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Penn State’s Poker Club Isn’t Bluffing

It’s no secret that college is a very eventful time in peoples’ lives. There’s a lot going on in your studies and in your own personal journey through life, which can quickly pile on unneeded stress. So, it’s extremely important to look for a way to relax.

With this idea in mind, a group of students came together with one game in mind: poker.

This iteration of Penn State’s Poker Club started in spring 2021 when a couple of friends got together. Students Osama Baabdullah, Kael Pope, and Alexis Pupo started playing poker weekly due to the lack of activities available during the pandemic. One day, they wondered if there was a poker club on campus. When they found out there wasn’t, they took things into their own hands.

“We wanted to make a club where people can learn how to play poker without the risk of losing any money,” said Pupo, a sophomore majoring in political science. “Poker is such a big part of college that people might not realize. People play it all the time, and it’s something I learned when I got here my freshman year.”

The Poker Club meets from 8 to 11 p.m. every Wednesday in 207 Osmond Laboratory, and it’s grown rapidly in a short amount of time. Baabdullah said that the club would have about 10 people attend when the group officially came together in October 2021. By the end of the fall semester, the Poker Club would average about 25 attendees. These days, the club welcomes about 45 people every week, and Baabdullah says the club is only growing.

“One of our plans, in two years, hopefully, is to have a 300-person tournament at the HUB and other charity tournaments,” said Baabdullah, a senior studying aerospace engineering.

The club is also hoping to have tournaments to benefit THON in the future. It also wants to provide opportunities to teach new players more aspects of the game.

Benefits of poker include mastering counting cards and a handful of important social skills that pay dividends in the real world, Baabdullah said. He said that since this club has started, he’s picked up strong leadership skills and grown overall.

With the spring semester fully under way, it’s important to take time out of your schedule to do something that takes your mind off the grind of everyday college life. Whether it’s poker, video games, or even just going for a walk, organizations like Poker Club serve as a gentle reminder of the importance of leisure. If your life is all work and no play, are you truly experiencing everything life has to offer?

This club also shows what can happen when students come together under one cause and how much of a difference you can make in the lives of others — even if you’re coming together over something as simple as a card game. If you want to start something great, it always starts with the first step. While it may seem simple on the surface, clubs like these serve more purpose to the overall student body than you may realize.

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About the Author

Charles Reinert

Charles Reinert is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. He hails from Norristown, Pennsylvania and is an avid Philadelphia sports fan. He loves playing his guitar, the color blue, and Tetris. If you feel the need to give him any positive or negative feedback, you can follow him on Twitter @charles_rein10 or email him at [email protected]

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