthusiasts interested in something a bit more personal have another option; a local business has created a venue for poker fans.

Located in Fremont's Centerville district, B&V Poker Tables opened in December 2005 to provide an outlet for custom poker tables, supplies those who would rather build a table themselves and top quality poker supplies. This singular business can also provide services - custom tables, chips, dealers, instruction, tournament manager, etc. - for poker-themed parties. When event planners want to create a World Poker Tour atmosphere at a corporate get-together or personal party, B&V Poker Tables offers a shortcut to success. Vic Gee of B&V Poker Tables says, "We provide for the poker needs of anybody."

Gee says that in the near future, B&V will be holding poker clinics for beginners, intermediate players and dealer instruction. "We will convert our showroom into a classroom setting where people will have the opportunity to play at our tables under the guidance of an instructor who will walk people through the hands and explain poker strategy and etiquette. It will be a lot of fun!"

B&V Poker Tables
3794 Peralta Boulevard
Fremont, CA 94536
(510) 505-9860

Shop Hours
Wed and Fri: 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sat and Sun: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Or call for appointment
(650) 283-3265 or (510) 915-9442

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