Sonny Smith looks at the two cards he's just been dealt for his umpteenth hand of Texas Hold 'Em, careful not to knock over his wall of chips.
"I like my chips; I get hungry," he jokes with Marta Pollack, Brad Gray, Ernest Tuttle and Justin Pelto.
"I made my little wall with my chips," Smith tells the other players. "It's impenetrable, at least in my world. You can't knock it down."
The "big blind" (a $100 dollar chip) and the "small blind" of (a $50 chip) have already been thrown into the center of the green felt table by the two players left of the dealer just to get the game started.
Those two people are committed to play the hand, no matter what cards they've been dealt.
It is just a typical fun Tuesday night of poker at Kelly's Sweet Revenge Saloon.
Despite his impenetrable wall of chips, Smith folds on his next hand.
Texas Hold 'Em first gained national attention as one of the competitive events at the 1970 World Series of Poker Tournament held at the Horseshoe in Las Vegas, Nev.
Revenge owner Kelly Sterling saw the value of a piece of the action (sans money) for her customers when Chenoa Peery approached her to run tables nine months ago.
Peery and her partner Justin Pelto formed Payson Poker.
"Texas Hold 'Em was a really fun game when we played it, so we just took it to the next level," Pelto said.
He and Peery are on hand Tuesdays and Thursdays at Kelly's to keep track of the points and supervise the games.
The six-week tournaments are staggered. The new Thursday tourney begins March 1. The new Tuesday tourney begins March 13.
Players are welcome midtournament.
"All sorts of different people from all walks of life come to play," Peery said. "We welcome new people; it's always fun."
The object and basic rules of Texas Hold 'Em according to www.thepokerforum.com/texasholdem.htm:
The best possible five-card poker hand, using any combination of hole cards and community cards, wins the pot.
1. The dealer deals each player their own two cards face-down (pocket cards)
2. 1st betting round
3. The dealer burns a card then turns over three community cards face-up (the flop)
4. 2nd betting round
5. The dealer burns another card then turns over one more community card (the turn, 4th street)
6. 3rd betting round
7. The dealer burns another card then turns over 1 final community card (the river, 5th street)
8. Last betting round
9. Showdown (every remaining player shows hand with bettor showing first)
All remaining players must use one of the following choices at the showdown:
1. Two pocket cards and three boardcards
2. One pocket card and four boardcards
3. No pocket cards and five boardcards (called playing the board)
"Texas Hold 'Em is the Cadillac of poker," said Gene Varhulst.
"There's always something exciting happening in the game," added the player -- known to his friends as "Gene the Machine" and "The Living Legend."
For ex-schoolteacher Marta Pollack, playing Texas Hold 'Em on Tuesdays at Kelly's is all about the camaraderie.
"I have met such nice people, from professors to construction laborers," Pollack said, admitting the laborers are her favorite because they are "sweet and nice to me."
"But then that's all a part of living in Payson, the ability to be with people who are really fun," she adds.
"Occasionally I'll win first or second place, but I'm not much into the competition," she said. "Win or lose, I just like to play."
The noise in the barroom is mostly laughter and comments about the current bet -- "Wow, a thousand dollar bet into a $400 pot," and "three sixes deuce!" can be heard from points around the room.
"We run the blinds at 30, then 20, then 15 minutes," Pelto said. "As the tables get short, we combine players."
Players earn points toward prizes each night.
Each player gets two points just for showing up. First place winners get 10 (and a prize from Kelly's that night); second place gets nine and third gets eight points.
The eight players with the most points duke it out for the grand prize (Kelly gave away a DVD player at the last tournament) at week six.
New players are welcome at any point in the tournament and players do not have to play all six weeks.
Perhaps best of all, it does not cost anything to play.
Jeremy Browning runs the Wednesday night poker game at Kelly's.
"Come see all the improvements I have made in my bar," Sterling said.
The stage is complete.
She has added dartboards (house flights available or bring your own) and has Sunday tournaments for 301 and Cricket.
Who knows, you might even run into someone you know from a Texas Hold 'Em game.
KELLY'S SWEET REVENGE SALOON
3856 E. Hwy 260, Star Valley
7 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays:
Texas Hold 'Em (chips only, no money)
Players welcome mid-tournament.
New Thursday six-week tournament begins March 1.
New Tuesday six-week tournament begins March 13.
Prizes for the winner each night, plus grand prize (such as a DVD player) for player with most points at the tournament's end.
7 p.m., Wednesdays:
Poker hosted by Kelly's and J & C Poker Tour
NW corner of Beeline Highway and Hardscrabble in Pine
6:30 p.m. Tuesdays
Texas Hold 'Em
"We get a nice crowd of about 20-24 but there's always room for more," said owner Tony G's right hand in the bar, Carol McMillan.
Whoever wins the night's tournament gets a prize such as a T-shirt or gift certificate or other fun prize.
307 South Beeline, Suite J, Payson
Sign up at 6:30 p.m.
Play at 7 p.m.
Wednesdays and Saturdays
Texas Hold 'Em (chips only, no money)
HIGH PINES CARD ROOM
Noon to midnight or 1 a.m., Thursday - Sunday
Table stakes for: 3 to 6 Texas Hold 'Em
Bad Beat Jackpot: Aces full of anything beaten by four-of-a-kind or better. (The jackpot happens whenever a hand qualifies, it just depends on how the cards fall.)
Poker Shootout Wednesdays
Live play stops from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays.
$40 buy-in, top three chip leaders win
Poker Shootout Sundays
Sign-up: 10 a.m.
Tournament: 11 a.m.
$25 buy-in, top three chip leaders win.
"The small stakes game makes is easy for new players to start out, yet is still fun for veterans," said P.J. Urban, card room supervisor.
Rules for the games are available upon request in the Card Room.