Playing the odds

Mechanical engineering freshman Neil Kale looks at his cards as the round begins during a poker game on Oct. 12. Photo by Srikar Sudarsan Baskara | Mercury Staff.


Starting this fall, a new student organization is focusing on a popular card game, poker.

The Poker club is open to any and all students who are interested in the game, looking to practice before they go out to gamble or wanting to pick up something new. The club is one step away from being official — the only requirement left is finding a faculty member sponsor.

Marketing junior Mitch Meegan, who founded the club, said it evolved from personal frustration with his own failures at gambling.

“We had a couple of friends go up to Choctaw and play some tables and I didn’t do very well, so I wanted to get better and I started watching videos and researching ideas on how to get better without spending a lot of money,” he said. “I thought maybe if I start a club for people with the same interest then I can get better and perform way better when I do go out there and gamble.”

Meegan and other members are now making posters to put up around campus, but Meegan’s first method of mass outreach was through a simple post on the UTD Reddit page. 

“I cast out a line to see if anyone was interested and I got a lot of responses, way more than I thought,” he said.

Twenty people commented on the initial Reddit post, but computer science sophomore, Alejandro Guariguata, saw the post and decided to start attending club meetings. Guariguata has been playing poker online for the past year and a half, and he said the in-person experience was quite different from what he was accustomed to.

“This is actually the first time that I’ve played in person. It’s much slower because online, everything is automated,” he said. “But the difference is you can see their faces so you can see if they’re bluffing or not.”

Because UTD regulations forbid students from gambling with real money, Meegan proposed a long-term creative solution to provide competition for the students and support local companies at the same time.

“What I really want to do is get super popular, to the point where we can have company-sponsored tournaments,” he said. “Maybe the winners can get gift cards or something like that and this way we aren’t playing for actual money. The companies can sponsor the tournament for free publicity.”

Meegan said first he wanted to make sure there was a consistent membership before teaching students about what a fold or a flop is or introducing them to competitions. 

“Once we get more established, I want to do a lot more about the mechanics of poker, like where to fold (and) how to flop,” he said.

However, there are more pressing logistical issues that need to be handled first, Meegan said.

“In your average poker game, you have 8-10 people. Getting a room that will fit two tables of 8-10 people is hard,” he said. “Hopefully after we get sponsored and have some seed money, we can buy two poker tables that we can actually play on. I’m actually just thinking of going ahead and spending my own money to get those tables.”

Meegan said that his ultimate goal is to improve himself while helping improve all the members who join the organization.

“We are really close to finalizing everything and getting a sponsor and all that, so once we do, we can really get going with playing and teaching poker effectively,” he said. “One thing is that even if you don’t know how to play, you should come to a meeting because it’s not that hard to learn and it can be a lot of fun.”

The club currently meets at the Phase 8 Clubhouse at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday nights, but Meegan expects to reserve a classroom once the club receives official status, which he said should happen in the next couple of weeks.


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