The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Student wins Pub-hosted Poker Championship

Jerrel Mathern could see and touch the trophy a few feet away from him. He also could hear victory calling, even though he is deaf.

Mathern, senior recreational management major, sat unfazed as the trash-talking going on around his poker tables chipped away at the remaining survivors at the Spring 2006 Poker Championship May 10 at the Pub Sports Grill.

“(Poker) doesn’t really require that much communication,” Mathern said through Danielle Bradford, his interpreter. “When they do the trash-talking during the game, I don’t hear them because I am deaf, so I take that to my advantage.”

As the top 20 players from CSUN unwound to the final two players, Mathern came back from a couple of bad hands to become chip leader and won, surprising even himself.

“The truth is I was so surprised,” Mathern said. “I didn’t expect that to happen. But it feels great to achieve this goal.”

As the only deaf player to make it into the championship, Mathern wore a Lambda Sigma Pi shirt and made a statement for all hearing-impaired persons that anything is possible.

Mathern said he started playing poker two or three years ago and fell in love with the game. By winning the ninth poker tournament, Mathern was assured of being in the championship in which he came in first place by playing conservative.

Kenny Pintado took second place and Matt Perez placed third to round out the top three players.

Perez and Kirk Takeyama, Fall ’05 poker champions were favored to be the final two by Jeremy Hamlett, Commercial Services manager of the University Student Union.

Takeyama, senior kinesiology major, explained how he had lost in the championship, even though he was the defending champion.

“The flop came out and there was a queen on the board, so I went all in and of course he had the better kicker so he beat me,” he said. “I was just getting band hands through the whole game. It wasn’t a big deal.”

The championship tournament began promptly at 4 p.m. in which 18 of the top 20 players had actually shown up. It was an improvement to the fall’s championship in which only 12 out of 20 came to play, said Carmelia Carlisle, Commercial Services assistant.

“We came a long way from last year because it (poker) is more popular,” Carlisle said. “There is a lot more bragging rights involved now. It is becoming a tradition so people want to get involved.”

Since two people did not show up, Billy Smuck, a graduate student who was ranked 24th in prior tournaments got to play.

Even though Smuck came in 17th in the championship, he said he had a great time at all of the tournaments.

“It is all about prestige, pride and seeing who is the best,” Smuck said. “Poker is a really popular game, it is exploding and it is nice to see it here on college campuses.”

Steven Modugno, junior English major, wore his black-shaded sunglasses while playing poker. He came into the championship as the points’ leader from the previous 10 tournaments to be ranked first.

Although Modugno would eventually place 15th in the championship tournament, he said he had a fun time playing cards and making new friends.

“I’ve had a lot of fun actually,” Modugno said. “It’s been enjoyable because you get to know the guys so you can basically joke around a little bit.”

Hamlett is already planning for next semester’s poker tournaments. He said the tournaments will begin three weeks after school starts, and the championship game will most likely again be played in early December at the Pub Sports Grill.

“Next semester, we might do a midnight madness,” Hamlett said.

Arthur Vong can be reached at

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