By Henry Salazar aka FL Henry

I love to look through my collection of cards. Over the years I have sorted the cards by players, by card types, separated rookies from veterans, tried to complete sets and done just about anything else that you can think of with my collection. I like to scrutinize the card to see if I think the manufacturer did a good job of putting the card together. Is it designed well? Do I like the color scheme? Is the autograph sharp without being too thin or thick?


My true love, however, is the feeling I get when I open a box of cards. I love the thrill of anticipation as I set the box down in front of me at my desk and just stare at it. The execution of opening a pack and carefully making sure the cards do not separate too early in order to conceal the secret that lies within just a few moments longer.


It will probably come as no surprise that poker is also one of my passions. I love the competition, the feel of the cards, the feel of the chips, and the way my heart beats faster when I get dealt a good hand as I realize action is imminent.


If I were a staff member and was empowered to run a contest I would orchestrate and execute a poker case break. The contest would involve ten players each paying a set entry fee. The ten players would then play a Texas Hold’em tournament. The classic World Series of Poker rules would govern the proceedings. However, the spin on this contest is that nobody is truly a loser. The entry fee would be used to purchase a case of cards. All ten players entered into the tournament would ultimately get to participate in the case break. The true prize is that the draft order of the case break is determined by the finishing order of the tournament. As such, the player that goes out first in the poker tournament selects last in the case break while the winner of the poker tournament selects first. In addition, the winner of the tournament would be allowed to select two cards with the very first pick of the draft. This provides a lot of incentive for the players to lay the very best poker possible. An atmosphere of competition is created as the prize is significant enough to take seriously but falls short of creating a hostile environment since, in the end, everyone is a winner with the case break.


I truly believe there would be a lot of interest in a contest joining poker and collectibles. It seems pretty clear to me that there are many sports cards fan that enjoy the thrill of the pull as much as I do. The coupling of collecting cards with the rush of competitive poker seems to me like a marriage made in collector heaven.


The poker tournament is now heads up and your heart is racing as your hands protectively shield both hold cards hoping your opponent cannot read the pocket kings on your face. The pot is getting larger as the two of you furiously volley raises and re-raises back and forth like Nadal and Federer in a Grand Slam final. The river card is thrown to reveal an ace. Your heart stops as you silently curse your previously celebrated kings as they may have just betrayed you. Your opponent goes all in. Your mind drifts to the case of cards that lies in waiting like a World Series of Poker bracelet. If your kings hold up not only do you choose first in the draft order but you get to pick the top two cards in a case break. If the river ace has a sister in your opponents hand than all is lost. With thoughts of autographs, one-of-ones, and rookie cards you make the call.


A card poker tournament is more than just a contest. It is an event. The participants will do more than just play poker and enjoy the card collecting hobby. They will get the opportunity to get to know each other and forge friendships and relationships. When the tournament is over each of the players is going to have a story to tell one way or another. Some will speak of bad beats, four-outers, and river rats. Some will talk about the rookie jersey autograph numbered to ten that was pulled and how great it will look in their personal collection. In either case the buzz will continue long beyond the events of the evening.


In my opinion, this sounds like a pretty good value for the money regardless of how the night ends.