Poker enthusiasts play for keeps at the Yellowhead Casino

By Shaamini Yogaretnam

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Poker players focus on the game at the Yellowhead Casino, 12464 153 St. Edmonton, Alta, on March 12, 2012. Photograph by Shaamini Yogaretnam.

EDMONTON — There are more than 20 weekly poker tournaments in Edmonton. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in chips get thrown onto the smooth green felt of a poker table all over the city 52 weeks a year.

A regular Monday night in March is a seemingly unexciting day. But, at the Yellowhead Casino, Monday is a very good day for at least one poker player.

The players often rotate through the other casinos in town, says Tressa Corbin, houseman at the Yellowhead. But Monday is a fresh start to a new week of play for many gamblers.

“If [we get] over 100, it’s doing well for a Monday,” says Corbin.

While the popularity of professional poker-playing has certainly contributed to some casinos’ decision to run weekly buy-in tournaments, Corbin says the Yellowhead’s been running big-pot tourneys for as long as she’s worked there.

It’s simple for the Yellowhead – the cash tables just don’t pull in as much money. The casino hedges its bets by running five tournaments a week.

The players at the Yellowhead are as varied as the hands in the game they love. Some are there for the thrill of the game, others are professionals who tour the circuit, and then, of course, there are the guys who come hoping they can pool enough money from the other players to stay in the game – the guys who need to stay in the game.

Here’s a look at the tournament that took place on March 12, 2012.

This is one moment in the Day in the Life of West Edmonton, a West Edmonton Local project conducted on March 12, 2012.