In an article published on, Neil Johnson, the head of live poker operations for PokerStars, remembers the first live poker tournament he took part in.

Johnson played his first live poker tournament at Las Vegas in The Orleans when he was on vacation in the late nineties. During those days, the Orleans was hosting Limit Hold’em tournaments with buy-ins of $20 two times every day. Johnson remembers being nervous as playing at a Las Vegas casino was not at all like playing home poker games with friends and family members. In spite of his nervousness, he finished fourth in one of the tournaments he took part in and was very excited about it.

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Remembering the experience, he said that his fellow players made him feel at home, and this made him love the game of poker and the experience of playing it with people from all over the world more than ever. If they had not welcomed him and made him feel at home, he would have never played poker again.

Commenting on having “fun” playing poker, he said that some players have too much fun, while some are having too little fun while playing the game. Giving the example of EPT10 Vienna, he said that they decided to develop a brand new variety of Texas Hold’em and create a tournament format that includes wild cards. The result was the €100 Deuces Wild Tournament. As many as 200 players took part in the event and had a lot of fun. Those interested can read Chad Holloway’s account of the Deuces Wild Tournament on

Participants told Johnson that the Deuces Wild Tournament brought back the “social element” that is lacking in most modern poker games and tournaments. The dealers and players at the Deuces Wild Tournament were all having fun, interacting with one another and laughing. Nobody was engaged in conversation over their iPhones; in fact, iOS devices were brought out only to take pictures. The dealers also had a great time and said that the tournament forced them to get really involved in the game.

Lamenting about the lack of social element in the modern game of poker, Johnson opined that people are forgetting that they are only playing a game. Every poker table presents opportunities to hear amusing stories, meet people, and learn about different cultures. Johnson concluded his article by urging dealers as well as players to be more social and have fun.