While California and Nevada are naturally assumed to be the hot spots of poker in the United States, a state with no live gaming halls seems to be challenging their supremacy, at least in the amount of quality players that call it home.
North Carolina has rapidly become the home to several excellent professional poker players. World Poker Tour announcer Mike Sexton spent many formative years in the Tar Heel State (he served in the Army at Fort Bragg and lived in the state for almost fifteen years). Michael Gracz, the WPT and WSOP champion, hails from Raleigh, as does 2005 Trump Classic winner Chris Bell and fellow World Series bracelet holder Denis Ethier calls Durham home. Strong pro Mark Cole, who has a WSOP Circuit final table on his resume and appears frequently on the WPT cashers' list, takes breaks by coming back to Greensboro. One of the greatest, however, is former World Champion Greg Raymer, who moved to Raleigh from Connecticut in 2005.
Raymer is going to be promoting the game of poker by holding the Fossilman Challenge on April 9th, sponsored by and in coordination with the largest "bar poker" league in America today, the World Tavern Poker Tour. The one day event will be held at the Little River Golf Resort near Pinehurst, NC (where another great sporting event has been contested, golf's U. S. Open) and will be a chance for many poker players to get up close and personal with the 2004 World Series champion for a day of poker discussion, camaraderie and even some live play.
Events kick off at 11AM on Sunday morning, which will be followed by a putting contest (golf is one of Greg's passions as well as poker), a one hour speech from the former World Champion (which should be a lively discussion including playing both online and live poker) and a gourmet luncheon, during which Raymer will compete online in a heads up match with a seasoned online professional and give running analysis and commentary. The finale of the day will be a live tournament, where the participants square off against each other and Greg will move from table to table and analyze their play. At the final table, these survivors will face one more challenge as Raymer will join them and battle down to a champion in the event.
The cost of the day-long immersion of poker is $149, which allows the poker player to participate in all the festivities. A commemorative T-shirt and poker chip are also a part of the package and, through my discussions with World Tavern Poker CEO Mike Matsinger, there will be other prizes awarded throughout the day as well. Of course, the prize of the event is the opportunity to get inside the mind of the 2004 World Series of Poker champion himself, who is one of the most genial players on the tournament circuit and a fan favorite everywhere he goes.
The field for the Fossilman Challenge is being limited to just 200 players and seats are going fast for the event. If you have to travel to make it to the seminar, the Little River Villa is offering special room rates and golf packages will also be available for those who want to make a weekend of it. For all the details on the Fossilman Challenge, be sure to visit worldtavernpoker.com and follow the Fossilman Challenge banners to learn more or to reserve your seat for the event.
Ed Note: Just in case you have been living in a cave for 18 months...Greg Raymer plays at Poker Stars