A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
By Linda Strom
Student wins poker tournament at Hard Rock Casino
On March 15, 2008, HCC student Patrick Buddenbrock, 42, of Mango, took home the grand prize of $22,000 at a Texas Hold’Em poker tournament at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa.
This was not his first win, smaller tournaments have put him in both first and second place before, but this was the largest amount of money he ever won in a single tournament.
“The game is about patience, it’s not really about skills or luck or anything like that, it’s patience,” Buddenbrock said.
According to the poker manager Henry Funke, the casino has 50 poker tables in their poker room and for these events the chairs fill up quickly. Many players are put on a waiting list until a seat becomes available. The prizes vary depending on what tournament it is. Some tournaments have pay-outs up to over $170,000.
Buddenbrock explains that the goal of the tournament is to play out his own table and then beat the winners of the other tables. The one that manages to play out all the players at the last table will win the tournament.
Buddenbrock points out that it takes a lot of strategy to win and it’s important to be able to read the other players at the table. Buddenbrock normally waits about 20 games before he gets in to the game, just to see how the other players play. He wants to detect other player’s tricks to see if they are bluffing or not.
“When the cards are being dealt, people are looking at their cards, but I’m looking at the people,” he said. “The key thing in poker is that I want to do exactly the opposite of what you are trying to make me do. It doesn’t really matter what I have in my hand if I know what you have in your hand.”
Adam Johnson, 26, of Tampa, comes to the casino to play both poker and slot machines.
“It took a long time for me to win in poker, it’s hard to know if people are bluffing or not,” he said. “I used to loose all my money in the beginning, but now I’m starting to learn the techniques. It takes a lot of skills to concentrate both on the game and the players at the same time.”
To play in a tournament, no qualifications are needed; the only requirement is that the players have money for the “buy-in,” which gives them their seat. Buddenbrock paid a $240 buy-in, where $40 went to the casino and the rest for chips to play with.
Buddenbrock says that poker is a very psychological game and that no game is the same.
“It doesn’t matter what I do, it’s what I can make you do,” he said. “In a slot machine you are pulling the thing or hitting the button, it’s pretty much the same thing. In poker it’s different every time and there is something to learn from it. I have never played poker and not learned something from it.”
In the state of Florida, anyone 18 years old or over is allowed to play poker at the casino. This has led to a larger segment of young people in the poker room at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino, compared to casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, where the age limit is 21. But Funke says that the vast majority of the players are still around 55 to 60 years old and they come to the casino to enjoy themselves.
Buddenbrock says he is happy to win and will continue to practice his skills during the summer break. With the winnings he has bought a new truck and some of the money will go to pay his tuition at USF, where he will be transferring to in the fall.
Highest poker hand. Ace, king, queen, jack & ten of same suit.
Five cards of the same suit in sequence.
Four of a kind
Four cards of the same rank.
Three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank
Five cards of the same suit.
Five cards of mixed suits in sequence.
Three of a Kind
Three cards of the same rank plus two other cards.
A pair is two cards of equal rank.
A hand with two cards of equal rank and three other cards which do not match each other.
When cards do not form any of the above combinations the hand with the highest card always outranks. Also, becomes the tie breaker when participants have similar hands.