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Poker News | World Poker News

USC vs. UCLA on the Felt

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As a precursor to the much-anticipated football game on Saturday, December 1st between the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), there will undoubtedly be quite a bit of trash talking, rallying, and partying. Oh yeah, and the two rival schools will also be taking out their aggressions in a poker competition the day before the football game.

The poker game is part of a schedule of inter-school matches between universities around the United States that has been organized by the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society (GPSTS). It will all culminate in the National Collegiate Poker Tournament in March of 2008. The first event took place on November 16th between Harvard and Yale, and Harvard not only won the poker tournament but took the football game the next day as well.

The USC/UCLA match will take place on Friday, November 30th at 1pm on the UCLA campus. Prior to the game, there will be a forum at which Annie Duke will speak on the psychology of poker and gender roles in poker.

The tournament is set up as a team event but with heads-up matches instead of full tables and team play. Five players from the team, each of whom has been ranked prior to the match, will play their counterpart seeds from the opposing school in separate best-of-three heads-up matches. Everyone starts with 2,000 chips in each match, and the winner of each match (two out of three sets) wins one point for that team. Whichever team is first to accumulate three points wins the best-of-five tournament.

The match-ups thus far have illustrated that some of the most intense rivalries – in this case between universities – can be settled on the felt in a serious and skill-based competition. This is exactly the point of GPSTS.

The organization’s press release explains it best: “GPSTS believes that poker teaches and sharpens important life skills, making poker more than merely a fun game. GPSTS is dedicated to forming chapters on college and university campuses that share the poker strategic thinking philosophy, staging strategic poker matches between chapters and schools, hosting conferences and seminars that explore the strategic thinking inherent in poker, and exploring new ways to use poker as an educational tool that teaches life skills.”

GPSTS was started by Harvard law professor Charles Nesson, and it is run by Nesson and his students. His goal was to draw some of the brightest minds together to promote education via poker. In order to achieve this, they began organizing lectures featuring poker greats like Howard Lederer and Crandall Addington that focus on important poker skills that can be used in life, as well as the tug-of-wars currently taking place with the UIGEA and the US vs. Antigua dispute.

Thus far, numerous universities around the world – as far away as Singapore – have taken an interest in the program and established chapters of the GPSTS in their schools. The inter-school poker matches are a part of the GPSTS schedule of events that will be used to further analyze the similarities between poker and society.

GPSTS Executive Director and third year Harvard Law School student Andrew Woods said, “There’s a tremendous enthusiasm on campus for GPSTS and for poker matches. We hope to capture the same spirit of the March Madness basketball tournament when we hold our national competition in the spring.”

On Saturday, all eyes will be on the annual USC/UCLA football rivalry. But on Friday, all eyes will be glued to the felt as the two Southern California schools clash in the much-anticipated poker tournament.

For more information on the match, visit the UCLA poker club’s official website at http://mattdodge.net/poker/index.php or the GPSTS site at http://gpsts.org. (A website for USC’s poker club could not be found.)

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