The poker player — Eric Ott of Naples (shown here with glasses) waits to see what the last two cards will bring during a hand at a recent Texas Hold 'em game organized by Poker Craz Tour, which hosts tournaments in bars around Southwest Florida, from Fort Myers to Bonita Springs. The games are free to enter and players have a chance to win gift certificates — plus, they get a crack at the grand prize, which is a seat at a $10,000 buy-in table at the World Series of Poker, held each year in Las Vegas. The popularity of Texas Hold 'em and the World Series has not subsided. Attendance at the tournament has gone from about 800 players in 2003 to an estimated 8,000 expected this year. Players are going all-in for a piece of the $10 million in prize money. Ott says he has only been playing for four months, starting first in on-line tournaments, and gradually branching out to events like these, where he gets to play across from real people. One of the goals now is to be able to read his opponents' moves and expressions, a big part of success and failure at the big money games. It's a far different experience, Ott says, from staring at a computer screen. 'It gives you that old world feel,' he said, 'like you are in a back-room in old Texas.' Ott stands at No. 32 in points according to the Poker Craz Tour's Web site (at www.pokercraztour.com), which also lists upcoming events in the area. Published July 3, 2006

Photo by Jeremy Lyverse, Daily News

The poker player — Eric Ott of Naples (shown here with glasses) waits to see what the last two cards will bring during a hand at a recent Texas Hold 'em game organized by Poker Craz Tour, which hosts tournaments in bars around Southwest Florida, from Fort Myers to Bonita Springs. The games are free to enter and players have a chance to win gift certificates — plus, they get a crack at the grand prize, which is a seat at a $10,000 buy-in table at the World Series of Poker, held each year in Las Vegas. The popularity of Texas Hold 'em and the World Series has not subsided. Attendance at the tournament has gone from about 800 players in 2003 to an estimated 8,000 expected this year. Players are going all-in for a piece of the $10 million in prize money. Ott says he has only been playing for four months, starting first in on-line tournaments, and gradually branching out to events like these, where he gets to play across from real people. One of the goals now is to be able to read his opponents' moves and expressions, a big part of success and failure at the big money games. It's a far different experience, Ott says, from staring at a computer screen. "It gives you that old world feel," he said, "like you are in a back-room in old Texas." Ott stands at No. 32 in points according to the Poker Craz Tour's Web site (at www.pokercraztour.com), which also lists upcoming events in the area. Published July 3, 2006

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