MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Fifty-eight station and visiting Marines put on their best poker faces and hoped for a bit of luck as they packed the Gonzalez Room at the Sonoran Pueblo Saturday night to participate in the Drug Demand Reduction Program’s No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament.
First place winner Lori Loghry received a Marine Corps noncommissioned officer sword donated by Marine Wing Support Squadron 371. Justin Driskill, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 poker player, won Cardinal tickets and passes to the opening tailgate party prior to the game for coming in second, and Rob Wilkerson, Marine Aircraft Group 13 poker player, received a home stereo for his third-place finish, but noone left empty handed.
“The Single Marine Program, DDRP and civilians donated the prizes, which we gave to the final ten players,” said Mitch Rubinstein, tournament coordinator and MALS-13 Substance Abuse Counseling Officer. “ We also had custom poker chips with the Marine Corps emblem on them for all players.”
The tournament was the brainchild of Rubinstein, who enjoys playing the game his self.
“The Drug Demand Reduction Program was looking for an opportunity to set up a drug and alcohol-free event for station and visiting Marines, and they asked all of the SACOs for ideas,” he said. “I came up with the idea of having a poker tournament because it’s a pretty popular game right now and it’s something I enjoy. Being able to combine one of my hobbies with my job, which is helping Marines stay drug free, was a great opportunity.”
No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em is a game in which players make the best hands possible using two cards that are dealt to them and three of five community cards dealt to the middle of the table in three stages; the flop, the turn and the river. Betting can increase with each stage of play for each hand, said Brian Stelly, tournament participant.
“We played No Limit Hold ‘Em, which is the game everyone sees on ESPN,” said Rubinstein. “The common misconception with poker is that it’s a complete gamble, but it’s actually largely skill based. It’s luck over the short term and skill over the long term.”
The game is fairly simple to learn, but a little more difficult to master, and the DDRP tournament was a good place for beginners to start playing, said Rubinstein.
“We had a lot of beginner players and provided basics rules on each table to help the new players get started,” he explained. “It was good because they could learn the game in a safe environment rather than going into a casino, being intimated by the players and atmosphere and losing lots of money.”
Lt. Col. Phillip Woody, MWSS-371 commanding officer, said he was very impressed with the event and was glad he and his unit supported it.
“When I lived in the barracks as private first class, we had very little to do other than go to the gym,” he explained. “I think anything we can do to keep the Marines on base and having fun without spending three to four dollars per beer in town is great. This provided a wholesome atmosphere for Marines to get together with their compadres, have a few laughs and enjoy some friendly competition.”
Rubinstein said he thought the tournament was a success and he was impressed with the turnout. He also said many Marines showed great enthusiasm about the event before leaving for the night.
“I’ve had quite a few Marines tell me about what a great idea this tournament was because they were able to have an entertaining night without drinking and spending any money,” he explained. “That’s what the tournament was for. I feel we accomplished our goals here and everyone had a great time.”
“It was actually a pretty good time,” said Stelly. “There were better players than I thought there would be, and it was just a good place to go hang out at on Saturday night for free. Free food, drinks and poker – you can’t beat that.”