Political Notebook

Poker stars come to Fresno, Clovis to support online poker legislation

An online poker player plays a game during the industry’s G2E conference in Las Vegas in 2011.
An online poker player plays a game during the industry’s G2E conference in Las Vegas in 2011. Associated Press

Is online poker coming to California?

The matter has been kicking around Sacramento for years, but so far it has been a losing bet. The major sticking point has been disagreement among Indian tribes, horse racing tracks and card rooms about who should be in on the action.

But this year, there is newfound hope that some compromise can be reached and legislation passed to approve the practice. To help matters along, poker celebrities are touring the state to support online poker.

Daniel Negreanu, Jason Somerville and Vanessa Selbst will be in the Fresno-Clovis area Saturday, Aug. 1 and Aug. 8 as part of the “Let California Play!” PokerStars Pro Tour. Selbst is arguably the best female player in the world, and Negreanu is one of the original stars from the early days of the poker boom. Somerville is seen as the sport’s fastest-rising star.

The players will have a 10 a.m. meet and greet Saturday at the 500 Club, 771 W. Shaw Ave. in Clovis. Play will start at 11 a.m.

The following Saturday at Club One, 1033 Van Ness Ave. in downtown Fresno, the players will have a 1:15 p.m. meet and greet and the main event tournament will follow at 2:15 p.m. There is a $250 buy-in.

“We view online poker as the next big thing in poker and strongly support efforts in California to authorize it,” 500 Club Casino general manager Dusten Perry says in a news release promoting the event. The 500 Club is donating all proceeds from the tournament to Valley Children’s Hospital.

Club One also supports state approval of online poker, casino owner Kyle Kirkland said. “We believe online poker helps introduce new players, build awareness and add legitimacy to the game,” he says in the news release. “We’d love to see California follow other states in legalizing online play.”