Poker faces belie good times in Greencastle

Kurt Conaway, Greencastle, analyzes his cards while Matt Ellis, Chambersburg, watches the action. The players go after points, not money, in the World Poker Tour Amateur Poker League.

Every Thursday night, a room at Casey's Bar and Grill is filled with tables of men and women concentrating, carefully examining cards through expressionless faces. The lights are dim, sounds muted. Food and drinks are touched only during pauses. Someone arrives late, others leave before the event is over. It's poker night, and only one person emerges the winner.

The World Poker Tour Amateur Poker League has been meeting in the Greencastle venue for four years. The international league has been around over a decade. The tournaments, one at 7 and the other at 9:30 p.m., seat an average of 30 people interested in developing their skills and enjoying camaraderie with players from the beginner to advanced level. And of course, win.

The league is set up for fun, with no money involved. Top finishers earn points, which can be redeemed online for money or prizes.

Players come from all towns in Franklin County, as well as outlying areas. Keith Marconi of Greencastle has been joining the crowd for the past two years.

"It's free and I can play and practice live," he said. "I like the challenge of competition with my fellow players."

He has a pretty good record, frequently ending up at the final table, and credits some of that to luck. "I haven't had a win lately, though, so maybe they are reading me better."

People can upgrade to a $79 membership in WPTAPL for access to greater prizes and vendor discounts. Both paths lead to an amateur championship tournament in Las Vegas. The 2013 winner was Christian Nicolay from Region 535 in Texas.