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Illinois hosts deaf poker tournament

19 February 2007

RIVER GROVE, Illinois – (PRESS RELEASE) -- Deaf people from Illinois and surrounding states are expected to compete in the area's first Deaf Texas Hold'em poker tournament Sunday, February 25 at Hanging Gardens Banquets, 8301 W. Belmont Ave., River Grove.

The winner and second place finisher each will win a separate seat to World Series of Poker events at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas, as well as travel expenses. Entry fee is $65 per person, with only players 18 years of age and older eligible to participate. The Deaf Texas Hold'em poker tournament will run from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Players will communicate their bets by American Sign Language (ASL) and other methods of communication, said Ed Glennon, Jr., chairperson of the event, sponsored by the West Suburban Association of the Deaf (WSAD).

"Our organization encourages deaf and hard of hearing individuals to communicate and interact in activities the same as hearing people," said Glennon, adding that the poker tournament is a great example along with other programs and activities offered by WSAD.

"Many deaf and hard of hearing persons play in major tournaments in Las Vegas, some in the fund raising tournaments we've sponsored the last four years at Chicago area banquet facilities."

The logistics of the deaf tournament itself are being coordinated by WSAD and Rockford Charitable Games Association, Inc. (RCGA), party planner and consulting organization. The company is bringing poker tables and equipment to the banquet facility.

"The tournament speaks to the stunning popularity and growth of the game of Texas Hold'em," said Jim Kasputis, president of RCGA, whose company assists Illinois charities such as WSAD run their own tournaments and raise money to help fund programs they sponsor. Each charity poker fund raiser attracts 300-500 players, said Kasputis.

RCGA has helped Illinois charities raise millions of dollars hosting charity poker fund raisers.

One of the not-for-profit organization's stated objectives is to "promote athletic, civic, educational, moral, and social measures among the deaf and hard of hearing members regardless of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, and to encourage members to participate in healthful sports, social, recreational, and political activities."

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