While the nature of poker includes taking chances, the Binghamton University Poker Club (BUPC) doesn’t plan to fold.
Founded in 2013, the organization allows students to interact and challenge each other in Texas Hold ’em. The club hosts a variety of events, including weekly meetings to play the game, weekly online tournaments through the online platform PokerStars and a few weekend tournaments with a $5 entry fee.
BUPC uses a “points system” to keep track of players who perform exceedingly well in their meetings and tournaments. The top 10 players compete in an exclusive “Champions Tournament” to have the chance of winning a trophy and being crowned the “Poker Club Champion.”
Tommy Gagliano, co-secretary of BUPC and a junior majoring in political science and English, said he has learned many new skills from experienced players and hopes he can put those skills toward winning the champion title.
“I have improved my game tremendously since joining [BUPC],” Gagliano said. “I’m excited to have another shot at winning the [“Champions Tournament”]. I have to win a trophy before I graduate.”
No matter what a person’s abilities are or if they have any experience playing poker, Gagliano noted that BUPC is a place for anyone to play and compete. He added that the current president held weekly lessons before club meetings for those who wanted to learn more and improve in the game.
Brian He, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry, said he joined the organization without much experience, but skilled players jumped at the opportunity to lend him a hand.
“I joined as a beginner, and believe me when I say the people I’ve met here wanted nothing more than for me and the other beginners to become better,” He said. “They have no qualms about teaching me advanced and sneaky tactics.”
He even learned his favorite move from another member, the “cold four-bet.” He noted that although the club primarily consists of male players, he doesn’t want anyone to shy away from playing poker.
David Lam, co-secretary of BUPC and a junior majoring in biology, agreed with He and said BUPC strives to be an inclusive community, providing a comfortable and relaxed environment for anyone to play poker. Lam added that the social nature of poker has introduced him to so many great people and he wants others to join and have the same experience.
“At the end of the day, BUPC is meant to be a way for people to de-stress, have fun and make friends while doing it,” Lam said.
Sebastian Harasim, club president since 2018 and a senior majoring in integrative neuroscience, said although he’s graduating, he’s confident in the new e-board for the coming year and wants others to enjoy the game as much as he does.
“[BUPC] has quite the history and I hope it continues to grow,” Harasim said.