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Best of John G. Brokopp
Poker for the Sheer Fun of Playing the Game11 May 2005
Poker and playing for money are as inseparable as coffee and a donut to a majority of people. But for Shawn Riley, president, CEO and CFO of the Amateur Poker League (APL) with headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, poker and playing for fun is the jackpot combination.
"We're not about gambling," Riley insists. "Poker in itself is fun. We emphasize the social aspect of the game. Go to any one of our events and there may be a 21-year-old college kid, a 40-year-old woman and an 80-year-old man sitting there having fun playing, talking and laughing. Poker is a great social activity. Your physical attributes don't matter. Some bad mouth us by saying 'it's not poker if there's no money'. Well, we disagree."
The APL sanctions free Texas Hold'em Tournaments at locations around the country. Participants earn points which can qualify them for special tournaments as well as regional and national events. That's the good news. The bad news is that because of regulatory problems there are no tournaments being held in Illinois. More about that later.
Riley and his boyhood pal, Kurt McPhail, who serves as vice president and COO, were longtime poker fans who envisioned organizing a national amateur league in which people could just play for fun. Their dream came true in January of 2004 when they launched the APL.
"We started with about nine locations in the Wichita area," Riley explained. "Part of our plan was to launch a Website with information and rankings. Once we completed that, interest soared. Very soon we wanted to expand into a major metropolitan city, so we took our idea to Kansas City. Within 60 days we had some 30 venues up and running. We quickly realized that we were on the right track. The rest is history."
APL events are held at restaurants, lounges, fraternal organizations, bowling alleys and similar venues where people gather to have fun. Earlier this year the APL had tournaments running in nine states. By the end of this month they hope to be in 18.
"We use 48-inch fold-out Texas Hold'em layouts with room for eight players which fit on an average table," Riley said. "The equipment, including chips, is leased for a one-time fee. We ship out directly to the site."
Regional directors representing the APL are responsible for overseeing the conduct of the events and for setting up new locations.
Riley has encountered numerous regulatory obstacles is his efforts to expand his concept mainly because of the gambling stigma that's connected with poker.
"Every state has a little bit of a different twist to it," he said. "We have even found some counties within states that have very strict rules, including Illinois, and some of the Southern states where it's actually illegal to have a deck of cards on a bar.
"In 90 percent of the states, three components comprise gambling: Consideration, which is some form of a buy-in, a game of chance and a prize. If you take one of those three out, then it's legal. And that's what we've done. We've taken away consideration. At any and all APL events there can be no door charge, no entry fee, no minimum drink and no mandatory food purchase. It has to be possible for a person to walk in, spend no money and participate in the event."
The APL was in the Chicago market late last year. According to Riley they had a couple of locations up and running which were doing quite well, but they have since had to cease operations.
"The appropriate regulatory commissions in Chicago signed off on APL events, then several weeks later all of our venues in Illinois got letters saying that they were doing illegal activities and needed to cease operations," Riley said. "We did so immediately, because we try to be very proactive, do the right things and not break any laws."
You can access a lot of information about the APL by logging on to their Website, www.amateurpokerleague.com There are links to maps of the states where regional tournaments are being held and the locations of those venues. There is also a data base with information about participating players and their rankings, as well as news of special events.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
Best of John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp